Community Day: Showcasing Grassroots Achievement

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Thousands of grassroots men and women, Community Development Associations, CDAs, community-based organisations, transport unions and several others thronged the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, to celebrate grassroots achievements.

Very early in the morning, CDA members from all the Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas and others had started arriving the Police College.

The event was the celebration of this year’s Community Development Day. The United Nations had set aside 8 November of every year to celebrate, appreciate and reward communities for contributing their quota towards the development of their areas and the state. But the Lagos event was postponed to 22 December, 2011.

CDA members, market men and women, officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Rural Development and top government functionaries, among others were decked in the same ‘Ankara’ with to add colour to the occasion.

Governor Babatunde Fashola was the Chief Host, while members of the State Executive Council, traditional rulers and several other dignitaries were present at the event.

The march past kicked-off immediately after the opening remarks, with Fashola taking salute. CDAs in all local governments and LCDAs, Neighbourhood Watch security outfits, market men and women, among others took part in the march past.

Also, the governor inspected an exhibition of products from the local governments and the LCDAs while he presented prizes to the three CDAs that distinguished themselves by embarking on self-help community projects.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Rural Development, Mr. Babatunde Hunpe presided over the distribution of grant-in-aid to CDAs as well as the presentation of certificates to them.

The high point of the day was when Omole Phase II CDA, Ikosi Isheri LCDA, emerged the best CDA by engaging in self-help projects worth over N10 million and was reward with 18-seater bus. Riverine CDA in Agbado Oke-Odo LCDA came second and got a van while Ishakan CDA, Olorunda LCDA, came third and was rewarded with two tricycles. The awards were presented to them by Fashola.

Speaking at the event, Commissioner for Rural Development, Cornelius Ojelabi said the government had been creating and developing programmes that were community-driven through the CDAs and Community Development Councils, CDCs and also harnessed all resources within its disposal towards improving the standard of living of rural dwellers and stemming rural-urban drift.

He said the state government had several solar-powered modified type ‘A’ water schemes to needy communities spread across the state, adding that the government also procured and distributed 100 transformers to various communities in the three senatorial districts of the state as well as provided several rural electrification to grassroots communities.

“The state government provided full rural electrification for Oko-Oba Abattoir to improve the security of life and properties in the abattoir and also provide power for their needs. Full rural electrification of Okunmopo Ijebu in Eti-Osa and Oke Ogbe in Olorunda was also done. All these were done to enhance the social economic development of our people by replacing costly energy sources such as kerosene for domestic use, diesel for generators and also save our environment from drastic climate change, which is caused by felling of trees, among others, for domestic use,” he said.

Ojelabi further disclosed that 4,000 uniforms were provided for neighbourhood watchers while training kits and first aid items were also provided for watchers in all the councils.

“I must sound a note of warning to our watchers that after the state government has done this much for them, they must rise up to their responsibilities by monitoring their environment very well and pass information on any crime to other security agencies for quick action.

“In our efforts to open up the rural areas, we embarked on the construction of Itoga road in Badagry LCDA, while construction of Iwerekun and Igbogun roads are almost completed to improve the socio-economic life of the people within that area,” he said.

The commissioner implored the CDAs to partner with the state government in developing the rural areas by prioritizing their needs and come up with only meaningful requests that could reduce unemployment and poverty at the grassroots and consequently stem rural-urban drift.

“You are to monitor, maintain and protect government properties in your domain so that it can serve the purpose it is meant for. It is, however, worrisome to note that up till now, some CDAs are not yet registered with the state government while some are not paying their annual dues regularly.

“Henceforth, any CDA that is not fulfilling her obligation will not benefit from the largesse of the state government, by way of attending to their requests.

“CDAs and CDCs must be alive to their responsibilities by educating and ensuring that their people understand and comply with government policies and programmes. You are also to re-awaken your people’s interest and encourage community participation in the welfare and improvement of your various communities,” he stated.

Ojelabi added that during last year’s celebration, Topo LCDA in Badagry Central emerged the best CDA and went home with an 18-seater bus plus N400,000 while Ahmadiya CDA came second and was rewarded with a LARUTI tricycle and N400,000.

Igando LCDA came third and went home with a motorcycle and N400,000.

He stated that N4.65 million was also given to 17 different communities as consolation prizes.

Fashola said it was the votes of the grassroots that brought him to power for a second term, adding that his administration would continue to work hard to make their dreams come true by giving them the dividends of democracy.

“CDAs are critical to our development. We will need the community to stop dumping refuse in drainage channels; we will need them to contribute to the commonwealth by paying their taxes. All our aspirations for water, electricity are possible if we utilise the power the community brings.

“In the last 12 years in Lagos State, there have been no empty promises. This government, in every way, has been trying to make liife better for all. I will continue to deal with you truthfully. Some of the decisions we take may not be popular to all but beneficial,” he stated.

The governor sought the collaboration of all to deliver the dividends of democratic governance to the people, saying that the coming year would be of immense benefit to the people at the grassroots.

Fashola hinted that several projects that would impact on the grassroots people were ongoing; disclosing that one of them included the proposed Beach Estate to be built at Ilashe, Lekki.

—Kazeem Ugbodaga