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Knocks, violence over creation of new councils




The rush for creation of new council areas in states, especially by governors of the Southwest states, appears to hold certain attractions.
After Lagos State, which created 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDA), under the administration of Bola Tinubu, three other states-Ekiti, Osun and Ogun have taken similar step.

Perhaps, this move is based on political reasons, or the need to move government closer to the grassroots, as claimed by the governors. Some constituents are worried that the move is ill timed, especially as states are confronted with financial challenges, which affects their capacity to execute projects and fulfill financial obligations to the workforce.

But one question still agitating minds of residents of the affected states is whether the development will add to their fortunes.
For instance, Osun State, believed to be going through serious economic crisis, due to revenue shortfall created 31 LCDAs, which brings the councils to 61, while Ogun also struggling with finances, is also set to add 37 to its existing 20 councils.

The Guardian gathered from sources that the step is part of gimmicks by the governors to bring down tension, thinking that such move could appease the workers.

Another reason, according to investigations, is because the governors have seen creation of more councils as a tool for political gains, in order to ensure that their cronies and allies benefit, in order to increase their political base.

But according to critics, the move is ill timed, and might further plunge affected states into abject poverty. For instance, they claim that since they were created without recourse to the National Assembly; they remain fake, null and void.

They claimed that though the constitution vests powers for the creation of local governments in the states, but it is subject to the recognition by the National Assembly.

So far, the development has led to protests by some residents. For instance, three communities in Osun state-Aagba, Ada and Ororuwo, have rejected the location of the headquarters of the established Boripe North LCDA, in Iree, demanding its reversal by government. They claim that the decision was at variance with the content of the White Paper released on the memorandum written by the three communities in 2012.

In Ogun, indigenes of Sango and Ijoko in Ado-Odo/Ota local government protested the location of Ota LCDA. According to them, the boundary arrangement in the proposed LCDA would make them lose all the basic amenities belonging to Sango communities to Ota area of the local government.

The straw that really broke the camel’s back in Ogun was the violence that characterised the referendum held in five proposed LCDAs. The event, in Afon turned bloody, as thugs descended on polling units, and attacked locals and journalists with machetes and other dangerous weapons. The men overpowered officials of the State Independent Electoral Commission at Ita Baale –Ago-Keesan and carted away ballot boxes.

The Chief of Imala town, Adetayo Ajayi, described the action of the government to hold referendum for Afon in Imala territory, which belongs to Abeokuta North local government, as an affront. He disclosed that Abeokuta North and Imeko-Afon local government areas have different territories that are clearly stated.

Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Osun State, Alhaji Ganiyu Olaoluwa, told The Guardian, that with the development, Governor Rauf Aregbesola has succeeded in destroying the template of local government administration in the state, which has further impoverished the hapless masses.

“He is just impoverishing the people of the state; is this the state of other local governments across the country? He has been on the saddle for seven years without any council election, we have 332 wards, there are no councilors, no chairmen and no supervisory councilors, the next thing for him is to embark on creating more councils. What does he rely on to develop the new councils?

“Even oil producing states never embarked on this kind of mission, is it from the N6m monthly allocation that he wants to develop the new councils? He has turned the people of the state to fools; he was just cajoling the ignorant ones that he is performing. By the time election is approaching he will start deceiving them and during Christmas and Muslim festivals too, he will cajole them with free train ride.”

For the PDP in Ogun State, the move is unreasonable. The Secretary of the party, Alhaji Semiu Sodipo told The Guardian on phone that if Governor Ibikunle Amosun goes ahead with the plan, he will be creating more problem for the people, more problem for the system and adding to the poverty level.

He added that creation of more councils, is not the priority of the state at present, adding that his priority should be how to meet all his financial obligations and make the workers happy.

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