NULGE seeks dissolution of state electoral bodies, council autonomy
‘Southern lawmakers didn’t sell out during constitution amendment’
Current efforts at granting autonomy to local councils may be meaningless unless state electoral commissions are disbanded and tenure administrators at the third tier of government guaranteed, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has said.
Speaking yesterday at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, the association’s national president, Ibrahim Khaleel, faulted the submission of Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State that the ‘Kiriji’ war was fought to entrench federalism.
Canvassing that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should conduct elections at the council level, the NULGE boss noted that the only credible election at that tier of government was the one conducted in 1999 by the federal electoral umpire.
He argued that subsequent polls superintended by state electoral commissions had fallen short of credibility. Khaleel submitted that a review would engender service delivery, as communities would be able to hold public office holders accountable.
He added that credible elections, which according to him could only be guaranteed by INEC, would not only promote responsible leadership at that level of government, but also serve as foundation for inclusive and sustainable development.
The defeat of a bill to scrap the state electoral commissions at the House of Representatives notwithstanding, Khaleel said NULGE remains hopeful about the repeal when both chambers of the National Assembly meet to harmonise opinions.
On Aregbesola, he said: “This is a distortion of history. The historical fact is that the popular Kiriji war was fought because the Ijesha and Ekiti people did not want the regime of recklessness imposed on them by Ibadan warlords.”
Khaleel recalled that as a tier of government, state came into existence in 1968 as a military strategy to whittle down Biafra agitation.His words: “It is curious to note in history that local governments that had existed and recognised as a tier of government by the 1885-1886 Berlin Conference and the Charter of Amalgamation of 1914 will now be struggling for recognition from the governor of a state only created on August 27, 1991. This is unfortunate.”
He hinted that his association was engaging the governors on the importance of the councils to the speedy development of the country.Meanwhile, the representative of Ekiti North Federal Constituency 1 in the House of Representatives, Kehinde Agboola, has refuted claims that southern lawmakers sold out during voting on the amendment of the constitution, especially the bill advocating for devolution of powers.The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislator said they were instead outnumbered by their northern colleagues.