Paschal Emeka, Abuja
Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has lamentedmisappropriation of funds in the State/local governments joints account saying the trend has negatively affected development of local government councils across the country.
Speaking in an exclusive interview in Abuja, the Secretary General of NULGE Comrade Joshua M. Irapakop, criticized state governors for shortchanging local governments through abuse of joint accounts and stifling of local government leadership through appointment of caretaker chairmen.
“We have discovered that governors are greedy people, they don’t want this money to reach the local governments. We have continued to agitate so that this money will be reaching the local governments. If you say joint account that is the democratic aspect of it, then where is the money. If they have allowed people to freely elect the chairmen of their choice, they cannot control them. But they will look for the people they can control and the only way they can do it is through appointment.”
He lamented that local government workers are being owed salaries ranging from 12 to 15 months while others are receiving 10 percent of their salaries for the past one year. He alleged that some governors have embarked on borrowing spree and used local government funds as collateral.
“There are some councils’ staff especially in Edo state, for 15 months they have not been paid salary. The problems are the governors. Give us our money. Is the money your own? But they have over borrowed and used local government funds as collateral,” he said.
Comrade Irapakop stated that there is nothing wrong with the system but the operators who are bent on misusing and usurping the system to their own advantage and advocated for the scrapping of state governments so that development can reach to the grassroots.
He lamented that state governors have blocked all avenues local government can generate revenue internally. “Presently state governments are building markets and motor parks. How do they want local governments to generate revenue? They have taken over the duties of local governments,” he said.
He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate non-payment of local government staff salaries emphasizing that adequate attention accorded to the grassroots governance remains a panacea to Nigeria’s socio-economic development.