In this interview, with HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM, Ilorin South council chairman, Hajia Funmilayo Salawu speaks on 100 days in office, commissioner nominees lists and the recent land dispute rocking the council among others. Excerpts:
Your administration has clocked over 100 days, people seems to be in the dark about what has happened under your watch?
I don’t think my people are in the dark about how we have fared because what we have done is what the people can see. We have renovated our clinics and equipped them with drugs, then employed doctors to be running shifts. Our hospital is now operating at a lower cost compared to others. Also we have also cleaned our land at Oko-Olowo to build garages to improve on the IGR of the council. These are also going viz a viz empowerment and sundry financial assistance.
But this seem to be low key across local governments…
I will not subscribe to the argument that it was held in low key because the most important thing is achievements and not making unnecessary noise that does not impact the lives of the people. What we want the people to know is that we are on ground and we have achieved that.
Where are we on the MoU with the KWIRS over IGR collection in Ilorin South?
We are not having any problem with them. You know every local government depends on their IGR because of the dwindling revenue from the Federal Government. We want our staff to be collecting our revenue for them to be just redundant and that we also witnessed the collection ourselves through our staff and consultants who will go along with the revenue service. We have released about three items to the revenue service for the people not to feel they are being asked to pay multiple taxes. The revenue service handles land charge and citizenship while the signage and masts are being handled by KWASAA based on negotiation. Last week, the KWIRS wrote to us that we can print our own receipt which we would have been buying from them and by Tuesday, people will start seeing ours outside.
You inherited some backlogs when you came in just like other local governments, what is the situation now?
We are addressing the issue already and working in partnership with the state government to pay out of the backlogs for local government staff, SUBEB and pensioners and hopefully by Allah’s grace, all things being equal, in a month or two, we should start paying something to make those involved happy. The council chairmen have also resolved that apart from the loan we are expecting, money that will also accrue through other streams will be deployed towards this regard. Some developers for instance say they have leased some of our shops for as long as thirty years collecting millions monthly without giving a dime to the local government. We will not take that and we have asked our surveyors to cost these properties and agree on a workable solution for both parties and if they don’t agree, we may end up in court. By getting the money, well work out what we can be paying monthly to the affected workers, that is the initiative of Ilorin South.
The list of commissioner nominees that APC demanded was trailed with rejection by the party after stakeholders reportedly defied directive on recycling, what transpired in your local government?
I can only speak for my local government and we didn’t carry out any recycling based on the instruction of the party’s leadership. We have since submitted and our list has not been rejected. That is all I can say about it.
You were recently reported to be involved in a land dispute with the Amule family in Ilorin, what do you have to say to this?
The issue is a local government thing and not a personal matter. When I came on board, there was a record pointing to the acquisition of land when Ilorin was one local government. But after Ilorin East and South were carved out, the land in question subsequently came under the jurisdiction of Ilorin South. The two families, Amule Egba and Amule Olomooba were fighting over ownership of the land and they approached me and started pleading that they are the owner. I said it is for the local government. Our records showed that nine families including the Gobirs were involved with only one Amule family that they are sharing into two now. I asked them to produce evidence of ownership but they only produce an invitation letter that was sent to them by the local government then during the reign of former Emir after the local government acquired the land for development purpose. They went to court and at that time, it was decided for the issue to be settled out of court with the intervention of the Emir. The nine families were invited by the Emir through that letter they are now presenting that they will be given compensation and land for development. But they refused and told the Emir they want to go to court. But the court dismissed their case and held that the land belongs to the government and the court even ruled against the compensation. Out of the nine families, it is only the Amule Egba that has been selling the land on their own. They couldn’t also produce any letter of release of the land to them. This is a very big land that the local government cannot cede to anybody at Oko Olowo. Even the Police Commissioner has warned them on this issue. The case is a civil case and not the criminal nomenclature they are trying to give it. We are ready to meet them in court.
Do you see the opposition as giving the ruling party a run for its money?
I don’t see any threat in my local government. All the issue of defection they are peddling about is just politics. Akogun as a factional chairman has little or nothing to say on that party and they are making up issues. See, we will meet them on the field, its then we will know who has the people.
As one of the three female chairmen in Kwara Central, don’t you feel overwhelmed by your male counterparts?
Not at all and that is why we are working extra hard. This is already past 7pm on Friday and I am still in the office. When we sit with our male counterparts from other local government, we talk and show action and we are very bold. The men know what we can do and they cannot do without us because they appreciate out intellectual contribution to council governance. We are not intimidated at all.