…It is therefore very important to state here that since Lagos State created 37 LCDAs on June 18, 2002, the State clearly noted that its main goal was to pursue state-specific development agenda and administrative convenience, which today, Local Council Development Areas within the state has yielded positive development in terms of bringing the locals closer to government and development too”
By Emmanuel Nzeribe Okegbue
Indeed, innovative ideas build Nations, and not only nations but also build its capacity and resources. It is based on this principal insight that I humbly put forward my ideas, as a means of contributing my quota intellectually towards our dear Abia State, where my father, Amb. Chief (Dr) Nzeribe Okegbue JP, continues to contribute largely-in and to the State by investing in real estate-development in Umuahia, building most-modern community hall with borehole to our people, while also thrusting financial empowerment and capacity building to men, women and youths in Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State. These enthusiastic actions are in line with his passionate promise he gave to support good governance, not neglecting the grassroots, which he has sustained for years. It is true that good governance and leadership promotes egalitarian society through better policies, synergy and utilization of available talents and resources, as established by successive driven leaders, as in the case of Lagos State that has successfully managed the administration of 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), where it first created 20 Local Government Areas, which is an example of paradigm leadership, in accordance with Nigeria’s federal structure. Thus, to achieve a long-term goal of constructive governance, development and participatory democracy to the grassroots, it requires the employing of community-based approaches. This scheme was evidently applied in Bangladesh by its Government; thus, skyrocketing its economy and reduced the poverty level in the country in a noteworthy rate, despite the devastating war the country once experienced.
In a renowned commentary by Akhtar Mahmood, a Former Lead Private Sector Specialist of the World Bank Group, on July 9, 2021, he had pointed out that the government’s investment in rural road construction in the late 1980s and the 1990s, created good network of roads linking medium-sized cities to the larger ones, including the capital Dhaka and the major port city, Chittagong.
His emphasis was of the importance of using locals for government developmental plans, which within 1988-1997, communities in Bangladesh were remarkably transformed within a span of 10 years. This were made possible through decentralization and engagement of locals in regions, thereby bringing government and development closer to the people. Lagos State in Nigeria, is a good example of the fulfillment of this agenda.In further personal review to Bangladesh’s governance, it is apparent that they invested heavily on social welfare services, while opening up community-community road networks system that aided trade within its local and urban development. According to the World Bank, “When the newly independent country of Bangladesh was born on December 16, 1971, it was the second poorest country in the world—making the country’s transformation over the next 50 years one of the great development stories… Building on this success, the country is now setting the stage for further economic growth and job creation by ramping up investments in energy, inland connectivity, urban projects, and transport infrastructure, as well as focusing on climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness on its path toward sustainable growth”. This is an extract from one of The World Bank’s interesting articles titled “Country on a Mission – The Remarkable Story of Bangladesh’s Development Journey”.1It is true that every government comes with its own ideology and style of administration. That is why, it is pertinent to advocate not the “usual or regular”, but holistic change of realistic approach to vision driven government. The focus here is, how Local Government administration should be run and managed within the state.
It is therefore very important to state here that since Lagos State created 37 LCDAs on June 18, 2002, the State clearly noted that its main goal was to pursue state-specific development agenda and administrative convenience, which today, Local Council Development Areas within the state has yielded positive development in terms of bringing the locals closer to government and development too. Same with Oyo State that created 35 LCDAs on August 23, 2016, alongside the FG constitutionally recognized 33 Local Government Areas. In fact, Ondo State governor recently signed into law 33 new LCDAs, alongside the existing 18 LGAs.
So, it will be expedient if Abia state should follow suit. Your Excellency, it is noticeable that some of the Local Government Areas in our capable state are larger in population in terms of capacity, landmarks, economic transaction (intra-local beneficial trade), which of course, is a positive gesture to internal revenue generation and commercial buoyancy. For instance, Bende, Aba, and Ikwuano LGAs – where the Aba women’s riot started in 1929, can be separated to be Ikwuano North and South, same for Bende, Aba, and others, thereby creating more proximity and access to governance while raising the awareness of people in grassroots transformational agenda, as opportunities for the expansion of political space will be there for people to take up political assignment.Ikwuano have four autonomous clans, namely Ariam/Usaka, Ibere, Oboro and Oloko, with a total of 57 villages, whereas it is constitutionally placed under 43 autonomous communities. In fact, Ikwuano, Bende, and Aba are almost outstanding in this regard. Ikwuano LGA is where the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike is located, very populated, with two major markets, Ariam and Ndoro, that draws traders from within Abia and outside on weekly basis.Again, if it is on the area of economic viability, Aba and Bende have already put their names in global notice. Ikwuano on its own has its mangrove vegetation, chiefly coastal rainforest, making it fit for cultivating cassava, cashew, maize, ginger, and yam, which has given more advantages of production than other LGA, and also making it food basket of Abia state. The people there also engage in strategic craftsmanship and wood work. As of 2015, Ikwuano LGA population was 175,078, (unofficial) which by now, should have geometrically grown, because the population projection of Abia as of today is 4.1 million.
Though, historians had posited that the present Ikwuano Local Government Area was part of the Bende Division in the then Southern Province created by the imperialist British Colonial Government as part of their “Divide and Rule” system of government and administration towards the beginning of the 19th Century when Calabar was Nigerian Capital, until we got independence in 1960. 31 years after, precisely, on August 27,1991, General Ibrahim Babangida’s Administration created Abia State from the Imo State and carved out the defunct Ikwuano-Umuahia from the former.
It could be recalled that on February 9, 2001, a memorandum for the creation of another LGA from Ikwuano was submitted by Dr. Dan Okeiye, alongside with members of its committee from the Council, which included, Prince Kingsley Nkume, Chief Habor Okosisi, Prince Henry Eleogu among others, to both the Senate Committee and House of Representatives on State and Local government creation, proposing the creation of Ikwuano South LGA. The first Committee was constituted by Barr. K C Ugboaja, the then Executive Chairman of the Council.
In June 16, 2021, Prince Kingsley Uwa Nkume and Chief Chinkwe Ndimele were part of the second Committee constituted by Chief Stephen Mpamugo, Executive Chairman of Ikwuano LGA, at a hearing in Owerri, Imo State for same purpose as another memorandum was submitted. In fact, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu, received it for the senate. So, in all cases, traditional rulers and sitting LGA Councilors including some critical stakeholders signed the documents before submission.I am therefore convinced that with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, there will be the need for creation of more Local Government Areas because the 37 LCDAs he created when he was Governor of Lagos State between 1999-2007, may likely be recognized into full LGAs in no distant time.
This is a foreseeable occurrence before the end if his administration in Nigeria.From the present 17 LGAs in Abia State, it is my view that the State House of Assembly in line with their constitutional duties should see the need to enact laws towards the creation of new Local Council Development Areas just as the states of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, have successfully done and now Ondo state governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu just signed into law the approval of new LCDAs. It is on this note, that, it becomes necessary for our dear state to join the league of states propelling progressive grassroots’ innovation and development as it is palpable that your style in governance since its commencement is directed towards positive impact and sustainable amelioration which is to be felt by all within God’s Own State.
Okegbue, a Law Graduate, writes from Lagos, Nigeria. ([email protected])