From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has said members made a huge sacrifice by voting in support of financial autonomy for local governments.
Speaking when he received a delegation from the National Union of local government Employees (NULGE) and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in his office, yesterday, Dogara said with the National Assembly backing financial independence for councils during the constitution amendment, the responsibility to make it a reality now lies with state legislatures.
“We’ve sacrificed a lot. I believe if the voting records are published today, some members may not even come back to this House on account of that single decision to vote for local government autonomy.
“That is not to say all governors are against it; I have spoken with quite a number of them and they want local government if that will crystalise the kind of development we anticipate at the local level.
“That is not to say all of them will want that to take place, but as lovers of democracy, we have been bothered by the condition at the grassroots, and if we don’t address those conditions at the grassroots by generating more opportunities, certain ills that we seek to overcome will not be overcome,” he said.
The Speaker called for a repositioning of governance at the local government level and said it will make Nigerians less interested in getting into situations that make them victims of human trafficking and slave trade.
He said most Nigerians seeking greener pastures risk their lives by traveling to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.
Dogara called for developmental activities in the grassroots, which he maintained can only be achieved when local governments are granted independence and solicited the support of all stakeholders and Nigerians in lobbying their state houses of assembly to approve the proposed law to grant independence to local governments.
Earlier, the leader of the joint delegation, Ephraim Iyke, commended the Speaker for consistently pushing for the autonomy of local government councils.
“The way you have been so highly committed towards the affairs of local governments as it concerns our desire for local governments to be granted autonomy, you will agree with us, Mr Speaker, that the speedy passage of this bill is a testimony.
We cannot do anything for you, but we know that God certainly will reward you. You may not know what you have done, but we want to assure you that this effort of yours will never go unnoticed. God, certainly, must reward you,” he said.