GIVE US SMOOTH AND ROARING TAKE-OFF
I welcome you all to this important occasion, the inauguration of three committees on Asset Sharing, Boundary Adjustment and Take Off at the Local Governments, LCDAs, Area Offices and Administrative Offices in Osun. This became necessary in light of the enactment into law last year by the State’s House of Assembly the creation of 31 new Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), three Area Councils and two Administrative Offices and signing of the same into law by my office.
This is in order to have a smooth and roaring take off and prevent the usual rancour that accompanied such exercises in the past. The legal jurisdiction lines of any government — local, national or international — must be clearly defined. These lines, for most part, are ancient delineation of communities, usually signposted with landmarks like seas, river, streams, footpaths, roads etc. Two problems arise from this. The first is that the pattern of modern settlement and economic activities has made nonsense of ancient boundaries. In many parts of the world and in our nation and even here in Osun, communities have grown into each other. For instance, Osogbo/Ikirun, Osogbo/Ede, Ilesa/Ijebu-Jesa, just to mention a few, have grown wide and into each other. In Lagos, the boundaries between Lagos and Badagry, Lagos and Ikorodu and the state boundaries between Lagos and Ogun have literally disappeared at Berger Bus Stop, Sango Ota and Agbara, just to mention a few.
The second problem is that some of the ancient landmarks and boundaries were not settled. Some are still being contested, as a fallout of the intertribal wars of the past. So ancient histories and revisions come alive over boundaries.
But we must be careful here. All ancient boundaries are artificial constructs that exist only in the minds of people. Modernity has imposed a new order whose developmental imperative deemphasize ancient boundaries. Boundaries in modern times are only necessary for the delineation of an administrative territory, clearly distinct from ancient power, authority and influence. If Osogbo is divided into four local governments, it does not, for instance, restrict the traditional authority of the Ataoja to Osogbo local Government alone.
Modern boundaries are for the purposes of taxation, development and election. A local government therefore means the geographical area within which taxes will be collected by a local authority and where that authority is politically responsible and accountable. It is also the area where those that can vote and be voted for in elections pertaining to an area are delineated.
If this should guide our understanding of a boundary, then we should rather be development conscious instead of the primordial attachment and atavistic chaos that emerge from conflicts over boundaries.
Assets sharing is like an inheritance in which everyone wants the best portion for himself or herself. Where there is a will, it is easier, and contestations are often without rancour, although wills also are often contested. Where the deceased died intestate (without a will), anything can happen. It is not less so with government assets. Oyo and Osun, those who could remember, fought bitter asset sharing war at the creation of Osun in 1991, which still reverberates till today. This is unsavoury and clearly avoidable for the same people who have the same history, culture and have lived together since time immemorial.
The greatest asset really is human beings. They are the basic instrument of development. It is humans that think, conceive of ideas, create and engage in economic production. This is why at any time, we should strive more for human development. Whatever asset we have should be seen as starting point. Our goal should be to use what we have to kick-start development and make life better for our people, instead of fighting bitter war over assets that will fuel another round of bitter feuding between our communities. Nevertheless, I will enjoin the committee on asset sharing as well as the one on boundary adjustment to be fair and just and avoid any form of partisanship, bias and favouritism. They should carry out their assignment with the fear of God and follow laid down procedures, rules and regulations.
As I said last month while announcing the creation of LCDAs, Area Offices and Administrative Offices, the primary responsibilities of our new local government system are sanitation, market management and revenue mobilisation and generation. Just yesterday, I presented the new land use charge law, stating clearly the role of the local government system. Our goal clearly is the development of our state with the revenue we are able to generate and the councils are at the centre of this. I made this point also and it is worth reiterating: that the era of free and unearned money is gone. You have to make money now to be able to spend it. Leadership is now a huge responsibility; it is no longer a reward or compensation. We are in a new era of compulsory wealth creation. Be assured that anyone coming into any elective or appointive position in our state is coming to work, real hard work. President Muhammadu Buhari gave us a breather from our traducers when he announced that 27 states are in similar financial position to ours. It is not that we are proud of this, but to let you know why we are taking the steps we are taking now and what to expect from whoever comes into any position of authority in this state. We are putting in place a system of revenue generation that works from bottom-up. This is why the local government system is very important to this.
A lot of people have expressed concern on the viability of the new LCDAs, Area Offices and Administrative Offices in light of dwindling revenues from the federation account. I want to assure them once again, that the new councils will not constitute additional financial burden on the state. The new local government system will be parliamentary in nature, which requires the chairman and the vice chairman to be elected by the councillors from among their own ranks, thereby saving cost. This simply means that to be a chairman, you would first have to win election as a councillor. It is the electoral college of councillors that will now elect one of their own as chairman. We shall therefore be saving a huge cost with this new system.
In addition, the same number of staff will still run all the councils, as no new appointments will be made to existing ones. The existing local government staff will only be spread to the new ones.
With these committees, the councils’ take off should be as smooth as possible. You have been selected into the committees because of your track record of honesty, hard work, integrity and accomplishment. I want these to shine through your current assignment.
I wish you God-speed and resounding success in the assignments.
I thank you all for your kind attention.
Osun a dara!
SPEECH BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF OSUN, OGBENI RAUF AREGBESOLA, AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE COMMITTEES ON ASSET SHARING, BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENT AND TAKE OFF AT THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, LCDAS, AREA OFFICES AND ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES IN OSUN