Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown aptly captured the circumstances surrounding not only the office of the Ikorodu local government chairman, but also that of the entire political office holders in the council.
Information reaching IMPACT has it that the entire council political office holders were been owed about six month salaries due to dire financial situation the council found itself, mostly because of poor financial management and absolute lack of investment management.
Though, the splitting of allocation from the Federation into six to cater for Ikorodu Central local government and other five Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the division is badly affecting the council’s financial situation, but Ikorodu as a council is blessed with numerous investment opportunities which would have provided succor if there had been effective management and financial discipline.
Unfortunately, the ownership of Ikorodu House at highbrow Victoria Island; Ikorodu Plaza at Ita Elewa, Ikorodu; a major market, Ayangburen (Sabo) market and other sources of generation were been mismanaged, thus the cry by the councils.
The prevailing misappropriation by civil servants, especially those in revenue departments and senior management officials like Council Managers, Treasurers, Personnel Officer and various Head of Departments in various councils is also a major contributing factor to dire financial situations.
Recklessness of the political officer holders is another major contributing factor if not the worst. In Ikorodu division alone, there are six council chairmen, six vice chairmen, six Secretaries to the Local Government; six Council Leaders, thirty-two elected Councilors and more than sixty Supervisory Councilors and Special Advisers. Also, there are more than twenty Personal Assistants and other aides to council chairmen. While the councils were crying of lack of fund, Ikorodu local government under Alhaji Sheriff Anipole we gathered appointed over ten Special Assistants as political patronage last year. These political office holders, usually collect more than N200, 000 monthly as take home.
Most of these Supervisory Councilors and Special Advisers are just occupying the positions without anything to show for it, same applicable to the councilors. Except for the Ikorodu Local Government Legislative Arm, other five legislatures were just been paid for doing nothing and more pathetic is the bad effect the Ikorodu council politics is having governance, as it has badly affected the performance Hon. Olosugbo led legislative arm.
The present financial problem in Ikorodu local government we gathered was compounded by bank debt incurred not on developmental projects, but on satisfying the desires of political office holders. In 2013 the council rather than applying principles of good financial management resolved and did borrowed over N60million to purchased official cars for sixteen (16) political office holders and others. Since then, the council financial situation has worsened.
The loan to purchase fifteen (15) brand new KIA official cars and a truck was sought instead of buying second-hand cars in phases as suggested by Hon. Azeez Jimoh Olosugbo, Leader of the Council. Since then, SKYE Bank has been deducting N3.5 million every month and unfortunately, the council has been getting shortfalls, thus the remaining sum after servicing the loan is sufficient to pay staff salary and that of political office holders.
In most cases, Ikorodu local government, according to report has been borrowing money to pay Staff salaries, thereby leaving the political office holders with nothing to take home. But they have been unable to cry out for past months on moral ground. Impact gathered that the Council Chairman, Alhaji Anipole and senior management team have to give-in to the demand of the political office holders in procuring brand new official cars last year after they threatened to make his government ungovernable.
Most of these political office holders we also gathered are also in serious financial situation due to overdraft, loans and other expenses incurred. Aside the general deduction from Ikorodu local government allocation by the bank, some individuals were also alleged to have used their positions to obtain loans and overdraft which the bank is also deducting from their salaries.
IMPACT authoritatively gathered that the alleged bribery of N2million by a particular contractor over the redevelopment of demolished council property along Oriwu road was timely for the political office holders who are in bad financial situation. Most of the political office holders that were reported in the Impact March/April edition to have refused the alleged N100,000.00 bribe per a political office holder we gathered later sought and got their share.
IMPACT gathered that the council is owing Nigeria Police Ikorodu and Onyabo Vigilante Group four (4) months of payment at the rate of N 250, 000 each totaling N 2 million. Also, the council is owing Councilors and Supervisory Councilors five (5) and eight (8) months salary respectively. Likewise the Party and the Traditional Rulers.
In a chat with one of the cabinet members, he said, “We have been owed for about six months now without any sign that we are going to be paid in near future and to blatantly refuse the money (bribe) will be stupid, because somebody else will get it. We are still on our stand that the right thing must be done, but it is not easy refusing the money since others had already collected and are bent on awarding the contract to him (Ighalo)”
STATE OF IKORODU LG PROPERTIES
Despite the efforts of the Prince Abiodun Ogunleye led APC Ikorodu Apex body, popularly called G-52 to unravel the mysteries surrounding Joint properties owned by the six local government and Local council Development Areas in Ikorodu Division and also look into how there Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) can be improved, no appreciable progress seems to have been made.
The six councils jointly owned the 4-storey building on Plot 1668, Oyin Jolayemi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos and Ikorodu Plaza at Ita-Elewa, Ikorodu. These are properties that are expected to generate income for the Council(s) especially when allocation from the state and federal governments are not forthcoming.
The Joint Properties Committee is headed by Asiwaju Olorunfunmi Basorun, with Alhaji Babatunde Rotinwa, former Head of Service and Mr Oyebola and others as members. While the Internally Generated Revenue Committee headed by Hon. Sanai Oyeniran Bolanle Agunbiade, Ikorodu Constituency I representative in the Lagos State House of Assembly has as members the six Leaders of the Legislative Arm in the six councils among others.
The function of the Basorun led committee we gathered is to look into the joint properties following the protest by the other 5 chairmen that they don’t not know how the properties are been run by Ikorodu Central Local Government. The committee is then expected to look into the contractual agreements on the properties, as well as the income and general management of the properties.
Agunbiade led committee on the other hand is expected to look into the implication of Lagos State Government land Use Charges Law on the six councils finances, incomes from the joint properties, tenement rate and other areas of income generation. The committee is expected to help in improving the councils IGR.
The two committees we gathered did everything possible to look into the councils’ investment especially the joint properties, but there is little or no cooperation from the councils.
In a separate chat with two council chairmen recently, Impact gathered that the other council chairmen are yet to know about the current status of Ikorodu House in Victoria Island and are also disturbed by the current management of Ikorodu Plaza at Ita –Elewa.
IMPACT learnt that the issue was raised during Conference-6 meeting recently but nothing came out of it. “We have tried to raise the issue on these properties but we were always blackmailed and accused of instigating other councils against the Central. As chairmen with equal status, we do not know anything about Ikorodu House at Jolayemi and Ikorodu Plaza at Ita Elewa and yet they are our joint properties. We shall continue to raise questions and we also want the Arch. Taiwo Kara led management of the Ikorodu Plaza to give the entire six chairmen the true account and position of things about the plaza and not only Ikorodu Central”.
Another chairman from Ikorodu Constituency II also spoke in same manner, “We don’t even know what is happening with the plaza. We have done virtually everything to address this issue but yet to yield any result. At a time, we were told that there is need to go spiritual and prayer was organized, but all to no avail”.
Sabo Market which is solely under the management of Ikorodu Central Local Government is also shrouded in controversy. There are conflicting interests of the political office holders and top management team on the award of contract and management of Sabo market which is supposed to be a major source of income to the council.
With the poor state of the six councils’ IGR and the dwindling nature of the monthly federal allocations, it has been argued that the situation may not improve until after the generation elections next year. For the month of March, while Ikorodu Central received over N7million as Federal allocation, other LCDAs got little over N3million and had to borrow to pay staff salaries.