One year in office: We’ve achieved more than 85% success in developmental projects delivery; many more still in the offing – Shammeh
Barely a year to the assumption of office, the Chairman of Isolo Local Council development Area (LCDA), Hon. Shamsudeen Abiodun Olaleye said his administration has been able to achieve great success in virtually all the sectors despite restricted revenue from the government. In this interview with Abolaji Adebayo and Damilola Kushimo, he analyzed the infrastructural projects already completed and those lined up for completion in the next one year, while baring his mind on some other issues in the local council. Excerpts:
It hass been a year since your reelection as the Chairman of Isolo LCDA, can you give an account of the journey so far in the last one year sir?
Talking about the journey so far, I can recall that I was sworn-in on July 25th, 2017, and we came in with a lot of responsibilities that confronted us the very moment we were sworn-in. Yes, you will recall that the administration that preceded us in the local government was not an elected government; it was an appointed government that had restrictions as to capacity and ability to perform. So, that in a way left a big gap in infrastructural development in the local government. When we came in, many roads were in deplorable conditions, the morale of people about government was at its lowest helm, we needed to revitalize that area and ensure that infrastructural facilities immediately get attention.
We started by ensuring that our roads were attended to. You know one thing about roads, it is the common denominator. What do I mean, if you talk about the health sector, some people will, out of choice and because of the fact that they are affluent, because of the fact that they have the resources, may decide not to patronize government’s institutions in the area of health and the same thing goes to education. Some people may decide, because of the fact that they have the resources, to shun government institutions in the area of education and go privately.
But, whoever you are, whatever the amount of money, whatever the size of resources available to you, you have to use the roads. That makes our roads the easiest parameter to measure the essence of government. A government may fail in other areas but if you are seen doing so well in the area of road and other infrastructures, people will rate you highly. So, bearing that in mind, we started on the road network in Isolo and we ended up that assignment by attending to about nine roads, minor roads, but those roads played a good role in network of roads in Isolo. We talk about Nureni Street, Shonibare Street, Holy Saviours College Road, Dr. Akideinde Street, Aderinto Street, Shodende Street, Oremeji Street, James Oni Street linking Kogberegbe Street. All of these roads are linking one another because they form a network and all of those roads were in deplorable conditions so, we attended to that, we made those roads smooth within the first three months we got to office.
Within the first three months we got to office, we revitalized, we reawakened the Bursary Award Scheme and gave out bursary to about 100 students of higher institutions of learning. We gave each of them N250,000 after a very thorough screening. We did so to widows and the aged ones. These were campaign promises and campaign whistles. We did all of those and don’t forget that the moment we got to office, we had to work on the budget that we met on ground because we were coming in in the middle of the year. We had to wait till the end of the year so that we could have a budget that would translate our own intentions.
We resumed in January and we got busy with the budget. And to God be the glory, we happened to be either the first or the second local government in the state to have its budget duly passed by the legislative arm because by mid-February our budget was ready. It had gone through all the necessary stages for implementation. In the area of welfare, to God be the glory, around this axis, talk about Mushin, Old Mushin, Oshodi-Isolo up to Egbe, Idimu and the rest of that, we still remain the shining light when it comes to legislative-executive relationship. And when you talk about welfare, we stand tall to say that we are still the only local government around the areas we have mentioned taking care of the councilors by way of providing them with official vehicles.
We have participated in many state initiated health programs. We have ensured continuity in the Bursary Award Scheme and award for widow and aged because we do it on quarterly basis and we have always responded to challenges in the area of security around the local government.
Talking about our roads, we have recently intervened in the rehabilitation of some major roads but you will agree with me that major roads are not in the purview of local government but in the purview of the state government. We have had reasons to intervene because we have realized that residents will not be able to draw appropriate lines between the local government and state government so, we have had to make several interventions. But all those interventions are the things that we do not want to take credits for, we want to take credits for areas where we have direct responsibility.
When we are talking about the inner streets, what have we have been able to do to them? We have done Goloba Street in Isolo here. We did a full rehabilitation of the road. We sacrificed what we had there. Goloba Street was constructed in 1990. 1990 till now is about 28 years. You can imagine what would have happened to a busy street that was constructed 28 years ago, you need to just visit the place to see the beauty that we have turned the place to. We reconstructed it and erected street lights. No matter the situation, whether there is power supply or not, Goloba Street is lighted and the street is well tarred.
There is a particular road that links Isolo LCDA with Ejigbo LCDA; Canoe Road. It is perceived to be in bad condition, are you partnering with the sister LCDA to put the road in good condition?
