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By: Ade Adeleke
The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Ondo State Chapter has expressed satisfaction with the decision of the federal government to grant financial autonomy to local governments in the country which will take effect from the first of next month.
The State President of the Union, Comrade Bola Taiwo told newsmen in Akure that the federal government’s directive that makes it compulsory for all local councils’ allocations to go straight to their respective bank accounts without being trampled with by the Joint Allocation Account Committee (JAAC) or state governments.
Comrade Bola Taiwo who commended the administration of governor Akeredolu for not misappropriating the 18 local governments monthly allocations, explained that the Central bank, EFCC, the newly set up National Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU and other stakeholders would monitor the implementation of the local governments’ financial autonomy.
The NULGE president said special trainings would soon be organised for councils’ workers on how to enforce compliance and implement the autonomy.
Comrade Bola Taiwo however called for local government election in Ondo state and advocated law against the appointment of caretaker chairmen to pilot affairs of council areas as they were being used to siphon funds in some states.
He commended the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buharu on the recently introduced financial guidelines for Local Governments by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU),saying it would ensure transparency and grassroots development.
Bola Taiwo said that the move was laudable because local government autonomy had been a priority of the union for long.
“We are happy because this is a dream comes true. We have been yearning and agitating for this because autonomy to local government has been our priority,” he said.
According to him, the new guidelines serve as a mechanism that will safeguard, protect and allow for transparency in the local government joint account management.
“Joint account allocation committee is a constitutional matter but the modification just made is to stop siphoning our money,”he explained.
He noted that the union would train and educate its members to look into activities of each local government so that there would not be any violation of the guidelines.
“It is said that anybody that violates this rule will be dealt with and if there are violations the union must cry out immediately,” Bola Taiwo said.
He applauded the state government for not diverting money meant for local councils in the state.
“I want to say it categorically that Ondo State governor does not tamper with local government money rather he gives local councils 100 per cent freedom to deliberate on their money.
“So, he does not indulge in anything that is against rules and regulations,”he stated.
The state NULGE President, therefore, enjoined the state government operating caretaker committees as administrators to desist, saying such step was not a true representation.
“Election at local government area is another issue that must be taken seriously by state government.
“Setting up caretakers committee to man affairs of local council is another means of siphoning money because the committee members are not elected but chosen by governors whom they are accountable to.
“Therefore, all caretaker committees should be sacked,” he tasked.
Bola Taiwo advised the state government to take caution on its plan to create local council development areas, saying sustainable funds might be a great challenge.