An Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure, the state capital, has rendered the creation of the 33 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) by the late Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu unconstitutional and illegal. This ruling, delivered by Justice A.O Adebusoye, stated that the establishment of these LCDAs was not carried out in accordance with the law.

Governor Akeredolu had, in September 2023, signed the bill creating the 33 LCDAs into law following its passage by the state House of Assembly members after the third reading. Despite this legislative process, the court found that the procedure did not meet constitutional requirements. The creation of these LCDAs resulted in a total of 51 administrative divisions in Ondo State, as they were to coexist with the existing 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs).

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This decision has significant implications for the state’s administrative structure and governance. The LCDAs were envisioned to bring government closer to the people, potentially enhancing local administration and development. However, the court’s ruling underscores the necessity of adhering to legal frameworks in such administrative changes.

Governor Akeredolu, a prominent figure in Nigerian law and politics, served as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and a former Attorney General of Ondo State. He governed Ondo State from February 24, 2017, until his death on December 27, 2023. His tenure was marked by various developmental projects and efforts to improve the state’s infrastructure and administrative efficiency.

Following Governor Akeredolu’s passing, his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, was sworn in as governor. This transition came at a crucial time, as the state navigates the complexities arising from the court’s decision on the LCDAs. The new governor faces the challenge of addressing the legal and administrative ramifications of this ruling while continuing the developmental agenda set by his predecessor.

The creation of the LCDAs had been seen as a strategic move to enhance local governance, improve service delivery, and accelerate development across the state. However, the court’s decision highlights the importance of ensuring that such initiatives are grounded in constitutional and legal validity. As the state government contemplates its next steps, this ruling serves as a reminder of the intricate balance between ambitious governance and adherence to legal protocols.

The outcome of this case will likely spark further discussions and possibly legislative reviews to ensure that future efforts to restructure local governance in Ondo State comply with the constitutional provisions. It also sets a precedent for other states considering similar administrative reforms, emphasizing the need for a thorough legal foundation to support such changes.

In conclusion, the ruling by Justice A.O Adebusoye has significant implications for the administrative landscape of Ondo State. It reflects the critical importance of constitutional adherence in governance and the ongoing efforts to refine and improve local administration in Nigeria. Governor Akeredolu’s legacy, marked by his legal expertise and dedication to development, continues to influence the state’s trajectory as his successor navigates these complex challenges.