The National President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees NULGE, Comrade Ambali Akeem Olatunji has described the neglect and usurpation of the roles of local government by those he described as state political actors as major factor contributing to increase in the rate of poverty, unemployment and crimes.
Comrade Olatunji who spoke in Ado Ekiti during an exclusive interview with Roundoffnews after declaring open a youth conference affirmed that the way out of the aforementioned challenges is for government to grant total financial independence to the third tier of government.
According to him, if the local government is allowed to operate in line with the dictate of the laws, some of the major challenges which has crippled the progress of the country will have been tackled.
His words “No reasonable person will be satisfied with the current state of our local government system today, we have all witnessed systematic destruction of the local government system by state political actors.
” Unfortunately, the local government is supposed to be the hope of Nigerians because it is the most relevant, strategic and accessible tier of government but reverse is the case.
“Around 1979 -1984, we had a semi local government autonomy and that was when the council operated properly and recorded some great feats such as electrification of rural areas, opening of rural roads, provision of potable water. It also organized vocational programme for youths and women and it was at that time that we had a formidable and effective security system.
“The most popular tier of government is the local government but it has been destroyed through conspiracy by political leaders who because of greed and selfishness cornered local government allocation and also used the instrument of state laws to seize local government IGR.
“The collection of some dues are sole responsibility of local government as highlighted in the constitution but state government through the use of house of assembly highjacked this roles.
According to him, the setting up of signage, land use charges, collection of fees from parks and tenement rates were sole responsibility of the local government which are means of generating IGR to support Federal Allocation which would now be used to cater for the needs of people at the grassroots but such system had be upturned.
“This is why you now have youth restiveness because no state government can provide jobs to all the youths, in the past we had instances where local government were empowering youths and women and giving out bursaries to students but that has become a mirage as the state actors now highjacked local government allocations and misapplied them.
Speaking on the youth conference, Comrade Akeem Olatunji said it was an initiative to prepare youths in the local government system for future leadership task and to also give them orientation on how best to cross the hurdles of unionism.
“We believe in our Union and if we must have a vibrant Union and future it is time to build the capacity of our youths and sharpen their skills.
Comrade Olatunji showered encomium of the NULGE president in Ekiti, Comrade Oluseyi Olatunde for the great achievements he had recorded in office urging him to sustain the tempo.