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Discordant Tunes Trail Creation Of Development Areas

Ibikunle-Amosun-

Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun

IN spite of the financial challenges confronting Ogun State government, which has affected the state’s capacity to execute projects and fulfill its financial obligations to its workforce, the Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun has concluded plans to create additional council areas, to be called Local Council Development Areas (LCDA).
 
He hinged this development on the need to move government closer to people at the grassroots and to “enable our people benefit more from the good governance we are witnessing now in the state.”
 
Though he was not specific on the number of councils to be created, a source at the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs told The Guardian that between 30 and 32 LCDAs are being considered, to bring the councils to a total of 50 or 52.
 
Having revealed prior to the general elections that the creation of the LCDAs remained one of his government’s first priority after his victory at the poll, the governor’s body language has shown that in the next few weeks, he may announce names of the new councils.

Investigations revealed that this would have been done before now, because Amosun had claimed last January that necessary steps had been taken for the take off but that it was hindered by lack of finance.
 
“We have concluded plans on the creation of the LCDAs. It would have come before today, but due to some hitches, which is mainly finance. But I can assure you now that we are more than ready.”
 
A reliable source disclosed that the paper work had been concluded and likewise the splitting of the existing local governments. The source hinted that the Yewa North local government would be split into three, Ifo into two or three and Ewekoro into two among others.
 
It was learnt that the governor is working on the existing template created by the former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba in 2003, which he expected to actualise in his second term, but due to his defeat by former governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel at the poll, the dream was aborted. A good number of the Secretariats built then for the proposed councils are still in existence.

For instance, for the proposed Ewekoro North LCDA, the Secretariat was cited in Wasimi and presently converted to house the officials of the Local Government Education Authority (LGEA).
 
But instead of jubilation, the news was received with mixed feelings. While people view this as a welcome development that will create more jobs, others do not see it as a priority for now, considering the financial position of the state and the enormity of unfinished capital projects.
 
According to those supporting this move, creation of the councils would ensure even development of the rural areas, and discourage rural-urban migration. They also believe that more job opportunities would be created.
 
Those who spoke with The Guardian hinged their support on the need to achieve political balancing, and even distribution of dividends of democracy.

According to an All Progressives Congress (APC) big wig in the state, who doesn’t want his name mentioned, more councils would put an end to lingering issues of marginalisation of some areas because aggrieved areas would have the chance to be fully represented and also have direct access to government.

For critics of this move, they are of the opinion that the governor’s step is in the wrong direction considering the obligations that he had failed to meet.

A Civil servant, who doesn’t want his name mentioned said with Amosun’s recent anti-worker policies, he shouldn’t delve into the creation of any council because doing that means he is courting more problem for the people.

The Guardian learnt that the governor is having serious face-off with the civil servants, based on non-remittance of their cooperative and pension deductions, coupled with irregular payment of salaries. In addition to that, pensioners in the state are also been owed.

The main opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also condemned the move, describing it as unreasonable. The Secretary of the party, Alhaji Semiu Sodipo told The Guardian on phone that if Amosun goes ahead with the plan, he will be creating more problem for the people, more problem for the system and adding to the poverty level.

He added that creation of more councils is not the priority of the state at present, adding that his priority should be how to meet all his financial obligations and make the workers happy.

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