…Repositions Community to Embark on Giant Strides
Amidst chanting of traditional songs, jubilations and a radiant atmosphere, traditional rulers, community leaders and people of Ikole Local Government area in Ekiti state, gathered at their town hall, to herald the launch of the new three-year development plan, setting the stage to unlock the potential of the largely agrarian community.
A product of long partnership between Community Life Project (CLP), Reclaim Naija and the Community Development Department of the state Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, the plan is a bold step towards achieving integrated community development and better the lot of the people inhabiting the 24 communities comprising the area.
The participatory process through which the plan was developed has promoted ownership, increased civic agency as well as improved community-government partnership. It also provides the Ikole Local government and its communities the tool for engaging private sector organisations, NGOs and foundations interested in investing in the social sector.
Titled IKOLE LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN (2020 – 2022), it seeks to put in place a three year framework that will ensure that the practise of community participation in budget decision-making is sustained and that communities have a well articulated and consistent tool for engaging the government in open budgeting and ensuring that their voices are heard on where the money goes.
Grassroots communities in Ikole have been empowered to work with the government in developing this plan via sponsorship from Ford Foundation, that provides a resource not only for addressing the real development needs of the communities but also for growing the local economy. The plan will also serve as a basis for government, development agencies and private sector interventions and service delivery programmes in the communities.
The process of developing the plan was highly participatory. All the major stakeholders in the community played active role in the development of the plan. The Traditional Council of Obas (Egbe-Oba), women and youth leaders, persons with disability and other influencers and members of the 24 communities in Ikole LG were involved. It also had inputs from the chairperson of the LG, all heads of departments, representatives of the Local Government Service Commission and the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.
An elated Governor Kayode Fayemi says the launch of the plan is in line with his administration’s policy framework of 5 pillars including Governance, Social Investment, Knowledge Economy, Industrial and Infrastructural Development as well as Agricultural and Rural Development. It is on these 5 pillars, he says, “that communities across Ekiti State would be moved to greater participation in governance thereby enjoying more dividends of democracy.”
He maintained that since his assumption of office, various developmental projects have been witnessed by various communities across the state ranging from collaborative efforts to:
- building capacity of community leaders, political and public officers for more efficiency;
- elimination of education tax, abolishment of school fees and improvement in dilapidated structures;
- regular payment of salary and other emoluments, pension arrears as well as release of housing and vehicle loans to boost the morale of workers/civil servants;
* engagement of International Donor Agencies for assistance in various areas including water scheme, completion of many abandoned community projects, supply of instructional materials, replacement of damaged electricity installations while other interventions like rehabilitation of 1000km rural roads, renovation of all public schools and attraction of about $100 million for the Cargo Airport, Agric zone among others are in the pipe line; and
* participation of communities across Ekiti State in the preparation of 2020 Budget of which the compilation of Ekiti North Senatorial District Needs Assessment was done in this Ikole Local Government Secretariat Hall on 10th of October, 2019 with Mr. Governor in attendance.
The Governor who was represented at the event by the Senior Special Assistant on Community Development, Mr Taiyelolu Olatunji, commended the effort of the Community Life Project for “its commitment, dedication and determination to better Ekiti State. It is my hope that you will continue with the good work.”
“On the part of my Government, we shall continue to provide enabling environment for such collaborations to thrive while other Local Government Areas are enjoined to emulate Ikole Local Government,” Fayemi says.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Development, Prof Adio Folayan traced the history of his ministry’s more than 10 year partnership with CLP in the area of capacity building for Ekiti public officers and Community Based Organizations Leaders such as Town Union/Community Opinion Leaders, Artisan, Youth & Women Leaders, Okada riders, Religious/Faith Leaders among others.
Other areas of collaboration, according to the commissioner who was represented by the Director, Community Development, Mr Segun Olusola, include the following:
- Participatory Governance in line with Open Government Partnership
- Participatory budgeting in line with IPAS compliance
- Voters education and women participation in governance
- Civic engagement in governance to prevent sit-down look
- Role of Religious & Faith Organizations in Governance
- Conduct of community needs assessment/projects management etc.
A very jubilant Chairperson, Ikole LG, Mrs Abiola Olukayode says, with the prioritisation of water, education and healthcare projects and the support of government, donors and our people in the Diaspora for the new development plan, “Our community will soon be transformed into a modern city”. ”May the Lord bless our aspiration. We pray that these programmes will provide massive jobs for our youth,” she says.
Trilled by what he called “a trail blazer,” CLP’s programme Office, Mr Francis Onahor who reveals that the community development plan was novel, says it is an advocacy tool to reach out to government and donors. He also disclosed that a website devoted to this project would be managed on behalf of Ikole LG for three years after which its management will be turned over to a trained official of the LG.
Commending Governor Fayemi for making community governance the plank of his administration, Onahor noted that the groundwork for the plan started in 2017 when a needs assessment of the community was done. A review of the needs assessment was later carried out at a meeting in September 2018.
Located in Ekiti North Senatorial District, Ikole, regarded as a “food basket,” is the largest LG in Ekiti state with a landmass of 1090.64 kilometres. The largely agrarian community is blessed with abundant human resources.
Prominent amongst those present at the epoch making event were the Elekole of Ikole, Oba Adewunmi Ajibade Fasiku and the traditional rulers of the 24 communities.