A coalition of labour unions in the country have thrown their weight behind the agitation for Local Government Autonomy. The unions are: National Union of Local Government Employee (NULGE), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Medical Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN).
President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Ayuba Wabba, said this in a statement jointly signed by him, Mr Ibrahim Khaleel, President, National Union of Local Government Employees and Mr. Michael Alogba-Olukoya, President, Nigeria Union of Teachers.
Wabba said that the decision was taken after exhaustive deliberations at a meeting convened by the National Leadership of the NLC.
He said the meeting was to address some concerns raised by the unions with respect to the ongoing agitation by NULGE for Local Government Automotive.
Speaking on primary school education in the country, the NLC president said it should be seen as a stepping stone and the foundation of all forms of education that deserved a national policy.
He said the funding should be the responsibility of the federal, state and local governments in order to ensure, guarantee and effect regular and timely payment of teachers’ salaries, entitlements and benefits.
Wabba also stressed the need for teachers’ salaries to be a first line charge on the federation account.
He, however, said another alternative was that the Constitution should strengthen the Supreme Court judgment in the Attorney-General of the Federation versus Attorneys-General of the 36 states, NWLR 6th May, 2002, Part 764.
According to him, “Part 764 stipulates that removing in the process every ambiguity, lacuna or impediment, ceding responsibility for payment of teachers’ salaries to states wherein it is stated inter alia.
He said,“It also states that ” as far as primary education is concerned, a local government council only participates with state government. The function obviously remains with the State Government.
“It stated the that ” existing agencies, such as, Universal Basic Education Commission, State Universal Basic Education Commission should be strengthened and empowered to play their roles and discharge their functions.
“It also states that the autonomy of local government councils shall be total, comprehensive with all the rights, structures, duties, functions, privileges and obligations.
“It is clearly spelt out as is the case with the federal and state governments.
“It stated that Clauses 7, 8, 162 and any other clause in the 1999 Constitution that compromise the autonomy of local government should be deleted, he said.
Wabba said that this was in order to give free and unfettered meaning to “autonomy” and make local governments function as the third-tier governments.
According to him, “It will also ensure that local governments are directly funded and the tenure of their executives and legislatures stated.
“It will also ensure unfettered establishment and functionality of the Primary Health Care Boards and authorities that include, salaries, training, programme funding such as immunisation, among others,” he added.