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. . . Urges FG To Track Allocation Of Local Government Funds
. . . Says Abiodun N300M Release to Local Governments Commendable
. . . Threatens Demobilization For Tinubu, Peter Obi, Atiku On Autonomy Stand
In the spate of the growing economic and security challenges facing the country, the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for showing “good leadership” gestures towards the people of the local governments in Nigeria.
The Union, under the national leadership of Comrade Olatunji Ambali, however publicly linted accusing fingers at state governments saying they are responsible for further impoverishing the people of the local governments die to greed of exploitation of local government resources.
Ambali, who takes pleasure in the gesture shown by the president to publicly declare that local government funds being siphoned has contributed immensely to poverty, insecurty, unemployment amongst others, as a result of greed to amass wealth.
In his words, “Germane Issues came up regarding the local government challenges and threats, and Mr President stated categorically that the state governors have further impoverished Nigerians due to acts of syphoning local government resources.
“After that, instead of addressing the germane issues, the governors tried to rationalize why they continued to siphon local government resources by saying that Mr President has failed Nigerians.
“But the question is this, how did Mr President fail Nigerians?
“For us in NULGE, we have come out to applaud Mr President for demonstrating courageous leadership.
“Mr President was able to come out to let Nigerians know where the problems lie, by expressing frustration that various attempts to bring Nigerian masses out of poverty, various attempt to grow and develop the rural communities, attempts to increase the GDP by increasing the rural GDP that cumulatively account for both state and national GDP has failed, various attempts to create jobs and empowerment to youths and women has failed due to greed and insatiable appetite to amass wealth at the detriment of Nigerian people.
“We make bold to say that what the president has said is apt, correct and the real position of things. We are saying publicly that there’s no local government in Nigeria in the last five years that accounts for 80 million of federal allocation every month.
“There are times federal allocation to local government goes between 100 million and 200 million, which is meant to usher in tremendous growth and development to make life more meaningful to Nigerians that have been diverted and mis-applied.
“We have listened to those hired by the state governments who come out to rationalize that this act should continue. But we are surprised that when the president accused them, they have no defense, but instead they come out to say that the President has failed Nigeria. Mr President cannot be everywhere, and that is the reason for different tiers of government.
Ambali, in his speech, therefore challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to track records of funds allocated to local governments since his inception as President of the country in 2015.
The national President said the auditing on the allocation of funds would enable the FG to know the real culprits behind the exploitation of local government resources.
He said, “It is in the same vein that we want to commend and challenge the President to track funds meant for local government from 2015 to 2023, how much really gets to the local government, since inception of his office, since 2015 to 2023.
“How much actually gets to the local governments? Where is the remaining funds? Who is in charge of funds and how was it applied?
Nigeria cannot continue to do the same thing the same way and expect a different result.
Ambali Furthered by saying that the local governments must be functional if development must alleviate different stratas of the community.
Therefore, Ambali emohaised the need to allocate funds for he loc government through the local government’s account and not a joint acocunt.
“We also know that the agitation against local government autonomy by the forum of Governors in Nigeria is self-serving and selfish.
“It is time to free Nigerian local governments, because that is the most relevant and strategic tier of government that can serve the people.
“If development must alleviate various strata of the community, local governments must be functional. If it must address insecurity, local government funds must get to local governments.
Through the local government accounts and not through joint accounts. It is time to stop that.
“The only opposition to local government autonomy is greed by the state government.
Exclusively, PLATFORM TIMES gathered that the NULGE National President lauded the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun for his intentions to do well for the local governments.
He revealed that the governor had last month released 300 Million Naira to local governments which has not been seen in the state for some years.
Adding that the Governor has given job security to the NULGE and sustainably managed a favourable relationship with the union.
According to Ambali, “The Governor has shown intention to do well. Last month we witnessed the release of 300 million to local governments and that is a commendable effort. That has not been coming for years.
“There is enabling peace in local governments. There has been a security office, such that no one comes to sack us illegally and we are given the opportunity to use our initiative to work.
“The state government has appointed some head of local government administrations, and permanent secretaries appointed among local governments.
“There has been a healthy relationship between the NULGE and the state governments in recent times.
“Based on these efforts, we are giving kudos to the governor.
Ambali, however, noted that the governor needed to pay attention to the promotion and remuneration of local government employees, as well as providing basic tools and facilities to engender further development in the local governments.
“However, we would like to call his attention to this second part. In other states in the federation, I just returned from Abia and Edo. Directors in local governments are now in level 17 while ours are in level 16.
“Heads of local government administration are now on consolated salaries. Even in Ogun State, the teaching service commission approved of the consolated salary. Why the discrimination with the local governments?
“There’s need to provide equipment and tools for better productivity in Local Governments.” Ambali stated.
Comrade Akeem Ambali Olatunji also called out the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate, Atiku Abubakar to publicly declare stand on local government autonomy.
Ambali expressed concern and dissatisfaction at the silence of the presidential candidates on the autonomy of the local governments if elected.
He therefore urged Nigerians, especially from the local government level to vote decisively on choice of candidates.
The National President added that it is not enough for the flagbearer of the PDP, Atiku to come out to state the reality of local government fund siphoning, rather to declare his position on the issue.
According to Ambali, “we want to use this opportunity to urge Nigerians not to vote for any candidate or party that votes against autonomy.
“Nigerians must come out and vote against the party or presidential candidate and squad that did not come out categorically to reveal their support for the local government autonomy.
“We are actually surprised that, until now, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi has kept mum on the issue and we are concerned.
“We are also surprised that the candidate of the APC is also not talking about local government autonomy.
“We have listened to what the presidential candidate of the PDP came out to say on how the stealing of local government funds started, by saying that the federal government then came under pressure from the governor’s who said that the local government should not be directly funded. We commend him for coming out to say even though it is coming behind schedule.
“But we want him to put it in his manifesto, not until he gets elected, that if elected, he will support local government autonomy.
“We are therefore calling out to Nigerians that any candidate or party that does not come out to support the local government autonomy is not qualified to be elected president of Nigeria and should not be voted, because the local government is the closest to the grassroot.
“We must realise that such parties or candidates are not serious about the masses at the grassroot level. It is time to get it right.
He posited that the local governments are the most important tier of government being the closest to the masses, saying any candidate that does not pay rapt attention to the needs of the people at the level is not “qualified to be the president of Nigeria.”
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