While many people have continued to focus on what the states and Federal Government ought to do to develop the nation and take governance to the nooks and crannies of the country, some people are asserting that the various local governments also have roles to play in the development agenda. This must have prompted the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Local Government and Community Affairs to embark on visits to the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state between March and April, 2021. Led by Hon. AbdulSobur Olawale Olayiwola, representing Mushin Constituency 2 in the Assembly.
The committee painstakingly went round the councils to see things for itself with a view to making the local governments in the state deliver the dividends of democracy to the people. In an interview with Saturday Telegraph after the visits, Hon. Olawale said that the visits were eventful and insightful as they opened the eyes of the members of the committee to so many things.
“There were some local governments that did very well, some performed above average and some performed below average. “We garnered many experiences there. The reason we embarked on the visits was to look at the various projects that the local governments embarked upon and to see how far they have gone.
“We went to look at their books. We had told them what we wanted to look at before we went there. We interfaced with the councillors and the management of the local governments. We looked at their relationship and we wanted to find out how it was. “Also, the labour and the local governments management activities were looked into.
We asked questions from the labour leaders and we were able to distinguish between those who performed well and those who did not. “We went to their project sites too, we moved round and we saw many things and those that needed to be corrected, we did and those that should be invited to the Assembly, we invited them including the contractors,” he said.
The lawmaker stressed that being the closest to the grassroots, the impacts of the local governments ought to be felt more than those of the states. He further explained that they could perform better if the relevant agencies and the state House of Assembly give them proper monitoring. He added that the law that created local governments in Nigeria is in Section 5 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended.
This power, he said is vested in each state House of Assembly, and that it behoves on each state House of Assembly to perform their constitutionally assigned duties. Olawale emphasized that they went on the visit to checkmate the council chairmen on what they are doing. “We have local governments administrative guidelines that guide all the local governments in the state. It states that the vice chairmen should superintend the local government tenders board. “But this has been hijacked by some council chairmen and we were able to correct these anomalies.
If we had not gone there, we would not have seen these things. “It’s part of what we have been able to put in place. There are some that put their councilors under their armpit and the council chairmen were the alpha and omega, but this was corrected. The way some councillors also take impeachment is not way it should be,” he said. At Iba LCDA, Hon. Olawale specifically chastised the chairperson of the LCDA, Hon. Ramota Adedayo Oseni for poor execution of projects.
The chairman said during the visit, “I am not impressed with the state of things in Iba LCDA, look at a project that was completed in 2018 (referring to Iba Estate Primary School), see the classrooms where children are learning, we are inviting the contractor to Alausa to come and explain to us”. Observations made at Iba LCDA which was the committee’s first point of call were ongoing projects that were already fully paid for without completion, suspected contract inflation and other irregularities.
“We like to see the Vice Chairman of the council, the Procurement Officer, the Legal Officer, the Council Engineer and the contractors at Alausa on the 1st of April, 2021 to clarify certain things regarding some projects. Responding to the observations by the house committee, the chairperson of the LCDA, Hon. Ramota Adedayo Oseni, a former lawmaker said the report presented by the Council Engineer, Engr. Wesu Medese, was not a true reflection of things as she was still new in the LCDA.
However, the chairman and the committee members gave Ojo LG a pass mark for good presentation and projects done, asking the LGA to improve on certain areas mentioned. Other committee members on the tour were Hon. Kehinde Joseph, representing Alimosho II, Hon. Rasheed Makinde, representing Ifako-Ijaiye II, Hon. Nureni Akinsanya representing Mushin I, and Hon. Age Sulaimon representing Amuwo- Odofin I.
Fielding questions from journalists on why nursery pupils were learning under the mango tree at Our Lady of Fatima Primary School, Ganyingbo, in Badagry West LCDA, the chairman, Hon. Gbenu Hennugbe Joseph explained that there were completed classrooms ready for the pupils since 2020 but that the LCDA was waiting for the governor or any of his officials to come and commission it before the pulpils start using the classrooms. However, Hon. Olawale Olayiwola directed that the pupils should immediately move to the classrooms while condemning the reason adduced by the chairman.
“So far so good, we are impressed with the performances of all the chairmen in Badagry LGA and the two LCDAs except for where we met pupils learning under the mango tree but I have given a directive to the contrary. “We are going to be doing this periodically because it enables us to see the areas where the LGAs need to improve and we will commend them where we see outstanding performance like we have done in Badagry,” Hon Olawale said.
In another instance, the House applauded the Executive Chairman of Mushin Local Government, Hon. Emmanuel Bamigboye, for promoting local content development in the community. Hon. Abdul-Sobur Olawale, the Committee Chairman, with his team gave kudos to the local government chairman for his administrative style and good leadership in Mushin council. “We confirmed the rapid development which had taken place in Mushin in the last four years. “The committee also commends Bamigboye for engaging members of his grassroots in Direct Labour projects of the council.
