George Okoh in Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has expressed the willingness of the state government to grant local governments autonomy once the National Assembly passes the bill.
Giving this indication while playing host to the National President of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Ibrahim Khaleel, at the Benue People’s House yesterday in Makurdi, Ortom said his administration had already started implementing autonomy for local governments through transparent management of resources.
“We will not interfere with local government funds, I was a local government chairman; once the people express desire for local government autonomy, I will go with them,” the governor assured.
He said the transparent manner in which he handles the issue of money by involving workers and their leaders in the sharing of every kobo that comes into the state’s coffers speaks volumes and acknowledged the positive roles of the state branch of NULGE in his administration.
While stressing that Benue is a civil service state, the governor said efforts are being made to diversify the economy especially in the area of agriculture where the state has comparative advantage.
The governor thanked Khaleel for paying a condolence visit to Terungwa Igbe who lost his son, Elvis, and noted that God would also visit the national leadership of NULGE in its times of their needs.
Earlier, Khaleel had commended Ortom for being transparent in the management of the affairs of the state.
He particularly praised him for carrying union leaders along on issues concerning the utilisation of funds, pointing out that interference from some state governments has made NULGE to urge the National Assembly to quickly pass the bill on local government autonomy.
Khaleel urged the governor to continue to be honest in his dealings with the people and observed that when granted, local government autonomy would ease governance in Nigeria.
He also advocated for the decentralisation of the local government system, stressing that people at the grassroots would feel better impact of governance when effected.
The state chairman of NULGE, Igbe, who spoke before Khaleel had disclosed that NULGE and other unions in Benue identified the governor as a God-fearing person who carries the people along.