THE umbrella body of local government workers, the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for a fresh term.
National President of NULGE, Comrade Khaleel Ibrahim gave the declaration on Monday. Comrade Ibrahim who led a delegation of his national executive to the secretariat of the Buhari Support Organisation in Abuja said the administration of President Buhari has been workers friendly.
The NULGE president, however, called on the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate to avert his mind to decentralisation of power to the local government. Comrade Ibrahim pointed fingers of scorn at the governors for frustrating autonomy for the local government. He further noted that the present administration could have achieved more in its resolve to confront the security challenge facing the country if the local councils have been accorded the independence granted them by the Nigerian Constitution.
He said: “We have no reason whatsoever not to associate with President Buhari because, in all his public addresses that have bearing with local government, his position has been very clear that local government must be strengthened. For us to have an inclusive arrangement, an arrangement that will have inclusiveness to participate in our governance and democracy, local government must be strengthened.
” It was on this note and the inaugural speech of May 29, 2015, of President Muhammadu Buhari that as an organisation, we met and held series of engagement and came up with a very rich memorandum that in our own way, we will support his position.
“The National Assembly did its own part by passing the bill to strengthen local government in the country. But unfortunately, out of 36 states of the Federation, including the so-called governors that believed in President Buhari, went under the umbrella of the Nigeria Governors Forum and attacked this idea of strengthening the local government thereby leaving our people in hunger, hardship and terrible security challenges. You know as a former Chief security officer that there is no way you can have a coordinated country or address security challenges properly if this critical teir of government is not allowed to function.
“It is now time for NULGE to come out and physically join politics with a clear understanding that wherever our mandate goes, it will free local government. This organisation is not selfish. Freeing local government does not mean we are not free right now because we are free like every other person because we have our work and we get our salaries. But we are not really free because we are closer to the masses of this country than the elites. I am telling you right now that I have the mandate of this house to endorse President Muhammadu Buhari on the clear understanding that when he comes out victorious, he will not only make statements in his inaugural speech but will match his words with action. There is no way you can have inclusiveness in governance if local government is not functioning. If nations like United States of America and the United Kingdom are still strengthening their local government administrations, decentralizing governance, how on earth will a country like Nigeria relegate local government administration bearing in mind that Nigeria is one unique country in the world. ”
NULGE further noted that Nigerians have not been feeling the impact of laudable programmes of the President Buhari administration because of the neglect of the local government.
“There are so many beautiful programmes of this government. But where these programmes suffer is their disconnection with the grassroots. For example, the Minister of Agriculture is doing a wonderful job. Unfortunately, whatever policy he formulates does not get down to the grassroots, but hangs at the state level because the local government are not functioning. There is no way we can achieve peace if we push out this critical aspect of government. The President already had our support because we know that he believes in the masses of Nigeria. But we were wondering how to reach out and synergise on this. We are going to reconvene our NEC meeting and put strategies in place because you have opened the window for us. We assure you that we are going to mobilise our members across the country because we have members across the country. President Muhammadu Buhari must come back because we trust him.”
In his remarks, former military administrator of Lagos state and Chairman Central Working Committee Buhari Support Organisation, Brigadier Buba Marwa, thanked the delegation of NULGE national officers and promised to convey their demands to President Buhari.
“We thank you for the endorsement. I assure you that the responsibility that comes with it, the President will live up to your expectations.”