The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to take over the conduct of elections at the third tier of government across Nigeria.
President of the union, Ambali Olatunji, who disclosed this in a press conference in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, on Wednesday as part of activities marking the first NULGE National women conference, attributed the near-collapse state of local governments in Nigeria on the mode of the emergence of council chairmen, whom he said emerge through coronation, appointment and promotion, devoid of any form of credibility.
He insisted that only a democratically elected local government administration would be accountable to the people, therefore the state electoral body should not conduct the elections.
Olatunji also called for full autonomy to enable local government allocations to be paid directly into council accounts.
Reacting to the theme of the conference “The role of women in engendering peace and security”, the NULGE National President said the LG system was set up to provide employment for youths and empowerment for the women, while the state government should ensure an enabling environment.
He called on anti-corruption agencies to have units in local government headquarters where Nigerians at all levels could demand accountability from LG administrators.
The statement read: “We Clamour for political autonomy for Local Government whereby Independent National Electoral Commission will be conducting the Local government Elections.
“The creation of state electoral commission has brought in a lot of abuse and lack of transparency in the conduct of LG 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.
“That is why NULGE clamour for the conduct of credible and acceptable Democratic election at the LG level. if the process is thorough, the leadership would be a leadership voluntarily elected by the people that would be accountable to the people, not to the state government.
“NULGE is also 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 center 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 LG 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.
“In the constitution, the collectibles of LG are fully listed, these include rate, taxes, advertisement rates, radio and television fees and so many others, but states have swept most of these, how do you want the Local Government to function?”
“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.”