Yemisi Ajayi, Ibadan
Workers at the grassroot level under the aegis of National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Oyo State Chapter yesterday storm major streets in the metropolis to demand to the autonomy of local government in the state.
The workers numbering about 800 dressed in various NULGE branded T-shirts also carried placards with various inscriptions to express their displeasure at governments refusal to allow the third tier of government operate independently of other tiers of the government.
The workers who had converged at the Labour House, headquarters of the umbrella body of the Unions in the state at about 9am marched through the streets singing various solidarity songs before heading to the Oyo State Government secretariat where they had a stop over at the State Assembly Complex to deliver their demands to the speaker of the House and the state governor thereafter.
The workers are demanding for financial, political and administrative autonomy.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) says Local Government Autonomy is a must and sacrosanct for the overall economic and social development of the grassroot”, “NULGE demands: financial autonomy, political autonomy, administrative autonomy. Without Local Government, no state government, no National government. Beware of mischief makers”
Others read: “LG autonomy is for development”, “Government should support LG autonomy”, “Scrap JAAC, conduit pipe for corruption”, “Scrap SIEC, wuru-wuru election”, “Save our future, support LG autonomy”, “LG Autonomy is beyond salaries”, “Let local government be”, “Hunger is a horrible killer than war. Please stop killing us with hunger”, among others.
The protesters were led by the State Chairman, Comrade Titilayo Sodo, the South West Chairman, Comrade Oludare Famofo in company of other state executive members.
Speaking before hitting the streets, Comrade Sodo called on the Federal and State government to implement the Supreme Court judgment of 2002 which negates continuous appointment of caretaker committee chairmen to run the affairs of local government noting that the practice has hindered the effective development of LGs across the country.
According to him, granting administrative autonomy to local government in the country will enhance quick development and growth at the grass roots level, which would translate to making democracy participatory and impactful on the people.
He also frowned at the system of operating joint account between the local and state government describing it as conduit of siphoning funds and depriving people at the grassroot of the needed development.
He said: “Our core demand in requesting for local government autonomy includes: political, financial and administrative autonomy of LGAs. Abolition of State/LGA joint account, payment of 10% internally generated revenue by State governments to LGAs, stopping the deduction from LGA’s federal revenue allocation by State governments.
“Proposal for payment of teachers’ salaries to be on first line charge of FAAC, abolition of SIEC and reverting the conduct of local government elections to INEC, implement the ruling of Supreme Court judgement against appointment of caretaker committees for LGs and reckless dissolution of elected local government councils”, the group demand.
Comrade Famofo in his remarks noted that the continued problem in the country is as a result of democracy not being practised at the grassroot level which he said is giving the workers serious concern.
Particularly, he identified the security challenges as the inability of the government to allow LG who is closer to the people operate based on their needs
While receiving the protesters, Speaker Oyo state house of Assembly, Hon. Micheal Adeyemo said the State Assembly supported the autonomy and would ensure the needful is done until the concern are addressed.