From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
Coalition of civil society groups in the South East and the Nigeria Union of Local Employees (NULGE) have vowed to occupy the Enugu State House of Assembly Monday to press for nine items of the 21 proposed for amendment in the 1999 Constitution.
The state houses of assembly nationwide are expected to vote on the proposed amendments on the 1999 Constitution as the public hearing on the amendment begins.
The South East Constitutional Review Forum disclosed its intention Sunday at a press briefing at the Enugu NUJ Secretariat assuring their members would prevail on the lawmakers not to adopt voice votes, but to vote physically by raising their hands so that their constituents would see where they stand.
The convener of the coalition, Mr. Onyebuchi Igboke said they have carefully selected nine items they believe would rub off positively on the people with local government autonomy on top of the list.
“We want the legislators to vote by raising their hands and not voice vote to enable us see those who are against the people they represent.”
He said that the group had organized constitutional review fora in all the states in the zone and articulated areas of special interest for the people.
The nine selected items were of particular interest to the people of the zone, therefore the need for them to impress it on the states in the zone to vote in their favour.
Igboke said those issues are critical to the development of the local government areas and empowerment of the people at the grassroots.
He named some of the nine areas of particular interest to include distributable pool of accounts for local government areas, local government funding and administration, financial autonomy for state houses of assembly.
Others are immunity for legislators in the course of their work, reduction of age for election and independent candidacy and attachment of portfolios for ministerial/commissioner nominees prior to screening.
Also speaking, the NULGE President in Enugu State, Mr. Kenneth Ugwueze said that a vote for local government autonomy will be vote for the emancipation of the majority of Nigerians.
Ugwueze said that the clause for local government autonomy had been on the card in every constitutional amendment beginning from 1976, but regretted that it had always been sabotaged.
He appealed to the legislators to be part of the historic move to make the third tier of government functional.
He said that no arm of labour needed to feel agitated as to the workability of the local government autonomy as the amendment had no lacuna.