Empowering Community Development Associations (CDAs) For Ease Of Community Governance In Nigeria -Toyin Saka

Empowering Community Development Associations (CDAs) For Ease Of Community Governance In Nigeria -Toyin Saka

Empowering Community Development Associations by Mr Toyin Saka,

It is a common practice to have Landlords and Residents Associations in different areas, all over the country; they are relatively known to be for grassroots participation – community development practice; though, it is practiced in all the three cadres of community’s classification: low, medium and urban.
The functions and objectives of these associations amongst others, are to coordinate the activities of the associations and using self-help approach to execute projects.
This has always been in the realization that governments’ presences cannot be everywhere at the same time.
Lagos State Government has, to some extent, upgraded the status of the Landlords and Residents Associations by giving them recognition as Community Development Associations (CDAs) and there have been remarkable progress and achievements in the relationship.

In order to keep the CDAs’ leaderships abreast of their responsibilities, the state government states its position clear with defined objectives and functions of the CDAs.
These are:
1) Promote self-help efforts (projects) within the community,
2) Raise funds for the implementation of community projects and activities,
3) Initiate, execute and monitor community development projects,
4) Create awareness about government programmes and mobilize residents on their civic duties and community development generally,
5) Ensure peace and security within the community by collaborating with security agencies and government,
6) Monitor and maintain social infrastructure provided by the government for the benefit of the community,
7) Promote and encourage compliance with government policies and programmes on community development generally,
8) Collaborate with public and private agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for the promotion of community development goals, and
9) Perform such other functions and activities as may be recommended by the Ministry through the Local Governments/Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs)

For the benefit of the state governments that have not deemed it fit to consider community development associations as an integral part of government, it is high time, they looked into it, so that government’s presence can be felt in the grassroots faster than envisaged.
For the avoidance of doubt, Lagos State has recognized community development associations (CDAs) as fourth tier of government in the state and the working relationship has been cordial, though there are some grey areas because, the workability of the system, depends on competence of those saddled with the responsibility of coordinating the affairs of all the CDAs in each of the Local Governments/LCDAs in the State.
This is where the state through the Local Government/LCDA needs to introduce capacity building for the community development practitioners, because they are coming from different backgrounds and exposures which may not be in tandem with the State’s defined objectives and functions highlighted above.
The active CDCs (not all of them are active because there is no serious commitment to make them active) in the state are using their discretion to coordinate the affairs of the CDAs in their Local Governments/LCDAs, but if there are uniform programmes/trainings that can show the leadership, the direction, the state government expects all of the CDAs’ leadership to toe, there will be unity of purpose in all the CDAs.
This is when CDAs can boast of the nomenclature as the fourth tier of government in all ramifications.
Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, as Lagos State Governor then, signed into law the formal recognition of CDAs in 2008.
Since then, the state government has been involving the CDAs and the leaderships in so many important functions and programmes which have benefited several communities in the state.
To further show seriousness to the recognition, the same government of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, organised statewide election for all the CDAs in December 2013. This was supervised by the Department in charge of the CDAs in all the Local Governments/LCDAs.
It was first of its kind!
There are fourteen approved positions to vie for in each of the CDAs, while each Local Government/LCDA also has a-fourteen-man position which is recognized as the Community Development Committee (CDC).
The positions are also contested for and the committee supervises the activities of all the CDAs in each of the LGAs/LCDAs.
The state government’s programmes are always amplified in the over four thousand CDAs in the state by the leaderships of the CDAs, which makes residents to be aware of what the policies and programmes of the state government are all about at any material time, unlike where there is no grassroots government.
In 2017, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode gifted about Five Hundred Million Naira (N500m) as grants to some CDAs that were executing projects then.
Before the grants were approved, officials of the Ministry in charge, had contacted both Local Governments/LCDAs and the CDCs with a view to knowing the CDAs that were executing projects and inspections were made to confirm and recommend.
This is also to lend credence to the fact that Lagos State, gives attention to community development through the CDAs.
If this amount was not given direct to the CDAs, it would have been appropriated in the budget of any of the relevant ministries.
Another statewide involvement of the CDAs was during Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Lagos State Government engaged all the CDAs to distribute the palliatives meant for the citizens. There was no way, the government would have distributed these items on its own and would get to the appropriate beneficiaries.
The various communities would not have been happy, if Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-olu had used the officials of the state to distribute the palliatives, because there would have been complaints of marginalization but because the programme was carried out by their own people, no such complaints emanated.
Some Local Governments/LCDAs also seized the opportunity to follow suit and the communities in Lagos State felt the impact then.
While there are still room for improvement in Lagos State with regard to making the CDAs functional and representative, the essence of this piece is to call on those state governments that have not recognized the CDAs as partners in progress in the development of the communities in such states, to give a consideration.
If the CDAs are to perform optimally, governments should as a matter of fact, allow the CDAs to submit annual budget, which to some extent will bring development faster to the communities.
To ensure credibility, the opportunity should be given to those CDAs that have been performing by executing laudable projects, since they had on their own spent millions of Naira in helping the state indirectly.
The budget which should be supervised by the various Local Governments/LCDAs, should serve as a respite to the supervisory authorities (Local Governments/LCDAs) – the budget of the supervisory authorities will definitely be affected as the expenditures meant for rural development would have been taken care of, by the leadership of the CDAs in their annual budget estimates.

The top hierarchy of the Community Development Associations’ initiative in Lagos State is the Community Development Advisory Council (LSCDAC) to the Governor.
All 57 CDC Chairmen and Secretaries in the state are members of the Council, including some other state designated individuals.
As applicable to the CDAs and CDCs, election of officers were conducted in 2020 and the Advisory Council has been up and doing in the coordination of over 4,200 CDAs and 57 CDCs in the state.
These state community development practitioners (officers) do hold regular interactive sessions with the Ministry officials in charge and the Governor.
They monitor, in collaboration with the Ministry officials, activities of the CDAs especially the CDAs that are executing capital intensive projects with a view to recommending them for the State yearly awards.
The yearly awards have spurred some CDAs to be developing their communities – it is not really the awards but the recognition by the state government because the awards do not match the money expended on the different capital projects.
With the experience in Lagos State, there is no better approach to reaching the communities than through the fourth tier of government – Community Development Associations; the grassroots governance which is recommended to other states for the benefit of all communities in Nigeria.

Integrity News Nigeria 1

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.