..As Okowa backs LG autonomy, pays 14 months salary arrears
In support of the campaign for the local government autonomy in the country, Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has pledged to pay the 14 months salary arrears owed local government workers in the state.
The governor also assured leadership of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) of his 100 per cent commitment to the attainment of local government autonomy; declaring that one of the panacea to end the nation’s under development is to grant full autonomy, politically and financially to local councils in the country
Gov. Okowa said he would use all the second tranche of the Paris loan refund to offset part of the (between eight and 14 months) salary arrears owed the workers, as soon as the money is received from the Federal Government.
He made the pledge during a meeting with the national leadership of NULGE at the Government House, Asaba, when the union took its local government autonomy sensitisation campaign to Delta State.
NULGE President, Comrade Ibraheem Khaleel, had led the national executive of NULGE to meet the governor on the issues of 8 to 14 months salary arrears owed local government workers in the state and to canvass for his support for the local government autonomy in the country.
While pledging his total commitment and support, Gov. Okowa pointed out that any leader who desires good of his people and the development of the grass roots as well as the nation at large must support local government autonomy.
The governor, who told the NULGE leadership that he started his political career from local government first as a secretary and later an elected chairman, promised to champion the course of local government autonomy among his colleagues.
He said: “I see myself as part of local government because I started my political career as a local government secretary and later I became chairman. In view of this and my experience, I believe it is only local government that can salvage the issue of underdevelopment at the local level.
“I can assure you, I will personally take over the campaign, I will champion it and I will use the opportunity to appeal to my colleagues (other governors) to support NULGE’ s course to actualise local government autonomy in Nigeria.”
Okowa stated that when the time to vote and adopt local government autonomy comes, he would be one of the first governors that will support and approve it because, “it is the right way to go.”
He, however, advised NULGE leadership to put in place a concrete committee that will go round and interact with the governors and speakers of states Assembly.
President of NULGE, Ibrahim Khaleel who expressed satisfaction on the promise of Gov. Okowa, also commended the governor for his understanding and readiness to work for the realization of the freedom of local government, being a beneficiary of that system.
Khaleel, while addressing journalists in Abuja said the promise and commitment of the governor was so high, adding that he has promised to champion the struggle and take over the campaign personally among his colleagues.
“The governor has also given a huge commitment to offset the arrears of local government workers’ salaries which ranges between 8 and 14 months immediately the Paris loan refund is released by the Federal Government”, he said.