In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Quadri Olatunji, the Sole Administrator of Alimosho Local government, Lagos State, speaks about his administration in the past one year, the forthcoming local government elections, and the challenges of grassroot governance.
PT: What will you say has been your achievements so far as a sole administrator?
Olatunji: It’s been over a year now that we assumed office as the sole administrator of Alimosho Local Government. We started June 13, 2016 precisely, when we were sworn in as the sole administrator and to the glory of God we have been able to achieve what we call “welfarism” of the staff.
When we came on board we noticed that there wasn’t any public toilet that staff can use within the premises of the local government. Rather, our staff had to go to banks and eateries around the local government to find conveniences and when we saw this challenge, we thought we could have those kinds of things in the eateries and banks on ground for them to have convenience within the local government premises. We were able to do that within the first one or two months that we assumed office as the sole administrator.
We also observed that the office environment wasn’t conducive for the staff. Most of them found it difficult coming around as there was no seat for them to sit in the offices while some weren’t good. So we refurbished and renovated the offices for our entire staff and we actually used that to give the local government a face lift.
Again, out of the six revenue buses purchased by the Alimosho local government in time past, none of them was in good condition. When we came on board, we repaired all the revenue buses, so that those going out to help us generate revenue for the local government have means of transportation. As I am talking to you now and this was done within the first month we assumed office, all the revenue buses are intact and in good working condition.
We also found out that there wasn’t harmonious relationship between the local government and the landlords association in this community. I had to call them for a meeting where they aired their grievances. They complained that the local government had refused to participate in the security challenges associated with this areas and it’s been the landlords that have been catering for the security of the environment.
However, today it’s a different story, the landlords come freely to my office, and we have a meeting once every month between me and the Williams Estate Landlord Association where the local government is located. So far we’ve had a harmonious relationship.
We also thought the security of the lives and properties of the citizenry are paramount, hence we held meetings with the Rapid Response Squad, the security watch and the neighbourhood watchers and ever since, there has never been any breach of security in the local government.
PT: How have you been able to attract the state government to facilitate development in the local government?
Olatunji: The benefits we are enjoying from the administration of His Excellency, Akinwunmi Ambode, is just too enormous to mention, we have the Abule-egba flyover, the Oke-odo road and many others, but we are asking for more. We need more roads to be tarred in Alimosho local government, more drainages in the local government to be built, more primary health centres. I say this because Alimosho local government determines who becomes what in Lagos state.
It has always been Alimosho local government that determines who becomes the governor of Lagos state. The votes that come from the local government determine where the pendulum swings to because of our population. We are talking about a population of over six million people and larger than almost 12 countries that constitute West Africa in terms of population. So we are more of a nation here in Alimosho local government, that’s why we keep asking for more and we believe the governor will not get tired of the local government and Alimosho will never back out from him. We are strongly in support of the governor.
PT: Was Alimosho local government part of those that erupted in crisis during the last local government party primaries?
Olatunji: Let me put this straight, Alimosho local government has a laid down program in terms of power that be. So when issues of politics come on board that wanted to determine who gets what, it is always a unidirectional purpose for Alimosho local government. We hardly have problems within ourselves, we know ourselves, we gather information about ourselves to attain glory in any future election.
If you ask, if we have division within Alimosho, it will affect Lagos state and if the local government is peaceful, it translates to other local governments. Because if six million people are fighting, just like the other neighbouring countries are saying that Nigeria must not have problem, because if they do, can you imagine what will happen to Cameroun, to Benin Republic and Chad, they will be tormented by Nigeria?
Cameroon cannot even accommodate some of the Nigerians coming from the North-West; they are asking them to move back to their country. There is no sub-West African country that can accommodate what Nigeria has. The same thing is applicable to Alimosho. If Alimosho has problem then believe me, there is problem in Lagos state and because Alimosho was not part of the problem that you are talking about when it comes to the local government primaries, peace and tranquillity was able to be restored within limited available time in all other local government.
I tell you straight that there has never been any problem in our primaries in Alimosho local government. It was done peacefully, it was done amicably. It wasn’t winner takes all. It was resolved in such a way that everybody was carried along.
PT: Are you saying that in the other local governments that there was fairness in the elections that resulted to the violence?
Olatunji: I was referring to the primary held in Alimosho, which was peaceful and there wasn’t any problem. There wasn’t a case of no peace in the other local government but the primary and you understand why it was so, because it is only the APC that is surviving as a party in Nigeria as of now, so anybody that wins the primary automatically knows I have become whatever I wanted to become and that is where the pressure comes in.
The chairman of the organising committee for the primary Senator Afikuyomi said that everybody wanted to become what they are agitating for because they know that after winning the primary you’ve automatically become what you wanted to become. And that was the reason for the violence in other places but not Alimosho local government like I said. Alimosho is peaceful, the primary was done peacefully and there wasn’t any problem.
PT: How is your party preparing for the coming local government elections?
Olatunji: Let me give you an illustration, Benue state just concluded their own local government election too. Believe me, APC won virtually in all the local government, it wasn’t rigged. The same thing in Ogun state, almost eight parties participated in the local government and again the APC has been winning virtually everywhere and you know why, because of the democracy dividends the party has brought on board which has never been experienced in Nigeria before.
And that is why I have no doubt about Lagos state. I know surely that APC will win all the councillorship slot and all chairmanship slots with ease.
PT: What have been the major challenges in the local government?
Olatunji: Well, I think the acting president, Professor Yemi Osibanjo is trying to resolve the challenges that is affecting the local governments. The revenue accruable to the federal government that is distributed under the Federal allocation account had problems. Why the problems? Niger Delta challenges, North-East challenges.
So it affects the accruable amount that is supposed to come to the purse of the federal government, in return it affects what suppose to come to the state government proper and it affects what is suppose to come to the local government proper. So the scarcity of funds is our major challenge.
We have so many ideas that we are supposed to exploit in the local government but because the money wasn’t forthcoming we have to make do with what we have. So what we did which was a blessing was that the loopholes in the local government before now have been tightened up. Believe me if things get worse, the only local governments that can survive in Nigeria without anything from the federal government are the local governments in Lagos state. Just as the only state that can survive without anything from the federal government is Lagos state because of the revenue it generates.