Temitope Longe is the chairman of Oye Local Government, one new local council development areas that were created by the Fayemi administration in Ekiti State. The council boss recently spoke to our Correspondent, Yaqoub Popoola, in Ado-Ekiti, saying that the new councils have come to stay, warning the incoming Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration not to toy with what he termed as ‘destiny’ of the state. He also explains how the parent council has been relating with the others. Excerpts.
Two new local council development areas (2) were created out your local government. How have you been relating with them?
Our relationship has been very cordial, being the mother local government we have ensure that a symbiotic relationship. As the chairman of the parent council, my responsibility is to ensure that the leadership a transformation drive of Governor Kayode Fayemi is actually replicated at the grassroots in order to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people.
How have you handle the issue of asset sharing among the councils?
The issue of asset shearing is not creating any problem because of the mutual understanding between us. There has been a directive from the state government on the matter and how to start the activities. The mandate given to us is that the official car of the parent local government should be released to new council. So, as I am speaking to you, I am using my own personal car for official duty. Mr. Governor has told us right from the onset that we should be prepared to make sacrifices for the state to grow. The whole essence of the additional local government development areas is about development.
There is no doubt that your staff strength must have been depleted as result of the new councils. How have you been cooping with the situation?
It is true that the strength of the local government workforce has reduced because we have distributed the staff to the new council. But that has also given others the opportunity to rise. For example, somebody who was playing second fiddle would have the opportunity to exhibit his capacity too. We don’t have the capacity to recruit more staff. If we are to do that there must be a clear directive from the state government.
Are you aware of the threat by incoming government of the Peoples Democratic Party headed by Ayo Fayose that the new LCDAs would die a natural death and that his government would not recognize them?
Let me tell you because I know the law and I know that the new councils followed due process before they were eventually created. The creation of LCDAs is an act of the Assembly, which is backed up by law. So, I don’t see how any government would come later and say it wants to scrap it. It would be criminal for any government, whether PDP or whatever to do that. It is an offence, a criminal one for that matter for anyone to attempt to do that or say it would not recognize it. Government is a continuum. So, anybody who wishes Ekiti well and wants it to develop would not make such arrogant claim. All powers belong to God and no one should arrogate it to his or herself. For anybody to be gallivanting around that he would do this of that when he assumes powers to me, is blasphemous and criminal. Only God knows who will or will not see tomorrow. At our own level, as a government we have resolved that the new council have come to play and would bring development to the grassroots. And we will not allow anybody to drag us back. So, that is the position of our government on the matter.
I known you have held a Joint Allocation Committee meeting with the new councils, could you tell us what transpired?
Unfortunately, we have bad only one JAC meeting together with the new council and it was successful. As you know as the parent council, we must be ready to part with some things.
Is there any stated method of fund sharing between the parent council and the new ones?
Of course, you know this is a very organized government. Let me use my local government as an example, fund was allocated to the new councils for take-off, ordinarily, you don’t expect my council to get that fund before we have been on ground. The take-off grant is meant to take care basic office needs like furniture and the like. All these would help the new council takeoff on a sound footing.
What are challenges being faced in your new assignment?
For me, life is a learning process and we must prepare to face any challenge that comes with it. But for me, due to my background, I am prepared to face difficult tasks. I am a grassroots person and I live among the people. I lived in Ado consistently for over 40 years. The little challenge, which I found somehow difficult to comprehend, is the problem of indiscipline. With due respect may be because I am coming from corporate world where time is of essence. The local government seemed to have lackadaisical attitude to work. And I have tried to talk to my staff on this. There was a day I entered my office and I discovered that it was not well kept, only to be told that the cleaner usually resumed late to work. They told me she resumed work at about 10 to 11 am everyday. In fact, I was amazed that somebody who collects salary every month could indulge in this kind of act. It is a bit of challenge in trying to re- orientate the people. As a state ,I don’t think we deserve this kind of attitude. So the staff should be worthy of the wage they earn. Ekiti people must be grateful to Dr Fayemi for putting in place a solid foundation for development.