“This is as development remains the best way to promote and facilitate local content development,” Olawale said. The Committee also commended the Executive Chairmen of Surulere Local Government, Hon. Tajudeen Ajide, Coker/Aguda LCDA, Alhaja Omobolanle Akinyemi-Obe and Itire/Ikate LCDA, Hon. Ahmed Apatira, on infrastructural development in their councils. After inspecting the various projects executed by the Council Chairmen, Hon. Olawale, said that the committee was surprised with the high level of developmental projects and its quality, saying that the committee noticed a symbiotic relationship between the councils executives and their councillors.
Olawale said that the committee was pleased with how the welfare packages of the councillors were structured, adding that there was a smooth relationship between the labour union and the chairmen of the councils. He added “in every local government, labour is the engine room.
They are the ones, who ensure the smooth running of the local government and what we met was very encouraging. “Lastly, the various projects we inspected were well structured and of quality. We inspected roads constructed at Surulere LGA.
At Coker/Aguda, we visited the vocational centre and in Itire/Ikate, we visited Ikale Street. By and large, it was a good experience”. In his comments, the Chairman of Itire/ Ikate LCDA, Mr Ahmed Apatira, said that the tour would make council chairmen to do the right thing and to correct where there were mistakes, adding ” It is to put us on our toes.
It also let us know that public funds are not something you can just dip your hands into, you have to be accountable for whatever you use the funds for”. The Chairperson of Coker/Aguda LCDA, Alhaja Omobolanle Akinyemi-Obe, said that the visit was insightful and that the committee was particular about ensuring socio-welfare was provided to the staff and the councillors. However, the three council Chairmen in Ikorodu area of Lagos State lamented lack of funds responsible for undermining infrastructural development in the area.
The councils include Ikorodu Local Government, Ikorodu West and Igbogbo Baiyeku Local Council Development Areas. The Council Chairman of Ikorodu West LCDA, Hon. Olajumoke Ademeyin-Jimbo said that efforts were being made to raise the revenue of the council in order to meet their infrastructural needs.
Olajumoke said that the council was trying all it could as they needed more money to rehabilitate and tar the roads in the communities. She, however, noted that part of the efforts they have been exerting is the acquisition and allocation of buses to each ward for easy mobility towards the purpose. The Chairman of Ikorodu Local Government, Hon. wasiu Ayodeji, also acknowledged the challenge of funding as the administration is currently divided into six. “The challenge that is so pressing to us is finance. You know the Ikorodu local government is split into six.” Wasiu said. However, Hon. Olawale disagreed, saying there is enough funds from the federal and state governments to the local governments. In Ikosi Ejirin LCDA under the leadership of Hon. Onanuga Shamsideen, the lawmakers commended his administration for putting in place a befitting legislative chamber for the councillors, but reprimanded him for being the Chairman of the tender board in the council, a development they said was contrary to laid down procedures. The committee also made moves to resolve the brewing crisis between the Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government, Mr Buraimoh Valentine and the councillors in the council during a visit to the council.
The reconciliation move was initiated as the House Committee invited Valentine and the councillors to the Assembly Complex, in Alausa, Ikeja. Speaking with journalists after the oversight tour to the council and Oriade LCDA, Hon. Olawale said the two parties in the crisis had been invited to the Assembly to address the issues causing the crisis. Olawale said that crisis was inevitable in any human society but that the issues would be resolved amicably. He added that the committee was impressed with the mutual understanding that exists among the Chairman of Oriade LCDA, councillors and staff, adding that the cordial relationship reflects in the delivery of public goods to the people of the council. During the tour, the Committee commended the managements of Oshodi- Isolo Local Government, Isolo LCDA and Ejigbo LCDA on infrastructural development, staff welfare, executive-legislature relationships among others. Hon. Olawale implored the managements of the Local councils to improve their efforts on people-oriented projects. He explained that the visit was meant to ensure fairness, accountability and to also ensure that dividends of democracy reach electorates, especially at the grassroots. A resident of the state, Alhaji Musiliu Iyanda who spoke to Saturday Telegraph about the committee visits, wanted the local councils to be closer to the people. Iyanda stated that some of the projects of the councils exist on paper and that the people of the grassroots were being neglected in the scheme of things. “I will urge our local council chairmen to do more. They need to connect with the people and give us the dividends of democracy. We deserve more than we are currently getting from them. “I hope that a time will come that our councils will perform more functions and turn the state to paradise on earth in their own little way,” he said.