The President of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel has painted a gloomy picture of local government in Nigeria and other African countries at a world leaders conference, held in Brussels, Germany.
In a paper titled: “Situation of local government in Africa,” presented at the Local Arrangement Government System (LRG) meeting in Brussels, Khaleel said in almost all parts of the African Continent, Local Government is in a parlous state.
According to the NULGE president, local government in Nigeria and other African countries “is chronically under-resourced, not managed efficiently, and is unable to provide the services that our people need.”
Khaleel said in Nigeria, the functions and responsibilities of local government have been hijacked by the state government and that while development has eluded the people at the local level, the state governors corruptly enrich themselves with money that belong to local government.
The NULGE president said “In Nigeria, not only is Local Government continually undermined and over-ruled by National and State Government, elections for local assemblies are ignored or are undermined, and it is indefinitely postponed. In their place are established Transitional or Caretaker Committees largely made up of appointees as a reward for loyalty to the powers that be. Their legal status being such that they do not have the authority to draw down funds earmarked for local government functions.
“Revenue collection by local Government in Nigeria, despite legislation being in place is chronically hampered because funds from central government are misplaced, withheld or subject to ‘penalties’ that undermine its value, and this often results in the remainder not being sufficient to pay salaries.
“In Nigeria, some local government workers have not been paid for up to 18 months, and the much heralded harmonization of terms and conditions of State and Local Government Workers has failed to materialise 10 years after being agreed.”
He pointed out that the hijacking of local government services by State Government in Nigeria is also a grave concern, and especially of those elements of service delivery that deliver an income.
Khaleel said: “Today as we speak, almost all revenue generating items starting from sales of markets daily tolls, construction of roads, motor parks, slaughter houses, environmental, rates etc have been outsourced / contracted out by State governments. The Law on Internally Generated Revenue stipulates that the State shall give to the local government 10% of whatever is being generated on a monthly basis notwithstanding what the local government themselves can get. In practice, this is not attainable and no State has ever been punished for reneging or otherwise.
“Other countries have similar experiences. In Swaziland local government workers are the most hit. Their rights are constantly violated and abused by the government of the day. Union leaders are treated as enemies, and are not even allowed to meet as they deem fit or necessary. Collective Agreements that are reached are neither implemented as agreed nor implemented at all. Workers do not receive a living wage, and service delivery, especially in rural areas is largely non-existent.
“In Botswana, the President continues to wield considerable power and via Gazette can dissolve or de-list District Councils at will because they are not protected by the Constitution. In South Africa, levels of corruption in Local Government has reached alarming levels, and in part explains why the Governing party lost considerable votes to other parties despite historic loyalties in recent local government elections.”