Babatunde IQ Rajh-Label Sole Administrator Ifako Ijaiye Local Government Area in a no holds barred interview with Lanre Adesanya, reviewed governance at the grassroot and its pros and cons. Excerpt:
How has the task been so far?
Going the mandate given to us by the Governor at inception settlement of outstanding debts is key and to this end we had paid up to N60m debt, implementation policies at the local level is next as well as protection of government facilities within our domain.
Security is an issue of great concern owing to kidnap theft and other despicable happenings all around, how have you been able to whether the storm?
The state government having lawfully established the neighborhood watch security apparatus will soon deploy 100 neighborhood watchers to each council area, this affirms the state government is proactive and not minding the fact that security arrangements are well structured in all levels of governance in the state, we hold our security meetings regularly and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode treats all security reports with utmost attention.At the level of the council we are also doing our bits to ensure adequate security as all stakeholders are involved here, remember this local government has within its boundary the abbatoir and also share boundaries with neighbouring Ogun state, the influx of people from there and attendant security issues that might arise, coupled by the need to tackle kidnapping, theft and other social vices now rampant but not common feature here, makes security a major focus,we are coming up with a security card in Ifako Ijaiye local government, which will house a chip loading all data of people resident within the council as well as those coming here to transact legitimate business, UBA has agreed to partner with the local government on this concept and certainly within the next two to three months, the security card innovation would have come to fruition.
Paltry sum and council management how were you able to break even?
Fiscal discipline and application of funds where necessary has help a great deal. We have been able to settle amicably with contractors we are highly indebted to, who on a number of occasions had obtained court orders and most times blocked our secretariat gate over debts owed, the local government account was also blocked for several months. We monthly offset this debts and have now saved our local government from frequent embarrassment, having blocked leakages.
From January to June 2016 a total of 12million naira was generated internally, but that same June when assumed office we were able to get 7 million naira IGR and by the end of the year we surpassed it 400 percent. Having cut down extravagant spending. We inaugurated the revenue committee, a statutory committee which has not been existing over a long period of time. To ensure that the monies that we daily lose to perhaps staff and defaulters are gotten back. We sensitize workers and pleaded with them to understand the situation, we have found ourselves and that the only way we can run the council is to improve the IGR, since the revenue that is coming to the council is dwindling. We most boost up IGR. I’m sure in the next couple of weeks, we will not just be meeting our targets, but we will be surpassing it. So those extra we get from our IGR and the economic discipline we have imbibed as been assisting us a lot, we even have little resources to use for continued construction of the abandoned secretariat. So that we can move a more befitting place. A committee has been set up, comprising the community leaders, religious leaders, members of the local government and corporate bodies,non governmental organization, human rights group. So that all of us can do that place together. So every month we take small amount of money to do something there, hoping that in about three,four,five months the local government can move there.
Youths accessibility to the N25bn employment trust fund in your local government as a way to bolster small scale industry and tackle unemployment?
We have encouraged them to access the funds but also made them understand that the funds are not free, it will have to be returned over a period of time for other people to benefit. At the council level we have sensitized them on investment opportunities as most times such funds are channeled properly it fails to address original intent, in fact 10 youths from the local government will be on a trip to the Netherlands to partake in the agricultural conference second or third week of March, the council is not to bear the whole cost as the participants are also contributing their quota for travel cost and when they return our council will advance better economically agriculture, we can have Ifako Ijaiye farms . The lands if not available could be sourced elsewhere in the state or outside the state. Taking a cue from the recent Lagos /Kebbi states partnership that birthed the LAKE Rice sold everywhere today in Lagos at affordable rates the benefits are endless.
Any challenges and regrets that has significant effect on your person?
Challenges yes, regrets no, challenges would come, even without it you can’t be appointed in the first place you are here to address issues, your performance is a question of your ability to deal with the issues and surmount them as much as you can.
Financial challenge is the most significant here, as Ifako Ijaiye ranks one amongst the few local governments favoured to have received bogus federal allocations severally in time past. Unfortunately at that time funds were available may be we didn’t make good use of it, now that those funds are no longer coming the way they used to come, it poses a great challenge applying those little funds to cater for problems caused when we had lots of money. May be you ought to employ two people but employed 20 owing availability of funds, when that accrual dwindles managing the large number then becomes problematic.
