The National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Kwara Chapter, on Friday protested to the state House of Assembly to renew their call for total autonomy for local governments in the country.
The Local Government workers in the state defiled the early morning rain and marched to the Assembly to present their position paper to the Speaker, Dr Hamad Alli.
The protest that kicked off from Unity Road had in attendance NLC chairman in Kwara, Mr Yekini Agunbiade, officials of Medical and Health Workers Union, RATTAWU and NULGE National Vice President, South East, Mr Patrick Igwe.
Presenting the position paper to the Speaker, Igwe, who represented the National President, Mr Ibrahim Khaliel said NULGE was in the Assembly to seek their support for the councils' autonomy.
He told the Speaker, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Mr Mathew Okedare that NULGE was calling for the political, financial and administrative autonomy of the local governments in the country.
"Some of the challenges of Local Governments in Nigeria include continual encroachment by the State Governments."This has led to the severe erosion of the Local Government autonomy - financial, political and administrative.
"As a matter of fact, local governments are compelled to shoulder some responsibilities of expenditure of the Federal and State agencies," Khaliel added.
The NULGE President, therefore, called for the removal of funding of Junior Secondary School (JSS) education from the local government as it was the responsibility of the state government.
Khaliel was of the view that granting autonomy to local government will enable it to develop as a tier of government with the capacity to discharge its responsibilities to its constituents.
He said it will also strengthen democratic decentralization of power in the hands of citizens at the grassroots level of governance.
The president also said LG autonomy will guarantee regular payment of salary and emoluments of workers since State's control over allocation would not be prevalent.
He described the contracting of the collection of local government's Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to a consultant as unconstitutional and usurpation of the statutory constitutional function of the local government.
NULGE president, therefore, called for the reverting of IGR collection back to the local governments as they have qualified and capable staff to carry out the function.
Khaliel appealed to the Speaker to support the bill on the autonomy when presented to the House to rescue the local government system from collapsing.
Responding, Okedare pledged the readiness of the House to give speedy consideration to local government autonomy bill when it is brought to the floor of the House.
According to him, granting full autonomy to local governments in the country will ensure rapid development at the grassroots.
The deputy speaker assured the protesting NULGE members that he will table their demands with the speaker, adding that Kwara Assembly has been in the forefront of the call for autonomy for local governments.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Ethics and privilege, Kamal Fagbemi said the constitution of the country identified local government as a tier of government, hence the need for its autonomy.
He said the House is fully ready to support the bill on Local Government's autonomy in the areas of political, finance and administrative.