The current situation is that we have opened up the arches of the roads in that area. What did we do? Baale Shekoni is one strategic road that will relieve traffic in the area and that appeared to be the second road that this local government would attend to. We attended to it, we constructed the road, state-of-the-art road. You need to go there, fully completed, almost state standard road. The drainages are working, the roads in perfect condition with street lights, done by this local government. That road we intend to showcase when our governor comes around to visit us. And as we speak to you, Olokun Street in Ishaga is receiving our attention. We are working there, it is about 200 meters in length. It’s an old road; we are rehabilitating it, fully. We have had to work on three culverts and the drainages. We have rehabilitated the drainages, there are free-flowing drainages and we are going to asphalt Olokun Street to link up with Aderinto Street in Ire-Akari Estate.
Of course we will not stop at asphalting the road, we intend to put a ten-pole of solar street lights there. We know what to do to a community that has not had a standard road. That is what we are doing there on board now. On our table now is Fabiyi Street in Ilasa. We intend to do that too. So, for every quarter we want to do at least one road and not just by way of intervention, we have shown intervention but we want to leave solid legacy. We want to leave office in a way that in the next 20 years, 30 years, people will recall that when we were there this particular road, at least, two roads within a ward were perfectly done. We are not saying within the local government but within each ward. Then people will point and say it was the administration of Shammeh that put those ones there. So, we have done two. We have almost completed the third, the forth is about taking off and all of these you will see that they spread around wards, not concentrated in a particular ward.
In the area of education, when you go out there you will find two giant buses with which at a trip not less than 100 pupils will be conveyed. It’s a free ride to take pupils to school and take them back, close to their houses. It will have various advantages. Pupils will need not to walk distances before they get to school and that they will get themselves adjusted to school condition by the time they get there because they have not stressed themselves. They get adjusted and concentration comes easily at that. That is one. Some of these pupils take money from their parents to take transport to school. Their parents will save this money for another thing because we are taking the burden off them. What is it that private schools provide that the affluent pay for? They pay for school; bus pupils of public schools will not need to pay for these school buses, Isolo LCDA under my leadership is providing free ride for them to go to school. We are looking at three massive buses, we’ve gotten two, before the end of the year the third one will be here. That aside, we are going to provide school bags. We are going to provide exercise books and other instructional materials for pupils in the crèche. We are looking at rehabilitation of schools. You need to take a trip to Akinbaye Primary School to see what measure of renovation we are putting up there. It’s massive renovation of the biggest public school around there that we are putting up.
We have not forgotten the pregnant women; we will be giving out to 100 pregnant women the Maternal Antenatal Kits. We will be giving that out while we have plans on ground to ensure that we rehabilitate Isolo Primary Health Center. We want to completely knock down the structure there and rehabilitate it while we are looking at the possibility of having a new PHC at Alagbeji.
Outside all of these, we have made sure that we have a good and harmonious working relationship with the work force here. Before I came into office, the first time I was in office I paid bonuses to council staff, until 2014 when I was leaving office. When I left office in 2014, the council staff did not get to enjoy bonuses again until my return, and ever since I returned we have equally lived at that area and resuscitated it. The work force here is well-motivated so much that to this time the performance of our revenue department as I speak to you has increased to 85 per cent. The local government budgeted N144million for the whole year, and as we speak we have made N68million, which represents 84 per cent. The chart is there for you to see. You asked about the journey so far, but I will tell you all that I have stated are just the highlights. Highlights of our performance and why are they highlights of our performance? Because here, we believe that we are going after excellence and the road to excellence has no finishing point. So, we do and do. Don’t forget we have the benefits of experience backing us up. We don’t rush at things but when we do, we get quality in return because we take our time. We are meticulous in planning; we are very very accurate in our implementation. We give the glory to Almighty God for His support. For us, it is a long journey, it is a long distance race and you don’t run a long distance race as if you are running a 100 meters dash, so you need meticulous planning and very meticulous implementations. We are happy and I suppose residents of Isolo are equally happy. You talk about the state of our roads. What you will talk about are the major roads when we get to work there. I mentioned it earlier that, we have always wanted to do intervention but in the recent past, we have tried to work on the agencies, press on the agencies to come and do the needful but right tonight, I have the assurance that one of the agencies will be working on Osolo Way.
Don’t forget that, in the area of environment, we are rated highly, so much that Environmental Lagos gave this local government an award for the best environmental-friendly local government award in Lagos State. Because we are responsive to issues of refuse. Environmental Lagos is one platform that monitors the environment holistically. They compiled complains and take them into space and they have always found Isolo LCDA the most responsive when issues relating to Isolo is mentioned, they found out that within twinkle of an eye we will respond and get things back in order. They have noticed that and outside complains, they know that we are a regime that is ever responsive to the environment. Up till this present moment, we have not folded our team that are responsible for carting away of refuses, desilting of drainages. We know all of these and we have a good team that will attend to all necessary developmental challenges in Isolo LCDA.
From complains gathered from residents, especially from Okota and Ishaga, on waste disposal that Visionscape is not working as much expected. Refuses are found here and there, littering the environment. What measure is being put in place by your government sir?
