To many Lagos residents, particularly those living in the suburbs, the true meaning, essence and relevance of the additional local council development authorities (LCDAs) created by the state remain hazy and incomprehensible.
The creation of the 37 LCDAs from the constitutionally recognised 20 local government areas of the state ruffled a few feathers. On October 15, 2005, the state government, against advice from the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, conducted local government elections into 57 instead of 20 local government councils in the state. This election ushered in the first set of chairmen for the LCDAs. The Bola Tinubu administration in 2005 was, however, able to convince critics that the creation of the LCDAs was aimed to bring development and service delivery to the doorsteps of the “good people of Lagos State”.
In a presidential system of government such as we have in Nigeria, the functions and responsibilities of the three tiers of government are unambiguously spelt out in the constitution and among those of the local government is the construction and maintenance of inner roads commonly called trunk C roads.
But for almost a decade now, Lagosians are still waiting to see grassroots development, which was the main reason these LCDAs were created. Regrettably, all the inner roads within the domain of these chairmen have moved from bad to worse and, in some cases, completely collapsed. Craters and gullies are regular features of these roads.
Arguments by chairmen that “these are state roads” and “our funds cannot carry such projects”, when common councillors live in opulence from the public purse, is baseless and unsustainable. It is incomprehensible to us that a local government chairman who sends starry-eyed revenue drivers in air-conditioned cars and buses to collect levies and tenement rates from traders and landlords on a dilapidated road can ignore the same road on the flimsy excuse that it belongs to the state.
The hallmark of the social contract between the government and the governed is that whereas the citizens pay their taxes and rates and remain law-abiding, the government provides social services including good roads, pipe-borne water, electricity and security of lives and property.
Here, the story is different. While the government at both state and local levels haunts down the citizens with uniformed men of all descriptions to pay levies, rates and taxes, they give nothing in return. It confounds sound reasoning and blurs the imagination that a government could claim privileges without assuming responsibilities, which negates the great philosopher’s cliché that “the burden of proof is on he who alleges”.
Our contention here is that the Lagos LCDAs should justify not just their creation but also the long-drawn legal tussle between the state and the Federal Government – a tussle whose resolution at the Supreme Court remains open-ended. They should perform their duties to justify the huge revenue they collect from hapless citizens. Citizens are not asking the LCDAs to embark on impossible projects; rather, they simply want these inner roads graded and made motorable.