A governorship aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State, Segun Sowunmi, has called for devolution of power to the traditional chiefs in order to stem the tide of insecurity in the country.
Sowunmi spoke in Abeokuta during a consultation meeting with some traditional chiefs, ‘Baales’ in Egbaland, as part of his governorship bid ahead of the 2023 elections.
The PDP hopeful described Baales as the first level of security in their areas, adding that there is a need for administrative and legal structures empowering them to carry out their duties.
The Baales were drawn from Obafemi Owode, Abeokuta-South, Abeokuta-North, Odeda, Ifo, and Ewekoro Local Government Areas in Ogun Central Senatorial District.
According to Sowunmi, Baales are not in contention with the monarchs and should be allowed to perform their roles to drive the security and development at the grassroots.
He said, “I am particularly concerned that we have not been able to find an administrative structure to accommodate Baales and take advantage of their closeness to the people and the proximity to the land, and it has cost us gravely.
“Part of the reasons we have not been able to secure our fringes is because we have not given any responsibility to our Baales. It is time now to create a framework where the Baales will have bigger roles according to the procedures of the service in such a way that we know that these are the responsibilities that they have and the wherewithal we have given them to be able to carry out the duties.
“If we must be secured, if we must develop evenly, if we must be prosperous, then we must figure out how to devolve more powers to the Baales.”
Sowunmi said if elected governor, he would amend Ogun traditional council law in order to address what he called “neglect of Baales.”
In their response, the Baales declared their support for Sowunmi’s governorship bid, saying he understood their challenges.
The President of Ogun State Council of Baales, Tunji Falola, in a voice vote, asked the Egba Baales, “Are you all in support of Sowunmi’s ambition for the governor of Ogun State?”, to which they responded in affirmative.
Falola, who is also the chairman of the Baales in Egbaland, applauded Sowunmi for his development blueprint especially as it affected the traditional chiefs.
He said “We need to look for a capable leader, a leader with integrity, who is able, can do it, and do it well. There have been leaders and leaders but where are they today? I am happy that Sowunmi is meeting the Baales for the first time now. A thousand and one other are still coming, I am sure of that.
“But do they realise that Baales are at the grassroots and that they can call their people and say this is where we are going and their people would agree? Not all leaders realise that. Here we are today with Sowunmi among us, coming first and foremost even before going to the Obas, to seek our opinion and cooperation on his agenda.”
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