Bothered by the unimpressive development at the grassroots, the Lagos State House of Assembly, led by the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa has mandated local government chairmen of 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state to complete at least a developmental project within every quarter of the four-year term.
Obasa, who gave the marching order, said chairmen, vice chairmen, councillors and other top officials of the 57 councils in Lagos State would, subsequently, face strict monitoring to make them meet the yearnings and aspirations of their people.
Obasa, at separate meetings with the council chairmen, vice chairmen, councillors and senior staff of the councils in Lagos recently, said reports available to the House have shown that some of the council chairmen have not met the expectations of their people, so far.
According to Eromosele Ebhomele, the Media Assistant to the speaker, Obasa warned that the house would no longer be business as usual in the councils as the Assembly would now ensure strict compliance to serving the people’s interests.
The speaker frowned at the aloofness that those set of public officeholders have exhibited at that level of government to the detriment of residents’ expectations.
Obasa, who noted that council officials in Lagos were the only ones with four-year terms in Nigeria, stressed that it is disheartening how some of these chairmen personalise monthly allocations while their communities are crying for infrastructure and other developmental initiatives.
The Speaker said, “I wonder how you sleep with your eyes closed while your council cannot even build and equip a good maternity centre.
“You can’t justify the fact that in six months, there is no meaningful project done by you in your community.
“Some councils have no single project for over two years, and you treat the vice chairmen and councillors like they must be subservient even when you are going astray. Some of your councillors have not received official vehicles up till now.
Speaking further, “Some of your councils do not have legislative chambers, meaning the councillors have not been holding sittings. How, then do you get approvals for the money you spend.?
“We are aware of how some of these councils go ahead to borrow money up to nine-digit figures without approvals or due process and how they lease council property without caution. We won’t allow these to happen again.
“It is now strictly going to be true governance at the grassroots level. Where would you fall back to when you leave office if you don’t develop your communities? How would the people see you?” The Speaker asked while urging the councillors to up their effectiveness.
Obasa maintained that having a well-equipped maternity centre in every local government ward for residents to access healthcare easily is not impossible.
He also urged the chairmen to embark on creating parks and gardens in their local government councils and areas for the well-being of the people.
Going forward, he said, each council chairman must adopt a policy that every quarter, there must be something to show that you are truly in office. Let there be something to commission.
“If you are to construct a road, it should not be one that would last for a month or a year. It should be something that would make people pray for you each time they pass through it. Let’s truly serve our people.”
Obasa warned the chairmen, the council managers and treasurers against constituting themselves into a power bloc that runs the councils without inputs from vice chairmen and councillors, who are supposed to issue approvals for spending and projects.
According to Obasa, “We are here today to talk to each other. This is no witch-hunt. But I always want you to ask yourselves if you have been doing well for those who voted you into office. How well have you been treating your vice chairmen, councillors and staff?
“Some of you were vice chairmen before, and you bitterly complained about your chairmen. Now that you are chairmen, what have you done to change what you complained about? How have you bettered those working with you? How have you changed the lives of your councillors.?
“You need to have the fear of God and treat the people around you right. We (my colleagues and I) seriously made efforts, passed through a lot to amend the law for your benefits and to make you stay in office for four years. You need to think about the public and how to touch them.
“The best way to handle your office is to touch lives and do things that would make people speak well of you later in life. We have not asked you for money. All we are saying is that you do things for our state’s progress.
“The governor of our state cannot do it all alone. You are, therefore, supposed to be the nearest to the grassroots and help him with your efforts.
“We must try to move with the moment. The world is moving, and we can’t continue to do things like we live in the past,” he said while advising the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy always to guide the chairmen and other officials to deliver democratic dividends to their people”.
In his comment, the chairman of Conference57, Kolade David, commended the Speaker for his advice and promised that there would be changes in how the chairmen ran their council areas’ affairs.