The arrangement is that Visionscape will work on major roads, the PSP will work on the inner streets, so, if they expect the Visionscape at this time it’s just mere misconception. The PSP are already there with them but you know our people, they think Visionscape will work for free and PSP will work for payment. This fee they did not want to pay so, they will look for the one that will not cost them any money. But the one that will not cost them any money is not given an assignment with them. It has an assignment on the major roads. Their plea will just be that they should patronize the PSP, pay the PSP. There is nowhere in the world that government picks away refuse for free, if they are not asking you to pay the amount directly, the charges must have been added to other payment that you make to government, other taxes, other rates that are payable to the government.
Okay, you have highlighted some achievements in various sectors: education, environment, infrastructure, health, to mention a few. In the area of youth empowerment, I discovered that Isolo LCDA has greater number of private companies, how do you leverage on this to get the youths employed in these private companies?
Yes, with all due respect and regards to our youths, we have always given references to our youths who desire working in the industries around here. I personally sign references. I don’t have records of how many of them are successful. Some could have been successful while others might not have been successful. But the point there is this, we will have to continue to impress on our youths the need for them to use their positive potentials, that is inbuilt in them to convert it to good use for their personal advantages and community advantages. We will continue to say that.
In which other way do you support the youths sir?
We run so many empowerment programs. We do computer training. We leverage on the partnership with NGOs. We do that for women, we do that for our youths and we have a program on the table now because a particular area in the local government is popular and negative for wrong reasons; cultism. For this we want to rise and put up a musical talents show; talents hunt. And very shortly we want to engage that legendary footballer – Peter Rufai to come around and put up football training for our youths here to look for talents.
We believe that when all of these are happening left, right and central, positive programs that will lead the youths to doing things rightly and take advantage of this and become useful to themselves. We equally believe that devil finds work for idle hands so, we want to make sure that the hands of the youths are not idle that they find something constructive to do. We are looking at the musical talents hunt and something we will do in the area of football. You will agree with me that those are the two major events that the youths are naturally attracted to – music and football. So, we have programs in place.
In 2015, APC lost some elective posts to the opposition party due to some internal crises within APC especially in Isolo. What have you been doing to prevent the reoccurrence of what happened in 2015?
Yes! We have been making a very loud noise to prevent the reoccurrence of what happened in 2015. The situation we have on ground presently is not showing that some people are ready to do things differently. But we, on this side, will not stop making the noise, loud enough to the authority to know that things have to be done differently so that we can get better result. We are very hopeful that before the fullness of time, situations in Isolo will get the right and proper shift to put us in good shape to regain our glory.
But let me tell you, the glory has been regained because if we have the local government and we won simply and thoroughly, then we believe that the glory is here with us. However, we must do things to guide us in that part. The LG elections that we had in 2017, all hands were on deck, all shapes of opinion were amalgamated to produce a good result but what we have on ground now still need some rejigging, that is the truth. We still need some rejigging so that by 2019 we will have no other story to tell than a very good story that everybody will be willing to tell and everybody will have smiles on their faces that truly, the local government elections have come and we have won, the national election has equally come and we have equally wo. I am very hopeful that all that are needed to be done will be done within few days, few weeks to put the party together, to bring cohesion to the party, such that we will be able to stand any opposition.
Looking at the situation on ground, with different factional groups in the APC, how sure are you that all these factions will become one and focus on the election?
I am hopeful. You know when we have disagreements; they are political disagreements. Most of the people on this side and on that side are friends, we just have reasons at a particular time to disagree. We disagree to agree. It is certain that we will soon come together to agree. It is all about give and take. Will you give me this, yes, I take it. When I give you this, you will take it, and then we will come together. I am so hopeful. And so, if you see anybody on the other side, they are not my enemies, I am not their enemy. When the time comes, which I believe is going to be soon, the time is close-by, we will speak to ourselves in the languages that we understand and we will do things together.
Nobody is maintaining a hard posture; nothing is hard or difficult in all of these. We are members of the same political family. If you talk about differences at the national level, that is another ball-game but right here, and when you are talking about Isolo LCDA, me I am hopeful that we are one. We are one and we are the same. There is no R-APC here, there is no other faction here, all of us believe in the leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. When we have our problems, we have one same direction, we go to ACME street, No. 13/15 ACME Road in Agidingbi to resolve our issues, that is the secretariat that we know. We believe not in any other person’s leadership as far as Lagos State APC is concerned, but Lagos State Chairman, Alhaji Tunde Balogun. So, if you are talking about other factions, we don’t talk about that, we are one political family here and we have similar root. We have disagreement, no doubts but, of course these disagreements are solvable and very soon they will be resolved.
What is the state of the public primary school you promised in Okota?
