Chairman of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Local Government Administration and Community Affairs, Hon. Olayiwola AbdulSobur Olawale, believes that the third tier of government can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The lawmaker, who represents Mushin Constituency II, harps on the need for improved synergy between the executive and legislature at the local level for the development of the councils. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
As the Chairman of the Lagos State House of Assembly’s Committee on Local Government Administration and Community Affairs, what is your advice to the chairmen of the various councils on how to curb the spread of COVID-19 in their areas?
I strongly believe that they have a lot to do. What we are witnessing now is community spread. I would advise them to take a cue of what the Lagos State government is doing. They should admit that they are very close to the grassroots. I would advise them to complement the efforts of the state government by creating more awareness for our people. Not only that, but they also need to ensure that people comply with the directive of the state government on how to curb the spread of COVID-19. They should intensify their efforts to reduce the spread of the disease through awareness.
Would you say that the local government administrators should assist the state government in providing isolation centres to treat people infected with COVID-19?
Well, most of these isolation centres are in the local governments. I have been to some of them and I believe that the local governments are assisting the state government in this area.
What will be your charge to the local governments’ administrators on accountability?
We have an administrative law of local governments that was passed in 2015 that deal with things like this. It is not enough to have the law, enforcement really matters. I want to appeal to them that as the third tier of government they have a lot of responsibilities. They should ensure that they take care of their people be spending their allocations judiciously.
Let’s talk about flooding, almost every part of the state is being flooded. What is your advice to the local government chairmen in fighting floods in their areas?
We have done a lot to clear the drainages in the state. The major problem is noncompliance by our people. Our people still throw waste on drainages and this blocks the channels and this is very calamitous. If you go to a place like Alapere in Ketu, the people block the channel and water would always find its level. In a situation, where you are blocking the channels you can imagine what would happen. I want to advise the local government chairmen to be up and doing and they should ensure that people keep their environment clean. When your compound and environment are dirty you should know what would happen, when the wastes that are generated later are not properly disposed of.
What are your roles as chairman of the House Committee on Local Government Administration and Community Affairs?
My constitutional roles are clearly stated in the outline of our duties. It is to see to the general administration of local governments. It is my role to ensure that the annual budget estimates of local governments are properly implemented. The second one has to do with local government administration generally. This is the totality of the local governments. Usually, there is a friction between the executive and the legislature at the local government level. It is our duty to ensure that there is total compliance with the laws that guide them. Also, we relate with the Local Government Service Commission as they regulate the activities of the local governments. We relate with the local government’s chairmen and everything that has to do with local government affairs as well as their affairs. We also have duties to perform on community affairs.
Which areas do you want the local governments to improve upon?
I will want the relationship between the local government chairmen and the legislature to be cordial. What we noticed is that there is a gulf or disparity between the chairmen of the councils and the legislators. What they have is a sort of master-servant relationship, which shouldn’t be because they were all elected at the same time. The legislators are not properly taken care of at the local government level. Number two, the issue of infrastructure development in the local governments is appalling and it is very absurd. If you don’t give people roads, and health facilities, definitely this would lead to a bad image for the local governments.
Do you sanction erring local government chairmen?
Yes, we do that regularly. You can see what happened to a local government chairman recently, when we suspended him. This can happen to any other local government chairman.