Barrister Oluwasanmi Odeyemi, is the Chairman, Area Community Development Council (ACDC) of Ijoko Central, Ado-Odo Ota Local Government Area (LGA). He serves as the Legal Adviser to all the ACDC in Ado-Odo Ota LGA and also an Adviser to other CDCs in the same axis. In this interview with Abiola Oyetunde, he speaks on the importance and contributions of CDAs to rural and grassroot developments. He lamented the poor support of government in aiding efforts of CDAs towards promoting local growth and development. Excerpt:
As an ACDC Chairman, what are the impact of CDA in the development of the rural areas in Ogun State?
By virtue of definition, communities are group of people living together in harmony, tranquility, peace to develop their assigned projects for their benefit, the benefit of the government and the people at large. CDAs are the frontier government doing their best so far that the government can even point out in terms of development. When you talk of roads, electricity, water projects, youth development, women empowerment amongst others, CDAs has done a lot and I can bluntly say that CDA is the grass-root of politics and nation building. It is when an area is developed by the CDA that it becomes known. The people in a community works together to achieve a common goal; to build their environs and make sure they are okay. A minimum of 40 CDAs make a CDC. In this sense, by virtue of CDA, the community members will gather money either by levying themselves to construct roads linking to their various streets. No government did it. It is through the effort of CDA. Secondly, when we talk of electricity, I can remember in my place here when I was a CDA chairman for 8 years, I bought a transformer through logic by inviting my clients to come and donate; levying every member of the community; as well as selling ideas in terms of empowerment for promotional activities to generate little funds so that we can develop our community. So in lieu of this, we have managed to buy a 33KVA transformer and electrify the whole community which we are using up till date.
In terms of youth empowerment, we organise youths training on acquisition of skills like making of liquid soap, hair dressing, barbing, tailoring and others, which many of them benefited from. Today, they are using that to feed their aged parents and they now stand on their own. They are not liabilities to their parents anymore and in terms of women empowerment, we are proposing to create a large market through cooperatives. That is part of the plans we want to conceal for logistic reasoning.
With all this you have mentined, how does the government comes in?
Yes! According to their promise, they always promise us grants but we have not received any. Sometimes we can do a project of N3,000,000 and they come around and give us N100,000 You can see the ratio is not commensurate? It is like a movement is dribbling us. All they come to do is give little things. Politicians are always coming here to campaign. They use us and dump us after voting for them. So we want the government to do better. If not financing the whole cost, at least the Government should finance 60 or 70 percent of the total cost of the project we are incurring.
There are many rural areas that are yet to be developed, in what way do you think there can be improvements in all these places?
Those areas should go and quickly form their CDAs. Let them divide themselves to 40 houses and create a minimal CDA so that from there, they can gather money and start from constructing their local roads, wiring their community, and educating their young ones. That is self help, which is the surest help and the best help for their interest.
As the legal adviser to Ado-Odo Local Communities, recently, the governor has just nominated the Caretaker Chairmen. How do you feel about this?
Well, that is necessary. We are expecting them to bring somebody who will be of our own interest in place so that we can have access to him, to follow us on every procedure we are taking and advise government strictly on our needs. I have been finding a way to pass a bill to the Senate, but it will be more appreciated if the government should cancel counsellorship in the local government office and use the CDC Chairmen as their counselors so that we can prepare our budget on what we need for the community, pass it through the appropriate channels according to law and take it up.
The post of counsellorship takes a political procedure in the local government council, does the CDA has anything to do with politics?
Immediately government is formed, there is nothing like politics; whether there is APC, PDP, NPC or any party you belong to, you work as government. Whatever party you emanated from, you are a government official on that seat; you are not a political person, so they should work like us. They should use us as government hands so that they can achieve better aims instead of wasting their time politicising what is not necessary. We want someone of good materials, so that they can work and deliver for them. If this government is not good, will we say it is because he puts political associate there? The answer is no! We need to achieve better. How do we achieve? It is by using our people to achieve our goal. CDA are the people in the grassroot. We know ourselves; we recognise our problems; we can table it at the local level and it can get to the state level and it will be resolved. We have good materials in the CDAs. We relate with the people so well. Government should see this and make use of us. So, the politics should be erased out of it. Government should make use of the CDA at the local government level.
What do you want the government to do for you in your community?
Yes! We want the government to look into our projects; help us to finance it; give us caterpillar to grade our roads; provide transformer for us, so that at least, we can generate more than enough electricity in our area and then provide work through empowerment. Whenever we have youth empowerment programmes, they should send delegate to come and represent them fully with necessary things we need both in cash and in kind. Also on women empowerment, we want to create a market which the government is going to benefit from; but we want them to come to our aid by supporting us; by giving us substantial grants and see what we can do, rather than giving us meager grants. How can somebody need a grant of N10 million and you are giving them N100, 000. To me, its uncalled for; it is like moving from frying pan to fire. We want the government to play a substantial role by giving us reasonable grants so that we can empower ourselves and they can add that as part of their budget. it is only what you do, that you can recommend. The position of law says recognition is recommendation. If you don’t recognise, how will you give recommendation? If you don’t recognise me, can you recommend me? No! So the government should recognise us and recommend us to where we can be useful in government and to the society. They should forget about politics.