By Emmanuel Acha
Enugu – The Enugu State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has taken the clamour for the autonomy of the third tier of government to the streets.
Members of the NULGE, who staged a street rally on Wednesday in Enugu that terminated at the State House of Assembly, vowed to resist impediments to the actualisation of the goal.
Led by its President, Mr Kenneth Ugwueze, the union and its affiliates took off from New Berries, GRA and passed through Oguiyi Road.
The group moved to Bissala Road and then joined Presidential Road through Rangers Ave. and finally terminated at the state assembly where they were received by the Speaker, Chief Edward Ubosi.
Addressing the speaker, the NULGE National Treasurer, Mr Ambali Akeem, said that the quest for local government autonomy was a just cause.
Akeem described the local government as service centres where over 75 per cent of the Nigerian populace reside.
He, however, said it was sad that such areas seemed neglected which had occasioned poverty among the inhabitants.
“This struggle is not about salary increase but defining our future as a people and country.
“If we miss this opportunity, we would have missed a chance to advance the progress of this country,” he said.
The national treasurer said that the third tier of government needed direct funding to strengthen the capacity of its administrators.
“It does not require chairmen and councillors who are surrogates of a state governor. We equally want the State Independent Electoral Commissions scrapped because it is a mockery of democracy,” he said.
Akeem said that the current state of local government administration encouraged politics of exclusion, adding that such bred violence.
“We also need a stronger primary education system. Gone are the days local government councils would shoulder the responsibilities of primary education without autonomy,” he said.
Akeem said that NULGE also wanted the tenure of elected officials in the third tier spelt out by the constitution and elections conducted simultaneously across the country.
Responding, Ubosi said that he was an advocate of local government autonomy having started his political career as a councillor.
The speaker, who is also the National Vice Chairman of Conference of State Houses of Assembly, however, said that the advocates of such autonomy needed to consult and lobby more to achieve their aim.
“I cannot be an obstacle to the quest for local government autonomy while we are also fighting for the financial autonomy of the state houses of assembly.
“But you need to do more consultations and engage your representatives because they are the ones that will vote on the issue,” he said.
Earlier, the state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Virginia Nwobodo, said that any attempt to frustrate the move would be unacceptable by workers.
Nwobodo said that the NLC was in full support of NULGE in the quest. (NAN)