By ‘Yomi Adebayo
The concept of community development is designed to serve as a vessel of social integration and rapid transformation. It is a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems. It involves citizens, professionals and government to improve various aspects of communities, typically aiming at building stronger and more resilient local communities. Community wellbeing (economic, social, environmental and cultural) often evolves from this type of collective action being taken at a grassroot level.
An effective community development must be well-planned, inclusive and equitable, initiated and supported by community members which in turn will make communities to be more responsible, organize and plan together, achieve social, economic, cultural and environmental goals to mention but few. It results in share responsibility among community members.
Dwelling on the above stated fundamentals and having unfathomable interest in community participation in governance and decisions making process, the Olusegun Mimiko Government gives communities in Ondo state opportunity to choose projects they want done in their communities with respect to their needs and has within the last 6 years delivered over 674 community-chosen projects which include, but not limited to Education project in rural areas/communities, Town-Hall project, Water project, Health project, Electrification project, Market project, Security project and Road project, through the Ministry of Community Development and Cooperatives Services.
Employing the Bottom-up approach to governance, the government, through well-trained educated youths engaged the communities over a period of time and got them to make a choice of a project dearest to them which the Government then delivers in record time. What came out of it all is the fact that the people alone are better placed to know where the shoe pinches! They know the little things that matter. It is of importance to state that some of these communities have never witnessed any development or government attention in decades.
Laying emphasis on the aforementioned projects, The Education project in rural areas/communities has enabled the construction of well-equipped blocks of 6 classrooms each in 27 communities with deployment of teaching and non-teaching staffs to the schools. This project has helped increase Primary school enrollment, enhanced access and safety of students in schools, increase girl-child enrollment, reduce child labour and abuse, improved teaching and reduced recurrent of cost of education. Also, 65 Town halls has been constructed to improved availability of facilities for communal interaction, peace building and cohesion and to generate revenues for communities through social use.
Also, as part of projects chosen by some communities to aid access to commercial activities, increase economic activities and source of income especially for women, and for people to have access to farm gate products, the Mimiko led government, still under the community development programme, constructed over 30 neatly built and well laid-out lock-up shops and open market stalls. The initiative is a win-win project because it has also helped increase government’s Internally Generated Revenue. The extension of electricity with provision of transformers in other 25 communities of the state has improved dweller’s social life and reduced rural-urban drift which could have resulted in over population in places like the state capital and other urban settlements in Ondo state.
Besides the fact that Dr. Olusegun Mimiko Government has constructed over 500km of township roads which include rehabilitation, construction and dualisation, the community development programme initiated grading of feeder road, constructions of culverts and foot bridges to enhance access to farmlands, farm produce and market facilities. It has in great measure helped farmers transporting farm-produce to desired markets across the state. As needs differ from one community to another, the government did not consider any project impossible or too big for a community provided such project will better the lots of the people. This aids building of High Court and police posts in some communities that demanded such project and has improved security of life and properties in those areas.
The maintenance of these loads of projects is quite not challenging because it is community-chosen/driven and since the people are stakeholders in decisions making process, they regard the projects as their collective effort instead of been regarded as government approved projects. Therefore, they gladly embrace the responsibility of proper maintenance having felt the sense of belonging as a result of participatory government being run by the state Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko.
Yomi Adebayo writes from Akure, Ondo state