At a time it appeared tough for Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State because of financial limitation, yet it was no excuse for poor service delivery, writes Steve Dada
Amongst the three tiers of government, the local government seems to suffer the worst degradation and relegation. It has been denied its rightful position, in terms of statutory responsibility and financial autonomy. Thus, little or no recognition is accorded the third tier of government, having been reduced to a mere appendage of the state government whose contribution to the overall development of the country is simply felt in an administrative expression.
How does one, therefore, explain a situation where a constituted authority can hardly perform its responsibility simply because other tiers of government trample and encroach on its rights? It is no longer news that most state governments subvert the national allocation meant for the local government account.
In spite of the fact that there are certain constitutional roles expected of the local governments like the maintenance of most of the primary institutions, such as the primary health centres and the primary education.
Consequently, the local government has been denied the resources to carry out such functions. Any time an argument arises over the state of decadence in the two institutions, the federal and state governments, in their characteristic manner, start to pass the bulk, claiming that it is the responsibility of the local government to oversee the primary institutions.
Due to the financial strangulation councils suffer and the only thing they do is probably pay the salaries of the workers while nothing is left for development.
But in the midst of the storm, some of the councils have strived to pull their weights in terms of raising money through the internally generated revenue, in order to meet other obligations to the people.
One of such is the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, led by Mr. Ayodele Adewale, who was at inception not given any chance to perform because of his age. Today, despite being a young man, he has proved his critics wrong and excellently with limited resources.
On assumption of duty, Adewale had set a 20-point agenda for his administration. The target, essentially, was that all existing structures and infrastructure in the state of disrepair such as roads and drainages would be given immediate attention in the first three months of the administration while new roads would be constructed.
The Adewale administration has been emphatic on education with incentives to teachers while salaries are paid promptly. Scholarship and bursary are also given to deserving indigent students in tertiary institutions.
It also promised to provide free, qualitative and functional primary school education for residents of the local government, even as there is a plan to embark on the construction of teachers' quarters in the riverine areas; provide Free Basic-Primary Health services for all while special attention is given to the aged and children.
The health centres have also been reinforced, while those in deplorable conditions are being renovated and upgraded to modern standard as well as a mobile/boat clinic provided in the riverine communities.
The administration has also put up a plan for security network that will promote peace within the local government by working in collaboration with the Nigeria Police, Community leaders and other security agencies while new police posts and equipment coupled with incentives remain critical ingredients.
There are also branded mass transit buses, Motor cycles (Okada), Tricycles (Keke NAPEP) and Taxis provided in conjunction with private owners to facilitate shuttle services within the council area at reduced cost. And to further enhance safe transportation in the riverine areas, modern jetties, ferry boats, Scholar boats and boat clinics have been provided.
Agriculture is also accorded a pride of place with special attention to farmers with soft loans for those in co-operatives as a boost for cheaper production while fertilizers, farming implements and fishing nets are provided at subsidised rate.
Consequently, commercial Markets have been given special attention, with strong plan to rehabilitate and sanitize them for the improvement of sales and hygiene while new markets have been built in riverine communities.
The council has provided boreholes for potable water in the nook and cranny of the council area, especially in the riverine communities while plans are underway to reactivate the Festac water works in collaboration with the Festac Resident Association, (FTRA), the Lagos State and the Federal Government.
A strong believer in the public/private partnership ventures, Adewale’s administration has continued to encourage co-operative societies amongst women and various organisations, while also encouraging government, Private Sector and Civil Society partnership which it says will help improve the socio, political, cultural and economic activities of its communities.
This is why it has come up with a regular quarterly Town Hall Meeting between stakeholders in the community and the Executive Council to engage in regular tête-à-tête on issues relating to the development of the communities, hinting also its plan to establish an ICT training and business centre for skills and vocational training.
Adewale disclosed that performance has been sustained because the internally generated revenue has been improved by 435 per cent since the administration came on board.
As part of its effort to encourage the workers, the administration pledged a reward of 10 per cent on the internally-generated revenue, for productivity and improved income base for the council.
Two years down the line, the administration has succeeded in accomplishing its set goals, to meeting the expectation of the electorate and proving critics of his administration wrong.