The National President, Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Akeem Ambali, has said that the union planned to meet with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) over the delayed passage of the local government autonomy bill next week.
The union would also embark on rallies across the country as part of advocacy to ensure accelerated passage of the bill by the various state houses of assembly.
The National Assembly had on March 29, 2022, transmitted 44 Constitution alteration bills to the 36 state Houses of Assembly for concurrence.
The bills are seeking to amend various parts of the 1999 Constitution.
The National Assembly had on March 1, 2022, voted on the 68 amendments recommended by the Joint Senate and House of Representatives’ Special Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.
To amend a clause in the Constitution, two-third or four-fifth majority of each of the Senate and the House has to approve the amendment after which it will be transmitted to the state Houses of Assembly, where two-third or 24 of the 36 of them have to concur.
However, nine months after the transmission of the bills, many states were said to have refused to vote for local government autonomy.
The Chairman, Conference of Speakers, Abubakar Suleiman disclosed to The PUNCH on Tuesday that 21 states have passed the amendment bills as of December 6, 2022.
This newspaper reliably gathered that Lagos, Ekiti and Benue Houses of Assembly opposed the autonomy for the local governments, while Adamawa State parliament abstained from the bill proposing the autonomy.
A breakdown of the votes forwarded to our correspondent showed that Abia, Kogi, Edo, Ogun, Katsina, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Nasarawa, Niger, Kaduna, Cross- River, Osun, Enugu, Kano and Bauchi states voted for LG autonomy.
The 9th National Assembly had budgeted N4bn for the Constitution review exercise.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase, who are Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Special Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, respectively, had on October 18, 2022, vented their anger over the delay in passing the bills by the state assemblies.
Worried by the lukewarm attitude to the constitution review exercise, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila have rallied support for the quick passage of the amendment bills.
But responding to questions on the delayed passage of the local government autonomy bill, on Tuesday, the NULGE President, Ambali, said “We have planned to commence advocacy and rallies across the state assemblies to ensure its passage from next week.
“We also want to pay a courtesy call on the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria with an aggressive media campaign with NGOs, civil society groups and labour movement.”
Reacting to insinuations that governors were opposed to the LG autonomy bill, the President, Association of Local Government of Nigeria, Kolade Alabi said the majority of governors he spoke with were not opposed to the idea.
He said, “Local Government autonomy will definitely come to fruition. The best way we can develop this country is through a bottom-top approach to governance. Any other way will be counterproductive. If we all want prosperous Nigeria, we need local content. We have to now begin to think of doing our things from bottom to the top.
“We must have decentralization and devolution of power, it has to be. Morocco is succeeding because it has a proper bottom-top approach to governance. I’m not aware of any governor that is opposed to Local Government autonomy.
‘’But what I know is that a sizable number of governors that I’ve engaged all want local government autonomy. And any governor that wants a prosperous Nigeria must embrace LG autonomy. It’ll definitely come to fruition, as that is the only way we can improve the lives of Nigerians.”