Wednesday, May 26, 2021

#2021 SCOCA#Asaba Zonal Public Hearing: 1999 Constitution, A Grave Mistake To Nigerians-NULGE Laments

....As Group Makes Case For Amendment Towards Grassroots Development And Employment of Rural Dwellers.

By Victor Bieni, Asaba

The Leadership of Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) led by Olatunji Ambali has said that Third Tiers Of Government, the Local Government is Subjected to the whims and caprices of State Government as appendage or extension of Government House.
The group made this disclosure to some group of Journalist during a two-day 26th-27th May, 2021 Zonal Public Hearing for Delta, Bayelsa and Edo States Critical Stakeholders, which was presentated by the General Secretary,  NULGE, Comrade .C. Aguonye to the Senate Committee On Review, Amendment of 1999 Constitution at the Grand Hotel, Asaba, Delta State capital as group sought for the amendment towards full Local Government Autonomy, grassroots Development And employment opportunities for Youths, Women in the rural areas.
The leadership stated that the third tiers has become a purse for Governors' cash- in as, group argued that the 1999 Constitution gave room for these grave constitutional flaws, lacuna and imbalances in the system.

The group added that the development has no doubt, stifled Local Governments of its interventions in grass root development such as provision of social services to the people, provision of employment opportunities to rural dwellers so as to curb the concomitant insecurity, youth restiveness, rural urban drift as well as secessionist agitations to mention but a few.

The group then enjoined National Assembly to do the needful as the Senate embarks on another Constitutional Amendment exercise.
NULGE presents the following recommendations that will make Local Government more responsive to the yearnings of the people. NULGE Positions on Constitutional Amendment reads in parts: "This our stand if reviewed and implemented will engender grassroots development, economic emancipation, political advancement, security and peace of our dear nation as we also advocate for the
Establishment of Local Government Police".

"It is the submission of NULGE that Local Government Police should be established. Statistical survey reveals that over 75.1% of the population of Nigeria resides in Local Government and it is the Local Government that is the epicenter of Nigeria’s security challenges. Local Government Police Service Board should be established to oversee the recruitment, training, promotion, discipline and retirement of members of the Local Government Police while a unit in the Local Government should be saddled with providing technical and other administrative services".

"Cession of Ministry of Agriculture to Local Government
Since Local Governments constitute more than 71% of the land and it is at the Local Governments that the farmers also reside, it is our opinion that the Ministry of Agriculture should be ceded to the Local Government with direct funding from the Federation account".

"Ministry of Women Affairs And Humanitarian Affairs
NULGE is of the view that Ministry of Women and Humanitarian Affairs should be ceded to the Local Government while the Department of Social Development in the Local Government should be strengthened to carry out regular remuneration of the most vulnerable members of the community; aged, the unemployed and the physically challenged. The Department should also make for adequate social planning, social legislation and social inclusion; Hence, funds meant for the Ministry should be allocated to all the 774 Local Governments".

"Federal Ministry Of Works:
It is well established fact that 75% of roads belong to Local Government. It is therefore imperative that 50% of the funds and functions of the Federal Ministry of works should be ceded to Local Government in areas of road construction and maintenance with a mandate to establish Public Works and Road Maintenance Departments in all Local Governments to facilitate transportation and conveyance of foods and other agricultural products to boost food supply and security both for rural consumption and export".

Since demographic survey reveals that 70% of Nigerians reside within the rural community setting, for governance to be felt by larger percentage of Nigerians, NULGE proffers that the revenue formulation should be altered as follows:
Federal Government 20%
State Government 25%
Local Government 35%
Consolidated Saving 5%
Derivation 15%
This recommendation will resolve various agitations for disintegration of Nigeria by ethnic nationalities, issues of clamour for insecurity, youth restiveness, unemployment, poor funding of education, health and agriculture and others".

"However, NULGE clamours for establishment of Anti-corruption Unit in the Local Government to checkmate embezzlement of fund. We also clamour for direct funding to Local Governments. Funds accruing to Local Government without recourse to Joint Account Allocation Committee which has acted as a conduit pipe for Governors to syphoning Local Government statutory allocation".

"Creation of Local Government in Nigeria
It is our position that there should be a uniform criteria for the creation of Local Government in Nigeria which shall be enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria based on the population of not less than Five Hundred Thousand people, landmass, existence of one paramount ruler, minimum of Ten (10) wards. Any area that meets the criteria should be given provisional approval and subsequent recognition by the Constitution".

"Abolition of Joint Account
NULGE advocates for the abolition of State and Local Government Joint Account which has been converted into a conduit pipe for siphoning of Local Government statutory allocation by the State Government. We call for full observation of fiscal federalism".

"Abolision of State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC)
NULGE calls for abolition of SIEC which has been converted by the Governors as an instrument for selecting their stooges as Local Government Chairmen and councilors rather than giving the people the freedom to choose who govern them. We posit that INEC should be conducting elections in Local Government.
Autonomy of Local Government.

"It is our submission that the power to determine the structure, finance, establishment, composition, and functions of Local government should not be vested in the State House of Assembly but be spelt out in the Constitution.
Audit of Local Government".

"The public account of all Local Government should be audited by the Auditor General for Local Government to be appointed by the National Assembly.
Funding of Primary Education
NULGE recommends that funding of Primary Education in Nigeria should be on first line charge from the federation account".

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