By Ogheneuvede Ohwovoriole in Abuja
The need to ratify total autonomy for local government areas and ensure the welfare of vice chairmen would dominate discussions at the first conference of the Association of Local Government Chairmen scheduled to begin in Abuja tomorrow.
According to the National Chairman of the association, Mr. Lawrence Onuchukwu, there is a need to lobby members of the state assemblies who are yet to approve the autonomy following the approval by the National Assembly.
Onuchukwu, who is also the Vice Chairman of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), told journalists yesterday in Abuja that the association was set up principally to address the welfare of its members rather than compete with chairmen of local councils.
He said the conference aims at finding solutions to some germane national issues with contributions from resource persons who are well known experts in different fields.
Noting that only 12 out of the 36 state assemblies have approved the bill on local government autonomy, he said the association would soon embark on intense lobbying with the state assemblies to see need in approving the recommendation as it will benefit the grassroots.
According to him, “Since the National Assembly approved the autonomy for us, only 12 state assemblies have gone ahead to approve the bill as we speak. We are also appealing to the states that have not done so to expedite action on the passage of the constitutional amendment. Let me note that this is not about the position of the governors but about the development of the country. When the LGAs are independent, the grassroots will be developed. We have to do this to deepen our democracy.”
Debunking insinuations that the body could be at loggerheads with chairmen who should be their direct bosses, Onuchukwu said the constitution guarantees freedom of association to all members of the society and the local government vice chairmen should not be an exception, noting that the welfare of its members is paramount.