Akwa Ibom Liberation Movement (AILM) has given reasons why the Local Government Autonomy Bill recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, may not be in the best interest of Akwa Ibom State and its people.
The socio-political group made it clear that while it appears ideal to grant financial and administrative autonomy to Local Government Areas the reality on ground makes its implementation near impossible.
A statement released by the leader of the group, Prince Emmanuel Sam, said the amended law is idealistic and will fail because it ignores present realities.
Sam pointed out that the new law throws up a set of challenges in Local Government administration which must be resolved in order not to bring chaos, conflict and insecurity in the State.
He disclosed that from its preliminary research the organization found out “that there was no thorough assessment of the economic impact the development will have on States.
“What happens to States like Lagos with 37 Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs which are not recognized by the Constitution. Will the LCDAs, which brought government to the grassroots cease to exist as they cannot benefit from federal allocation?
“Similarly, in Akwa Ibom State, it is a known fact that some Local Government Areas especially the 10 foremost LGAs would be rendered non-viable with overstretched wage bills due to over bloated workforce.”
“That there is serious threat of massive job cuts in Local Government Areas as fallout of this development. Just as one State cannot transfer its workers to other States, Local Governments will not accept indigenes of other Local Governments.
“In Uyo Local Government Area for instance, over 70% of primary school teachers and primary health workers serving there are not indigenes. As a result of autonomy, Uyo LG authorities can decide to reject non-indigenes posted to them by the Local Government Service Commission and then employ only indigenes strictly on need basis.
“What happens when all the other Local Government Councils follow suit,” he queried.
Prince Sam expressed concern that some Local Government Areas including Ikot Ekpene, Abak, Uyo, Eket, Oron and others with overstretched workforce may still be unable to carter for monthly wagebill even if it comes directly from federal allocation coupled with aggressive revenue generation”.
He urged the incoming 7th Assembly in Akwa Ibom State to carefully weigh all pros and cons of the law as it affects the State before ratifying it.
“The State legislature should not be in a hurry to domesticate the law because it is not enough to legislate on a law of such heavy consequence without measures taken to ensure smooth implementation”.
Furthermore, he advised Akwa Ibom people to ignore mischief makers who are trying to reap cheap political capital out of the difficult situation but continue to support the Governor as he fights to ensure what is right for the State.