Anxiety as Kwara Assembly resumes plenary on LG autonomy, others

Date: 2017-12-11

The Kwara State House of Assembly (KWHA) will at its plenary on Wednesday consider the issue of local government autonomy among other constitutional amendments as part of efforts to the bill ready before assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.

This is coming amidst anxiety from relevant stakeholders in the state some of whom have held series of meetings to get the support of the lawmakers over the matter.

Other issues that will be considered during the amendment include autonomy for state assemblies, devolution of powers and scrapping of state Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) to allow Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conduct local government elections in Nigeria, among others.

The KWHA, which had suspended plenary till December 19, 2017 to have ample time for budget defence by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) said it will resume Wednesday to consider the amendment bill.

It was gathered that a circular had earlier been sent to the 36 states Houses of Assembly, Kwara inclusive, by the National Assembly for their inputs on the amendment.

The Senate had proposed a total of 32 amendments to the constitution to be transmitted to the 36 state Houses of Assembly for deliberation and passage.

But stakeholders in the state, including the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in separate interviews with National Pilot reacted to the issue last night.

The state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), an umbrella body of workers in the state kept sealed lips over the issue last night. Several calls and text messages forwarded to the state chairman, Comrade Yekeen Agunbiade, last night, were neither picked nor responded to.

However, the state Secretary of NULGE, Hotonu Rafiu, commenting on the issue, solicited for the support of the lawmakers for the local government autonomy, adding that it was long overdue.

He denied reports that NULGE's National President, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel is against LGs autonomy.

"We are soliciting for the support of the lawmakers on the issue of autonomy which is long overdue. Our National President never said we don't want autonomy as being reported in some quarters. He is even the one that is championing it and that is why he is referred to as 'Mr Autonomy'.

The NUT Secretary, Comrade Ola Idris, told this medium that the expectation of teachers is that the House will vote to separate the teachers' salaries from the purview of the local government and make it a first line charge.

On his part, the state chairman of TUC, Comrade Kolawole Olumoh said although there had been autonomy in the state because of transparency in the manner the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) meeting is held, this present an opportunity to have real autonomy going forward.

He said the TUC expect the lawmakers to justify the efforts to make laws upon which they were established.

Recall that the Conferences of Speakers, few months ago in Yobe, had voted in favour of the local government autonomy even though some states had expressed caution over the matter.

According to the Chairman of the conference who is also the Speaker of Kebbi State House of Assembly, Alhaji Ismail Abdulmumini Kamba, the conference will conduct a public hearing on the issue of autonomy for local governments in order to harness more inputs from the Nigerian public.

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