1. It is my pleasure to be here to felicitate with you today at this momentous occasion which marks the Ruby Jubilee of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE). I wish to thank the National President of NULGE, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel mni, for inviting me as Guest of Honour at this auspicious gathering.

2. It is always pleasing to identify with the work of such an impactful organisation as the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees. Your principal objectives, which are to promote and foster legislation on local government matters; and your role in protecting employee rights in all ramifications surrounding their conditions of service, remain indelible in serving those you represent.

3. Indeed, it is no mean achievement that you are celebrating 40 years of existence. While you will undoubtedly have had your share of challenges during that time, the importance of the work of the Union is there for all to see, and it remains critical in both the labour market and third-tier government. I therefore welcome most heartily the various stakeholders here present, who have been instrumental to the structure and function of the Union, and contributed in no small measure to its success over the years. You deserve commendation, having provided much-needed support to the Union over the years, especially in the area of securing local government autonomy.

4. The theme of today’s event, ‘Local Government Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Our Struggle Towards Actualisation of Local Autonomy in Nigeria,’ is one which brings to the fore the clamour in many quarters for the autonomy of local councils. This thought-provoking theme should, therefore, enable stakeholders take stock of the journey thus far with regard to local government affairs. I have no doubt that the resistant and enabling factors identified here will make for richer discussion as we set forth towards achieving the desired state of the Local Government institution in Nigeria.

5. We in the National Assembly fully appreciate the importance of governance at local government level. Yes, it strengthens local government administration; but more importantly, it provides for accountable governance, which is a prerequisite for sustainable development. One therefore reasons with the idea of local councils having better proximity to the people; as their autonomy will in turn better serve the grassroots and avail Nigerians of the much-desired dividends of democracy.

6. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you will be aware of the efforts of the National Assembly towards actualising financial autonomy for local institutions by way of the Local Government Autonomy Bill under the 1999 Constitution (as amended). It is a matter of some disappointment that only nine (9) states have so far passed this Autonomy Bill. While it may be true that the Bill is still under consideration in the remaining 26 states, we must remain hopeful that in this instance, delay does not constitute denial.

7. Let me say that the struggle towards freedom of the third-tier of government is not one which NULGE – or indeed the local governments themselves – should see as theirs alone. If we are to curb insecurity, provide jobs for our teeming youth and boost economic activity through diversification, we must enable local governments operate independent of the state, and with their own budget and levels of accountability.

8. As I have stated on several occasions, it is our joint responsibility to ensure that there is a symbiotic relationship between the states and local governments, if we are to prevent unwarranted disadvantage to third-tier government in Nigeria. In addition, a cordial and symbiotic relationship between second and third-tier government will make possible the necessary checks and balances that should further serve to deepen the fabric of our democracy.

9. Distinguished guests, what this means in essence is that there is still a lot more work to be done if we are to bring this espoused vision to reality. The constitutional amendment process is one which adopts a transformational approach to change; that is to say, a gradual process. We should not be discouraged by what may seem a slow pace of change. Through continued dialogue, collaboration and partnership with relevant stakeholders including government, I am confident that local government autonomy will be actualised. The question is not if, but when.

10. In closing, I enjoin you all to remain steadfast in your quest to attain financial autonomy for local governments in Nigeria. Meanwhile, let me assure you of the continued commitment of the 8th National Assembly to strengthening our local government institutions.

11. Once again, I thank you for the opportunity to address you today, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of NULGE. I look forward to continued collaboration on improving the effectiveness of governance, as well as other identified issues.

Thank you for listening.


Abubakar Bukola Saraki MBBS CON (pronunciationⓘ; born on 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who served as the 13th president of the Nigerian Senate from 2015 to 2019.[1][2] He previously served as the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections