The Executive Chairman Orile Agege Local Council Development Area of Lagos, Nigeria, Hon Johnson Babatunde has charged African politicians to display credibility and accountability in the discharge of their activities to the electorates in order to advance Africa.
He dropped the advice while making his opening remarks as a guest speaker at the maiden edition of Grassroot African Awards and Conference 2019 at the prestigious Airport View Hotel, Accra, Ghana recently.
The event, which was organized by Kalo Africa Media, a Pan African Media and MICE outfit had as its theme: “Enhancing Community Development through Appreciation and Commitment for a holistic African growth”.
Babatunde lamented the idea of Africa being perceived with negativity, but charged political office holders to do more and show a high level of accountability.
He said: “Any leader that is not accountable to his people does not worth to be called a leader. You must be accountable to the people because you got to the position through their votes. And once you get there, you must give back to the people because they repose confidence in you, so you must be accountable to them about what you have done, so that Africa can move forward, West Africa, Nigeria and Ghana must move forward”
He also encouraged Africans to start building the continent together from the family saying “Family is the nucleus of the society” which translates to a larger, bigger and prosperous Africa.
The council boss also emphasized the need for the electorates to ensure political office holders are held accountable for their actions.
“We must also hold our leaders accountable for whatsoever they do on daily basis, weekly basis, and monthly basis because we are talking about tax payers money. How are you using tax payers money”? “If you aspire for the position and the people support you, the best thing is to impact positively on their lives,” he advised.
Delving into his speech, titled “The Role of Political Office holders in Grassroot Development and Nation Building”, he further reiterated the responsibilities and roles of a political office holder as a pathfinder of direction for the socio-economic growth of any grassroot community.
“Political Office holders in the Local Government are the machineries for attaining the goals and objectives of Local Government in bringing sustainable socio-economic development to the grassroot, hence the leadership role of political office holders is an instrument for assessing efficiency and effectiveness of Local Government in Nigeria. In terms of grassroot development and nation building” He however narrowed down the role of a political office holder to adopting strategies and great mannerism to achieving three major things: Youth empowerment, women empowerment, and lastly skill acquisition.
In his words: “For instance, Orile Agege LCDA engaged residents in a 3-week skill enhancement training. This was used at improving the standard of living of residents of Orile Agege LCDA. The Skill acquisition programme provided youth and women the opportunity to be self reliant”.
He described grassroot development and nation building as crucial to sustainable development in a democratic society which if all African leaders follow such a footstep, the continent will be better for it.
“This can be achieved through youth empowerment, women empowerment, infrastructural and agricultural development. Youth and women empowerment is a policy option that enhances youth and women productivity. Empowerment is the best way of emancipating women and youth from poverty and social exclusion,” he said.
The organiser of The Grassroot Africa Awards and Conference 2019 and Managing Director of Kalo Africa Media, Mr. Kazeem Balogun expressed his profound gratitude to Babatunde; his wife, Mrs. Mojisola Babatunde; the Council’s Vice Chairman, Mrs. Kafilat Akanni; the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Azeez Akinola and the Information Officer, Mrs. Maryam Hamzat for making the journey all the way from Nigeria to be a part of the event and also for their support.
He also thanked other participants from different parts of the continent for coming together to celebrate African communities and also learn from themselves how to do more when they return to their various communities.
He eulogized the great achievements being recorded at Orile Agege Local Council Development in Lagos State and encouraged other participants to emulate Babatunde in his drive to making his community an enviable one.
“Let me first of all express my gratitude to Hon. Johnson Babatunde and his team for doing great job within the Local Community of Orile Agege L.C.D.A. We are all doing one thing or the other in our various communities across Africa and that is why we are here and I want to quickly implore us to continue to do more for the communities so that we can have a great development in Africa and then be able to have the Africa we want, going by what I see at Orile Agege LCDA, I think we all must emulate this great man,” he advised.
Orile Agege Local Council Development Area, under the leadership of Johnson Babatunde has been able to achieve great development in the area of education by purchasing School buses to convey students to their various schools and also building and reconstructing dilapidated ones. Also in the area of road construction- many roads are being tarred while old ones are being renovated. Poverty alleviation, women and youth empowerment, capacity building among other achievements, were some of the categories that won him that lifetime achievement award.
Other recipient of the awards included Apostle Emeritus Professor, ING KWADWO SAFO, a Ghanaian philanthropist and owner of Kantanka Motors who has been helping the people in various communities across Ghana and Africa. Also, Dr. Kehinde Kadiri, founder, Grassroots Aid Initiative and a lecturer at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. She won the award based on her activities in the rural communities of Kwara State, where she reconstructed houses, provided pipe-borne water and paid school fees for indigent students.
Other recipients were Nana EsiNinsi VIII, Nana Ogeyfo Adubea Ackomi and Nana Beenyi III, who got the award for their roles at ensuring that their various communities and their heritage are protected, promoted and preserved. Madam Chimene Sossah was honoured for her role at ensuring girl-mothers return to school to get their lives back. She went to the extent of building vocational training school for them in Porto Novo, Benin Republic.
Babatunde received two awards, one for his leadership role as the one at the helm of affairs at the LCDA and the other for his personal selfless service to humanity in general which was received by his wife.
Nana Royal Panford of Street of Gold Foundation (S.O.G) Ghana coordinated the event while Mr. Tengo Kplepmani of Boundryless Media beautifully anchored as the master of ceremony. Mrs. Abisoye Abati, a member of the award committee representing Nigeria, gave the vote of thanks. Another edition of TheGrassroots African award and Conference has been slated for 21st November, 2020 in Accra, Ghana.