The Ondo State Government has defended its proposal to create Local Councils Development Areas (LCDAs) amid criticisms that it is embarking on a wild goose chase.
The government has already set up an 11-man committee to look into the proposal and make recommendations on the number and nature of the LCDAs to be created and has about 90 days to complete its work.
The Lanke Odogiyan-led committee is expected to receive both written and oral memoranda from the public, screen all memoranda and make recommendations to the state government.
The state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has explained that the proposed LCDAs would ensure rapid development and bring governance closer to the grassroots.
But an Ondo State-based group, Sunshine Liberation Front (SLF), has stacked the state government for proposing to create LCDAs.
“The proposal, viewed by all political watchers as politics taken too far, is coming few months after Arakunrin Akeredolu and his government failed to conduct the council polls slated for December 1st, 2018 and a total of N2billion was earmarked for in the 2018 Appropriation Bill signed into law by the governor,” the group’s leader, Akinyele Akinwale, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Would the governor now abandon the elections that the prospective candidates had parted with huge funds in mobilizing their supporters and getting nomination forms?
“This is a plot by the governor and his advisers to curry more political favour, score cheap points and share our limited funds amidst his party faithfuls at the expense of suffering Ondo State indigenes.
“Isn’t it incredible and mischievous that the state governor, who has continued to abandon and starve Local Councils of funds and deny them of autonomy for several years, now remembers to create LCDAs out of them?
“Would these LCDAs not be given same treatment by the current government and the subsequent ones?
“SLF, therefore, will not look away while our political system, which should benefit the ordinary people, be rendered powerless to compensate a few, who worked and will be ready to work for their own political goals.
“The group rejects, in totality, the unreasonable plan by Arakunrin Akeredolu to create LCDAs while our legally recognized local councils, under the illegal chairmanship of committee caretakers, remain underfunded and largely unrecognized.”
Responding to the allegation, the commissioner for information, Yemi Olowolabi, told PREMIUM TIMES that the move to create LCDAs was in response to the demands of the people of the state, particularly, from affected local government councils.
“This is not about adding financial burden, it is essentially democracy, which is about the government of the people,” said Mr Olowolabi.
“It is a case of the government listening to the people.”
He explained that some local governments were too large and others far removed from their constituent parts so that accessing the local government headquarters was a difficult task.
When reminded that even the local government councils were ineffective in their current state, Mr Olowolabi said the councils in Ondo State were functional and had been given mandates to ensure the construction of roads and infrastructure within their domains.
While also responding to the allegation of the failure to conduct local council elections, the commissioner said the tenure of the caretaker leadership of the councils would soon expire in a few months and the council elections would hold.
“We are going to hold the council elections once the tenure of the caretaker chairmen expires in a few months,” he said.
Ondo State currently has 18 local governments. Mr Olowolabi mentioned Ose, Owo, and Ile Oluji/Okeigbo as areas with obvious challenges. The number of the LCDAs would only be known when the committee submits its reports.