Estimated reading time: 25 minute(s)
Remo North, one of the local governments in the Eastern part of Ogun State has enjoyed the two sides of governace. The coordinator, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Remo North branch, Comrade Christopher Olokodana talks about development and challenges in the area. QUADRI YAHYA brings excerpts.
How are you addressed sir?
They like to refer to me as a comrade because of my ability and some disposition, but my name is Christopher Olokodana and I am the Coordinator for NYCN, Remo North Local Branch.
What are some of the challenges begging for government attention in Remo North LG?
Government presence has always been everywhere. We have the state government. We also have a local government. The presence of government is evident but the only problem we have is the implementation of government policies, programmes and projects and their effects on our people.
Can you cite some examples?
I was saying earlier of government’s presence which is evident here because we have a local government. What we can table for discussion is the effect of governance in the community and people around the community.
I really wouldn’t want to talk about it because Government programmes nowadays especially talking about the local level, it is more like the state government is not giving the local government good platform to implement their projects and programmes.
Before now, we have witnessed road construction, rehabilitation of health centres, the effect of local government at the academic environment. But gradually, the whole of this have become history. In short, we even start wondering why the existence of this LGs. Why are they still existing?
It is just unfortunate where we find ourselves. It is not peculiar to Remo North alone. But the thing is, when we have people in position of power and they are interested in making things work, then you can begin to see some of these things being implemented. Despite the fact that there are allocations given to local government yet you will hear from our LG that there is no money.
The only meeting I have had with the local government in the present administration, the chairman, vice chairman and some other, from all the conversation, the youths demand to the government, all we could take away from there was that there was no money.
In the words of chairman himself, he said we can go and get an office space outside the local government, that there was no place for they can give for us. May be to get the office outside Isara or another place. And then, we could see how we can be paying the rent there.
I just looked at him. If we get a place and we pay for the first to three months, he will start complaining. He is human being. And he even said something like he was going to be paying from his own pocket which I was personally against.
The little things we have been able to do, was just self-financed by myself, members of the executive and by some few persons.
What were some of the requests you made to the Local Government Chairman?
We talked about implementing an Agric scheme that the local government can give us land for some interested youth to start farming; give us poultry cage, the LG has one that is not being in use now; we talked also about the implementation of some committees that are being regulated that need youths’ presence. We also talked about communication of programmes and projects that affect youth. Even till now, none of these has been done. For the Agric part, he promised to speak with the person in charge of Agric to get across to us but till now, we are still waiting. I can’t give a specific date of when the requests were made but it was just after he assumed office.
I really do not want to talk about these things because for me when you approach them to get some things done, the feedback you will leave with his that there is no money, sometimes we get promises that he will get back to us through the director of community development.
As a youth leader, knowing well that the chairman is representing the people, what attempt have you made to ensure the chairman attend to the demands of the people?
Before his emergence as the chairman, there have been some issues around zoning the chairmanship to a particular zone. There were issues of agitation from the community where I came, issue of people that are supporting him and not supporting him.
In short, it his submission one that day that I did not support his candidacy. It went on and on, same thing around that but eventually, it got to a point that I realise to tell him if he agrees with that, I apologise. We even went as prostrating to him. All of us.
Let me just conclude by saying the willingness to support the youth is not there. Two, I do not want to go further in lobbying him into something he did not want to do. Obviously, we had conversations, even after that, I have sent him some correspondence and there was no response. I believe that with or without the government, when we are interested in getting somethings done, we will still get them done. That is the reality. It might only take us more efforts. Apart from getting it easier when the government is supportive but when it is not happening that way, we have to find other means to achieve things.
We have participated in some other schemes coming from the state level and the federal level. And people are always benefitting from these. So, we keep doing our own. But then, when a politician feels we should lobby him or become subjective before they pay attention to the plight of the people, it’s not worth it. We are serving, we should be able to do things on the platform of service and nothing more. We cannot attach too much sentiment to that because politicians think differently and they have individual dispositions.
What will you say of the presence of the state government at Remo North LG?
Well, for the presence of the state government, I can point to few things that have been achieved. There is an ongoing road construction at Isara; there is another road that is expected to go through Iperu from Ode Remo. So, those are two major constructions that are ongoing. There is the health centre at Isara.
There is a Federal government presence too at Ilara – cassava processing plant which was facilitated by a member House of Representation. There is another electrification project at Orile Oko facilitated by a member House of Representative. We have enjoyed the federal projects, they could be more than what I have listed. There was also an empowerment programme that was facilitated by a member House of Representative which a lot of our youths benefitted from it.
At the state level too, I think those projects were raised by the member House of Assembly. I don’t want to mention the office holders, the office itself is enough to say, so as not to make it look as if there is a particular interest attached to those persons mentioned. But the reality is, those are the things we can say about those offices that they have done at the local government.
What do you want to call the attention of either the local government or the state government to come and do at Remo North LG?
A lot of things need attention at Local Government but it is quite unfortunate that we keep playing politics around the existence of people, businesses, the economy of the people. It is just unfortunate. It is even all over the country. You see people because of personal interest or conflict or issue, you are now bringing that into an office. It doesn’t worth it.
Currently, there are issues of insecurity. I learnt about three weeks ago that a gang wrote a letter to a location at Isara that they are going to infiltrate and cause some havoc there. And there are cases that have been reported of kidnapping around the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
About the community you said they wrote a letter to, when was that and what has happened afterwards?
It should be about a month now. They threatened to come in to town and burgle people’s houses; they issued threat to lives. So, the government needs to get up to this and let us see how we can fortify the security architecture.
Has this case been reported to the Police?
Of course, the police is always aware of this most of the time. I even heard of some cases early last year when some thieves came into a house and they were taking transfers with Point Of Sales machines to withdraw from people’s account. These are cases that if our government is deliberate about its action, they can track these people and apprehend them. Government just need to do more because one way or the other, we are all going to be affected. There is nobody in the seat of power today that does not have a relative around the people. You cannot be rest assured that your relatives will not be attacked one day. Some of these people in government may not have their immediate families in the country, but the reality is, you cannot take all your relatives away from the country. For that reason, they need to look into these critical things and also find ways to increase on the economic strength of the jurisdiction you are leading. Because one way or the other, cost of living is increasing especially within the local government areas, you will find a room-self contain go for as high as 250,000.
And when you look at the economic value of things around the place, you’ll see it doesn’t match up. You will see many youths sitting and hanging around without jobs. When government creates more jobs, then criminal menaces are expected to reduce. When you now find some criminal elements around, it will be easy to fish them out and then you can have ground to prosecute them. When you are not making provision for jobs, economic relief, it is a big issue. So, these are things they need to look into then there will be a change.