James Sowole in Akure
Akure, the Ondo State capital, stood still TuesdayÂ as labour unions joined workers under the umbrella of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) at a rally to press home the demand for local government autonomy in the country.
The rally by the workers from the 18 local government areas of the state, caused traffic snarl on the popular Oyemekun and Arakale roads as participants displayed placards with various inscriptions as they sang solidarity songs to press home their demands before heading to the state House of Assembly complex.
The rally was supported by members of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Judiciary Staff of Nigeria (JUSUN) to lobby the lawmakers at the state assembly for the smooth passage of the bill.
Speaking at the state House of Assembly chamber, the National President of NULGE, Ibrahim Khaleel, said the rally became imperative to keep the lawmakers abreast of the development before the bill is being transmitted to them for ratification.
Khaleel who was represented by the National Publicity Secretary of NULGE, Emmanuel Fashe, said granting local government autonomy would go a long way to checkmate corruption in the country while local government will be empowered politically and financially.
He noted that the agitations for the local government autonomy had been on for decades and nearly actualised some years ago but was aborted midway.
He explained that the local government autonomy will â€œaid rapid development and bring about continuous capacity building for effective leadership.
â€œLocal government autonomy is not about local government staff alone but it is about Nigerians, itâ€™s about equal participation and even distribution of our wealth to the grassroots populace,â€ he said.
He appealed to members of the state House of Assembly not to kick against the bill, noting that some lawmakers at the National Assembly who once kicked against local government autonomy in their various states have turned around to become advocates of the bill.
He said: â€œWe are counting on your support, your support for the local government autonomy is essential and with your support, the battle for autonomy would be won soonâ€
In his response, the Speaker of the Ondo House of Assembly, Hon. David Oleyelogun, commended the NULGE leadership and stressed the need for a functional local government system.
Oleyelogun who was represented by Chairman House Committee on Information, Hon. Olamide George said: â€œWe have listened to you and what is important to us is to support your agitation.
â€œWe all need to embrace local government autonomy to give us enabling environment for development and this agitations must be a collective effort and we shall stand by you to achieve this agitationâ€