Consider our secretariat project had it been conceive in times like this may be our scope would have been limited and we would have settled for something small not a massive building with 90 offices, 3 halls and other space our projection was that it could be completed but current realities poses some hurdles for its attainment having failed to do it when we had the resources. Now we have office challenge and we lack the financial muscle to quickly complete it. We however putting the little to address the issue gradually and achieve our dream for the secretariat.
What distinguishing feature makes your style of administration different and unique ?
Well,I’m what people see me to be, if I’m telling you anything it’s the summary of what people say I am. I think that what they value much is respect and humility. I respect people a lot and people have attested severally that I am humble and respectable. They see me as a team player and they want to work with me. I depend on people a lot to assist me achieve targets as I carry everybody along, believe in communal efforts, radiate unity and because of that I guise people want to partner with me and associate with my vision. I am a team player, I love people around me and most importantly, I’m a grass rooter, the grass root people see me as some one very close to to them, even now when I am a Sole Administrator, if I’m not and you did not see any tag on this table you might not know who I am. Walking on the streets sometimes, I walk alone but people get to join me before I walk 100meters, I would have close to 10,20 people with me. I’m accessible to people and perhaps that match with what we have in the local government. You must identify with them, those are things I’m used to naturally I don’t have to look for it, so it makes the job easier for me but like everybody I’m privileged to be here that is when I think people see what I can offer, maybe if someone else, you will see another good he has to offer. That is how I take live, so when you are somewhere you are not the best, that seat is not for you only, there are people outside who are well qualified to be where you are they deserve your respect.
What legacy would you like to be remembered for?
That I left the local government much much better than I met it. In a way that forever it will be hard to forget my impact on the administration of the local government and every time people talk about my tenure they are elated about the development I birthed and left behind.
Have any mentor that seemingly guard your political moves?
I take cue from my leaders whose political philosophy are worthy of emulation, because I believe in political reasoning and ideologies, first amongst the leaders is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and of course Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and recently I pick interest in the state Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who does a lot and makes less noise, leaving people and his feats to speak for him. He has achieved so much in very little time and he is prepared to do more that informs the good jobs you are seeing all around the town. My approach to life is do your bit, let people participate, carry the people along do the needful, stretch the hands of fellowship to others and let everybody live peacefully and happily everybody must meet at the point of satisfaction, where everybody is happy.
Did you have any information about your appointment as a sole administrator prior to the time and how much have you achieved amongst set goals?
Yes, I was not prepared for the appointment but I was prepared to serve the people of Ifako Ijaiye local government, so the target setting has to shift because it’s a limited time you have, so you cannot have a long term planning, the planning must be short term not med-term plan because you don’t even know when it’s gonna end when I came in as Sole Administrator I had to sit down and re-strategize for this time that I am going to function here, what can I achieve. So I looked at the abandoned secretariat can I do something here? I began process on that, as well as the initial directive of the Governor on what to do there which includes; payment of outstanding debts, getting closer to the people, ensuring protection and security of lives, projecting the image of the state government in Ifako Ijaiye, I think I have done well and can still do more, the templates are already on the table with intent of surpassing targets of 50-70 percent in a short while. Completion of our secretariat and moving in ranks high on my priority list, also we plan to have a youth center for the local government, with sole aim of creating a point of engagement where they can share ideas. They will have a hall where seminars could be organized for them, in door games like chess, snooker board to unveil talents of international competition quality from there. So the youths can develop and have a meeting point. We have already earmarked a place for that, we are partnering with a developer who will do it for us, operate it for a while and return it to the local government. This should be delivered before the local government election, we hope to achieve it.
Have you a prior knowledge of the present position you occupy?
Not as a Sole Administrator,I aspire to be chairman of the council and have set machinery in motion,I have branded vehicles, campaign offices,printing banners and posters, selling my ideas to the people. You have to be prepared, it is not something you just rush without idea,you don’t need spend a year or two learning on the job wasting people’s time of getting visible development. With nine years experience in the council management, I have the desired competence and the opportunity offered by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode gave the platform to prove the point, putting my best to satisfy the person who choose me,no councillors, supervisor go and do it.