From James Ogunnaike, Abeokuta
The Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Ogun State chapter, Comrade Akeem Ambali has called on the state government and other well-meaning Nigerians to support the call for local government financial autonomy in Nigeria, saying this will enable the third tier of government in the country perform its primary roles at the grassroots.
According to Ambali, who made the call in Abeokuta, this will reduce the political pressure on the state government in delivering dividends of democracy to the people at the grassroots.
“Labour Congress has keenly watched various debates as it concerns the existence role and performance of local government system in Nigeria, the amount of energy, concern and attention given to this major issue has further confirmed that all Nigerians irrespective of creed or tribe believe that local government should be the bed rest of democratic growth and development”
“The anger of most Nigerians can therefore be situated within performance or non-performance index by various shades of opinion”, Ambali said.
He noted that Ogun Labour believed firmly in the efficient local government administration, which he described as pivotal of development, instead of stifling local government, stressing that “we, therefore, opined that we should collectively strengthen the system”.
The workers’ union leader also disagreed with a call from some quarters that the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) should be abolished while roles of the agency should be transferred the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), positing that the call contracts the spirit of true federalism in the country.
He affirmed that the call was as a result of the “sub-standard electoral performance of SIEC, which he said is not too independent in some states”.
Ambali said rather than calling for total abolition of SIEC, the laws and guidelines regulating the establishment and monitoring of the electoral body at both the federal and state levels should be amended in area of composition of membership, adding that they should be allowed to choose their Chairmen and Secretaries and that they should be answerable to the Judiciary, which is expected to inaugurate them.