The Ooni of Ife has thrown his weight behind calls by the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) for local government autonomy.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to Ooni’s palace on Wednesday by the National President of NULGE, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, Ooni of Ife, His Majesty, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, commended the representatives of NULGE for their courtesy by stressed that the advocacy through the traditional rulers is long overdue.
“Your advocacy is long overdue. You should have engaged the traditional institutions to right the wrong because we are all interested in development of the entire population. The closest government to the people are the local government authorities.
“I assure you we will work together to get it to a logical conclusion. This is because of you are being denied your right and keep quiet, it is not right. If all the 774 local governments can be properly funded, development will spread faster than envisaged,” he concluded.
In his address, Comrade Khaleel said the union has embarked upon nationwide advocacy campaign due to the poor state of Local Government administration across the country.
According to him, “we are here to pay homage and take the advocacy to palaces and royal fathers and we are starting from here. The role of this palace in the country shows it is not by accident or sheer coincidence but deliberately chosen baring in mind how close the palace is to be he people and the God we all serve.
“You will agree, your majesty, that the purpose of creating local governments has been defeated and we think as workers we must make people know. We want better constitutional reforms to make local governments perform better.
“The process and the fund meant for local government administration have been hijacked and it is time for all Nigerians to come together and canvass through a peaceful process for a better local government administration.”
Comrade Khaleel argued that local government administration has suffered in the hands of the governors due to lacuna in the Constitution.
He emphasized five major areas where he sought for the support of His Royal Majesty which include: expungement of state independent national electoral commission and allows only INEC to conduct state elections; expungement of constitutional provision that established state/local governments joint accounts;
Creation of local government commission; provision of constitutional roles for traditional rulers and salaries of primary school teachers to be first line charge instead of being administered by local government authorities.
Comrade Khaleel said if these could be achieved, the country would be a better place.