We Have Impacted Positively The Lives Of The People


The Chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, Hon. Kehinde Bamigbetan, bares his mind on provision of infrastructure in the council area, and the journey so far since he assumed office as the second elected chairman of the LCDA in this interview with JAMIU YISA

How has it been since you assumed office as the second elected chairman of this LCDA?
I must say that it has been quite challenging because we started with a campaign manifestoes called VISION three by three in which we outlined what we intended to do with power in three broad categories: infrastructure, human development, physical reports and we itemised what we wanted to achieve in each of these categories. Infrastructure: we said we would rehabilitate 50 roads within the time that we are in office. We promised that we would build a primary school in each of the ward that does not have primary school. We said we would built Health Centres in each ward that does not have. We promised to build customary court and an abattoir to provide revenue for the council.
Under Human Development, we committed ourselves to providing free meals in all public primary schools within the council and free uniforms. We also ensured that there are enough benches and desks for the pupils to sit and write on and no child is sitting on the floor.
The kind of physical reform we promised ourself was to computerised all offices in the council. That we will have a website for the council through which the council will have a window to the whole world and when we came in that was what we did.
We also did house to house campaign and we were on it for almost two years because of the shift in the date of primaries for the chairmanship election and it enabled us to understand the real problems of the people and we recommend that in this environment, the poor in the majority followed by the middle class and the upper class and we promised ourselves that for the environment to progress we need to bring about a policy of wealth creation. When we take the issue free of meal and free uniform out of the challenges of poor parents, it reduces their burden and allows them to have some money to engage in small business and that is our perception of wealth creation. Today in Lagos State and possibly in Nigeria as a whole there is only one LCDA that is providing free meals and customised free school uniforms to its pupils and that LCDA is Ejigbo.
We provided 200 pairs of desks and benches to each of the 90 schools in the LCDA. There is no place even up to the kindergarten level that you will see our pupils sitting on the bare floor in any of our schools. We have gone ahead to ensure that public toilets are provided in each of the school compounds. Right now we are building two new primary schools. One in Aigbaka Ward and another in Allegun Ward.We are also building three new health centres, one at Omo Street, Dauda Ilo and the estate and we hope to expand in the next three months. Already, we have bought land for three more health centres and we are working in partnership with the National Primary Health Care Agency. So by the time we will be leaving what we will have here will be nine health centres that will be catering for a population of 560,000 people.We also make sure that attendance at our health centres is becoming more effective and productive. When we first came in, we found out that the number of patients attending our Primary Health Centre was not more than 55 in a whole month because they will have to pay for card, treatment and drugs. But now that we have dropped the idea of payment off all these, the attendants has been overwhelming. As at last month we recorded over 5,000 patients in our Primary Health Centre to benefit from take these services. These are achievements, issues that we are very happy about.Therefore in terms of health care services, educational services to the primary sector, we believe that we are far ahead of many of our competitors in providing these services. And we also believe when you talk of roads which  has become a major bone here, most of the roads we have here are not tarred roads and cannot function too well in wet conditions. Knowing full well that when the rain comes they will be bad, what we did was that we graded these roads in the dry season so when we enter the dry season like November/December, we will go back to grade them. Am quite sure that by Decmber, most of the roads will be graded again and they will be looking pretty good. We have looked at six roads that we will fix in the next couple of months. So at least the more roads are tarred the more they will not have to depend on the climate for survival.  In short, I believe we have done very well and we can still do more.

In spite of all that you have said, the people still believe that the local governments are under performing. What is your take on this?
The fault is that like our experience, the local government was not very active in the life of the people before. And even as am talking to you, many people still live a kind of triangular life. They will go to work, come back home and go to church. They hardly attend community events where most of the information will be available to them. It is only those that are at the lower rungs of the ladder that are so close to the local government because they are the ones whose children cannot go to the private school. So they believe they need the local government, unlike those who believe they don’t need the local government. When we started the free health programme, the number of patients increased from 58 to 5,000. When we started in school, we found out that some parents withdrew their children from private schools to our school. That tells you that a lot of people will take their children to our schools and to me that is development. But when you look at the total population of Ejigbo- 560,000 and we are talking of 7,107 students, that shows that the local government is serving less than 10 per cent of the populace.
The other point is that for a long time too many people did not pay their local government revenues. That is another point of contact  with the local government. If you don’t pay for revenue and the LCDA takes you to court, that is to show you that there is an authority around you. Through our enumeration services, we now got a system whereby we use our under graduates as interns and used as enumerators. With this scheme they earn about N10,000 monthly. Now through that means it has been possible for us to capture a data that never existed before. It is under this government that the real people on the roads are getting their bills for the first time. This is the first time that they are actually knowing that there is a local government around them. All those affect their perception about the local government. Let’s take for example the cooperatives. We have encouraged the development of  cooperative were we have provided the sum of N1.5 million for lending to small users of credits. There is no doubt that over 120 new people have started small business with the money that they have been able to access from the cooperatives. This tells you how we have affected positively the lives of the people in the LCDA, which is the third tier of government. This local government gives them quarterly grant of N10,000 to run their operations.  Of course, that means that 50 CDA’s in Ejigbo know that there is a local government in Ejigbo and it gives them some amount to run their affairs every quarter. They cannot say they don’t know the local government. We also have what is called the PMAs. This includes the artisans whom we have taken into one organistion. So when we want to sew school uniform we give it to them through this association. The same thing applies when we want to do desk and benches for our pupils in primary schools. So all the associations here know that a council exists.

What are the challenges you encountered on resumption of office and how were you able to  surmount them?
The first is revenue mobilization. Here if I look at what we make every month is about N2 million from the people themselves. It was a major problem when we first came in when we were having like N75,000 and far us to get this for it took us a  long time. We have to first and foremost start enumeration. We had to bring in valuation of properties. We had to computerise our operations. We now have arrangement with Skye Bank on electronic IGR. We have to capture people who never paid before. We have to stop corruption among revenue staff, by inviting them. We started with staff under loan revolving scheme of N5 million that allows each staff of the local government to draw money freely and return the money into the pool essentials. We have a situation whereby the uniform of our revenue collectors are marked so that anybody dealing with them will know them very well and any discrepancies can be reported to the council. Road is also a major problem here. We have done our analysis of 13 major roads that we need to do and the total cost is N2.5 billion infrastructure challenge here is quite heavy and it will take a lot of funds for us to get to where we are going, but we will not rest on our oars. The other issue is sanitation. There are homes that do not have toilet and places that are heavily congested like the NNPC area which is why we decided to build public toilets in strategic places in the local government. It is a major challenge and we can only keep working at it. But what I can assure everybody is that this government is very proactive and the money we make the more we invest in infrastructure development.

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