The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), on Monday faulted the much-publicised fight against corruption by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The union said it did not understand the over-hyped anti-corruption war by the two major anti-graft agencies; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
NULGE National President, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, made this declaration while speaking at the flag-off of the 40th anniversary celebration of NULGE at an event held in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.
Khaleel, who said that several petitions demanding the probe of the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) have been written by the association to the Presidency and anti-graft agencies, however, maintained that the association was surprised that nothing has been done to save the situation by the Presidency and the anti-graft agencies.
He accused the Presidency of indifference to the several petitions from its body and concerned Nigerians, demanding probe of the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) which many states are using as conduit pipes to siphon allocation from the federation account meant for the development of the grassroots.
Khaleel while speaking on the theme, “Local Government autonomy a must for national development”, said the widespread poverty, unrest in many states and underdevelopment of the local government areas were the resultant effects of not allowing allocation meant for the development of the councils to go directly to them.
He said, “Our body is in the forefront of the constitutional reforms to make local governments functional and deliver on the mandate setting it up as the third tier of government.
“The National Assembly is amending the constitution and has passed the baton to the state house of Assemblies but unfortunately almost 12 out of 36 states took decisions on the bill as at this morning. Out of these 12 states, only nine states adopted the resolution of the National Assembly for local government autonomy while the remaining three rejected it, leaving 26 others to say that they are still consulting.
“On the JAAC issue, it is also very unfortunate that even the fight against corruption of the current government of President Muhanmadu Buhari is very funny sometimes. Letters were written to the presidency demanding the intervention of Mr. President by way of investigating diversion of monies meant for development of rural areas by state governments.
“But to our utter dismay no response from the Federal Government and two of its most prominent anti graft agencies; the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt and other related Offences Commission (ICPC).
“We are helpless to a greater extent to hold whether the presidency has a hand in it, thinking aloud? We are completely confused about why the fight against corruption is ignoring the aspect of local government because nothing, up till now has been done to address this monster called JAAC.”
Professor Bayo Okunade of the department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, while speaking, dwelled extensively on why efficient and effective local government delivery system would serve as a panacea for national development.
A human rights activist, Comrade Femi Aborisade, in his remarks tasked NULGE to always kick against caretaker arrangement by state Governors to foist their cronies as council officials on local governments, because the practice was an aberration to the Nigerian constitution and the local government development agenda.
Permanent Secretary in Oyo state Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and former state NULGE president, Dr. Bashir Olanrewaju, said if the recent attempts at constitutional amendments are pursued to logical conclusions, then the NULGE and by extension, Nigerians can start thinking of a more responsive local government administration that can deliver on its constitutional duties and responsibilities.
State NULGE president, Comrade Bayo Titilolola-Sodo, who described JAAC as state government procurement centres, tasked citizens to rise against the current system where no development is taking place at the local government levels.