Honourable Adebowale Ojuri is a member, Ogun State House of Assembly representing Odogbolu state constituency and Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Ethics and Public Petitions. He spoke on why the House is giving priority attention to the issue of creation of LCDAs. Excerpts:
The Executive Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun recently sent the list of proposed LCDAs to Ogun State House of Assembly for approval. Do you think LCDAs creation is necessary at this point?
The answer is Yes. If you look at the whole essence of the various tiers of government, moving from federal, to state to local government, it is to bring governance closer to the people. The essence of administration is to ensure that the dividends are better seen and appreciated.
For example, now we have a local government as big as Odogbolu with 15 wards. If the council secretariat is at Odogbolu, people living at Mobalufon area will have to travel half an hour to get to the council secretariat. With the new LCDA (Leguru LCDA), we at Ala and those living at Mobalufon area will get to Ala within 10 minutes.
That is one of the advantages. LCDAs give the Chairmen the opportunity to look inwards. This will result in a shift in paradigm as regards the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). As we already know, the same experiment worked in Lagos State, it has actually brought much development to the rural areas of Lagos State than the old LGs. If we look at Victoria Island and Lekki, a lot of development is going on in Lekki phase I, Lekki phase II and Ajah than Victoria Island axis ditto here, because we have a lot of development in areas close to Ijebu Ode and Odogbolu. With LCDAs, that development can spread more evenly. So, I agree with the LCDA concept.
What is really going to be the function of the Local Council Development Areas?
Local Council Development Areas are to enhance government interest in grassroot administration and development. It becomes obvious overtime that to effectively develop, the people must be adequately mobilised because a purposeful combination of the local effort with that of government with the objective of improving socio-economic conditions and encourage political participation is a key factor in rural development.
The LCDAs, when created, will represent the objective expression of the people and it will enhance political participation, efficient service delivery, resource mobilisation and a good number of local citizens will have the opportunity of being involved in the management of local affairs.
There is need for efficient service delivery to the local people and this can be met speedily and as efficiently as possible if the LCDAs are created. Also, LCDAs have a way of promoting economic development from below which gives priority to rural development; enhances a more effective use of land and labour, and inculcates collective action in solving many of the problems confronting agriculture.
If the system is truly local, it provides special opportunities for people to complain about the quality of service it renders and about the conduct of the council officials.
Local Government Areas and Local Council Development Areas have for a very long time been regarded as the training ground for democracy. So, in a sense therefore, the creation of local council development areas is often linked with the desire to promote grassroot democracy.
It is necessary because some wards for the election of councilors are exceptionally large to the extent that some communities don’t know their councilors.
So, local council development areas are needed to open the state to greater opportunities and to achieve the socio-economic development being emphasized by the present administration in Ogun state.
In the face of the current dwindling revenue, do you think the LCDA will be able to fund itself or is there any particular source been looked at by the state government to finance it?
I don’t see local government finance only coming from the central purse. As you are aware, the drop in oil revenue means that the allocations to the local governments are also reducing. The survival of a local council development area should be based on the ability to generate new lines of IGR. In Odogbolu state constituency, we have fantastic opportunity to use agriculture as a new source of income. So, it’s a win win situation.
-Source Nigerian Tribune