Pastor Samuel Olu Opajobi, is the Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman of Ifako-Ijaiye, in this interview with Olanrewaju Adesanya he called on Lagos State government to put more fund in emergency management and further engage the Community in security issues among other things.
How did you emerge as the CDC Chairman of a well populated LG like Ifako-Ijaiye?
In Ifako-Ijaiye, we have four forum, Ogba, Iju, Ifako, Obawole-Onibata forum, we have been rotating it and now that is the turn of Obawole-Onibata’s turn, my people asked me to go for it given the way I worked closely with the last Chairman, its actually by election and I won .
Any challenge since you resume office?
To be sincere with you since, since my assumption of office we have been enjoying the cooperation of the Local Government, even the state government as well has been good to us, the only thing I can say is the population explosion in the CDC which I don’t see as a challenge, compared to the last CDC we now have more people to manage in terms of number, since I have been elected as the Chairman I cannot say I really have any challenge. The only area we can call a challenge which has now been resolved is our monthly support from the LG and this has been reviewed upwardly.
Can you say you are enjoying the support of the LG as a result of the CDC cooperation with the LG in the area of revenue generation?
Definitely, since I assumed office as the CDC chairman, I have made it compulsory for our people to pay all their levies, like our annual CDA renewal, I set up a committee to help the people, you don’t need to go to the LG government as individual to pay your bill, the Committee help you pay to the bank and distribute the receipts and we copy the LG. At our last meeting, I told all the Community Development Association (CDA) Chairmen that they should go to their respective CDAs and ensure that any bill sent from the LG particularly to the Lockup shops, they collect and help the people pay to the bank, they should not pay cash to any LG official, it is now the responsibility of the CDA chairmen to go round the community, to the luckup shops as soon as the LG serves them the bills and help them pay to the bank. So, in a way, we have been able to limit the work of the LG officials to bill distribution while we take up the payment aspect.
Can you say this has been able to block revenue leakages and increase the IGR of the Local Government?
I can’t really say since I wasn’t privy to how much the LG was making before so I don’t really know if this has led to increase in the revenue but, this is just the style we decide to adopt in Ifako-Ijaiye and the CDA Chairmen are cooperating with me and the LG can attest to it that this is a good strategy.
What are the areas you need government’s intervention in your community?
Well, first of all, I want the monthly subvension to be regular, you know we hold our meetings where we discuss community development from time to time, if people sacrifice their time to attend meetings and you cannot give them transport fare they may not come next time. Although, with the support of our able chairman, Apostle Oloruntoba, it has been regular but we want it to be more regular.
Another area where we need government’s intervention is in the area of roads, not only here where I live alone, even at Ogba, Iju, Ifako and other areas, roads are bad, even if it is grading, the local government can help us do the grading before the state government comes to our aid.
As CDC Chairman you have been organising sensitization programme across the LG since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, tell us about this.
Yes, we are doing this in obedience to the instruction given to us by the state governor, when the pandemic broke out, governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu invited us to the state house as community leaders and asked us to go back into our communities and continue to educate our people about the deadly virus and ways they can prevent themselves from contracting the virus, this informed our decision to carry out this exercise.
Immediately I came back from the meeting with the governor, I called my exco members and made them see the need to begin aggressive sensitization in our community, then we began, the first we had which was the first of its kind in Lagos, had a huge turn out, various stakeholders, market women, artisans, healthy professionals, security agencies, community leaders, student’s representatives, media men, government’s functionaries were all represented.
What would be your advice to CDC where there are pockets of crisis here and there?
There is no area where they don’t have their own issue, it could be more in some areas, we thank God in Ifako-Ijaiye, but some other CDC where they have large concentration of non- yoruba speaking community may not be this lucky, but what I will advise is that, as community leader’ you must always see all the people as one regardless of their tribe, accept that Lagos is a metropolitan city and therefore you must learn to tolerate others.
As CDC Chairman’ you don’t wait until there is crisis before you relate with the people, visit the mechanics workshops, talk to the artisans, relate with the market women, meet with the hausa community, the Igbos and don’t discriminate, be close to them all.
Moreso, make sure you carry along the security agencies in all the happenings in your community, for instance, whenever we hold our meetings we usually invite the police, the DSS, and other security agencies so they come to listen to the security challenges from the people directly and know how to identify the flash points and know what to do. I don’t joke with security issue that is why I don’t take it lightly with anyone who fails to pay his security due within the Community.
As a community leader, what is your advice to the government of Lagos State regarding disaster management with recent explosions?
Government should learn to work with the Community for information, in the area of pipeline vandalism, the Community people can be engaged. The Lagos State government should put more fund in disaster management and be more prompt in emergency response, Lagos is a highly populated city and because of our system incidents like the Abule- Ado explosion should be prepared for and met with prompt response.