The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has warned local government chairmen across the country against obeying governor’s orders in spending local government funds on non-local government projects.
In a letter to the local government chairmen, the union leader said NULGE would not hesitate to report any local government chairman who engages in frivolous spending of local government funds on the directives of governors to the National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) for prosecution.
In the letter by the NULGE’s National President and dated August 9, the union warned that any local government official who diverts local government funds would be personally liable.
The letter reads: “I bring you very warm fraternal greetings from the National Executive Council (NEC) and members of our union in all the 774 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“You will recall that the leadership of our union and entire members had over the years been in the forefront for the autonomy of the local government system to free it to perform its function in accordance with its philosophy.
“Our relentless campaign for local government autonomy gained national popular support and invariably the backing of the Seventh and Eighth National Assembly, which had voted overwhelmingly in support of key clauses seeking to grant autonomy to the third tier of government.
“As you are aware, on each attempt, governors had truncated the exercise as in the needed amendment could not get the required two-thirds majority of Houses of Assembly’s concurrence to scale through.
“While we have not relented in the struggle to achieve autonomy for the system that we operate in through constitutional means, and have learnt very valuable lessons from our past campaigns and ready to re-strategise for future struggle, we are, however, encouraged by the content of the NFlU’s recent guidelines with respect to the operation of States-Local Governments Joint Accounts.
“Given the passion with which the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) had opposed this initiative, it is clear to us in NULGE that they will go to any length to either bend these guidelines or find ways of administratively/bureaucratically undermining them.
“In other words, from their pronouncements and action, our state governors are still as determined as those before them to continue the looting of local government resources with their stranglehold on these joint accounts.
“Honourable chairman, sir, it is with respect to the above context that we wish to use this opportunity to caution the leadership of Local Government Councils (LGCs), particularly Honourable Chairmen of LGCs, Treasurers of Councils and Directors, General Services and Administration (DGSAs), to exercise a high degree of restraint in carrying out directive(s) of governors in releasing any fund whatsoever through back channels or organisations or agencies of state governments.
“In the light of the above, it is noteworthy to make reference to ‘Provision 9’ of the NFlU’s Guideline, which clearly asserts that: ‘It is hereby provided that any public officer anywhere in the country and/or any private citizen found undermining or violating these guidelines will be investigated and prosecuted under the NFIU Act, 2018, the ML(PA), 2011 (as amended), the EFCC Act, 2004 and the ICFC Act, 2000, by the Independent Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“From the above, it is clear that any officer of the local government who blindly follows instructions of governors to transfer or divert local government funds to non-local government projects will be in personally liable.
“We look forward to collaborate with both the political and key administrative leadership of the local government in our future engagements, campaigns and struggle for local government autonomy.
“Please, accept the renewed assurances of our esteemed regards.”