Dr Akinfolarin Baruwa is the Chairman of Mosan-Okunola Community Development Committee (CDC). In this interview with Our Community Newspaper’s John Ogunsemore, he highlighted some of the challenges facing the CDC and communities in the council, and steps taken to address those challenges. Excerpt…
When did you become the CDC chairman?
I was elected in February 2015. That makes it three years.
How has the experience been like?
The challenge is greater as a CDC chairman because I have to combine every other CDA within my CDC as my constituency. It has been very interesting because of the passion that I have for community service. To the glory of God, we have been able to tackle most of the challenges to the best of our ability.
At the May CDC meeting, a number of issues were raised. One of them was the influx of strangers into Mosan-Okunola LCDA. What steps have been taken so far in that regard?
Because of the peculiarity of our LCDA which has three big federal and state housing estates (Gowon, Abesan and Shagari estates), we have high human population. That has made it possible for a lot of people to be able to come into our own community. And as a follow-up, based on what we discussed during our last meeting, we have been able to meet with officers of the (Nigerian) Immigration Service and the leadership of the Arewa community in the entire Alimosho, not just Mosan-Okunola alone. We are working out modalities to ensure that those that are entering our community are those that we can be able to trace. So far they have been cooperating with us because the population (of strangers) that we have so far are mostly people from the northern states, and some of them are not even Nigerians. We have Chadians, Malians and others among them. Although it has been very difficult to ascertain the numbers of those ones that are coming in, but those that are from northern Nigerian, we have been working with the Seriki Hausawas (leaders of Hausa community), and so far they have assured us of their support. We are also working with the relevant security agencies to ensure that our community is safe.
Also at the May CDC meeting, the issue of N200 ‘illegal’ levy demand by a purported council contractor cropped up. What is the latest on that?
As far as we are concerned, I don’t really want to believe that there is anything that has to do with illegal collection. To the best of our knowledge, we don’t have any memo and we have not been engaged or told that a particular body or agent will be collecting whatsoever (levy). Although there were cases that were raised, but as I speak now it has not been founded to be true. We want to believe that they are mere speculations, because if the council wants to do anything like that we strongly believe that they will engage us and we will be able to collaborate with the council in revenue generation. Inasmuch that we are CDAs and CDC we are partners with the council and will always encourage any means of legitimate revenue generation. So far, there has not been anything of sort.
How can you rate the council administration’s support for your activities?
So far, I’ll rather say that it has been below average; the support has not been up to the level that we so desire. We have been engaging them; we have been talking, and we have heard promises. We only pray that those promises will be fulfilled, but presently the support has not been really encouraging.
I have it on good authority that your annual subvention as a CDC has not been paid by the council for six years…
Yes, that’s the absolute truth. Last year we had six years outstanding (arrears) and the council paid one out of the six years. Another year has rolled by and that makes it six years outstanding. I want to raise emphasis here that the annual subvention is a statutory fee or support that the council renders to the CDC. But in the last six years we have not received any. Although we are making effort and we are being assured, but as I speak we’ve yet to receive any subvention.
Why does Mosan-Okunola CDC not have an office like its counterpart in Ayobo-Ipaja and Igando-Ikotun?
That has been one of the demands that we put across to successive governments in the council. The council engineer has been told to come up with a plan which to the best of my knowledge he has submitted. We are still waiting for the next line of action that will actualise it. A room has been designed with a toilet facility that will serve as administrative office for the CDC. I think it has not got approval not to talk of construction, but something is being done in that regard.
There’s also another issue of the Lagos state government demanding for Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) numbers of CDA and CDC excos. Could you shed more light on this?
It is not a matter of the state government. It is an initiative by we community practitioners. The essence of doing that is to reawaken ourselves because voting or being voted for is part of community development. The awareness now that is going on is that as a community practitioner you must have what qualifies you to be a voter, and you can determine who governs you. In the process of doing that, we have been able to discover a lot of shortcomings and I want to believe that the issue is being resolved and things will get better. The idea behind the PVC collection is just to sensitise our people and let them be up and doing, and realise that there is need for them to get their PVC. So there is nothing special.
In some parts of Alimosho, residents have complained about non-performance of Visionscape. Is it the same thing here?
When you talk of performance, there must be criteria or a yardstick that you will use in determining performance. Visionscape is a new initiative by the government and the effort (at Cleaner Lagos) is an ongoing thing. It is more or less like we are in a transition period and when you are in a transition period, you don’t expect magic to happen overnight. It is a process. As far as Mosan-Okunola is concerned, when Visionscape came onboard, they engaged the CDC and our various CDAs. They provided waste bins and waste nylons. Anytime we have challenge or issue with them, they respond whenever we call them. I give it to them. So far in Mosan-Okunola, Visionscape has performed well. We can only encourage them to continue to do better than what they have been doing.
…so evacuation of waste in Mosan-Okunola is going on smoothly?
There is this issue with the PSP operators and Visionscape. As at today, what we gathered is that there is an arrangement between Visionscape and some of these PSP operators in which Visionscape has been saddled with the responsibility of taking care of the highways while PSPs would go into the various communities. We have been having challenges with the areas that have to be covered by the PSP. Some of the defence that the PSP are putting up is that they are having issues at the dumping site; that the closure of Olusosun (landfill in Ojota) is one of the reasons why they have problems. That is in terms of delay while trying to offload. But we strongly believe that in the shortest possible time everything will normalise. All we are saying is that our people should not dump waste indiscriminately and also should bear with the government. There is no government that wants to come into power and want to find itself in such an embarrassing situation. I think that we are much more over-excited with the new arrangement and in the shortest possible time things will get normalised.