Kwara State Governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed has again reaffirmed his call for a restructured, self accounting and viable local government system as the most enduring panacea for the challenges in the payment of salaries of local government workers, primary and junior secondary teachers.
According to the governor, “the present third tier of government is created and structured along political exigencies rather than being self sustaining”. The Governor said this when the leadership of Church Leaders and Minister Fellowship of Nigeria in the state paid him a courtesy visit in his office at the Government House, Ilorin.
Governor Ahmed who attributed the lapses in the payment of local government workers to the shortfall in revenue earnings from the Federation Account and lack of preparation for the rainy day, noted that what was needed to overcome the unexpected challenges at the local government level was a collective responsibility of proffering solutions, rather than blaming federal and state governments.
“We cannot hold the federal government responsible, because the federal government has its own responsibility. We cannot hold the state government responsible, because the state government has its own problems. But let us recognize the problems of the local governments collectively. There is nothing the state government alone can do about it. The problem is that they do not have the capacity to generate revenue. What do with do to help them generate revenue? That is where the solutions are going to come from”, he said.
He suggested that Nigerians should ask critical questions about the staff strengths of the local governments against the backdrop of inflated wage bills as well as the inability of the local councils to boost their Internally Generated Revenues.
On the suspension of the Kwara State Bridge Employment Scheme, which served as a social safety net between permanent employment and unemployment, Governor Ahmed explained that the scheme could no longer be sustained due to the prevailing financial difficulties in the State.
He said that the state government had enhanced the Small Scale Enterprises (SSME) financing scheme which the KWABES interns can benefit from once they form themselves into cooperative groups.
According to the governor, “over N1bn would be earmarked for the SSME Scheme to promote agriculture, stressing that focus would be on crop farming with emphasis on cassava, rice, and maize; poultry and fishing”.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman, Church Leaders and Ministers Fellowship of Nigeria, Revd, Emmanuel Adeosun, in his speech called on the state government to assist local governments in the payment of council workers and SUBEB teachers’ salaries.
Revd. Adeosun also appealed to the state government to create alternative measures that would help in preventing negative consequences of the suspension of the KWABES initiative.
The Chairman of the fellowship who promised to put at the disposal of the state government its socio-spiritual authority to protect and promote peaceful co-existence in the state, also appealed to the state government to put in place proactive measures to check problem of farmers and cattle rearers clashes.