Workers under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) have endorsed the Presidential Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, for Saturday’s presidential election.
National President of NULGE, Comrade Ambali Olatunji, announced the endorsement on behalf of the workers at the end of 2023 NULGE Week, Delta State Chapter, on Wednesday in Asaba.
Olatunji, who was represented by the Vice President, South-South, Comrade Owoanam Akpanwa, said the workers were encouraged to support Atiku-Okowa ticket because of their positive disposition toward local government autonomy in the country.
They also endorsed the PDP Governorship Candidate and Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, saying that the speaker had all qualities to succeed Okowa as governor.
He disclosed that NULGE, at its National Executive Council meeting resolved that workers in local government system should vote for only candidates that supported local government autonomy.
“Delta State is one of the few states that supported local government autonomy in the country and we have directed local government workers all over the country to vote for only candidates that support our quest for local government autonomy.
“It is on this note that I announce here that all local government workers have been directed to vote for the PDP Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, as well as the Speaker of the State House of Assembly who is the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP for their support for local government autonomy,” he stated.
State NULGE Chairman, Comrade Ezeko Okwudi said the NULGE Day was a yearly celebration to appraise the performance of the union.
He paid glowing tributes to Gov. Okowa for his assistance to local government workers including resolving the issues of salary and promotion arrears with regular grants to local government councils.
In their goodwill messages, State NLC Chairman, Comrade Goodluck Ofobruku, TUC Chairman Martin Bolum and his NUT counterpart, Titus Okotie, all expressed happiness with the Governor for his contributions to workers’ welfare and pledged the support of workers in the state for the Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday.
To appreciate the Governor for all he did for local government workers in the state, NULGE presented him with an Excellent Service Award as “Best Workers’ Friendly Governor in Nigeria”.
Responding, Okowa lauded labour leaders in the state for cooperating with him during the challenging times of his administration.
He said that Atiku-Okowa ticket would devolve more powers and resources to the states and local governments, adding that revenue allocation formula would be amended to give more funds to the states and local governments to provide more services to the people.
On pension arrears, Okowa said his administration had paid over N70 billion of N78 billion owed retirees for past services, and that his administration also spent over N1billion in servicing other pension obligations.
“Unfortunately it has not been that easy for the local government councils to pay these pensions. They have their own funds because the allocation of local government councils goes directly to the local government councils.
“While some states may touch the funds of local governments and take some from it, we actually augment the money that goes to local governments on a monthly basis in Delta.
“So when there is none to take you cannot even think of taking so we send money on a monthly basis to augment what goes to the local government councils.
“Recently we have given a grant of N5billion in two tranches of N2.5billion to assist local governments in the payment of pensions and it is my hope that we will continue to assist them before I leave office in May.” he stated.
The Vice-Presidential candidate added that a bill had been prepared to be forward to the National Assembly within the first few months in office.
“When the PDP comes into office and with the proposed amendments to the Revenue Allocation formular, I believe the local government councils will receive more funds to make them provide services and development to our local governments,” he added.
The Delta Governor added that Nigeria was troubled beyond disunity with lot of challenges including insecurity and the very poor economy that threatens the possibility of not paying salaries in the future.
“We are so indebted as a nation today that our tomorrow is threatened.
“Nigeria today needs a good manager, a good manager that has experience, Nigeria is sick today and it requires a good doctor with experience.
“We cannot afford to as a nation to allow people learn on the job and looking through the whole persons provided by the various 18 political parties that are running this election, I make bold to say that there is strength in the Atiku-Okowa ticket of the PDP.
“We have people of experience with Atiku Abubakar being a former Vice President in our challenging time and his experience at that time will be counted upon and on my own part, I have been at the local government, state, Senate and as Governor and I must thank Deltans for their support over time.
“Please support us as Saturday comes by not just casting your votes but helping to mobilise more votes from your friends and families to ensure our victory,” he added.
In a related development, the Concerned Nigerian Youths for Positive Change have also endorsed the Atiku-Okowa Presidential ticket and the Governorship candidate of the party Chief Sheriff Oborevwori.
Convener of the group Comrade Eric Odu said the group chose the Atiku-Okowa ticket of the PDP for their robust programme as envisioned in Atiku’s policy document “My Covenant With Nigerians”.
The youths numbering over 5,000 youths said the Atiku-Okowa ticket possessed the needed experience and balance to recover and rebuild the country from its current travails.
They commended Gov. Okowa for his outstanding contributions to the development of Delta assuring that they would mobilise votes across the state to support the party candidates.
In his remarks, Okowa thanked the group for their support and urged them to go out and canvass more votes for the party assuring that Atiku-Okowa have good plans for the youth population in the country.
He said that Atiku had promised to set aside $10 billion dollars for the empowerment of Medium Small and Micro Enterprises MSMEs in the country.