* lauds FG, NFIU on LG autonomy initiative
The president of Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in Niger state, Comrade Idris Lafene, has hailed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the federal government for the recent directive on local government fund.
Speaking with newsmen on Sunday in Minna, Comrade Lafene said the move signifies a giant leap towards the most sought after autonomy which would make local governments administratively and financially independent of state governments.
He said the consistent abuse of the partial autonomy granted the councils in the 1999 constitution by governors had hitherto drawn the development fulcrum at the third tier of government backward with the attendant poor living standard and consequent urban migration.
Shedding light on how the joint account is abuse, Comrade Lafene alleged that state governors always come up with ideas of phony projects which they compel councils to buy into while state governments disburse the supposed contract sums.
He also claimed that state governments often compel councils to provide office accommodation for their agencies and those of the federal government located in a host local government area, while also forcing the affected council to partake and most times, even fund their programmes.
“What is more, state governments even directly impose their own statutory responsibility on the councils, while they disburse monies to fund such endeavours from the joint account.
“Take the issue of primary education for instance, the guideline stated that all the tier of government must contribute certain percentage but what is happening is that local government areas are made to finance primary education 100 percent, including payment of teachers’ salaries,” he claimed.
He said such attitude had stifled development at the grassroots, increase unemployment and crime rates, lamenting that state governments since the restoration of democracy in 1999 treated the local councils as mere appendages.
According to him, the NFIU directive which will be effective from 1st June, 2019 would make the joint account system only exist for the purpose of receiving allocations from the federation account and not for disbursement.
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