The rallies are to highlight the absence of democracy and funding for local government. There has been widespread anger at the dissolution of local government by governors working with state houses of assembly. There is also widespread anger that state governments are not passing on federal funds to local government leaving workers unpaid and services unprovided to the community.
Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel Abdulkadir said,
“the leadership of this union has decided to lead a nation-wide campaign on the theme of Local Government Autonomy in Nigeria, having witnessed how the noble intention of the drafter of the constitution, making the local government system the third tier of governance in our country, has over the years been subverted in implementation”.
Daniel Bertossa, PSI Director of Policy, addressed the Abuja rally and joined the delegation to meet the deputy Speaker of the Senate saying,
“the Nigerian Government must ensure that local government is funded directly to provide important services to the community and that local government is democratically controlled. Providing good quality and reliable services is essential for the wellbeing of the community and creating stability in a country as large and diverse as Nigeria”.
During the seventh assembly, the move to grant local government autonomy was truncated by the state assemblies as they voted against the democratic move and the proposal to have local government autonomy could not secure the two-third required at the state assemblies. While some state assemblies voted in favour, many of them voted against it.
The rallies aim to creating awareness about local government autonomy and carry the campaign to the doorstep of the state assemblies, who are very critical to the process of constitution amendment.
The delegation told the Deputy leader of the senate that,
“employees in the local government system remain the most dependable voice from which Nigerians will measure the true situation of governance at the local government level”.
PSI General Secretary, Rosa Pavanelli, echoed this sentiment saying that,
"once again it falls to public sector workers and their unions to defend democracy, ensure services are provided to those who need them and hold governments to account - while it is poor leadership from politicians who are holding up the process".
The rally was attended by over 2,000 people and marched from Union Square to the Parliament, where the NULGE President and members addressed Nigerian MPs, highlighting the direct connection between the challenges of their struggle and their ability to guarantee essential quality public services to local communities and to ensure inclusive local economic development. They demanded fair, adequate funding and the implementation of local government democratic rule.
Members of PSI’s Global LRG/Municipal Workers’ Network - of which NULGE is a founding member - were informed of NULGE’s action. The network sent messages of solidarity to the union from all over the world in support of its struggle to secure adequate, sustainable finance local and regional government so that it can serve its communities and to fulfil its mandate - a fight which is a common and shared priority for all PSI’s LRG/Municipal unions.