By Mary Agidi
The Ondo State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, (NULGE) has commended the state governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, for his support for local government autonomy unlike other governors, noting that since his assumption of office as the governor of the state, he has given financial autonomy to the local governments.
Addressing journalists at the end of the monthly State Executive,(SEC) meeting of the union at NULGE house Akure, its State President, Comrade (Dr.) Bunmi Eniayewu also called for the abolition of Joint Account Allocation Committee, JAAC and scrapping of State Independent Electoral Commission, SIEC to allow people to elect their representatives through free and fair election.
The union also emphasized the need for local government allocation to come directly from the federation account to each local government without the involvement of the state government.
His words: “So far in Ondo State, we give glory to God that our case is far better and different; I am bold to say that on financial autonomy, Arakunrin Akeredolu has never touched our money, I know that because I am a member of JAAC.
“His interest is how to pay salary. During his electioneering campaign, he told us right here in NULGE house that he doesn’t have problem with local government autonomy, he gave his 100 percent support autonomy and up to this morning his actions and body language still tell us that he is in support.
The union also expressed optimism that members of the state House of Assembly will support local government autonomy.
NULGE called for constitution amendment to give independent Electoral Commission, INEC to take over local government election from SIEC and the elected administrators to have a constitutional tenure.
” We are also saying that when we have elected people at the grassroots through a free and fair election, it is then we can hold them accountable and responsible for their actions or in actions.”
Eniayewu said those at the helm of affairs in the country should allow a bottom up approach, saying that was the position of the grass root people .
He said:” The position of the grassroot people is that we must have free and fair elections in our local governments in Nigeria.
“If I am a governor and I appointed SIEC, there is no way they would not do my biding.
” if you are doing good in your state as a party and a governor in power, it will be easy to convince the people to vote for your candidate. But what we have now is a situation whereby a party in power conducts an election and at the same time clears all the local government elections at all cost in a state that has multiple parties in their state and National Assembly.
“We talked about financial autonomy, we are saying that let the money from each local government come directly from the federation account to each local government’s account and let JAAC be abolished because JAAC to some governors has become an ATM when they need money they will just deep their hands into the account and spend at will .
” It is when this money comes directly to the local government that people can hold a chairman accountable”.
The NULGE boss used the medium to condemn the action of the Kaduna state governor for sacking over 22,000 teachers and 4,000 local government workers, saying this is not the change Nigerians voted for.
” One very important mantra of change of APC is provision of job opportunities; they didn’t say they will come on board and continue to remove people from their jobs unceremoniously.
“It is an anathema for governor of kaduna state to say that he set up a competency test for teachers, it’s unheard of,” he said.