Mr. Obafemi Durosimi, a two-term member of Lagos State House of Assembly and the present chairman of Agboyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area, Lagos State, in this interview with PMNEWS speaks on how he has overseen the affairs of the council, the controversial state police and the coming governorship election in Ondo state.
As a two-term member of Lagos state Assembly, and presently the chairman of Agboyi-Ketu council, how will you describe the two offices?
There are many differences. You know there is a separation of power and we have three arms of government, that is, the executive, legislature and the judiciary. By the time I was at the House of Assembly, I was a legislator, my primary assignment by then was to make laws for the good people of this state. But here now, I am a council chairman. The difference is clear.
How will you described the challenges between the two offices? Or which one is more tasking?
The challenges at the local government is more enormous, very enormous, because, people see local government as the nearest to the people at the grassroot, that makes it is easy to communicate with the chairman and to lodge their complaints.There is basis to compare the two offices. But being a council chairman is more challenging than membership of a House of Assembly.
How will you describe the call by some state governors calling for the scrapping of the local government administration?
That cannot be possible. Many people at the grassroot have access no access to the governors and the president. Personally, I operate an open-door policy, anytime people come, they are able to see me. There is no protocol, no police or barrier before they can see me every Monday to Friday, I attend to my people, each day I resume office at about 10 am and close around 8 or 9 pm everyday.
Instead of calling for the scrapping of the local government which is the closest government to the people. If it is scrapped, that means denying the people of their rights, because, they will not have access to the government and those governing them. As far as I’m concerned, the problems lie with the federal government not the state governments. The quantum of money allocated to the federal government is too much, so there should be another revenue formula that will stop people from rushing to the centre. If we are operating the state and local governments alone, there will be more developmental projects at the grassroots. How many areas or communities can the federal government can reach? The local governments know better, it is the chairmen of local governments that should be saddled with the responsibility of developing their domains.
Also, we are talking of policing. Look at the quantum the Lagos state government is putting into the funding of the police in the state, Why is the federal government not saying that it is not its function to do so? And it is not our responsibility to delve into that. As far as am is concerned, I do not see any reasons for the scrapping of the local government.
Since your assumption in office till date, which projects have you embarked upon?
By the time we came to the office, at least, the road that lead to the council was done by our administration in collaboration with the Lagos state public works bureau. We opened up Adedoyin Street, we are almost completing a football pitch at Ajegunle, we have procured four buses for school children. We have constructed Ogunyinka Street; both culvert and asphalt laying, presemtly we have constructed a building that houses seven offices like: the marriage registry, customary court and the administration officers and several other projects.
As you are about marking your one year in office, can you say is your main achievement in the past one year?
What we have done in the past one year is so enormous that we cannot count it but leave it for the residents of this local government to do, but I can only mention a few, howbeit can the parents in this local government forget us for the school buses that we provided for the pupils, they cannot because we have been hearing their response.
Since the creation of this local government, there is no customary court, no befitting marriage registry but before this year runs out we shall commission them. It is so nauseating that since the creation of this local government that staff did not have offices. Some have been sitting under trees but now I can tell you that though, the offices are still under construction our staff are more comfortable than before. I believe that by the time we leave office, people will not forget this administration.
What is your take on the state police?
I support the call for the creation of the state police in this country. I also disagreed with those that are saying that if the states are allowed to have their police, they will abuse it. Is the federal government not abusing it? If the federal government knows that someone is not in its good book, it will send IGP after that person, for God’s sake let us all agree that this country needs a state police; even in America, their policing is quite different from state to state. Every state has its own police. Every state make orders that suits her people. it is not the central government that tells them what to do. In a situation where a state governor will ask commissioner of police to carry out an assignment, the Commissioner has to take directive from the Inspector-General of Police. Are we operating true federalism? No, we are not; if we are operating true federalism, each state should be allowed to have its own police.
For example, if the Lagos state government did not create additional local governments, the development we are seeing today cannot be. The federal government is only gambling with peoples’ chances in terms of development.
What are your programmes for all categories of people in this local government, like the youths, aged and the widows?
We have programme for everyone in this local government. We cannot put all our eggs in one basket, whatever we do, we do it in phases. But I can categorically tell you that before this year runs out, people will see wonders in this local government. There is an American company called ‘Medical Bridges’, it has given us medical equipment worth several millions of dollars, free of charge. What we need to do is to pay for the shipment, and this will be used for the health benefit of the people of this local government. As for the youths, we have plan to embark on skill acquisition and empowerment programme, the same thing applicable to widows and the aged, all these will be done in batches.
How have been able to run the administration of this council with the meager allocation from the state and the federal governments?
We thank God who has been on our side, how far we have gone I cannot tell you how easy it has been for us. But God has made it possible. He has been so merciful and kind to us that we cannot say how we have been doing it. People were even surprised how we were making it.
How will you describe the relationship between this local government and its residents in the terms of paying their dues and levies for the local government to make dividends of democracy available to them?.
It has been hectic getting them paying. But we have been able to achieve that through persuasion and they are responding positively.
However, I’m still imploring them to pay their dues as at when due, because without that they can’t get enough of dividends of democracy.
What is your take on the 20 October gubernatorial election in Ondo State?
By the special grace of God, my party, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, will emerge victorious.
What gives you the assurance?
This is a party that has been in the saddle of Lagos state for more than eight years now. Our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, did his two terms and performed wonders. Governor Fashola took over from him and he is marvelous too. See what is happening in Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Edo and Osun states. We all knew what happened when People’s Democratic Party’s governors and Obasanjo were in power. These are the people that were rejected by their own and what do we benefitted from their eight years in power. For those years, Lagos state was not controlled by PDP and see what happened.
Do you see your party, ACN, defeating the incumbenct in the election?
Yes, what happened to Gbenga Daniel, What happened to Akala, what about Oyinlola? With the performance of ACN governors and latest information from the indigenes of the state, come 20 October, Akeredolu will emerge the governor of Ondo state.