The National Union of Local Government Employees on Wednesday called for an investigation and monitoring of statutory allocations to the local government councils in the country.
The union also decried the dearth of infrastructure and development in the councils which it said has affected the growth at the grassroots.
The National President of C, Hakeem Ambali, stated this in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja against the backdrop of a petition filed with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission by the Chairman of Ijebu East Local Government Area, Wale Adedayo, against the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, over alleged diversion of council allocations.
Noting that the LGAs have now become “caricatures,” Ambali said the union would continue to call for local government autonomy.
He also called on President Bola Tinubu to intervene in the situation.
Amabli revealed that the NULGE was awaiting the report on the controversy before taking actions.
He said, “The issue of what happened in Ogun State is unclear, so one cannot pass judgment until all facts are brought to light. We are currently awaiting the report from our branch in Ogun State.”
On the alleged diversion of LG allocations and the need for investigation, the labour leader said, “Over the years, the EFCC has conducted a series of investigations and when you look at some ex-governors who were imprisoned and questioned, you will notice that majority were on the basis of LG funds diversion.
‘’Seeing as the EFCC has continued to do its job, what we are saying now is that the National Assembly should set up an oversight committee that will monitor and investigate the allocations to local governments.
“Huge amounts of money are allocated to LGs yearly but there is no monitoring as to where these funds go to and how they are spent. There is no link between the federal and local governments. We want the President to please look into this. We are talking about some of the goals of the President which involve poverty alleviation. For this to materialize, the President needs to work with the local governments.”
Speaking on his petition against Abiodun, Adedayo said he would not abandon the complaint even as he denied apologising to the governor.
The council chief had accused the governor of diverting LG allocations in the state in the past two years and asked the EFCC and ICPC to investigate Abiodun for alleged mismanagement of local government funds.
Adedayo accused the governor of diverting over N10 billion from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.
He also accused Abiodun of denying the local government chairmen the ecological fund and other entitlements.
He added that the 10 per cent of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue, which the constitution also stipulated should go to the local governments has not been given since Abiodun got into office.
He, therefore, called for urgent intervention of the anti-graft agencies.
However, some council chairmen in the state were seen in a viral video begging the governor over Adedayo’s petition.
The chairmen, led by the chairman of Association of Local Government Chairmen, Emilola Gazal, on Tuesday, visited the governor at his office in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, to beg for his forgiveness.
But reacting to the development, Adedayo declared that he was not retracting his statement or petition against the governor despite the apology by his colleagues.
He added that the chairmen were only exercising their rights and he had no problem with that.
He said, “The petition has gone to the EFCC and ICPC already. I have not retracted my statement. There is no apology from me. So, I have done my bit as an Afenifere and a duly elected public officer. We are in a democracy, anybody can take any line they want.”
But the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Lekan Adeniran said the Ijebu East LG boss was part of those who attended the meeting where the chairmen apologised to Abiodun.
“No money has been diverted from statutory allocations to the local governments in this state. A meeting was held with all the council chairmen on Tuesday, where the books were opened for them to scrutinize. Mr Wale Adedayo was there throughout the meeting. Thereafter, he joined his colleagues to beg the governor. Not once did he raise any objection to the proceedings,” the CPS said in a statement.
“Though he claimed to be fighting for his colleagues, it is crystal clear that Mr Adedayo has ulterior motives. His colleagues have distanced themselves from his patent lie. He knows he has no case, he is pursuing a personal and selfish agenda. He has become a willing tool in the hands of the opposition,” he added.
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State, Otunba Segun Showunmi in a statement on Wednesday called on President Bola Tinubu to immediately set a machinery in motion to probe the governor.
This was as he frowned on the viral video showing the council chairmen in the state prostrating for the governor, saying that their action suggested ‘’intimidation and an attempt to debase the all-important third tier of the local government as enshrined in the constitution.’’
Also, some residents of the state are demanding that the governor publish the records showing how funds were allocated to the 20 LGs across Ogun State in the last two years.
The residents also want the Public Accounts Committee of the State House of Assembly to perform its oversight function by investigating the allegations raised by the council chairman.
A nurse and activist, Thomas Abiodun said, “If the local government chairmen had received the allocations, none of them would have the guts to raise allegations bordering on misappropriation of the funds.
“Some of us are aware of corruption stories/allegations going on in different ministries and institutions within the state with the support of the government appointees who usually claim that the governor is aware of such criminal acts.
“My advice is that the governor should make available shreds of evidence by publishing a statement of accounts of how the LG allocations were disbursed.”
Another resident, Dapo Adeyemi urged the EFCC and ICPC to look into the accounts of the state from 2021 as demanded by Adedayo.
He added, “The begging (by the LG chairmen) means nothing to the people of Ogun State. It is either the chairmen had been misappropriating their allocations or they were threatened by the governor.
“Let the governor publish what has been going to the various LGs or the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Assembly should perform its oversight function to clear the air.”