We are working on it. You see for a project like that, it is not a one-bang thing, it takes a lot of processes and procedures. It is a new school that we are talking about, so we have lots of conditions and challenges to really face. We’ve faced the challenges of Environment Ministry, challenges of Ministry of Planning and Urban Development, challenges of Ministry of Education, SUBEB and all the rest. But all of these agencies of government mentioned are equally enthusiastic. We are on the same page but we have to ensure that we follow due diligence to have it. Before the fullness of time, the school will take-off and it will be completed. It may take some time before it takes off but when it does take off, it will take the speed of a thunderbolt to complete and we’ll have it there. Thank you for that question because it is one of the cardinal things we are really working on. That reminds me of people in Okota, we promised them that there is going to be stakeholders’ forum of Okota, we are working on that too. To have a good soup, the cooking may take longer time in the kitchen. Before the end of the year, rehabilitation work on Fabiyi Street in Okota will kick-start.
How does the local government generate internal revenue to execute all the mentioned successful projects, do you solely rely on the allocation from the state to execute the projects?
We don’t depend solely on the allocation. I told you earlier that the council projected revenue of N144million and in 6 months we have N68million which represents 84 per cent at this time. What is expected if N72million, out of that N72million we have made N68 million which is 84 per cent. We don’t go about robbing people, people know that they have to pay taxes and people are paying taxes because of the fact that they know that we are employing the funds for the purposes of developments. If in your street you find 2, 3, students that say they are running to the council to collect bursary, if we tell you to pay N2000 trade permit, won’t you pay? You will. So, that is the thing.
What are you doing about a dilapidated school block in Olokun Primary School?
Listen, if we go to do anything, any repair or renovation, it is on intervention basis, the responsibility does not rest squarely on the local government. SUBEB has responsibility. But here, we don’t shift responsibility. I told you earlier on about what we are doing at Akinbaye Primary School, it is not possible for us to attend to all the schools at the same time. By the time we finish with Akinbaye Primary School either our next destination is that school you’ve mentioned, good, if not, we will call SUBEB, the principal knows the council is not the proper place for her to channel her complains. If it is about intervention Yes! We have our priority.
In commendation of your achievements so far, you’ve bagged numerous awards, what has been the secrets sir?
There is nothing big about awards, for me there is nothing big about awards. In fact, we shun awards here. There are some frivolous awards, people will just come around and say they want to give you award for the purpose of collecting money, such money does not exist here. We don’t have money for frivolous awards. But if you give us awards that we know that are well rooted with a very big observation of our performance, awards that are performance-driven. Like Environmental Lagos, when they gave the award, it was obvious that overtime, they had observed our performance. But for somebody in Abuja to say we are giving you award as the best council chairman and we should come and pay money, we don’t patronize awards like that because we actually believe that when you are at work and you have people saying well-done, it is a good impetus needed for you to do more, it’s a morale booster. When you have some people criticizing you or condemning you, of course, you need some people to say you are doing well when they find reasons to say that. So to us, awards have two faces, frivolous awards and awards that are performance-driven. If you are giving us awards that are performance-driven, we will be glad and you will see smiles on our faces but when you don’t know us and you are giving us awards, we will ask you to go away.
Have you been enjoying the goodwill of your people, what is the relationship like between yourself being the chairman and the people you govern?
I will leave you to observe that. I have my friends and also my haters. That’s the hazard of this business. You don’t get loved by everybody. Within my party, there are some people who love me with passion, within my party, people who hate me with passion are equally there so, we will manage the two. The ones that love me with passion I have responsibility on them and equally those ones that hate me with passion I have responsibility for them too, maturity has to come in there. If I know you hate me and you are entitled to certain things as a resident of Isolo, I can’t deny you, I will give it to you. Of course, I don’t have to take things personally for criticizing government’s policies. You may get hated for taking stand against opinions and desires of some people but getting hated does not mean anything, it is a dynamic thing. If they disagree with you today, they may agree with you tomorrow, so simple. And even people who are with you today, who says they can’t disagree with you tomorrow? Such is life!
With much developmental projects achieved within the first 365 days in office, what new expectations should people have in another next one year?
I have stated all of that, I told you of some of the projects that are on board, Fabiyi Street is coming on soon, the Isolo Health Centre that we intend to demolish and reconstruct, the Alagbeji Health Centre that we are planning to bring on board. People should expect all these. We will continue the bursary award scheme, the program for the aged. We’ve just got two buses and we intend to buy one more. We are going to make sure that members of our excos are given support to carry out their functions which may include a need for an official car. We will do all of these. We will continue to attend to all of these. Rehabilitation of roads, we will continue to ensure that our environments are taken care of by ensuring that we desilt our drainages and at the same time ensue that we cart away refuses where they are burnt. We will continue to ensure that security of lives and properties remain sacrosanct. These are our promises to people, and I will tell you, that is the essence of government.