Many political analysts and stakeholders in the state saw it coming quite alright and some even raised the alarm but the government made it official precisely on Tuesday February 14, 2017 when it announced the extension of the tenure of the Transition Implementation Committee (TIC) chairmen across the sixteen local government councils in the state. This followed the expiration of their three months tenure on Tuesday February 14, 2017 after their inauguration last year on 15 November, 2016.
Before that action and reading the "body language" of the government, the Kwara State chapter of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), had initially blew the lid on the impending extension, an action which attracted assurances from the government that it will only engage in "whatever the law permits".
In a press statement signed by the Chairman, Secretary and Pubic Relation Officer of IPAC, Alhaji AbdurRahman Omotosho, Mr. Yinka Adepoju and Comrade AbdulMumini Onagun, the council which is an umbrella body of all political parties in the state, had accused the government of clandestine plans to extend the tenure of TIC chairmen. IPAC kicked against the alleged plot and called for immediate conduct of the local government elections in the state.
But the government while extending the tenure of the caretaker committee bosses wrote to the state House of Assembly to intimate them of the reason for the decision.
According to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, the extension became expedient "to ensure the continuity of the administration pending the conduct of elections into local councils.
"The extension is in accordance with section 18(5)&(8) of the Kwara State Local Government Law, 2006" which vested powers on him to extend the period of the dissolution of the local government councils and the caretaker committees for three months at any given time.
Following the political hullabaloo that had initially trailed the appointment of the TIC chairmen, some analysts described the appointment and further extension of their tenure as "political patronage" meant to balance the deficit in the appointment of party members who worked hard for the success of the party at the poll but are yet to be rewarded or patronised.
Shortly after their appointment, most of the TIC chairmen spoke passionately about their vision and agenda in separate interviews with National Pilot, but the reality of the financial situation in the state and country generally has left a wide gulf between realisation and promises made before now.
During their inauguration ceremony at the Government House last year, the governor among other things said one of the main purposes for putting the new arrangement in place was to offset and regularise the backlogs and salaries of workers in the state especially the contentious issue of the local government workers.
"In this regard, you are to avoid making unnecessary appointments, shun ostentation and avoid any conduct capable of calling your integrity into question. We promised to support the local government councils within available resources and guidance to see them through the difficult times and when the report of the State Committee on Personnel Database Development is submitted, monthly recurrent expenditure at the local and state levels will reduce, thus freeing funds for infrastructural development", the governor added.
But be that as it may, with the supposed mandate, purpose and extension of the tenure of the TIC chairmen, what is next to look forward to in the state as regards how best they can function in the present scenario.
There is no doubt that the next two to three months before their tenure lapse is very crucial irrespective of the decision that the government adopts thereafter. With the threat of sack and retrenchment coming from some of the TIC chairman about workers in the local government, there seems to be little difference in the routine of just collecting money to pay salaries.
Except with some few caretaker chairmen, who have demonstrated inventiveness in the face of the gloomy situation prevalent about the financial situation in the local government, some of them have not really be able to "think out of the box" to turn the situation around especially on the issue of casual workers and have even decided to lay the affected workers off. Some of them, it was gathered, have even started using the less than 90 days remaining to the end of their tenure to lobby for appointment in what was described as attempt to guarantee the "security of their appointment". As a result of this, instead of trying to see how best to improve the situation, some TIC chair have turned celebrity guests overnight hopping from one social function to the other.
"Some of them have turned Abuja to their second home and are hardly on ground. Compared to other appointment made, they feel the TIC thing is "too short" and the duration of stay (six months) does not commensurate with the sacrifices and efforts invested to secure the party's victory and believed this is the time to push it than wait for the dying minutes. But the mistake they might be making is that they can be easily recognised or become a strong candidate for consideration judging by their performances as the TIC chairmen”, a source added.
Although, the action has attracted differing reaction, the action of the TIC chairman of Ilorin West, AbdulHammed Oladipupo Alli regarding how to find solution to the sweepers issue in his council and decision of his counterpart in Irepodun, Kazeem Adekanye to make the casual workers some of his colleagues wanted to sack as asset rather than liability are good initiatives that can be improved upon. But the urge to be present in every public function and fighting for picture space with the celebrants or organisers of the event must be discouraged.
To be sure, the less than three months remaining of their tenure must not be used to play politics at the detriment of impacting positively on the local councils in the state. Going forward, now that the budget has been passed by the House of Assembly and signed into law by Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, the TIC chairmen must look at how best to tap from the various windows of opportunity inherent in the budget in areas like agriculture and solid minerals, among others, to grow their council in the areas of finance and human resources.
If anything, the recent reform being embarked upon by the Executive Chairman of the Kwara State Local Government Service Commission, Hajia Sarat Adebayo, should be seen and serve as a good and welcome development in the scenario.
Now that the local government and KWIRS have "already formed a synergy with the Revenue Officer (RO) of various councils who have been on board before the coming of the KWIRS, the lingering issue should be heading for a final solution especially coupled with the cries and agitation for local government.
According to some analysts, if at the end of the tenure of the TIC chairmen and despite the "windfall" from the federal government in the form of the Paris/London loan refund, the issue of backlogs still lingers in the state, then there is some disconnect somewhere, especially with the governor's ingenuity in the establishment of the now nationally acclaimed KWIRS, described by many as the only functioning "ministry" in the state.
While the opposition parties are still contemplating when to approach the court to challenge the extension of the TIC chairmen, what is certain is that those that are at the helms of affairs now piloting the council's activities in whatever capacity must do the needful to pull it out from the woods instead of engaging in unnecessary politicking.