Media should focus more on council development, says Sofola
The Chairman of Kosofe Local Government, Mr. Babatunde Afolabi Sofola has urged the media to do more justice to reporting local councils across Nigeria.
Sofola, who visited the Rutam House Headquarters of The Guardian yesterday, said contrary to the public perception that local government is more or less a place where loyalists of every ruling party practice ‘chop-I-chop’ and also cornered by political godfathers “some of the councils are actually working despite the meager resources available to them.”
According to him, “It is important for the media to focus more on reporting activities at the local government level because that is the closest arm of government to the people and in exposing what goes on there we are helping the grassroots to grow and develop.”
Sofola said one of the advantages of bringing activities in the council to public awareness through objective reporting is that it would address the fear of marginalisation currently prevalent in the nation’s polity.
According to him, “Since we are the closest government to the people, I can say boldly that fear of marginalisation in the country is more prevalent at the grassroots level because that is the melting pot of inter-tribal relationship. For instance, people intermingle in places like markets, motor parks, Community Development Association (CDA) and others. Council chairmen are closer to all these people than the state governor and we also have first hand information of what is going on and how they were interrelating.
“This is the more reason the media should be part and parcel of the council, bringing whatever is happening there to the public domain. I believe in doing this objectively and effectively, Nigeria will be better for it.”The Kosofe council chairman added that he has often sponsored Nigerians of diverse origins on pilgrimage to Jerusalem Saudi Arabia, saying, “This was done to further remove the fear of marginalisation among Nigerians residing within my council.”
He also spoke on gender equality in politics and youth marginalisation, which he said Kosofe local council is taking steps to address, not by mouth but also in action, saying his 2018 budget was a prove “to our commitment to gender equality and youths empowerment.”
The budget, tagged ‘Budget of Infrastructural Development and Renewal of Hope’ allocates a lion’s share of 35 percent, N747, 982,620.39 to education, which according to him would benefit the younger generations more.The emphasis he also placed on general public services as manifested in the budget, which gulp 28 percent totaling N590, 072, 457.00, was another indication that the council is concerned about the well being of the citizen.
Sofola is not also relenting on improving on infrastructural facility in the local government, which according to him is in accordance “with the cardinal focus of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who has turned Lagos to a huge construction site in the last three years.”
To justify his determination, Sofola devoted 27 per cent N527, 640,057.35 to works, housing and infrastructure, which was expected to take care of lighting of some roads constructed by the local government. It will also go into constructing new ones, as well as rehabilitating old ones and maintaining clean drainages.
Other critical areas Sofola believed his tenure would address are health, waste and environmental sanitation, which he devoted four percent each of N109, 725,439 and N88, 267, 633.56 to respectively.If there is anything Sofola considered as important in advancing a society, issues relating to Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) is key, which got about N24, 500,000.00 an estimated one percent while agriculture and Social Development got N88, 267,633.
During the interaction with The Guardian, Sofola said his administration’s focus is to bring government closer to the people, as he reiterated his vision of making the local council a preferred investment destination in the country, pointing out areas of concern, which would be given urgent attention.
He noted that most of the areas emphasised in the budget are receiving attention as the council have started implementing some of his electoral promises.
According to him, “The media should partner local government in encouraging reading culture among our students. In Kosofe, we set up well equipped libraries with good collection of books in schools and the communities, so that people can return to the reading culture of the old days. They must read and expand their minds. The local council would run the libraries.”
He added that his action plan to make Kosofe a council of excellence from which all its residents would benefit include, but not limited to massive roads rehabilitation and construction which would make the area more accessible, assuring that he would embark on the immediate repair of the bad roads in all the affected areas.
Primary health delivery, according to the chairman is a major concern in the country in which his administration would address by adding more health centres across the local council, to enable the people receive optimal care and services, stressing that there would be provision of drugs at all the health centres with patients being given free drugs and medication.
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