As a Comrade; he consistently demonstrated his passion for community development in his six years in office as the CDC Chairman of Ayobo-Ipaja LCDA. In this interview with Abel Lazarus, Comrade Abiodun Akinyemi Coker recounts some of on his experiences on the roles of the CDC/CDAs in sustainable community developments, his achievements and the enormous challenges CDCs are faced.
TAM: Can we meet you sir?
CAAC: I remain Comrade Abiodun Akinyemi Coker the immediate past CDC Chairman Ayobo-Ipaja LCDA and now ex officio I.
TAM: What would recount as your experience in your six years in office as the CDC Chairman Ayobo-Ipaja LCDA?
CAAC: First, I would like to thank God, my executives and all the CDA executives for believing in us and another thanks to God for not disappointing them as worked like one big family. We also had a better regime under the immediate past administration of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who understood the roles of the CDCs/CDAs in community development and also created platforms for engaging us in identifying urgently needed community developmental projects.
During his reign he gave Ayobo-Ipaja LCDA two roads for construction; that is, Megida/Alaja and Pako/Two Story roads in addition to other projects he initiated and completed amongst are the 1.2KM road from Megida to Aiyetoro Bridge. The Megida/Alaja road was to link the Olayemi axis while Pako/two storey was to link Makinde but that was never achieved as the constructions stopped half way obviously for his ouster from the office, the abandonment is now aiding the deteriorating of the constructed portions as the local government has consistently failed to see to their completion.
Still thanking Ambode, he also awarded the contract for the construction of the second phase of Ayobo-Ijon road and the Ijon Jetty which constructions are ongoing; yet again, three months to his exit from office haaving realized the importance of linking Ayobo ith Igando, he awarded the construction of the ongoing Link Bridge between Agric Road in Igando-Ikotun LCDA and Olayemi community in Ayobo-Ipaja LCDA.
In the same vein of appreciating Ambode, I would also like to appreciate the administration of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu for keying into these projects as he is ensuring their completion by re-awarding some of them which confirms that government is continuum.
Though I have my reservations on the quality of job being done on the Ayobo-Ijon Road despite not being a civil engineer, the 10 meters standards space for the adjoining streets are not observed even as the walk ways are being constructed; secondly the quality of the road is far below standards and would like to use this medium to appeal to Mr Sanwo-Olu to make sure that the contractors are properly supervised toards delivering quality job expected to last up to fifteen to twenty five years as it’s the standard or at least one that will outlive his administration.
TAM: From records you have not less than a hundred and sixty  CDAs in Ayobo-Ipaja CDC, how were you able to co-ordinate its affairs?
CAAC: I will still want to appreciate all my colleagues like I appreciated earlier; as their supports were immense, when you believe in a thing you definitely will give it your best. Community work is a selfless service that requires your money, energy, time and leveraging on your networks/contacts to get things done as nobody pays you; though the general believe is that the government funds the CDCs which is not, the only source of revenue which is from the annual levy on CDAs are seldom remitted due to the pressures on CDAs to meet with their obligations of providing securities and other maintenances, these are the problems, as at my exit from office the CDC is indebted to about Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira [N350,000.00] despite having a good regime. The council gives a paltry sum of Two Hundred Thousand naira only annually and also fund our monthly statutory meetings aside from these all other expenses are borne by the CDC.
TAM: what would you term as your challenge?
CAAC: Paucity of funds is the major challenge of all the CDCs; as the fourth tier of government there is need for its funding to enable us embark on community projects, the CDCs/CDAs are better positioned to identify developmental projects within the communities
For instance in this Jagundeyi community the roads linking Ashipa, Olayemi and Olorunisola communities were not motor able at a time, the nineteen CDAs within the axis agreed and contributed N50,000 each to grade the roads, I could remember they requested for about four or five culverts from the LCDA but till date only one was constructed, that is a typical example of the roles of the CDCs/CDAs.
The bane of community development still remains the inability of the government believing in CDCs initiated projects; except for Gov. Ambode that made the difference.
TAM: Talking about community projects, we are aware that Gov. Ambode gave some CDAs grants for community initiated projects, did any CDA benefitted from your CDC; if yes how would you say the money as utilized?
CAAC: Yes, CDAs under Ayobo-Ipaja CDC benefitted from the grant and I can point to all that was done with the grant in Ayobo-Ipaja CDC, for instance in my CDA we requested for a transformer and when money was released we invited Ikeja Electric and had to add money to complete to make it up and for installation and that is the transformer the community is using, am equally aware of other CDAs that used theirs for the construction of a Town Hall and another Skill Acquisition center they are all available for sighting.
TAM: Talking about CDCs relationship with Ambode was cited as his political horse to wrestle powers from his godfather?
CAAC: I would not want to comment on that; however it is worthy to note that the CDCs and CDAs are not stooges nor sycophants and it takes such to appreciate someone that is working and that was why we wanted him to continue in office. He came and contrary to the saying of one of his predecessors that once said that Alimosho roads are too long hence; after constructing one there is need to rest but he [Ambde] came and demystify that by constructing several roads and bridges in the same Alimosho. I think the challenge he had was that his approach was misconstrued hence the gang up against him by the political class due to his choice of identifying works needed to be done through the CDCs rather through them.
TAM: So how would say Sanwo-Olu has feared with the CDCs since assumption in office?
CAAC: Like I said, approaches are different and that am sure he must be meeting with the expectations of the political class that brought him to power but for the CDCs, there is still time to see what his plans are.
TAM: what would be your assessment on the performances of the local government Chairmen?
CAAC: In my opinion I think their priorities are misplaced by their focus on non-impactful projects to the constituents. For instance, I saw one of them spending millions on construction of shopping plaza for a local government that has little or no industries in its jurisdiction, such funds spent would have been better appreciated if it was channeled in building cottage industries thereby providing jobs both direct and indirect for its constituents.
This misplace priorities shows nothing but signs of their unfriendliness with their communities as they would prefer giving them N500 as a gesture and as dividends of democracy.
TAM: How would you say the creation of LCDAs have impacted your community?
CAAC: Great question and I must emphasize that Lagosians must continually appreciate the insistence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the creation of the LCDAs despite the intimidations. It has really helped in driving development to the grassroots, before the creation of the LCDAs, we all have to go to Ikotun where the Alimosho LGA Secretariat was, there was not health center nor schools in this community but the creation of the LCDAs has changed all that, it also created more job opportunity both direct, indirect and even the casual labors for its teaming youths.
It will continue to improve the lives of Lagosians by continuously driving down development to communities.
To be cont’d
TAM and CAAC as used refers to The Alimosho Mail and Comrade Abiodun Akinyemi Coker.