Ibadan North West: Template for sustainable peace policy

Though it comprises of indigenous areas that are prone to violence, there had been relative peace in Ibadan North West Local Government council of Oyo state courtesy of a demand driven model of governance created by the caretaker chairman in the last seven months to sustain Oyo government policy on peace. YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE writes.

Ibadan Northwest Local Government Area of Oyo state is the smallest in Ibadan municipal and receives the least allocation but has the highest wage bill among the comity of local councils within the state. Consequently, it is not easy to manage especially considering the concentration of indigenous areas that are vulnerable and conducive to crime; Nalende, Abebi, Oopo Yeosa, Idi Ikan, Origbegi, Agbaje and Orita Merin among others.

A year and a half ago, these areas were ravaged by hoodlums who visit almost on a daily basis by midnight and leave in the early hours of the morning after  looting shops, killing and maiming people and raping women. These went on for over eight months before the present caretaker chairman, Honourable Wasiu Olatunbosun, was called back to office.

And few weeks after he was sworn in, there was an end to the security challenges faced in these areas and there was peace. How did the council achieve this feat? Olatunbosun attributes this to the style of governance that he employed which allowed him get first hand information on the needs of the people and their priority after touring the whole council immediately he was sworn in seven months ago, to find out the situation on ground within the council.

“When I came in, I adopted the demand driven approach of governance where people determine what they want as against what the government commonly believes they need which was adopted by my predecessors. I let people determine what they want and the felt needs of the community, I collate all the felt needs of the communities, I prioritize and now start picking the needs. This style has advantages.

“It makes people to appreciate the project, it is less expensive and it makes people to feel the impact of government. Sometimes, you want to do road but if you allow the people to decide, road may not be a priority to the people then, they may prefer borehole. We don’t stop at our own findings; we back it up with independent scientific public opinion research. That is our guiding principle.

“So we met all the communities; not politicians but community leaders and religious leaders to know what they need and the areas they wanted us to focus. What they told us was infrastructure, security and empowerment. In fact, their priority then was security because eight months before we came back, hoodlums had already taken over the entire indigenous areas and I promised to do that within a month. I called the stakeholders to find out those responsible for the problem and along the line we identified that it is the area boys and we invited them.

“At the meeting they said if we wanted to get a solution, we should send the elders out, we did this and they told us to raise a team among them to face the culprits if we wanted a solution. At the end, we raised a vigilante team among them, they have all they need to work and they collaborate with law enforcement agencies. And within one week, they were able to apprehend eight leaders of the gang, what the police couldn’t do in eight months; the arrested people are in prison custody at Agodi at present,” Olatunbosun said.

“The people now sleeping with their eyes close, we asked them what they wanted in their community because what they needed in community A is different from what they needed in B, despite the fact that the money we receive is low and we use 99.5 per cent on salaries and often have to add more two months together to pay one salary. But this model has helped me because instead of going for big projects that would not be appreciated by the people, I align myself with the demand of the people and despite this meager resources, I have met 85% of their demands.

The peoples request included 10 boreholes across the council and eight have been delivered, they requested for four pedestrian bridges and two have been completed, they requested for toilets as houses in the indigenous areas are not built with toilets and the council under Olatunbosun has built 30 units of three compartment VIP toilets.

“There was a time we had a cholera outbreak epidemic so we took the toilet issue seriously. We have another category of toilets built by Ibadan municipal council which have been out of use for 10 to 15 years, they requested that we should help them refurbish them, we have eight in the local government and each of the toilets has about 25 compartments. Thank God we have refurbished 7 out of the 8 in our council and one of them is among the projects to be commissioned this week,” Olatunbosun stated.

Also because installing transformers is more expensive than buying, people have been buying transformers for the communities without installing for them. They asked that the council install the transformers for them and 18 have been installed. The third part of the tripod is empowerment and because the council employs demand driven and people oriented governance policy, its empowerment took a different model.

“We had three empowerments; youths, women, old people. We don’t believe in just buying okada or grinding machine.  Many have acquired skills but their parents had no financial strength to set them up so what we did in the first empowerment for youths is to buy complete equipments needed in areas of trade of each individual, we empowered them fully on this.

“The women wanted vocational training, so we got them a center and paid  experts to come and give them vocational training in bead training, soap making, hair dressing, baking decoration etc for six months and after graduation, we bought them start up equipments and take off grant. We did same for old people. We had 800 women and 300 old people as beneficiaries.

“They needed more funds that the council cannot provide, so they formed alumni to raise funds to expand and we are linking the alumni to microfinance banks to get concession, since we cannot afford it, we decided to pave a way for them to get funds and they are happy

“Our next line of empowerment will be targeted at area boys; we are having a meeting with them next week. We will get people that will give them training and during the training, we will give them stipends, when they graduate, we will empower them. We believe that apart from empowering them, we will also be increasing human capacity development of the local government and also take them off the streets to live a good life,”Olatubosun told Nigerian Tribune.

Olatubosun’s model worked beyond his expectations; he not only has his people’s confidence, he has also restored peace to the community. And to prove he is on track, he secured a delegate’s ticket to El Salvador for a UNDP programme as a speaker. He was chosen by the UNDP out of 80 other councils being considered because the UNDP wanted to know how he nipped the security in the bud under few weeks.