Lagos And Community Development

By Folashade Kadiri

The Administration of Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu in Lagos State is an all-inclusive one. Governor Sanwo-Olu’s idea of an all-inclusive government is one in which no one or part of the society is left behind. The underlying philosophy behind this stance is that for democracy to truly remain the government of the people, by the people and for the people, the active involvement of the people in governance must always be constantly encouraged and, indeed, deliberately courted.

It is in realisation of this that the Sanwo-Olu administration places high premium on even development of both the urban and rural parts of the State. Particular emphasis is being placed on the development of the various grassroots communities in the State. Ongoing construction of 377 projects across various communities in the State is, no doubt, an integral part of the Sanwo-Olu administration’s plan to bring development to the various communities in the State. The projects include the construction of 257 community roads and drainages; rehabilitation of 86 public building and the installation two jetties, nine water projects and 23 power projects across all the wards in the State.

The projects’ selection followed a meeting between Mr. Governor and all 377 councilors in the State, including consultations with community leaders, residents and stakeholders, during which the Governor requested them to nominate specific projects that could be executed in their wards and these projects were all based on consensus.

The intervention, according to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was initiated in response to the series of requests by the various communities to address specific infrastructural challenges. The distribution of the projects also reflects equity, balance and principle of inclusion, although certain projects may have been dictated by population. The breakdown by Districts shows that Lagos Central has 94 projects, Lagos East has 99 and the vast Lagos West has 184 projects.

Community development is intended to fashion conditions of economic and social growth for the entire community with its dynamic involvement and total probable dependence upon the community's scheme. To ensure enduring growth, the government opts for the integrated approach to community improvement via partnership between government and the people at the local communities. This involves embarking on projects on self-help basis in a community with the government providing the necessary assistance monetarily, technically and administratively.

The approach mainly involves the people providing initiatives, material and manpower while the government provides financial assistance and managers to complement the efforts of the community. Through this, communities could easily access education, technology, health care, security among others.

It needs to be stressed that the role of Community Development Association (CDA) in community development in the state is quite crucial. CDA members are an integral part of their various communities. This puts them in an advantageous position in terms of understanding the problem or developmental challenge in their domains. This, thus, helps to ensure self-reliance as community members become armed with knowledge as they work together to identify the needs of the community. CDAs, no doubt, ensure effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of development in the communities.

The government’s partnership with the CDAs has become a veritable vehicle for socio-economic development and communal integration. The fact that no development can take place in any society without peace and harmony further underscores the need for this virile partnership with the CDAs, since they are actually closer to the various communities than elected and non-elected government officials.

During the commemoration of the 2020 Community Day Celebration, with the theme: “Promise Made, Promise Kept, More to come”, Governor Sanwo-Olu, who participated virtually at the event, charged the CDAs to monitor the 377 ward projects being executed in their domains. While commending the CDAs and CDCs for partnering with the government for grassroots development, the governor urged them to ensure that the contractors handling the projects in their domains did not compromise quality.

Speaking at the event, Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Dr. Wale Ahmed, said the theme of the celebration was apt and relevant as the present administration has started the fulfillment of promises made to transform the rural communities to reduce rural-urban drift and continuous engagement of Community Development Associations, CDAs.

Highlights of the Community Day celebration was the presentation of prizes to the best 10 CDAs. Three CDAs went home with brand new buses for undertaking self-help projects. Oshorun Heritage CDA in Ikosi-Isheri came first for constructing eight projects, including a mini-water work, interlocked roads, lighting and security. Peace Estate CDA in Ayobo, Ipaja came second for constructing drainage systems in 21 streets, road construction, installation of transformers and security apparatus.

Itesiwaju Odo-Kekere CDA in Ikorodu North got the third position for constructing a secondary school and employment of teachers while ten others went home with N500, 000 each as consolation prizes.

The celebration of the CDAs was certainly a good way to end a tumultuous year whose landscape was greatly shaped by deadly COVID-19 which snuffed lives out of many. The event was also a celebration of the resilience spirit of Lagosians.

Certainly, members of the CDAs and others will have positive expectations in the New Year, especially in terms of massive development at the grassroots. Surely, with the determination of the Sanwo-Olu administration to bring development to every part of the State, their optimism would not be a mirage.

However, as the government tirelessly works to make good its resolve to give all communities in the State the attention they appropriately deserve, they, in turn, must continue to contribute to the development of the State. They must take proper ownership of all government projects within their domain.

Also, they must shun all tendencies that could disrupt the peace and progress of the State. They must not indulge in the concoction and spread of fake news. Perhaps, more importantly, they must choose to be progressive partners of the government by paying their taxes and other levies regularly. It is only in doing this that the State would continue to witness accelerated growth and development.

Kadiri is Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs