February 28, (THEWILL) – The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday embarked on an advocacy rally to the national assembly.
The two day rally is ahead of voting on the proposed amendments to the 1999 constitution by the two chambers of the national assembly.
The union specifically want the leadership of the national assembly to include in the exclusive legislative list, autonomy for the judiciary, state legislatures, local governments as well as give powers to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct all local council elections in the country.
The protest, which kicked off at the headquarters of the NLC, Central Business District, Abuja, as early as 9am on Monday is informed of plans by the national assembly to amend sections of the 1999 constitution.
The congress in a peaceful walk to the national assembly, was led by the NLC president, Ayuba Wabba in company of NULGE president, Olatunji Ambali and other Labour leaders.
The workers said, for too long, local government administrations have been at the mercy of state governors, who divert funds meant for infrastructural development at the grassroots to other purposes.
According to Wabba, the situation where people troop from the rural areas to urban centres on daily basis cannot be unconnected with the alienation of the local government councils in Nigeria, stressing that when they lack basic necessities of life they are left with no option than to migrate to the city centres.
He equally blamed government for failing to ensure total independence of the judiciary, insisting that the proposed constitutional alteration will provide an opportunity to correct such ills.
Wabba also argued that insecurity, poor governance and corruption plaguing the country were closely linked to the faulty constitution that extricate the people at the grassroots.
“We are here today to demand that the National Assembly members that will be voting on the alteration of our Constitution must vote on full autonomy of the local government councils and independence of the judicial arm of government because we believe in the principle of seperation of powers.
“When we have strong judiciary, it will help in checking the excesses of our politicians. The local government system is not working because it has been hijacked by a few.
“Funds that should be used to provide infrastructures for them have been hijacked by a few. We are actually tired of lamentations because institutions have been undermined. That is why insecurity has been entrenched in the country. We want a situation where votes will actually count even at local lovernment level. For too long people at the grassroots have been alienated from governance.
“Why should the local governments be begging governors to release money to them, funds that have been allocated from the federation accounts, the council areas should be able to manage their resources by themselves,” Wabba told the gathering.
While commending the federal government for assenting to the electoral amendment bill last week Friday, Wabba said autonomy of the local governments and the judiciary should also enjoy such legislative support.
“Our demands are legitimate and germane, we know that a few people are actually behind our predicament, each time people complain of insecurity the root cause is that the local government has been hijacked. We are saying that even the election in council areas should be conducted by INEC because it will help to entrench transparency in the elections.
“We will name and shame legislators that vote against the autonomy of the local governments and the judiciary,” the NLC president stated.
The NLC, which described the recurring petrol scarcity as an attempt to introduce the rejected fuel price increase through the backdoor, called on its ten million membership to determine the fate of Nigeria’s new leaders in 2023.