..Calls for Scrap of JAAC
… Accuses Governors of Destroying Grassroots Governance
By Ekemini Simon
The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has demanded for the full Implementation of financial and political autonomy for local government.
The demand was made known by the National President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Comrade Olatunji Ambali on Tuesday in Uyo when he addressed a press conference as part of the activities to mark the first NULGE National Women Conference.
The National President said the country is bedeviled with several security challenges among other problems that make the country sick because genuine governance is absent at the grassroots.
He explained that if there were to be financial and political autonomy, coupled with credible leadership recruitment process at the local government level, the society will be healthy especially as majority of the citizens are found at the grassroots.
” We have all seen that the local government system is failing. It is the one that is most accessible to the people. Over 65 percent of the population reside within the rural communities. Insecurity is mostly experienced at the rural areas. If we must fix Nigeria, we must actualize local government autonomy.
While maintaining that local government autonomy is sacrosanct for the overall economic and social development of the grassroots, the NULGE National helmsman pointed out that the first step towards actualization of the autonomy is for Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) to be scraped.
Ambali who described JAAC as a conduit pipe for corruption by Governors insisted that it is not the responsibility of Governors to manage local government funds for local government councils as they would not appreciate the Federal Government to do same.
The National President added “The Local government system has been consistently raped, as the Local Government allocation has been diverted and misused by the state political actors, we say no to that and as a union we reject it.
“We are clamouring for full financial autonomy for the Local Government Area. it is an absurdity to have a meal between a lion and a dog, and you put it in the centre to allow the lion and the dog to share the food, when the lion finishes the meal, he will also go for the dog.
“So the Local Government Allocation should be directly paid to the Local government account. The lacuna in the 1999 constitution called the Joint Allocation Account is no longer acceptable to the Nigerian public and NULGE. It must be scrapped, it gives room for local government funds to be diverted and stolen by state political actors.
“The problem affecting local government is as a result of paucity of funds. If you want them to perform, then pay their allocation to them and hold them accountable. All anti-corruption agencies must have their headquarters at the Local Government levels to be the financial watchdogs that would put political actors on their toes.”
He pointed out that if allowed to operate, local government councils would have the capacity to also create employment opportunities for the youths, thus address unemployment concerns of the country.
The National President also linked the collapsed state of the governance at the local government level to leadership recruitment process of Local Government Chairmen, whom he said emerge through coronation, appointment and promotion, without any form of credibility.
He offered insight into the fact that only a democratically elected Local Government administration would be accountable to the people, hence stressed the importance for elections into the third tier of government to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) instead of State owned electoral body.
The NULGE National Leader added “The creation of state electoral commission has brought in a lot of abuse and lack of transparency in the conduct of local government elections. What they are doing now is not an election, it is a coronation, appointment and promotion of political jobbers and political cronies into the administration of local government, thereby creating an avenue to siphon local government resources.
“This is the reason NULGE is calling for the conduct of credible and acceptable democratic election at the local government level. if the process is thorough, the leadership would be a leadership gladly elected by the people. Such leadership would be accountable to the people, not to state government officials.
Commenting on the theme of the conference “The role of women in engendering peace and security”, NULGE National President said peace and security can only be experienced when governance at the grassroots is reengineered through local government autonomy.
He said the framers of the Constitution provided the local government system to enhance employment for youths and empowerment for the women, while the state government has the role to ensure an enabling environment.