A former Vice-Chairman of Kosofe Local Government Area in Lagos State, Segun Aka-Bashorun, says former Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) had put in place mechanisms to promote transparency in local governments in the state but was prevented by “the godfather”.
Aka-Bashorun, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, said Fashola had set up independent audit mechanisms to ensure that the books of local governments were looked into periodically.
He, however, said when Fashola began to “block all conduit pipes through which funds were being diverted,” the local government chairmen quickly ran to the godfather who, in turn, allegedly asked Fashola to face state government affairs and leave the local governments alone.
Aka-Bashorun did not name the alleged godfather, however.
The former LG boss said, “In the time of Fashola as governor, he realised that there was a certain godfather that was holding his hands back when he was trying to force the local government chairmen to perform because he wanted them to perform.
“He then set up a body of civil society organisations and engineers to go and visit each local government to look at their books and show them the contracts. Everything in their budget that they had spent money on, they should go to each of those areas and verify them.”
Aka-Bashorun said the local government chairmen compromised members of the committee set up by Fashola.
He, however, said when some of the committee members refused to be compromised, the local government chairmen ran to their godfather.
Aka-Bashorun added, “Fashola tried it (reforms) because he wanted them to perform, but they ran to their godfather and said, ‘See, this governor is disturbing us, checking all our books, we are in trouble, what are we going to do?’
“They stifled the governor and said, ‘Leave the local governments alone; go and do your own job.” He then threw a challenge to his interviewer: “Name one governor that is fighting for local government.”
The former LGA vice chairman commended the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit for issuing new rules which will protect local government funds from governors.
Aka-Bashorun, however, said there was the need for LGAs to be given full autonomy because of the nature of state politics, especially in places like Lagos.
He alleged that employment at the local government was usually given to only party faithful and their families, adding that contracts are only awarded to party chieftains “who cannot be questioned even if they fail to deliver.”
Aka-Bashorun said, “The people that will do the contracts are card-carrying members of the ruling party. The people that will give the contracts are members of the party. So, you already know in your contract what you are supposed to bring back home or else you will never get the contract.
“Now, do you even think the local government chairman is the one giving out the contract? There is usually an arrangement within the party and the leadership (for example) that there would be 10 road contracts in a year and out of the 10, they have shared them to the leaders that will give out the contracts.
“It is their meat. They are not there for you — as funny as it sounds.
“It is their meat. So, when they say they are fixing roads, they will charge you the price by the Federal Government approved costing.
“Assuming it is N100m for road, they will spend N10m, while the remaining N90m will be shared among everybody else.
“That is why your road will go bad after six months. Then the process is repeated.
“It happened before I became vice chairman and has continued to happen since I left in 2011. Nobody is auditing them.”