The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees on Friday raised the alarm that about nine governors were diverting local government funds, in violation of the guideline issued by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit in May 2019.
The union said the actions of the governors were depriving the people of the benefits that they should ordinarily have access to, as it threatened to shut down the 774 councils in the country if their demands were not met within 30 days.
The union also called on the President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to sign an executive order preventing any state that failed to conduct LG poll from accessing local government allocations.
The PUNCH had reported that Ogun, Katsina Anambra, Kwara, Osun and Zamfara states had not conducted local government elections despite the expiration of elected officers’ tenures.
Also, Imo and Oyo state governments sacked elected officers, whose tenures had not ended and replaced them with caretaker committees like the seven states mentioned earlier. Although Edo State has no local government caretaker committees, the local governments are being administered by heads of administration.
Meanwhile, giving the ultimatum in an interview with Punch on Friday, the National President of NULGE, Hakeem Ambali, stressed that members of the union would storm the National Assembly and the state assemblies to express their dissatisfaction with the way the governors were running the third tier of government.
Ambali said, “About nine state governors are diverting and pilfering local government funds, thereby denying the people at the local government level the right to benefit from social amenities that should be provided by the local government.
“As a matter of urgency, Mr President should sign an executive order preventing any state government that failed to conduct local government election from having access to local government allocations so that even if the money is released to the local government account, it should be for salary payment alone.
“They have to teach them (governors) a lesson; that is why NULGE would continue to be involved in agitation until the actualisation of political and financial autonomy for local governments.
“If we are to get things right in Nigeria, it is time to approve local government autonomy because all these agitations about insecurity, unemployment, lack of belief and hope in the Nigerian nation, leading to agitation for self-determination and disintegration of the country is borne out of the greed of most of those who claim to be political elite, who corner local government resources and misappropriate them.”
Efforts to get the NULGE President to name the governors were not successful as several calls to his line till 12:40am on Saturday were not answered. The union also threatened to shut down the National and state assemblies.
The union had in March 2017 staged a nationwide rally demanding full autonomy for LGs in the country against the backdrop of the Supreme Court judgment nullifying the law empowering governors to replace elected LGA chairmen and councillors with caretaker committees.
Ambali, who was the former chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ogun State chapter, carpeted state governors for refusing to conduct LG elections, stating that their action in denying the people at the grassroots the right to choose their leaders was borne out of greed.
He noted that the 7th and 8th National Assembly had passed the local government autonomy bill but the implementation, he said, was halted by governors, whom, he said threatened the lawmakers.
He said, “We have written to the leadership of the National Assembly; that is why the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, openly said the problem of local government autonomy is with the governors.
“Even the 7th and 8th National Assembly did well by passing the bill on local government autonomy. It was as a result of coercion and threat by various state governors to the National Assembly leadership that the 9th NASS decided to halt the autonomy.
“Having written them demanding that they should invite the leadership of NULGE to a meeting at the National Assembly to discuss this issue, if they fail to do that as we have said, we will commence by mobilising all our members to visit the National Assembly and the assemblies at the state level and finally, we will organise a national protest to the National Assembly to pressurise them to discontinue the killer bill against local government and also re-approve the bill on local government autonomy.