…Demands special rural workers allowance
The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, on Tuesday highlighted the urgent need to create more local government areas in the country.
NULGE also mentioned some of the criteria that need to be considered in creating new local government and development centres in a bid to bring development to the rural dwellers.
This is because the union has also called for a special package for workers in rural areas to serve as a moral booster to reduce urban migration.
The creation of more Local Government Areas (LGAs) will cut across the 36 states, with the view to unbundle the high population in each of the existing 774 LGAs.
Speaking at the match-past/parade ceremony organised to mark its maiden week, in Abuja, NULGE national president, Comrade Ambali Olatunji recommended a new reclassification of the LGAs based on status and viability.
According to him, “Nigeria’s population had increased astronomically over the years, the existing 774 Local Government is grossly inadequate, there is need to set standard criteria for more Local Government creation based on population, land mass, revenue generation potentials.
“Any community that has a population of 500,000, minimum of two secondary schools and four primary schools, health centres, market and traditional rulers should be deemed qualified for a provisional Local Government once a referendum is conducted by INEC with elected representatives.
“It is also recommended that there is a need to re-classify the existing Nigeria Local Government Councils into Local Government Development Areas, districts, city councils etc based on status and viability. The unitary system of Local Government is no longer realistic and lopsided.”
Olatunji, who raised concerns over the infrastructural deficit at the LGAs resulting in massive rural-urban drift, said there was a need to make available the needed tools and equipment at communities in LGAs to help improve the living standards and security in local communities.
He contended that “The dilapidated nature of infrastructures in the various communities across Nigeria call for concern and need concerted efforts to address it.
“This had led to rural-urban drift leading to overpopulation, pollution and increased criminal amenities in our urban centres due to lack of adequate amenities in our rural areas, public roads are no longer available at the local government level, lack of accessible roads, polluted water source, indiscriminate waste disposal, lack of farm equipment, dilapidated walls and classrooms dilapidated primary health care centres are the order of the day.
“In the mind of an average Nigerian, Local Government is at the emergency ward living on oxygen hence there is a need to do something unusual to save it from imminent death and extinction.
“An intervention unit under the Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs is urgently needed to bring dividend of democracy to the grassroots and ensure positive growth and development across the nooks and crannies of the country.
“Give us infrastructural support in terms of equipment like graders, tad boilers, tractors for farming, cesspit emptiers, refuse disposal vans and vocational skills acquisition equipment to train and empower youths and rural women.
“This we humbly plead for to make the country functional at the local government level. The intervention should be from the ministry directly to the 774 local governments.”
Other demands were the expansion of social interventions across the 774 local governments, a review of the “outdated” 2006 scheme of service, a special rural workers allowance to motivate workers seeking to work in urban areas, inclusion of local government service commission and auditor general for local government service in the constitution, establishment of public service joint negotiating council, and establishment of a national institute for local government studies.
He further appealed to the 10th National Assembly to complete the process kick-started by the 9th Assembly in granting autonomy to the local governments.
“He said, The myriad of problems bedevilling this nation can be situated within the dysfunctional nature of the council which incidentally is the most strategic, most relevant and closest to the people but had been crippled by both constitutional lacunas and administrative misapplication of procedures.
“We commend the bold step by the 9th Assembly but hope that the amendment of the constitution will be effected by the 10th National Assembly under the watch of President Bola Tinubu who fought tirelessly to ensure the existence and improvement of local government system in Lagos State as the then executive governor.
“Therefore, there is an urgent need to fix the local government by ensuring the local government operates within a reasonable context of political, administrative and fiscal autonomy for the betterment of Nigerian masses.”
Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, who noted that over 75 per cent of Nigeria’s population resides in rural areas, said the government was poised towards addressing their problems of poverty through the promotion of good governance.