Emasculated councils, emasculated grassroots: Pls Gov Makinde, grant LGs autonomy

Gov Seyi Makinde

Even if not full autonomy, a greater degree of autonomy than what is presently in operation is what we beg of you, Excellency. Your reign as Oyo state governor has brought a modicum of progress and development but if truth be told this has not been massive. In Ogbomoso zone, all the value we can say have been added to us is a rehabilitated 3km road (LAUTECH Under-G). The other one which is even less than a kilometre was later remade by the federal government – the Apake portion of the trunk A road linking southwest to the north. We appreciate these two efforts though but we feel we deserve more taking cognizance of the importance of Ogbomoso. Your Excellency, you may not appreciate this but we value our heritage viz-a-viz our contributions to the evolution of both Yoruba country and Nigeria as a whole. If you also look at our population, this position isn’t an overshooting.

Road in a new neighbourhood in Ogbomoso

Yes, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, through your instrumentality and deftness became an institution belonging solely to Oyo state, which meets our aspiration sequel to the evaporation of commitment from the former co-owner, Osun state. However, the euphoria of your historic success in taking LAUTECH over for Oyo state as sole owner evanesced like water poured on the ground in midday sun when the news of the plan to turn the university into a multi-campus one (which is even now being actualized), wafted into our ears. True, this will fulfill the hope of the benefiting communities, but you don’t expect us to cheer or be enthusiastic about this when we face an uncertain fate capable of shortchanging or devaluing our community.

A bridge linking Ogbegun area, which collapsed a year ago, yet to be reconstructed

It is our hope that you will give us a monument that will etch your name permanently in our hearts like Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala and (now late) Senator Abiola Ajimobi did when they held sway as governors in the state. Otunba Alao-Akala gave us a colossal teaching hospital/college of medicine while Senator Ajimobi constructed the first double-lane road in the city. These are legacies that will define the administrations of the two in perpetuity in the city.

Some council chairmen

It is our hope you will execute something humongous as well to immortalize your name in Ogbomoso. Your Excellency has promised us an overhead bridge, we hold to the belief that this will be fulfilled in earnest in view of the propensity you had exhibited towards fulfilling promises. Besides, your first term is less than two years away. Both Akala and late Ajimobi did what they did in their first tenure. And those are aside other less visible projects especially in respect of Akala.

A community roads

That is for that. The other area l wish to put emphasis on has to do with the local government administration in the state. It will be an exercise in futility to attempt to delve into the laws establishing local government running or other jargons about the third tier of government in this piece, you are a repository of knowledge on that. But my appeal is that Your Excellency grant a little more degree of autonomy, financial autonomy, to local governments in the state. Experience has shown that is the only real and quick way for developments to be harnessed in the communities outside the state capital. As an instance, Ogbomoso is often credited with being the town with the best road network in Nigeria and also we used to have good motorable roads coupled with the fact that newly opened residential areas in the town never waited long before their road networks are opened up and laid with tar. Council chairmen in Ogbomoso saw that as the benchmark of performance. Ayantayo Ayandele, Remi Odetomi, Taiwo Alagbe, Adebayo Alao-Akala, Dayo Lawal, Felix Akande and others left us with good roads when they led as council chairmen in either Ogbomoso North or Ogbomoso South local governments at different times.
The standard meanwhile and sadly has gone down precariously. Today, the city is infested with poor roads. 90 percent of intra-city roads have become dilapidated, defectively dilapidated just as several bridges and culverts had broken down or need to be provided. Moreover, many new adjoining communities have sprung up in the last ten years, now characterized by intense hustling and bustling, which typically should have been beneficiaries of road extensions but the story is sordid. The road tenor in these new areas only bequeathes perplexity. Some of these areas in Ogbomoso including Ogbegun, Oke-Omosin, Ayedaade/Aale Shopping Complex, Oke-Osuru, Odokoto, Akowonjo, Adunin etc are debased by erosion degraded roads. Were it to be in the past most of these areas’ roads would have had the touch of tar with the complement of drainage.
That forms the fulcrum of my solemn appeal to Your Excellency to allow our councils a greater degree of sovereignty. In this wise, it needs be stated that the devaluation in our road conditions coincided with the period the council areas were robbed of their autonomy particularly starting with the administration of Ajimobi, when he started to use predominantly appointed administrators to head the councils. That is when the era of seeking approval from the state government before project executions can be carried out ignobly began full blown. This strange regime introduced bottlenecks and delay in project identification and execution with grassroots being the poorer for it.
I was thus appalled reading recently the directive by Your Excellency mandating council chairmen to expressly seek permission from the commissioner of local government and chieftaincy matters for projects exceeding N2million while Your Excellency reserves the right to grant approval for projects that are worth N10million or more. This is purely an anti-democratic move. And it is anti-development! What this leaves us with is the twin evil of emasculated councils and emasculated grassroots! That is the bane of developments in the grassroots in the present age as far as Ogbomoso is concerned. If full autonomy in council areas did not unleash imposing developments in other climes it did in Ogbomoso area when it was allowed to operate, aside being an avenue for employments and improving the local economy. The present arrangement has left us poorer contrarily. The governor is elected to govern the state, that is his constituency and jurisdiction, the governor should let truly democratically elected governments emerge to oversee the federating constituents. In a situation where governors ambush local government elections to wangle victory for the candidates of their parties he would gain the audacity to thwart local democracy and consequently growth. Your Excellency does not know Ogbegun area in Ogbomoso with its collapsed bridge and so if the council chairman is overwhelmed by requests and decides to fix it that may not appeal or make sense to you or commissioner and so time is wasted in getting it done thus leaving the people frustrated. In addition, a chairman cannot drive through badly damaged roads often within his jurisdiction and not think of repairing them. Even if his attention is now called to it under the prevailing situation he will only raise his hands in exasperation that he is emasculated, lamenting, “We have made presentation at Ibadan (the state capital and seat of government) but approval is not yet granted!” It is bullshit. It is wrong for the state government to corner the power of local governments for whatever reason. It leaves the council areas and grassroots poorer. Who says a local government chairman cannot perform better than a governor!
Therefore, we appeal to Your Excellency to relax the stranglehold to allow the grassroots to enjoy more dividends of democracy. What transpires presently is like raking in funds, appropriating money from council areas to develop the state capital at the detriment of these local governments. This should not be allowed to continue. We have experienced the two scenarios and we can confidently say the system of allowing councils to function maximally engenders greater dividends. Enough of having emasculated council chairmen! Enough of robbing Paul to pay Peter.

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