By: Valentine Adese,
Distinguished Sen. Bala Adamu, several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) operating in the Middle-Belt (North Central states) and the Northeast zones of Nigeria, have called on the Houses of Assemblies in the Northeast zone, to emulate the members of the Plateau State House of Assembly (PLHA) among other states in the country to vote in favour of Local Government Autonomy.
Sen. Bala, the NGOs and NULGE Gombe state chapter made this call after a Media and Civil Society Technical Session on Constitutional Amendment Review organized by Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), at Gombe International Hotel, Gombe State.
Senator Bala Adamu, who led the press briefing team after the technical session said, “It is our hope, that beginning with Gombe State House of Assembly we would see positive results very soon!
“We are told that Gombe State House of Assembly has invited memoranda, which has been responded to by cross sections of the citizens of the state and as soon as the public hearing is conducted, it is our hope that Gombe state will do the needful, to pass the Local Government Autonomy bill, by way of concurrence with the National Assembly on this matter.
“We urge other states in the Northeast zone that are yet to address these issues, to also fast track the process so that, at the end of the day, our goal of strengthening institutions rather than individuals would be realized towards strengthening our democratic system.
“We also hope that, by passing this bill concerning local government autonomy, service delivery and quality of governance will greatly improve at the grass root level where we all belong.”
On his part, Comrade Steve Aluko-Daniel, flanked by other members of the CS called on the Governors and Speakers of the states in the Northeast zone to emulate Bauchi, Plateau, Niger, Cross-Rivers and Ogun states in supporting and voting for Local Government Autonomy in their states and in the country at large.
He said, “From the part of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for the passion for development, security, the fight against corruption among others in the country, we have come to the conclusion that, the sure way to end crisis and bring peace to the Northeast zone is Local Government Autonomy.
“We are convinced that, if our local governments function well, the people would be able to take advantage of the resources in the northeast to develop the human resources that the zone has in abundance.
“We also believe as CSOs that, the northeast cannot take a different position from other zones of the country. Other zones have voted in favour in support of this autonomy and if there is any region that stands to benefit more from Local Government Autonomy is the northeast as it stands because of the huge challenges facing the zone.
“Hence the best way out, is Local Government Autonomy.”
The President of NULGE Gombe State chapter, while address the press on the issue, assured that the Union is on top of the matter in Gombe state.
He said, “I want to appreciate the distinguished Senator and his team for coming here and for this fruitful interaction. We have learnt a lot from you all.
“I want to assure you that as far as NULGE Gombe state is concerned, we are on top of the issues and that we shall do all that we can and possible to ensure that Gombe state House of Assembly stands with us and pass the bill with respect to Local Government Autonomy.
“I also want to use this opportunity to appreciate the House for always understanding with us, especially, at critical times like this. They have always been patient with us in times of issues that concern us and the affairs of the local government.
“I want to therefore call on the general public, particularly, the residents of Gombe state, to comply and send memoranda to the House of Assembly, as requested and in favour of Local Government Autonomy.”
Earlier, in her welcoming remarks to the participants, Chika Okoh an officer with PERL said the technical session was to engage the media and stakeholders on the issues in order to proffer solutions that would make government perform better in service delivery.
She said, “The programme is solution oriented and aimed at providing how knowledge from the session can be implemented.
“The technical session is to help re-strategize and reinvigorate the performance of participants and networks.”
On his part, Mr. John Mutu, also an officer with PERL in his remarks educated the participants that the National Assembly had 33 bills but, 21 was passed, while 12 were voted against.
He said the NASS transmitted only 16 bills to the various state houses of assembly and that unlike the 7th assembly, the bills have continued to be transmitted in piece mill.
READ THE FULL PRESS BRIEFING STATEMENT OF SEN. BALA BELOW:
Gentlemen of the press,
I want to on behalf of PERL and DFID, welcome you to this press briefing sequel to, the Media and Technical Session on Constitutional Review, that was held at this venue in the International Hotel here in Gombe, Gombe state.
As you are aware, the session has been very interactive and robust. We have generated a lot of ideas on the way forward on the issues of constitutional amendment that was initiated by the National Assembly (NASS) and passed down to the state Houses of Assembly for concurrence.
We have made substantial progress, as we were told during this programme, that about 15 bills have been acted upon and returned to the National Assembly.
There are however, outstanding bills. Some of which have been stepped down by various Houses of Assembly for further deliberations in accordance with Legislative procedures.
The essence of our gathering here in Gombe therefore is to look at these outstanding issues and how to move the process forward. The key concern following our interactions this afternoon, is the issue of Local Government Autonomy, the issue of the bill that abrogates the Joint Account, state and Local Governments and the bill that seeks to strengthen the Local Government administrative system.
Various states that have been invited here, especially, from the Northeast zone, have given us their progress reports and we have deliberated and various leaders of the various teams have outlined their next steps forward in terms of Action Plans.
It is our hope, that beginning with Gombe State House of Assembly we would see positive results very soon!
We are told that Gombe State House of Assembly has invited memoranda, which has been responded to by cross sections of the citizens of the state and as soon as the public hearing is conducted, it is our hope that Gombe state will do the needful, to pass the Local Government Autonomy bill, by way of concurrence with the National Assembly on this matter.
We urge other states in the Northeast zone that are yet to address these issues, to also fast track the process so that, at the end of the day, our goal of strengthening institutions rather than individuals would be realized towards strengthening our democratic system.
We also hope that, by passing this bill concerning local government autonomy, service delivery and quality of governance will greatly improve at the grass root level where we all belong.
It is therefore my hope that, you have listened to the various issues that have been discussed during this programme and I hope that you would facilitate this process, as the fourth estate of the realm.
You would communicate it more effectively to our citizens and we hope that the outcome would be the desired passage of this local government autonomy bills that are outstanding in majority of the state houses of assembly. Particularly, in the Northeast zone!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is just an abridged summary of what had transpired here in Gombe International Hotel in Gombe state.
It is our hope that you will facilitate communication and creat the needed awareness among our people so that, at the end of the day, we will have this constitutional amendment process successfully concluded.
Thank you very much!