Abuja – The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has commended the House of Representatives for its support to granting financial autonomy to local government councils.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that a bill seeking to grant financial autonomy to local government councils recently passed for second reading in the House of Representatives.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency, Abia, seeks to abolish State and Local Government Joint Account, by altering Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution.
The bill, when passed into law, will establish Local Government Council Allocation Account, into which all funds to councils from Federation Account shall be paid into.
Disbursement of funds shall be effected through a bye-law passed by the local government legislative council.
Onyejeocha noted that the bill would strengthen the councils, as state governments had capitalised on the joint account to starve local government councils of funds.
Mr Leonard Nkah, NULGE President, Ebonyi chapter, who spoke on the issue in a telephone interview, said the branch was gladdened by the passage of the bill for second reading in the House of Representatives.
“We at NULGE Ebonyi branch are gladdened and encouraged by the successful passage of vital stages required towards granting local government councils financial autonomy.
“This is what NULGE has been advocating, abolition of the current system which has killed independence of local government councils and turned the system into area offices.’’
Nkah pleaded with the Senate to at the appropriate time endorse the amendment, adding that President Buhari shares the same vision with NULGE.
“The National Assembly should go further and grant political autonomy to LGs through the compulsory conduct of elections, as at when due through INEC, this is also very important,’’ Nkah added.
He noted that Buhari in his inaugural speech, expressed worry about happening in the councils, and specifically mentioned the joint account.
According to Buhari in his inaugural speech: “Constitutionally there are limits to powers of each of the three tiers of government, but that should not mean the Federal Government should fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the states and local governments.
“Not least the operations of the Local Government Joint Account. While the Federal Government cannot interfere in the details of its operations, it will ensure that the gross corruption at the local level is checked.
“As far as the constitution allows me, I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country.
Nkah stressed the need to strengthen the local government system, adding that an efficient local government administration would boost economic prosperity.
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