THE organized labour under the aegis of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Monday stormed the National Assembly to protest against the non granting of autonomy to local government areas, the state judiciary and the legislature.
The NLC which mobilized workers from all over the country for the actualization of full autonomy for local government areas, the Judiciary and the legislative arms of government at the state level, also accused the federal government of trying to force the proposal for fuel price increase down the throat of Nigerians by orchestrating the current scarcity of the product.
Addressing workers at the Labour House in Abuja for onward march to the National Assembly, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba described the current state of affairs with the administration of the local government areas as undemocratic and absurd.
The NLC president said the advocacy movement that will last for three days beginning from yesterday’s really, was to enable workers to lend their voices to the constitutional amendment initiative of the National Assembly especially on the issue of autonomy for local government, judiciary and legislative.
Wabba said there will be a symposium on Wednesday during which the workers will set an agenda for politicians seeking for political office in the 2023 general elections.
He described the situation whereby state Judiciary and the legislative arms of government were denied their constitutionally guaranteed independence as very inimical to the development of the country.
Wabba said the Congress believes the initiative holds the key to the strengthening of the country’s democracy, boosting the economy and improving the lots of Nigerian workers at the grassroots.
The Labour leader also said the Congress would be watching and ready to expose and shame any member of the National Assembly who fails to vote in favour of the issue.
He said the reason why the local governments were not functioning properly was because their resources have been hijacked by few powerful people.
He said, “On this day we demand that members of the National Assembly that will be voting on the alteration of the Constitution, we are happy with what they have done, to guarantee the full autonomy of our local government, of the judiciary and the Parliament.
“We are aware that already, these decisions have been taken but we want to strengthen their hands, that in voting, it must be overwhelming. They must vote to actually guarantee the principle of separation of power both administratively, financially, and otherwise.
“We need to strengthen our institutions. These institutions are very critical.
“We are going to have a majority to support this local government autonomy at the National Assembly. The challenge has been actually in the states where some gladiators that have actually benefited from siphoning the funds of the local governments, from also undermining the independence of the judiciary and are sitting on the resources of those two agencies don’t want the autonomy to be granted.
“This is just the first leg. We are going to the house of every member of the State House of Assembly. We are going to have zonal rallies, and we are going to have state rallies.
‘Today is just an advertiser, tomorrow is the main event because the voting starts tomorrow. Each day, people continue to lament about the insecurity in our country, each day, each time people complain but nobody is taking a proactive action about the root cause. The root cause is that the local government system has fallen
“We want overwhelming voting. We don’t even want 99 percent. We want the members of the National Assembly when they are voting tomorrow and next tomorrow both the House of Representatives and the Senate on these issues, we want 100 percent of their votes to guarantee the independence of the judiciary, to guarantee full autonomy for local governments and also to guarantee full autonomy to our legislature.
“This is what will strengthen our democracy. We are going to actually name each person that fails to vote in this light. We will name and shame them.
“Weed to strengthen our Institutions. We don’t need strong individuals, we need strong Institutions. Therefore when we have strong legislatures at the state level, they will check the excesses of our politicians. In the same way, when we have strong, independent local government, that it’s elections will be conducted by INEC, not what is happening now, then we will have a democracy that is entrenched. That is why we are here.
“The resources that are supposed to go to the local government areas to build roads, provide security hospitals and maintain schools have been hijacked and is in the pocket of few.
“We must say no to that approach and therefore the reason we are here is to ensure that full autonomy is restored for the local government, state legislature and judiciary,” he said.
He said that labour is going to take the battle to state legislators in their various constituencies and try to checkmate whoever is planning to sabotage the struggle for good governance at the grassroot level.
‘We are going to go the house of every member of the state House of Assembly to speak to them on the need to support the bid to ensure the independence of the state judiciary and Legislature,” he said.
He also expressed concern over the lingering fuel scarcity in the country, noting that the situation has become a nightmare for workers and the masses of the country