From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The forum of Association of Heads of Local Government Administration in Edo State has disagreed with the state chairman of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Mr Lazarus Adorolo, over allegation that Governor Godwin Obaseki was perpetrating corruption and illegality at the 18 Local Government Councils in state.
The forum in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, Desmond Imonike, (Etsako East) Local Government, Ahonsi Matthias, (Ovia North East) and Shaibu Ekha Ademola, (Owan East), described Adorolo’s comments as mischievous and crass display of ignorance of working at the Local Government Councils.
It said Governor Godwin Obaseki’s ingenuity has brought increase in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and thus improve governance at the Councils and condemned the statement by Adorolo, saying it is not a reflection of governance at the Councils.
Besides, the forum explained that with the improvement in the IGR of the Councils through some measures by the State Government, they have been up to date with wage bill obligations as well as carrying out some developmental projects.
It said the State Government has not introduce any extraneous factor in the sharing of the federal allocation and other sources of revenue to the 18 Councils outside what is permitted by law, adding that contrary to Adorolo’s position that the Councils were not involved in revenue sharing, the administrators participate fully in the Pre- Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) and the actual JAAC.
“We have read the press statement made by the State President of NULGE and wish to state without equivocation that the statement was made in ignorance without knowing the workings of Government.
“First and foremost, we the helmsmen at the 18 local governments participate fully in both the pre JAAC and actual JAAC meetings where the proceeds of the Federation Accounts due to the 18 local governments are shared amongst us.
“At such meetings, there is always a robust debate before decisions are reached and the money distributed accordingly.
“The State Government does not introduce any extraneous factor in the sharing outside what is permitted by law.
“On the issue of ten percent internal revenue generated by the state government being added to sharing, it is strange because subsequent Governors from Igbinedion to Oshiomhole has never shared such among Councils.
“We are baffled and cannot explain why the state president of NULGE would single out the Obaseki administration as a culprit, this beats our imagination.
“Since April 2021 and due to the Obaseki Administration efforts at repositioning the Councils, salaries are regular and efforts are on top gear to settle the backlogs”, the statement added.
The explained that the decline in revenue accruing to the Councils from the federation was due to the present economic crunch and therefore, on the NULGE chairman to mobilise his members for revenue drive to improve Internally Generated Revenue.
“Due to the present economic crunch, payment of levies at the local levels have dwindled and in addition, the price of crude oil has fallen and the resultant effect is the reduction of revenue in the local governments nationwide and Edo State is not an exception.
“So what one would expect from the State Chairman is first and foremost to express his gratitude to the State Governor for saving the Councils from total collapse and mobilise his members for revenue drive instead of this kind of vituperations which would do no one any good”, the statement further said.