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Akeredolu’s 105 LCDAs: Windfall in season of politics

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Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu

Determined to change the narrative of neglect in the grassroots, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, during a thank-you tour across the 18 local government areas after the general elections, declared his intention to create Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) and urged the people of the state to submit memoranda.

Akeredolu announced the new development Irele LGA, where the tour kicked off on March 18, affirming that the LCDAs would expedite development and enable the people to benefit maximally from representative democracy.

Less than 24 hours after the declaration, he set up an 11-member committee chaired by Prince Adelanke Odogiyon, while the most senior Permanent Secretary in the State, Mr. Deji Akinwalere, was to serve as the secretary; other members include: Sir Charles Titiloye, Dr. (Mrs.) Adebunmi Osadahun, Sir Yinka Adeyosoye, Prince Ajose Kudehinbu, Chief Bunmi Fasonu, Mr. A. A Akindele, Mrs. Mojisola Ajayi, Chief Ojo Fajemilusi and Surveyor Ganiyu Agunbiade.

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They were inaugurated on Thursday March 21 to promptly begin work and given three months to submit their report with effect from the date of inauguration.

Dispelling all insinuations from some quarters that the initiative was put in place for political reasons, especially in pursuance of his re-election bid in 2020, Akeredolu noted that the idea for LCDAs were not motivated by politics but for the socio-economic wellbeing of the people.

He explained that the decision was not conceived or designed to whittle the influence of anyone or to elevate any individual above his peers, saying, “it is far from the so-called recognition extended to political leaders. It is for the ultimate benefit of the people.

“It is our expectation that this exercise will restore their dignity and pride as prime producers, and not as incurable consumers of other people’s ideas and products. We remember our promise during electioneering campaigns on the issue of the creation of more local governments from the existing ones.

“We are aware that the agitation for representation is becoming more strident. Our people are speaking loudly but it’s our responsibility to guide them. We shall take decisions, which are going to be in the ultimate benefit of the people. The people themselves will be allowed to elect their representatives in due course,” he said.

The governor also expressed hope that the exercise would further deepen the existing interactions among the local people and harness their potentials. He solicited the cooperation of all local leaders and their people, and enjoined the committee members to approach the assignment with courage and equanimity.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Deaconess Lola Fagbemi stated that a vibrant and effective local government system would foster inclusiveness. She said the LCDAs would give the people a choice and go a long way to deepening democratic values and good governance at the grassroots.

“It is in realization of this objective and in further fulfillment of his numerous promises and programmes to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the good people of this state that the governor set up this committee on the creation of LCDAs.”

Fagbemi urged the committee to “painstakingly follow all the processes for the creation of the LCDAs and be transparent and consultative, so that there is participation of the communities that desire the creation of the LCDAs.”

Within a short period of time, 94 memoranda demanding 105 were submitted across the18 local government areas as the people jostle to bring governance to their doorsteps, despite misgivings by some who query the propriety and legal backing for such exercise.

But the chairman of LCDAs Creation Committee, Mr. Odogiyon said the governor has not acted contrary to the Constitution of the nation, in setting up the committee.

According to him, the law, which gives the National Assembly the exclusive power to create local government, does not forbid state governors from establishing LCDAs for their own administrative convenience. He added that such power exercised by the state government is to bring governance closer to the grassroots.

Odogiyon, who is also a former president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), disclosed that there were robust meetings and public hearing sessions to review the memoranda and fashion out strategies for a flaw-free exercise.

The secretary of the Committee, Dr. Akinwalere, said the creation of the LCDAs is a welcome development in accordance with global best practices to further strengthen democracy in the state, assuring that it would not only give the people dividends of democracy directly but also improve on inclusiveness and bring governance nearer to the people.

He justified it further that it would also increase the political consciousness and participatory roles of the people about how they are governed, rather than the present 18 councils that are not proportional to the population and landmass.

Though some people across the state are of the opinion that the LCDA initiative will die a natural death, the committee members urge the people of the state to cooperate with the state government in the exercise, assuring that it would not fail like others initiated by past governments.

Nonetheless, Yusuf Ayeye, from Okitipupa LGA, said it is a welcome development for the Ikale people as it would meet their aspiration to have more councils especially now that a court judgment favoured the Ikales in a boundary dispute with Araromi-Obu.

Similarly, the people of Akure in the South District, according to Mrs. Rachael Adesida would benefit as the creation of LCDAs would eliminate the existing gap between the people and government, saying it would further entrench principles of representative democracy.

Mr. Sesan Ologundade, from Ose Council in Ondo North District, stressed that it would put to rest the political hegemony against Owo and Ose people, as they would have more administrative units to match the Akoko ethnic group, which has four councils in the district.

The committee would submit its report to the governor soon. Beyond party affiliations, the people are keen on the implementation of the LCDAs, which would be first of its kind since the creation of the state on February 3, 1976.

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