The journey towards the creation of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in Osun started on Dec. 16, 2013.
On that day, Gov. Rauf Aregbesola presented a bill to the State House of Assembly, seeking the creation of 31 LCDAs from the existing 30 local government areas of the state.
The bill’s presentation was sequel to the submission of the report of the Local Government Creation Committee, constituted by the state government and chaired by Prof. Mojeed Alabi, a former speaker of the state’s Assembly.
Aregbesola explained that the bill, captioned: “Local Government Areas (Creation and Administration) Bill 2013’’, would increase the number of local government administration units in Osun and ensure rapid development across the state.
The new LCDAs will coexist with the existing local government areas, he said, which are specified in the 1999 Constitution.
On May 25, 2015, the state Assembly passed the bill on the creation of 31 LCDAs in the state.
On March 8, almost 10 months after the bill was passed by the House of Assembly, Aregbesola, in a statewide broadcast, announced the creation of 31 LCDAs, three Area Councils and an Area Office.
The governor said that the decision to create the LCDAs was informed by the appeal of the citizens of the state regarding the need to expand the local government’s platform in order to enhance their participation.
“The people’s requests for new councils have been granted; all constitutional requirements have been met and the prescribed procedure followed to the letter,’’ he said.
Aregbesola said that the new LCDAs would be administered via the parliamentary system which “is compact, efficient and better, in the present financial circumstances.
“The beauty of this new system is its parliamentary nature, which requires the election of chairmen and vice-chairmen by the councillors from among their own ranks, thereby saving cost.
“In addition, the same number of staff will still run all the councils, as no new appointments will be made to complement existing ones.
“We shall make the most judicious use of our revenues in such a way that increasing the number of councils will not constitute any financial burden,’’ he said.
The governor said that the primary responsibilities of the new LCDAs would be communities’ sanitation, markets’ management and revenue mobilisation and generation, adding that these tasks were consistent with local government administration worldwide.
Nevertheless, the creation of LCDAs has continued to generate varied reactions among the people of the state.
For instance, Assemblyman Waisu Adebayo, the Chairman of the House of Assembly Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, said “We created the LCDAs in response to the people’s yearnings and aspirations. It is the people that really asked for it and because we are a responsive government, we have to respond positively to the yearnings of the people.
“The reason why the Assembly supported the idea of creating the LCDAs is because we believe it will help the local councils to save money for developmental projects.
“If we know it will not be good for the state, we will not have embraced it. In fact, we have the power to stall the plan.
“But after giving the plan a thorough debate, we discovered it would be the best for the state.
“Under the parliamentary system adopted for the LCDAs, only the chairmen, the vice-chairmen and the secretaries of the new councils will be elected by the councillors and this will really save cost,’’ Adebayo said.
Supporting the creation, Alhaji Waheed Lawal, Deputy National Vice-President (South-West), National Conscience Party, also said that the new LCDAs would be beneficial.
He said that newly created local councils would stimulate grassroots development since the local government was the closest tier of government to people at the grassroots.
“Since the LCDAs would be administered under a parliamentary system, they would not in any way heap additional financial burden on the state.
“Since the councils will be run under a parliamentary system, it will reduce the cost of governance,’’ he said.
In spite of these positive observations, some concerned citizens, nonetheless, express worry over the sustainability of the LCDAs, particularly in the face of current financial challenges facing the state.
Mr Ifeoluwa Adenitan, a public affairs analyst, said that the creation of the 31 LCDAs was unnecessary and uncalled for.
He said that regardless of the system under which the council areas would be administered, their creation would definitively affect the state’s economy because of the dwindling resources which the state received from the Federation Account every month.
“My main concern is why the creation of local councils is considered more important than the creation of wealth for the impoverished people of the state.
“Civil servants are being owed three to four months’ salaries and whenever they are paid, it is half salary, and yet the state government still deems it fit to create 31 local councils.
“Where will the government get money to run these new councils when the existing ones are finding it extremely difficult to survive?
“Doctors in the state are on strike for the past eight months and no tangible thing has been done to address this. For me, the creation of LCDAs is more of a misplaced priority.
“It is more of a political scheme and it is obviously not in economic interest of the people,’’ he said.
Similarly, Mr Olaniyi Ajibola, the Executive Secretary of Advocacy for Advancement of Peace and Harmony in Africa Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, said that the creation of additional 31 council areas was not only illegal but also insensitive.
Ajibola said that the process and scope of the councils’ creation were totally at variance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
“May be, the governor is not conversant with the provisions of the constitution or he decided to wave them aside. Whichever way, the councils’ creation is sheer illegality.
“The Constitution of Nigeria recognises 774 local government councils as the third tier of government, each having a clear-cut executive system of government, a replica of presidential system of government at the centre.
“Any move to create another set of local governments by any federating unit must pass through a laid-down constitutional procedure, and not a straightjacket process like what Aregbesola did in Osun.
“It became more worrisome when the governor announced a parliamentary system of government for the LCDAs, as if local government administration in Osun is independent of Nigerian entity.
“For the purpose of peace and tranquility, the governor ought to reverse his action and follow the normal constitutional provisions for creating local governments. Besides, he should squarely face the task of making the state economically viable first,’’ he said.
The divergent viewpoints notwithstanding, observers insist that the running and survival of the new LCDAs will largely depend on the availability of resources.
They also say that the parliamentary system of government, put in place for the new council areas, may not be acceptable to all the stakeholders in the state.