By Abolaji Adebayo
Twenty years after their creation by the Alliance for Democracy (AD)-led government of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) are still battling with the challenge of being recognised by the federal government and other inherent challenges since they are not authorised to operate as full local governments.
Though there have been agitations by stakeholders to make the LCDAs in Lagos attain LG status, the efforts have not been fruitful due partially to the fact that the case was not well pursued at the National Assembly.
This was noticed by a House of Representatives hopeful in Oshodi-Isolo Constituency II, Hon. Kehinde Bamigbetan, as he made the case the first on his campaign manifesto tagged “KOK 15-Point Agenda”.
KOK, as fondly called, prioritised the agendum knowing full well the agonies of LCDAs having once been the Chairman of Ejigbo LCDA for two consecutive terms.
Since it was created on May 27, 1967, by virtue of the States (Creation and Transitional Provisions) Decree No. 14 of 1967, which restructured the federation into 12 states, Lagos State has continued to grow on diverse fronts.
On April 11, 1968, the state began its journey as an administrative entity with Lagos serving the dual role of the state and federal capital respectively. Over the years, Lagos has grown in leaps and bounds as well as attaining different milestones, including a megacity status in 1995 when its population went above 10 million people.
From that global city ranking of 31st in 1985, Lagos population exploded to 13.4 million in 2000 to become the world’s sixth mega city and Africa’s foremost urban centre and hub of national, regional and global socio-economic and political activities.
In 2003, many of the existing 20 local councils were split into Local Council Development Areas (LDCAs) for administrative purposes.
Some of the 37 LCDAs created in 2003, by the Alliance for Democracy (AD)-led government of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, which are still yet to be recognized by the Federal Government are Agbado/Oke-Odo, Agboyi/Ketu, Agege, Ajeromi, Alimosho, Apapa, Apapa-Iganmu, Ayobo/Ipaja, Badagry West, Badagry, Bariga, Coker Aguda, Egbe Idimu, Ejigbo, Epe, Eti-Osa East, Eti-Osa West, Iba, Odi Olowo/Ojuwoye, Ifako-Ijaiye, Ifelodun, Igando/Ikotun, Igbogbo/Bayeku, Itire Ikate, and Kosofe among others.
Even though the Federal Government still relates with Lagos State based on the original 20 local councils, Lagos State has been administering the grassroots through a combination of the 20 local councils and the 37 LCDAs.
An LCDA is an administrative unit created by state governments to pursue state-specific development agenda and administrative convenience.
The former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Olurunimbe Mamora, who is now the Minister of State for Health, while speaking after 30 lawmakers voted in support of the 37 LCDAs creation on June 18, 2002, commended his colleagues for taking the step, saying that the newly created entities would bring government and development closer to the grassroots.
Even though their origin became a highly contentious issue when it first happened in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of their existence.
To add to the controversy trailing these LCDAs, last year, a group identified as Concerned APC Progressives kicked against conducting election in the 37 LCDAs since the 1999 constitution recognizes only 20 local councils in Lagos state.
Thereafter, the election was successfully conducted.
However, despite the developments brought to the various communities by the LCDAs, there are some challenges identified by stakeholders, making them fighting for the turning of the LCDAs to full local governments.
For instance during a stakeholders meeting sometime last year in Ejigbo LCDA, stakeholders attending the meeting convened by the member representing Oshodi-Isolo Constituency II comprising Isolo and Ejigbo local council development areas at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Jude Idimogu charged him to urge the Lagos State House of Assembly to re-present the conversion of Lagos State’s 37 LCDAs to bonafide local governments.
Adopting the presentation of former Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan during stakeholders’ meeting in Ejigbo, they resolved that it would enhance the capacity of the LCDAs to respond to the poverty among youths that triggered the EndSARS crisis.
Bamigbetan had said the huge financial needs of the state and its large population requires that the LCDAs become full Local Governments, noting that some states which were at par with the Lagos State at creation in 1967 have since attracted more revenues through the creation of Local Governments.
His position was endorsed by other speakers including the chairmen of the All Progressives Congress in Ejigbo and Isolo LCDAs, Barrister Gani Bello and Alhaji F. Kasumu.
Equally speaking, the lawmaker, Idimogu noted that the conversion of the LCDAs to full Local Governments had been on the front burner for a very long time, even as leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state are worried about the delay in listing the 37 LCDAs in the constitution.
Idimogu, who is Chairman House Committee on Wealth Creation and Employment, said the leaders of the party would undertake a political approach to resolve the issue.
“We will appeal to Lagosians to be hopeful, appeal to the conscience of the leadership of our party at the national level to see the reason the gap should be bridged. From inception, the State was at par with Kano, today Kano has 44 LGA and Jigawa which was created out of Kano has 27 LGAs. It is not fair, so I want to appeal to the President, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Reps to heed our request.”
Meanwhile, while revisiting the issue recently, Bamigbetan said he is making the case a priority to be his first assignment at the House of Representatives if finally elected to represent the constituency.
On his “KOK 15-Point Agenda”, Bamigbetan presents the issue of the LCDAs as the first point which read: “To Facilitate the Law Turning 37 LCDAs of Lagos State to 37 LGAs”.
With this agendum, stakeholders said the candidature of Kehinde Bamigbetan would benefit not only his constituency but the entire Lagos State.
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