Former National General Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Alhaji A. Salam, has called for the immediate abolishment of joint account of state and local government; describing it as an aberration.
Salam, who is presently the National Secretary of the Labour Party (LP) also spoke against the creation of more states, stating that it was a waste of resources and the need for local government autonomy and its continued existence. He described the state and local government joint account as an aberration, which should be abolished immediately.
According to him, “All over the world, local government and rural development are considered necessary and important. Commonwealth policy has a lot of development and improvement on local government, so all over the world people will say you should scrap or cancel the third tiers of government, because that is the basis for democracy.
“It is the basis and root for development and civilisation in any part of the world so for anybody in his right sense in Nigeria to think of scrapping the local government is to say the least. Most importantly, it is however unfortunate that what is happening in virtually all the states is that the governors have hijacked the funds meant for local governments.
Stressing the need for local government to be properly funded, he emphasised that adequate funding and autonomy is needed so that development at the grassroots would be apparent. “It will meet the yearnings, hopes and aspirations of the people. So, local government should be allowed to carry out the democratic responsibilities expected of it,” he added.
On joint account, he said: “It should be removed and every local government should be paid directly its money and budgetary allocations. Local government should be seen as a tier of government and should be so allowed to operate as a tier of government, not as subordinate, not as a department of state government. The National Assembly should give all the local governments the autonomy they deserved.
“The powers of local government are being suffocated, the administration of local government is also been suffocated. They are not allowed the money that is due to them to get to them. Will you believe that in some states they give every local government N10 million to operate, a local government that is entitled to N100 million or more, they just give them N10 million, and that is all.
“After paying salaries that is all. The attention today is the state government, let the local government be given the needed autonomy and let us see the extent at which they will work,” he added.