The state government in conjunction with the federal government are working together to see how they can reduce the long queues on that road…

Chukwudi Nweje

Isaac Uwalaka represents Oriade Local Council Development Authority (LCDA) Amuwo Odofin Ward D. He is the only Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and South Eastern councillor in Lagos state. The Minority Leader and Chairman Committee on Education speaks on the settler/ indigene issue, local government administration and ongoing efforts to clear the Apapa gridlock.

The Apapa – Mile 2 corridor has been overrun by articulated trucks and trailers. What is being done about it?

That road actually falls under the purview of the federal government, but I believe the state government in conjunction with the federal government are working together to see how they can reduce the long queues and wastage of manpower on that road. In the last one week, there have been moves to decongest and remove the articulated trucks and trailers from the service lane of the road, so that at least other road users would be able to access the road and get to their places of work.

However, I think the challenge, and what is causing the problem is the fact that the concession of the port was done without proper evaluation and assessment. The port should be able to accommodate at least 50,000 trucks, but with the concession, people coming to pick up containers or drop them off block everywhere. If you go inside the port you will see empty spaces, but you can’t get access to them because there was no planning. If there had been proper planning, these trucks would have been able to park inside the port to pick up containers.

Presently I head the taskforce to decongest and remove every abandoned truck and container. We are working with the police and other security agencies. Measures have also been put in place to ensure that when these articulated trucks come out they go straight to the port. Unfortunately, because they feel there is a gateway from Alahun Ozumba that will give them access to Kirikiri, all the trucks now come through there.

The road may be under the purview of the federal government, but the people of the area are under Oriade LCDA, the businesses that suffer are also in Oriade and this means loss of revenue and ultimately lower IGR for the council. What do you think?

We are well aware of this, which is why in the last one week we have been trying to decongest the area. The situation has, in the last two years been making people to run away from doing businesses in the beach line area and the Amuwo Odofin area. The same thing happened in Apapa and unless the place is decongested, even the price of property there would drop because people would be scared of coming there.

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There are ongoing agitations for local government autonomy. What is your take?

I am looking at financial and political autonomy, a financial autonomy whereby the local governments would control their funds. The funds to the local governments should be totally separated from those
of the state governments, they should be financially autonomous the same way the state governments are financially autonomous from the federal government. The local government chairman should be empowered and be financially accountable for the funds of the local government because as it is presently, they are not able to recover their funds completely from the state government.

When I talk about political autonomy, I’m looking at a system whereby the respective arms of the local government council would be able to properly check and balance one another for a proper administration of the system.

What inspired you to run as a local government councillor?

I looked at my immediate environment and constituency and what I discovered was that we have not had quality representation from the people we sent to the local government. In 2003, I was offered an opportunity to go to the council but I turned it down. However, in 2015 while consulting community leaders on how we should have quality representation, I decided it was best that I go to the council myself. It actually wasn’t a tea party, the journey started in 2015, lots of funds were put into it but they kept postponing the election, but to God be the glory on 22 July 2017, the election finally held, though it rained from 6:00 am till evening people came out to vote.

Do you think Lagos state has been able to resolve the settler/indigene question; you are from the south-east and a councillor in the state?

I think Nigeria should look into the idea of asking for state of origin because every Nigerian citizen that has resided in any place for up to 10 years is an indigene of that place. I fill forms everyday and you are still asking me of my state of origin, indirectly, you are disenfranchising me of my right by asking me of state of origin. In the United States of America, nobody asks you of your state of origin. All they say is I’m an American. It is only in Nigeria that people identify themselves as Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba. It should be country first, that is the only way we can build that national integration.

2019 is here, do you think President Muhammadu Buhari should go for a second term?

President Buhari has a constitutional right to run, it is left to the electorate to decide whether to vote him or not.