A couple of articles about recent protests and strikes by the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees against the central government's appointing civil servants from government ministries to replace local governing councils and the resulting setback to the opportunities for participatory democracy that the local councils represented. - Editor
NULGE protests planned scrapping of LGs
• Tuesday, Jul 29, 2008
The Rivers State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has indicated its willingness to participate in the national protest march which comes up in Abuja on August 7.
The protest, which is at the instance of the national office of NULGE, is to protest the alleged plan to scrap the local government system in the country.
Briefing the press in Port Harcourt, the state President of the union, Apostle Godwin Tumini Diri said that NULGE in Rivers State would join its counterparts in other parts of the country to condemn the call from some quarters to abolish the local government system which provides opportunity for participatory democracy, social mobilisation and social services.
The state NULGE boss said that since the nation’s democracy cannot survive in the absence of a viable and sustainable local government, scrapping it will bring more problems to the country.
“The union is rather asking the various responsible organs of government in the country to guarantee the existence and continuity of the local government system in the proposed constitutional amendment, he said “
According to him, some of the ways of doing this is by increasing council allocation from the present 20 per cent to 30 per cent, invalidate the state joint allocation accounts while Local Government Service Commission should be included in the Constitution.
Also, the concept of uniformity in the political system of local government should be institutionalized,
Apostle Diri said, adding that NULGE believes in the use of peaceful approach in sorting out its differences.
Our recourse to this civilised approach is strengthened when we realised that majority of Nigerians, including most of those providing leadership at the state levels are supportive of sustainability of the local government system, he said.
NULGE resumes strike in Imo
The Nigeria Union of local government Employees (NULGE) in Imo state, resumed its suspended strike, accusing the state government of failing to meet its demand.
The union had asked the state government to withdraw the 27 civil servants it posted to local governments as Directors of Administration and General Services.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that most of the councils visited were deserted and that the few staff around sat in clusters, discussing the strike.
It would be recalled that the state government on July 25, appointed 27 state civil servants to replace the local government directors.
The measure was vehemently opposed by NULGE, which said it amounted to interference in the running of the councils.
The union on Aug. 7 issued a 14-day ultimatum to the state government to rescind the decision.
Government, NAN learnt, did not respond to the union's demand.
Chief Linus Nwajere, the union's President in the state, told newsmen in Owerri that the strike would not be called off until government cancelled the postings.
He also said the state government erred by transferring civil servants to local governments.
He said NULGE viewed the postings as an attempt to destroy the careers of local government workers. 'The time to say no is now.
All council workers at the local government service commission and local government staff pensions board should stay at home for now,'' he said.
Nwajere said that the government invited the union on Aug. 2 for a meeting, where a truce was brokered.
The NULGE chief said the State's Deputy Governor, Dr Ada Okwuonu, led the government delegation.
He said that the decisions reached at the meeting included the suspension of the first strike and the cancellation of the postings.
He said while the union suspended the strike, government failed to recall the civil servants it appointed as directors in the local governments.
Nwajere however, commended the state government for directing the Auditor General for Local Governments to audit the accounts of the councils from May, 2007.
He said that audit reports would let the people to know the actual amount each council had received from the federation account, including the oil windfall.
``This will make the audit exercise more meaningful to Imo people,'' he said.