The president of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Ambali Olatunji, denounced what he called “systematic rape of the system of local government” by politicians in the country.
He also attributed the near collapse of the third tier of government in Nigeria to the way and the manner in which council chairs are “selected” rather than elected, noting that they generally emerge with an appointment lacking credibility.
Olatunji, who spoke at a press conference yesterday as part of activities marking the first NULGE National Women’s Conference in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, pleaded for full council autonomy. to ensure that allowances are paid directly to their accounts.
He insisted that only a democratically elected council administration would be accountable to the people, and stressed the need for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections in the third level of government.
On the theme of the conference: The role of women in creating peace and security, Olatunji said that the local government system has been put in place to provide jobs for young people and empower women, while that state governments should ensure an enabling environment.
He urged anti-corruption agencies to set up units at council headquarters where Nigerians at all levels can hold their trustees to account.
“We demand autonomy from local government through which INEC will be empowered to organize municipal elections. The creation of state electoral commissions has led to numerous abuses and a lack of transparency in the conduct of municipal elections. What they are doing now is crowning, appointing and promoting political staff and buddies in local government administration, creating a way to siphon off council resources.
“This is why NULGE calls for the conduct of credible and acceptable elections at the council level. If the process is deepened, the leadership would be a leadership elected by the people who would be accountable to them and not to the state government, ”he said.
Olatunji further noted that NULGE is also calling for full financial autonomy for the councils, adding: “It is absurd to have a meal between a lion and a dog and to create a center for the two animals to share the food, knowing that when the lion finishes the meal, he will also go and get the dog.
“Municipal allowances should therefore be paid directly into their account. The loophole in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) known as the Joint Allocation Account is no longer acceptable to Nigerians and NULGE. It must be deleted, as it leaves room for theft and embezzlement of council funds by politicians at the state level. “