SOCIALIST PARTY OF NIGERIA (SPN) IFO LGA
25 November 2020
- Proposed tolling of roads by Olambe ACDC will make life more unbearable for the working people and poor masses of Olambe and its environ
- SPN calls for a mass meeting to discuss how to organize a consistent campaign of advocacy and struggle to compel the Governor Abiodun Government to complete all abandoned road projects and construct new ones
At the last general meeting of the Olambe Area Community Development Association (ACDC) held on November 16 2020 at the Olambe townhall, it was reportedly agreed by the leadership of the CDC through the road committee to set up toll gate the aim of which is to extract mandatory levies from commuters and residents in order to provide some temporary measures to make the Olambe road motorable.
While recognizing the terrible conditions of the road networks in the community and the need for emergency remedial measures before the next raining season, nevertheless the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) believes that setting up toll gate to extract money from residents and road users especially at this period of economic hardship and mass misery in the country is unfair and an attempt to make already pauperized citizenry to pay for government failure.
We use this medium to let the leadership of the Olambe ACDC know that most residents can hardly feed their families in a day and cannot afford to pay tolling fees daily or annually. If the ACDC actually wants to help the residents of this community, what would be fair and beneficial on the long-run is for a plan of struggle to be drawn up including petition, letters, press campaign, mass meetings, protests and demonstrations to begin to challenge the Governor Dapo Abiodun state government and the Ifo local government leadership to fix the roads.
We believe that it is the sole responsibility of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC)-led Government of Governor Dapo Abiodun, the Current Ifo Local Government Chairman Fola Salami and the Member Representing Ifo 2 in the Ogun State House of Assembly Hon Ganiyu Oyedeji to ensure that the roads are motorable. Besides, these were part of the campaign promises of the ruling party during the 2019 general elections. There are two polling units at Olambe and another two polling units at Matogun both of which the APC and APM won with large number of votes respectively during the last gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections.
What we are experiencing at Olambe now is contrary to the promises they made to us during elections. Some months back, the Ogun State Commissioner for works said in a press statement that they will continue construction of the roads in Ojodu to Ijoko by September 2020. We are almost in December and work has not resumed. The Olambe ACDC should be making efforts to hold them to account for these promises and not burdening citizens who can barely feed or pay their children school fees with additional levies whereas those who are in custody of our collective patrimony and taxpayers money are mismanaging it.
In reality, this is not a new measure. The same method of tolling being canvassed by the Olambe ACDC has been applied before but did not work. Instead, revenues collected were mismanaged and unaccounted for. It is unfortunate that the ACDC is once again headed for this same direction without taking cognizance of other options available including the option of mass struggle which the SPN has been arguing for from time immemorial.
No doubt, self-help, or in other words, collective efforts of residents contributing money to pay for development has been the only way residents of Olambe, Matogun, Osere and other communities have historically ensured the current limited level of public infrastructures available in their communities. This includes paving of inner community road, draining of swamps, construction of culvert and drainage, electric poles, cables and transformers. Successive governments since 1999 have often ignored the communities only remembering their existence during elections.
Nevertheless it has to be pointed out that constitutionally, Community Development Associations do not have powers to collect levies through tolling or other means for the purpose of fixing roads or carrying out other developmental initiatives; the responsibility for collection of taxes and levies for developmental purposes solely lies with the government at federal, state and local government levels. This is what the 1999 constitution (As Amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FGN) says, something which is superior to any bye law introduced at the level of any state. Therefore, in the pursuit of self-help, the best the CDC can do is to organize a “Road Endowment Fund” which willing and interested residents and well-wishers can voluntarily contribute to. Any mandatory collection of levies or establishment of toll gate on any road by the CDC would not only amount to flagrant unconstitutionality, the setting up tolling and the consequential prevention of free movement of persons and goods would amount to a gross breach of residents fundamental rights which can be challenged in a court of law.
Notwithstanding the proposal of an endowment fund, we in the SPN believe that the option of mass campaign involving of series of activities including mobilization of residents to confront the state government through mass struggle is still the best. Despite the arrogance of the corrupt capitalist elite, they still fear the mass mobilization of the people knowing that this can affect their chances at the next election.
Unfortunately, during general elections, Instead of taking a principled stand that would benefit the communities, many do not mind to campaign and organize votes for the same roguish and corrupt anti-poor politicians even while being fully aware that once they get to power they would promptly forget the needs of the community. This was the case during the 2019 general elections despite the appeal of our party that the only way to ensure development was to vote out all anti-poor parties and vote in a party like SPN to go to the House of Assembly to fight for development. Now that the deed has been done and the anti-poor parties have been voted into power and they have done what they have always done which is to forget their promises and abandon us, the SPN insist that the only way forward is to organize the community to begin to protest until the government is forced to attend to our needs. The SPN firmly believes that no society has experienced progress without struggle.
We therefore again call on the Olambe ACDC leadership to join hands with the SPN in the struggle against injustice and to bring good roads, well equipped public hospitals and other basic amenities to our community instead of collecting money from people who are already faced with economic hardship.
To this extent, the SPN calls for a mass meeting of residents to discuss how to organize a campaign which would include peaceful protests and other mass activities to begin to demand good roads and provision of other basic amenities. We would be glad if our opinions as expressed above are taking into consideration before the Olambe ACDC begins to implement this policy which we strongly believe to be anti-poor and only helps to condone government irresponsibility.
Comrade Elizabeth Olayanju
Protem Chairperson, SPN, Ifo LGA (08037930325)
Comrade Akande ABiola Jamiu
Protem Secretary, SPN, Ifo LGA