The Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has urged the constitutional review committee to amend the constitution to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the local government elections across the country.
The National President of NULGE, Mr Olatunji Ambali, said this at the South-West Zone Public Hearing of Senate Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution in Lagos on Monday.
According to the NULGE president, the nation is yet to witness credible elections being conducted by state electoral bodies at the local government level.
He said that the electorate would come out en masse to elect their leaders at the grassroots once an unbiased umpire like INEC was responsible for conducting local government elections.
The NULGE president also said that the state electoral bodies should be scrapped because state the governors had hijacked the independence of the bodies.
He said: “We should amend the constitution to allow INEC conduct local government elections. Since they conduct the state and the House of Assembly elections, then why can’t we allow the commission to also conduct the local government elections in a credible manner.
“Once we have an unbiased umpire that can deliver, then we can scrap the state electoral bodies.
“We believe that with this, we will be able to fix Nigeria once we get it right at the local government level because once the foundation is strong then the country will get it right,” Ambali said.
Ambali said the problem with the present local government system in the country was the “undue interference by the state governments.”
According to him, the state governors have killed the autonomy of the local governments as enshrined in the constitution through diversion of their resources which had impeded development at the grassroots.
The NULGE president said that local governments where 71 per cent of the country’s populace resided were closer to the people.
He said: “When we are talking about devolution of power, it must be given to where higher number of people reside.
“We are also facing insecurity because of the failure of our local government system in the country and the issue of the insecurity is local, therefore the solution should be local.
“Besides, all the insecurity are perpetrated at the local government levels; so, for us we must use the local government autonomy to strengthen democracy at the local government level.”
Ambali said the review committee should allow direct funds to local governments as funds appropriated for them were not getting to them directly, thus impeding growth and development in such localities.
He said the neglect of the local government had mounted pressure on the states and the federal government.