Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) on Wednesday expressed its readiness to adequately monitor the operations of the funds going to local government councils henceforth.
The union which alongside the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC) praised the Federal Government and financial institutions over seamless take-off of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) in the country, said the decision was out of the need to encourage the government on the directives.
NULGE and SSASCGOC commended the government and banks for adhering strictly to the guidelines of the NFIU, especially on joint state-local government account and local government funds.
Leaders of the two unions in Abuja expressed joy over the smooth take-off despite the stiff opposition from governors.
National President of NULGE, Ibrahim Khaleel, said the NFIU initiative would halt looting of council funds and bring about development to local government areas that had been lacking under the previous system.
According to him, “the Federal Government, especially President Muhammadu Buhari, should be commended for standing on the side of the people, rule of laws and the development of the country, by insisting on NFIU guidelines.
Also, the financial institutions must be commended for strict adherence to the rules, while we praise the NFIU for leading the way in doing a very good job. “Effective regulation of arbitrary withdrawals of local government funds by state governments from the joint local government/state joint accounts by NFIU, as we have seen with the take-off now, would reduce looting of council finances.”
Commending the new guideline, NULGE president described it as a giant step towards granting financial autonomy to local governments.
He said: “To encourage the Federal Government, President Buhari, banks and other financial institutions and NFIU, the union will train its members across the length and breadth of the country to keep eagle eyes on the operations of the funds going to local government councils henceforth.”
Similarly, SSASCGOC General Secretary, Ayo Olorunfemi, applauded the unit for taking the step, the Federal Government and President Buhari for the initiative.
According to him,” the state governors have over the years frustrated development at the grassroots by refusing to allow financial autonomy for local government councils.”
He commended President Buhari for sanctioning the guidelines, which had renewed the faith of Nigerians and the Labour movement in the anti-corruption fight of the present government. NFIU is the Nigerian arm of the global financial intelligence Units, FIUs, domiciled within the EFCC as an autonomous unit and operating in the African Region.
The NFIU seeks to comply with international standards on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and proliferation.
The NFIU Guidelines commenced June 1, 2019, after the governors failed to secure a court order stopping its implementation.
The NFIU had on May 6 issued the guideline to reduce the vulnerabilities created by cash withdrawals from local government funds throughout the country; which restored the full mandate of the operations of State/Local Government Joint Accounts to be used solely for the distribution of funds directly to the accounts of the local governments. Banks were requested to ensure the full implementation of the guidelines with effect from June 1, 2019.