From: Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
A group, the Association of Ex-Local Government Chairmen of Nigeria (ASELGON) has advocated that the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), be made part of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).
This, according to the group, would allow for representation of ALGON in the monthly FAAC meetings.
The group did not mind if ALGON would be accepted into the FAAC meeting as a observer.
The call was contained in a communiqué, jointly signer by the President and the National Secretary of ASELGON, Messrs. Albert Ashipa and Aliyu Gurin, repectively, after the quarterly meeting of the association’s National Working Committee held, on Monday, in Sagamu, Ogun State.
The communiqué pointed out that the much touted local government autonomy would continue to be a mirage, if ALGON was not allowed to be part of the revenue allocation meeting in Abuja adding, “such step would allow local governments to observe and monitor the proceedings at the FAAC, and thus give them the inkling on how funds accrued to them are being allocated”.
The body, which expressed dismay over how some state assemblies connived with state governors to thwart the constitutional amendment on the autonomy of local government councils, equally advocated pensions and other benefits being enjoyed by former state governors, to be extended to former local government chairmen.
The communiqué read in part: “To further agitate for real autonomy for LGs in the country, this association, hereby, called for the allowance for, at least, one ALGON representative to attend FAAC meeting, even if it is just as an observer.
“The association also felt that agitating for fiscal autonomy for local governments is not enough, hence, pensions and other benefits being enjoyed by former state governors, should also be extended to ex-local government chairmen.
“In the same manner, ASELGON, expressed serious concern over how some state assemblies have been conniving with their respective state governors, to thwart the effort on the constitutional amendment to kick-start the process that will lead to the freedom of LGs from the grip of state governments. We hereby charge the State House of Assemblies to support our call for true autonomy for local governments in the country, so that they can be more empowered to deliver goodies of democracy to the grassroots people”.
The association, however, disclosed that it had established a cordial working relationship with trade unions such as NUJ, NLC, RATTAWU and NULGE, and hinted that it would further solicit the cooperation and support of governors Nyesom Wike and Ifeanyi Okowa of Rivers and Delta states, respectively, who were once Local Government chairmen.
ASELGON then urged President Muhammadu Buhari to consult its members on programmes capable of espousing grassroots development submitting “political experiences of former chairmen of 774 local governments in Nigeria are no joke”.