The Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA) has cast its vote with Lagos State in its face-off with the Federal Government over the creation of more local governments, although it wrote off the councils for failing to make the desired developmental impact on the polity.
The party believed that the Federal Government over-extended itself in meddling in the matter of council creation as the Constitution gave it no role on the issue, apart from the fact that such interference violated the principle of Federalism.
However, in a statement by its Lagos State Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, the party said: “There is little to show for the huge resources allocated to the councils and there is little on ground to justify the creating of these new Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) six years after they came into being. Inner roads are bad, drainage systems remain untended in many places, while the uniformed local government operatives have become a terror to road users, especially operators of commercial buses and okada motorcycles. Some councils even have pothole-ridden roads passing through their frontage.”
DPA acknowledged the right of Lagos State to create new local governments under the operating Federal Constitution, and said it believed the government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had substantially complied with the necessary requirements for their formation.
However, according to the party, instead of fulfilling their primary raison d’etre, many of the councils had become bastions of corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency.
In the words of DPA: “Which of these LCDAs can boast of bringing development closer to their people as they were meant to do? Which of them can point to streets they have erected street lights on?”
DPA challenged the Lagos State House of Assembly to publish past report of probes on corruption and misappropriation of funds in the local governments, including during the tenure of ad hoc supervisory administrative secretaries.
Accusing the state government and the House of lacking the political will to carry out a full-fledged investigation of local governments’ fiscal allocations, disbursements and transactions from 1999 to date, DPA recalled that nothing was heard after the Lagos State House of Assembly’s Committee on Public Accounts (Local) recommended the suspension of five Local Government Executive Secretaries over the mismanagement of N700 million council funds since November 2007.
“Of course, the report is predictable if the House ever bothers to release it. It will be heavily doctored to unduly exonerate council operatives of wrongdoing, as has become the Action Congress (AC) style to clear members of its family of even clear-cut charges,” the party said.
The party accused the AC government of not only sweeping corruption in the councils under the carpet, but as well refusing to forward them to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“AC in fact returned many of these perfidious chairmen to the councils as candidates in the last election despite widespread protests –as if to reward them for their past acts of corruption. In fact, we believe that the reason AC massively rigged the last council elections was to keep opposition parties out of the councils so as to keep secret the mismanagement of allocations,” he said.
DPA urged Lagosians to look beyond the politics of council creation and insist on service delivery by the 57 councils.