By Emeka Obasi
We are paying so much attention to Abuja and the state governors. It should not be, development should start from the local government area where some chairmen and councilors surround themselves with praise singers.
I found an exception in Lagos. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu should watch Comrade Lasisi Ayinde Akinsanya. I did not know any such person existed on planet earth. The first Lasisi I came across was Brigadier David Bamigboye.
I listened to Ayinde Barrister’s Fuji garbage. I knew someone close to Justice Dolapo Akinsanya.
This Akinsanya is neither a soldier nor a musician. He knows the law but is not on the bench. The man sits somewhere as a local government chairman. Yes, he is the only one of the 774 council chairmen in the country that I can spell his name.
I am a local government person, thanks to Dee Sam Mbakwe, first civilian governor of Imo State. Since the end of the Second Republic in 1983, I try to make out time to visit local government council’s around the country. It has become my second nature.
My father was a peripheral politician until 1978. He worked with Shell, resigned from the job because of the civil war, went into private business after the crisis and joined politics full time just as Gen. Obasanjo and his junta were preparing to leave.
Mbakwe knew my dad as the ward chairman who always reported to him prior to the 1979 gubernatorial elections. When Dee Sam became governor, he chose 21 local government caretaker committee chairmen. Dad was one of them.
There were politicians of timber and calibre in my area. Mbakwe overlooked them. More than five times, he dissolved the caretaker committees, my father was always reappointed. Throughout Dee Sam’s tenure as governor, my dad remained local government chairman.
My old man no get shishi and my papa no dey give shishi. He never lobbied for the job yet, he remained there from 1979 to 1983. When the local government was balkanised into four in 1982, the man became chairman of our new local government council.
So you can understand where I am coming from. Alimosho is the most populous local government area in Lagos State. Before the creation of Local Council Development Areas by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Ikotun was headquarters of Alimosho.
Sometime in the past, I had a trip to make outside the country. That was in the days of Yellow Paper. It was urgent and I tried all I could to get it from Festac. The delay was exasperating. Someone directed me to Ikotun. I rushed to the place and got it without stress.
That was how I fell in love with the local government secretariat. Recently, I had to resolve some immigration issues with people close to my family. I got a snappy answer from the Immigration office at Ikotun when Ikeja delayed.
I am in love with the environment so I visit often. Across the wall, I see the imposing Synagogue Church of All Nations. There is a lot of development going on. The name may not sound high brow but Ikotun is trying to look like Ikeja market.
Then the filth inside the secretariat, of all places. Elephant grass took over. Drains were not properly channelled. It sounded like there was no government. I took it upon myself to oversee the eyesore. I walked into the health department.
I was directed to the chairman’s office. To see some local government chairmen is as difficult as driving Keke Marwa across the Sahara. One of the two toll gates leading into the council was always flooded. I told the minders that I would stop paying if the spot was not fixed.
They do not know me, I also do not know Sanwo- Olu. I threatened to report the local government to the governor. I could have done that conveniently in the Babatunde Fashola years. Nothing changed. I got tired of complaining.
I stayed away for sometime. When next I visited, I could not believe my eyes. The whole environment wore a sweet look. The forest, yes, sambisa forest, within the secretariat was no more. A decent car park sprang up and all the shanties that stood as shops relocated.
I began to ask questions. Maybe, Nasir El Rufai came visiting with Abuja bulldozers. Not at all. A new chairman had ascended the throne. That was in July 2021. I did not know that change was possible under this austere dispensation.
Akinsanya, that is a name I will not forget. I said to myself, I must buy this man a bottle of champagne. I put my ear to the ground. And the good stories began to pour. The man is so loved that I said hope is not lost. He is also workers friendly.
I tried to see him. His top aide, Arowosafe Adesina cleared the way, unlike others in many such offices. These are key players in local government unionism. Our eyes should be there. Akinsanya welcomed me to his office. No airs. Simple and cultured. I just said thank you.
Lasisi will last. President Shehu Shagari was once a local government chairman, so was Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. Akinsanya is in charge of Ikotun/ Igando area. He is not owing workers. Pensioners are happy, roads are maintained, structures are sprouting. And I am sure, Sanwo -Olu is seeing