The Lagos State Government on Monday disclosed that it had granted autonomy to 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas in the state contrary to the call in some quarters for council autonomy.
The state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said this while inaugurating 57 executive secretaries for the local councils in Alausa, noting that the council officials “are democratically elected and decide what they spend their allocations on.”
The inauguration was attended by the Chairman of the Lagos All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Oladele Ajomale and the party’s governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, among others.
Speaking at the swearing-in, the governor said the state government “has given autonomy to the local councils and they decide what they spend their money on. They were democratically elected.
“If the executive secretaries do anything, I can remove them. I cannot remove any council chairman. If there are issues to deal with, this is a democratic system of government which gives room for the right to elect anyone.”
But the governor explained that he had appointed the 57 executive secretaries to run the affairs of 20 local governments and local council development areas until the conduct of the council election next October.
Fashola appointed the executive secretaries about three months ago after the former elected council chairmen vacated offices on October 18, 2014, following the expiration of their statutory three-year tenure. The councils had since been run by their council managers.
Some of the newly sworn in Executive Secretaries include: Segun Jubril (Isolo), Fausat Hassan (Ojokoro); Moshood Abiola (Onigbongbo); Wasiu Adeshina (Ikorodu); Bayo Adebisi (Ikorodu North); Princess Aduni Oyefusi (Ikorodu West); Muyiwa Adesoya (Imota); Taiwo Orenuga (Igbogbo-Baiyeku); Toyosi Olusi (Lagos Island); Omotosho Lukman (Lagos Island East); Jide Bello (Mushin); and Rasak Ajala (Odi-Olowo).
Others were Sikiru Lawal (Ojo); Abiodun Oresanya (Somolu); Oyoke Yahaya (Iba); Alabi David (Bariga); Olajobi Dauda (Oshodi); Tajudeen Alabi (Ejigbo); Dele Hussain (Surulere); David Famuyiwa (Agbado Oke Odo); Ahmed Seriki (Epe); and Ajibola Ojodu (Amuwo Odofin).
He said the appointment was to fill the vacuum created by the council chairmen and “to ensure that service delivery at the grassroots continues. Each appointee would run the council with four other officials for a transitional period of three months after which they could get tenure renewals if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to hold the election which has been tentatively fixed for March.”
He urged the appointees to justify the confidence reposed in them by serving conscientiously and working with other people for the uplift of the people at the grassroots, charging them to strengthen education at the grassroots and work assiduously to improve primary health care delivery system in their councils.
Reacting to claims from representatives of Eti-Osa and some other council representatives who faulted the appointment of the executive secretary, Fashola appealed that the aggrieved parties work with the new appointees, saying “It is not possible to give responsibilities to every deserving person.”
Meanwhile, some past councillors and supervisory councillors, who served the state between 2004 and 2007 protested over the delay in the payment of their severance allowance. They lamented that the current administration was not ready to complete the payment as promised.
In a response, Fashola said, “We had solved one group and later we discovered that there was another group. And there were some whose names were in the first and second groups. We had to sort them and that we are doing.
According to him, “We cannot take the entire fund belonging to the councils to pay; this will affect service delivery in the councils. What we have done is to stagger the payment in such a way that it will not stop council activities. As we move on, all the funds would be paid. There would never be life without problem but the joy is to proffer solution for it.