Senate President Bukola Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki has stated his support for local government autonomy in the country.

He declared his stance while hosting delegates of the Saraki, National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), led by its National President, Comrade Ibrahim Khalil.

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According to a statement released by his chief press secretary, Sanni Onogu, Saraki said the national assembly acknowledges the third tier of government.

He said: “Here in the Senate and the National Assembly, we appreciate the importance of governance in the third tier of government — the local government,” Saraki said. “As such, it is very important that we strengthen local government administration.

“Part of strengthening local government administration is ensuring that there is autonomy. I also believe that strengthening local government administration means that we all do our best to increase the capacity at the local government.

“Sometimes, you find out that in developed countries, people who are competent, to contest at a level even as high as the Senate, would tell you that they don’t want to be at the Federal level like Abuja or Washington, they prefer to stay at the local level”.

He added that “however, there must be a symbiotic relationship between the states and the local governments to ensure that the third tier of government is not placed at a disadvantage.

“It is unfortunate that you observed that in the last Constitution alteration exercise, we were not successful on this issue. Being a former Governor, the Senate Leader always reminds me that ‘I have seen the light.’ But on a serious note, we all have a role to play to strengthen our local government system.

“It is important that we see how local governments can be independent, how local governments can have more autonomy, and Governors cannot interfere with what is due to local governments.

“In all of this, there must still be a cordial and symbiotic relationship. If we just say that local governments should just be on their own, it might have some disadvantages.

“We must also look at how we can ensure that local governments have funding of their own without any interference.”

He promised the delegates that more would be done to help them attain the autonomy they desire.

“I will ensure that we do more to rectify this issue. I am proud to say that my home state, Kwara, was one of those 9 states that supported local government autonomy.

“It will happen. I assure you, it will happen.”