State Houses of Assembly across Nigeria will be worsening the security situation in the country the more if the failed to ratify the 44 Constitutional Amendment Bills the National Assembly has transmitted to them for action.
Going by what is filtering out of the inner recesses of the organised labour, Nigeria would be grounded by workers unions currently bracing for a nationwide mass action if the state legislators failed to play ball.
Labour is therefore, calling on 36 state Houses of Assembly to pass the 44 constitution amendment bills sent to them by the National Assembly, pointing out that Local Government system in the country is not a pot of soup to state governors.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) want state legislators to, as a matter of agency, pass the bills so that the local council can be free from retrogressive acts.
Clerk to the National Assembly, Amos Ojo, on March 29, 2022 transmitted 44 constitution review bills to the clerks of the state Houses of Assembly for concurrence.
The bills require the approval of two-thirds of state Houses of Assembly or 24 out of the 36 state Assemblies to become laws.
Speaking at a one-day stakeholders strategy session on advocacy for engaging the ongoing constitution amendment process organised by Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) of the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the 1st national vice president of NUT, Kayode Akosile, said most governors see the local government as their pot of soup.
Noting that the state lawmakers must support autonomy for the local governments, the NUT chieftain who said they were initially reluctant in joining hands with NULGE to push for Local Government autonomy until it dawned on them that there is no development at the local government level.
“There is no development at the local government; that is why we are pushing for Local Government autonomy. Governors see local governments as their pot of soup. They want local government chairmen to be answerable to them. We will join hands with NULGE, NLC and others to ensure that LG autonomy is realised’’, Akosile said.
Representative of NLC president and Chairman, FCT chapter of the NLC, Abubakar Hassan Yakub, said NLC’s stand on the local government autonomy, independent of the state assemblies and the judiciary has not changed.
“LG autonomy, independence of legislature and of the judiciary is non-negotiable. All stakeholders must work hard and ensure that the constitution amendment becomes a reality,” Yakub said, adding that the 9th Assembly has done their part and the state assemblies must play their own part.
For NULGE President, Ambali Hakeem Olatunji, who said all hands must be on deck to rescue Nigeria, noted that local government autonomy should be of paramount importance in the constitution amendment.
He said the struggle to ensure good governance at the local government level must continue even after they are granted autonomy.
“Some of the governors have become regional warlords. LG autonomy is not just about welfare of the workers and the people; it is about good governance in Nigeria,” he said.
He pointed out that the failure in the local government is the reason people are asking whether the country is under military regime.
“The failure of the local government is the reason people are asking of the difference between the military and democratic regimes. Once you have a functional local government, people won’t ask about what is happening at the state and federal levels.
“It is shameful today that governors now go to the federal government and collect revenue. That is how bad the system has become,” he said.
Also speaking at the event is the national team leader of PERL, Dr Adiya Ode, who said the aim of the session was for participants to plan and agree on advocacy strategies to effectively influence the decision of state Houses of Assembly on the ratification of local government autonomy and other critical bills.
Ode said, “The session will also provide stakeholders the opportunity to discuss their position and key messaging to state assemblies and other relevant actors on the issues.
“It is important for stakeholders to pro-actively engage and champion advocacy for the ratification of the critical Bills by the State Houses of Assembly, especially the Local Government Autonomy Bill. This became necessary given that 2/3 – (24 States) support is required to successfully ratify the proposed amendment Bills.”
She said the session was organised by PERL to facilitate collaboration among relevant stakeholders from the organised Labour, civil society, media groups, Democracy Vanguard and pressure/influencing group “on modalities for high level advocacies to State Houses of Assembly and Governors for the ratification of proposed constitution amendment bills.”
Senator Bala Adamu of Democracy Vanguard, harped on the need for citizens to actively engage legislators at the state level to ensure that the Bills get the required two-third approval of states assemblies to become part of the constitution.
Adamu who was a co-convener of the session said, “As members of Democracy Vanguard, we are very passionate about local government autonomy, and other constitutional amendments bills that have been proposed so that the State Houses of Assembly will concur to the 44 bills that have been passed by the National Assembly.”
He lamented that the process of constitution amendment appears to be low key at the state level, “as Nigerians are not well organised to look at these issues critically except in the issues of women which generated a lot of noise.
“However, we hope that this workshop will help us to develop strategies that we will use in order to take this process through and raise consciousness and participation of the citizens across the country,” he added