By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
The essence of governance at all levels is for any government of the day to better the lives of its citizenry by ensuring that dividends of democracy reach the nooks and crannies of their various communities.
In Ogun State, when Senator Ibikunle Amosun assumed office on May 29, 2011, he made a promise to the people to deliver its mandate of his rebuilding mission to bring about socio-economic growth and development in the State.
In fulfilment of this promise, machinery was set in motion to actualise this mission by initiating a process that would bring about mass and even development in all areas.
No doubt, when Ogun State Government initiated the idea of creating additional 37 LCDAs to complement the existing 20 Local Government Councils, it was a calculated attempt to ensure that government was able to deliver on its mandate of the rebuilding mission that would touch the lives of every citizen irrespective of location, religion or even political affiliation, little did the people of Ogun State know that such step was in their best interest.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun on March 10, 2016 sent an executive bill to the Ogun State House of Assembly seeking to restructure the existing 20 local government councils and create additional 37 LCDAs.
Sequel to the request, the Assembly passed into law, the Local Government Amendment Bill, for the creation of 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
A referendum was thereafter conducted in five out of the 37 proposed LCDAs, and a three-day stakeholders’ forum was held.
On October 8, 2016, elections were conducted in the 20 Local Government Councils and 37 Local Councils Development Areas and barely 24 hours after, the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC), announced the 57 candidates of All Progressives Congress APC, in the Local Government / Local Council Development Areas as winners in their various council areas.
With this development, on Monday 10th October, 2016, Governor Ibikunle Amosun swore in the 57 newly elected Local Government and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) chairmen.
The Governor during the swearing-in of the LCDAs chairmen gave them a charge to fast track development at the grassroots level and bring dividends of democracy closer to the grassroots. With a promise to fund local administration, he also appealed to the chairmen to replicate the programmes of the state government at their respective local councils.
Towards strengthening the administration at the Local Government level, the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in conjunction with Local Government Service Commission organised an interactive session with stakeholders to brainstorm on the way forward.
At the session, the commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Jide Ojuko, revealed government’s intention for appointed and elected office holders which were targeted at addressing development deficit at the grassroots.
The stakeholders were tasked to work, collaborate and join hands together as a team at ensuring that Local Government achieved its set objectives at improving the well being of the people.
However, towards ensuring smooth take-off and effective administration at the Local Council Development Areas, Ogun State Government embarked on sharing of assets and liabilities of existing 20 Local Government Areas among the newly created 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the State.
The step was to ensure that governance was taken to the grassroots and for the LCDAs to rise to the occasion in the reality of upholding local government.
The distribution of assets among the councils was saddled with a 12-man committee drawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to identify liabilities and assets evaluate them and share between the respective Local Government Councils and their LCDAs using the number of wards available in each area.
This move was to facilitate seamless take off of the Local Council Development Areas having put necessary machinery of government in place to ensure that dividends of democracy were promptly and evenly delivered to the nooks and crannies of the state.
While assessing the level of development at the council areas, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun called a meeting of Chairmen, Vice Chairmen, Secretaries to the Local Government as well as Chairmen and Secretaries of the Advisory Committees charging the Executives in the 20 Local Government Areas as well as the 37 Local Council Development Areas of the State to be proactive in order to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people at the grassroots.
The Governor obliged them to add value to lives of people at the grassroots and reminded them of the necessity for the creation of the additional LCDAs, stressing that the stakeholders must rise to the occasion and take the objective as a collective responsibility in order to achieve the set goals.
As a follow up to this meeting, and as part of the oversight function of the supervising Ministry, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Jide Ojuko embarked on a 3-day tour of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) across the three Senatorial Districts in the State towards ensuring that the newly created LCDAs live up to expectations by impacting positively on the people in their respective domains.
At the LCDAs visited in Ogun Central Senatorial District, which comprised of Coker/Ibogun, Ewekoro North in Wasinmi, Abeokuta South East in Kemta Idi-Aba, the Commissioner expressed satisfaction at the existing administrative structure on ground , he advised political office holders and principal career officers at the councils to expend their monthly grants on people-oriented projects that would complement the efforts of the State Government at rebuilding the State.
He also assured that government would continue to support the LCDAs towards ensuring that dividends of democracy were delivered to the nooks and crannies of the State in order to complement the efforts of the State government by providing the basic needs of their immediate community through fixing of roads, sinking of boreholes, repair leaking roofs in primary schools as well as maintain the newly constructed roads and to keep the environment clean among others.
The commissioner reiterated that for the impact of government to be felt at the local level, the Local Heads must think out of the box, to achieve a better output.
In Ogun West Senatorial District, the Commissioner also visited Afon in Oloka-Afon, Ketu in Tata and Oke-Ogun LCDAs. In Afon, a new secretariat was commissioned with a charge to both political office holders and career officers to cooperate with one another in order to give room for meaningful development at the Council. The LCDA chairman, Hon. Jide Ogunesan hinted that his administration since assumption of duty has provided modern hospital equipment and drugs to health centres, graded Oloka –Agon township roads, and provided septic tank at Owode Primary Health Centre amongst others.
While rounding off the assessment visit, the Chairmen of Leguru LCDA, Hon. Ololade Onakoya , Hon. Rafiu Awoyemi of Sagamu and Hon. Olalekan Adebanjo , Ijebu-Ode South LCDA appreciated the undying commitment of the Senator Ibikunle Amosun led government to get dividends of democracy to the nooks and crannies of the State through the LCDAs.
The Council bosses in Ogun East Senatorial District of the State were not left out as they highlighted some of the projects embarked upon by their administrations to include road rehabilitation and construction, free health and medical surgeries and construction of modern lock-up shops amongst others.
Appraising the tour to these newly created LCDAs, it is obvious that the people of Ogun State are in for a good time at the grassroots level, more importantly in the areas of complementing the State government efforts through the provision of social amenities that would make life more abundant for the populace.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the present administration in Ogun State is committed to the welfare of its citizenry. With the provision of N2million grants to the 57 council areas on monthly basis, in no time massive development will be feasible across the state.
However, the supervisory ministry should continue to embark on periodic assessment visits in order to put the council bosses on their toes, in fact a score card should be made available at the end of such visits to measure the level of achievements in each of the LCDAs so as to promote healthy competition among them.