The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has urged local government council leaders to provide quality leadership by embracing accountability and transparency in collecting and managing resources that accrue to the councils.
Obaseki gave the charge when he received the Executive Members of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, who were on a courtesy visit at the Government House, in Benin City.
The governor said local governments as the closest government to the people are supposed to be more impactful in delivering the dividends of democracy to the people, reassuring that his administration will continue to work with local councils to bring development to the grassroots.
He said, "We will work with you to fix the problems of the local governments. We will find time to sit together to look at the staffing, revenues and audit. You can see for yourself that the allocation coming in from Abuja will not be enough to cover the local governments.
“Political interference may have caused more of the challenges, not blaming the staff alone.”
Obaseki added, “We must introduce technology to revenue collection and see how much we are collecting as we will not allow ticketing. Let people pay electronically with their cards so that the money goes to the bank and we see how much we are collecting and how it's been spent".
Insisting on transparency and accountability in revenue collection, the governor said, “The Local Government with higher population is where revenue should be higher, but they are the ones with more financial problems. Local governments like Oredo, Ovia North East, Egor, Esan West and Etsako West have the worst financial conditions. Money collected here should be enough to pay salaries.
"They continue to fight me because I stopped sharing the money instead of using it to work for the people. I have created a transparent revenue process in the state with the introduction of technology.”
He continued: “We don't play with teachers' salaries. We have also employed the services of 3,000 EdoStar fellows deploying them to hard-to-reach communities across the state. Education is a priority to my administration and I can't play politics with it. We are working on our healthcare system and changing the way primary healthcare works in the state.
"We must streamline revenue collection in the state following the law to ensure we stop double taxation. Streamlining the collection will help. Accountability must be brought into revenue collection in the Local Government. You can't collect money and not account for it. Whatever you have collected must be accounted for and transparency must be part of the process.”
"Our focus is to have more revenue come into the Local Government system to help them solve the challenges they face.”
Earlier, the State Chairman of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Comrade Lazarus Adorolo commended the government for taking the lead among other states by increasing the minimum wage to N40,000.