12th September, 2011
Abayomi Mukaila Tijani is the current Secretary to the Ojodu Local Council Development Area and an aspirant for the position of the Chairman of the LCDA in the forthcoming local government election in Lagos State. He spoke with EROMOSELE EBHOMELE on his agenda for the LCDA in this interview
We have seen many politicians jumping into political offices without mapped-out plans for those they should lead. Why do you think the people should trust you with their votes?
I have a wealth of experience that makes me qualified. I have served several political leaders and several communities. I have thus taken my time to learn so many things. I have a Masters degree in Political Science from the University of Lagos. I worked in a few places before I joined politics. And since politics is about service to the people, I decided to remain focused on service delivery. I learnt the ropes from virtually all the leaders of my party. I was, for example, the Personal Assistant to the state Chairman of the defunct Mandate Group. During the Independent Campaign Group in 2003, I was a Senior Mobilisation Officer. At the local government level, I have been a publicity secretary of the party and in 2006, I was appointed a member of the research and Strategy Committee of the Babatunde Raji Fashola Campaign. The same year, I was appointed into the Governorâ€™s campaign committee. I later became the Secretary to the Ojodu Local Government. Recently, I was appointed a member of the Lagos State Campaign Committee, which helped during the last elections in the state. For six years, I was Chairman of Ojodu/Berger Community Development Association, I was the Secretary of the CDC and later became the General Secretary of the Lagos State Community Development Council, a body which monitors the activities of the over 2, 150 CDAs in the state. I have taken time to gain experience from the former Chairman of the council, James Abiodun Faleke, who is now at the House of Representatives and I think I am best qualified for the position of the chairman and I am ready for the job.
I have articulated a six-point agenda on which the running of my administration would stand. They include education, health service, the environment, security, job creation and community development. You know that these are very important in the life of an average individual. I also know that with the support of the people of my area, they will be achieved. I have told the people that part of my programmes in office would be regular convening of Town Hall meetings so that we would all know what we are yet to achieve and how to achieve them.
If elected, how do you think you can effectively implement your six-point agenda?
It is possible and easy. My specialty is Public Administration and I know that such a thing has to do with delegation of duties. It requires getting the right men to do the job for you while you are always around to supervise whatever they are doing. For five years now, I have into local government politics and getting the right people to help me execute the agenda will not be a problem. It is just a matter of interest and sacrifice. I have done it before and I can do much more. I have been involved in the implementation of several policies including the running of the five health centres in my local government. Right now, we are working on the sixth one. Currently, one of them works 24 hours. It is my intention to add two more to run for 24 hours so that health services can be rendered more effectively. We have secondary schools we cater for. In the last administration, we provided 10 computers each to each of the schools in the local government. We also provided them with generating sets and we service them. I will definitely improve on this. We have always made it our role to provide notebooks and school uniforms to school children and this will continue and will be improved upon. In terms of road construction, though we have touched virtually all the wards in the local government, I will continue with the ones that are yet to be handled. We have empowered people in the area and right now, I have a seven-man committee to understudy other problems we have in the local government and come out with a blue-print. One thing that has made administration very easy for me is because I believe in delegating powers, just as I take time to know the type of people to do the job for me. The committee is already working and the blue-print will be submitted before I resume if elected so that I can start working right from the first day. Just as I have been proving myself in the past, I want to have my name written in gold in the area.
There is the belief that local governments have underperformed generally and you have been part of the system. Now how do you think you can put a lie to this belief when elected considering the fact that you need funds to execute projects?
I am one of the people that do not support the assertion that local governments have failed. I tell you earnestly, I donâ€™t know where those who say so got their facts. In Lagos state, the local governments have done very well and need to be praised. I am an insider and I can tell you that based on the funds available to them, majority of them have tried in the course of my service, I have gone round the 57 LCAs and LCDAs and can tell you that most of them have tried. The street I live where I live in Ojodu was once abandoned, but the last administration visited the place. Even though the road has not been tarred, the drainage has been done and that has solved 70 per cent of the problems residents of the street faced in the past. That administration also touched other streets in the area and I can categorically tell you that the creation of the 37 LCDAs in the state is a blessing to Lagos. Go to orile-Agege, Ojokoro, Itire-Ikate, Badagry West and you would marvel. The only way you can appreciate the situation is to compare what they have done now with what obtained in the past. You should also know that no chairman can complete all the projects within his time, but they must be credited for their successes so far. The body of Nigerian Union Journalists went round the local governments and published its appraisal, which confirms my claim, in a book. Study it and you would know how far the chairmen have tried.
The Peoples Democratic Party is latching on to the accusation of non-performance on the side of some council chairmen, like in Alimosho, to campaign for votes. How do you hope to survive this?
We are confident in Lagos state because we know we have done a lot. In the case of Alimosho, you canâ€™t say the chairmen have not done well. You canâ€™t compare Alimosho to other local governments in terms of population and size. The population of that area should be close to that of Ghana. You need to visit the place and you would see for yourself what has been done so far. The truth is because the place is large, you may not see much of the work. Sometime ago, a committee was set up to go and monitor the activities of the chairmen in Alimosho. They came out with beautiful findings. I am not saying all the chairmen have worked, but most of them have and we got the result. Those living in Alimosho would tell you that they are witnessing developments because they are the ones who live there and they see what is done. One thing you should know is that because of the peculiarity of the area, the amount you spend building a road there could be spent to build five roads in some other areas because of the nature of the land.
There varied opinions as to the joint accounts for local state governments. What is your opinion on this?
Well, I donâ€™t have anything against that and personally, I donâ€™t see anything wrong with the present system because it is working perfectly well.