It has already been twenty years since President Tinubu then serving as Lagos State Governor in 2003 created additional 37 Local Council Development Areas in the state. The reason for this bold step according to Governor Tinubu was to fast track development and growth at the grassroots level.
Also, the idea behind the creation of more Local Governments in Lagos State was to further democratize the third tiers of government and create opportunities for new jobs for the teeming population. The Lagos State Government then went through all the legal procedures laid down by the 1999 constitution in the creation of Local Government which includes the lawful demand by the people and affirmation by the State House of Assembly.
But little did Governor Tinubu know that his good intention would land him into trouble with the then President Olusegun Obasanjo who after a few years of existence of the LCDAs directed the Ministry of Finance not to release the statutory council funds for almost two years.
The seizure of the council funds lasted beyond when both former President Obasanjo and Governor Tinubu left office in 2007 but late President, Umar Yar’adua authorised the release of the withheld funds to the then Governor Babatunde Fashola.
Simply put, the reason for the seizure of the Council funds was politics.
Thereafter, several attempts by the National Assembly members from Lagos to lobby their colleagues for the enlisting of the LCDAs in the constitution which is the final procedure during the reigns of the People’s Democratic Party proved abortive.
Surprisingly, many other State Governors across party lines that saw the beauty of the idea after President Obasanjo left office were quick to follow the Lagos example by creating additional Local Governments in respective states.
When President Muhammadu Buhari took over in 2015 after years of leadership of the PDP, there was high hope especially among the ruling party that the push for the recognition of the LCDAs would come with ease. Alas, many Nigerians were disappointed and hope dashed because their expectations seemed not to be on the priority list under the Buhari APC government.
Did I hear you say that another opportunity beckons for the ruling All Progressives Congress to give the necessary legal backings to the new Local Governments created nationwide? The 1999 Constitution as amended in Section 7, recognizes the system of Local Government by democratically elected local government councils. The question begging for an answer is how many states have elected Local government Chairmen in office. It is so convenient for the Governors to appoint Sole Administrator or Executive Secretary to oversee the affairs of the Councils and give them peanuts as allocation at the end of the month.Related News
It was not unexpected that the majority of our so-called Governors frustrated the move by the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari to guarantee financial autonomy to the Local Government Areas.
We have seen loggerheads between Governors and council chairmen over allocation of funds in the past.
The creation of the Joint Account and Allocation Committee, JAAC by the Constitution may have not helped matters in this regard but the fact remains that the Governors were quick to react and sometimes took the federal government to court whenever their allocations were tampered with. Ironically, the Council Chairmen doesn’t have the moral standing to challenge the Governors in a similar case except such a bold Chairman is ready to face a battle that could consume him.
While reacting in an interview, the Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), Mr. Debo Adeniran, said converting the LCDAs to full-fledged LGAs would bring the government closer to the people.
According to him, Lagos being the most populous state in Nigeria and also the economic nerve centre of the country, it should be granted the long Special Status it deserves. Adeniran was of the view that the President should lobby the National Assembly to make the LCDAs constitutional, adding it would give the people a sense of belonging.
Some of the LCDAs created during the tenure of President Tinubu as Lagos State Governor includes; Agbado/Oke-Odo, Agboyi/Ketu, Agege, Ajeromi, Alimosho, Apapa, Apapa-Iganmu, Ayobo/Ipaja, Badagry West, Badagry, Bariga, Coker Aguda, Egbe Idimu, Ejigbo, Epe, Eti-Osa East, Eti-Osa West, Iba, Odi Olowo/Ojuwoye, Ifako-Ijaiye, Ifelodun, Igando/Ikotun, Igbogbo/Bayeku, Itire Ikate, and Kosofe, among others.
President Tinubu who was instrumental to the creation of more Local Governments in the country succeeds in giving the necessary legal backing that will increase the number of Local Government Areas in the country from the current 774.