By: Adetola A. Kehinde
Few days ago, I read an article written by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kwara State, Mallam Rafiu Ajakaye. The article, with fact, succinctly focused on what Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has been able to achieve within 365 days in office. Reading the article from the first paragraph to the last paragraph, I felt elated and excited. I was elated and excited because I saw the content of the article being in tandem with the yearnings of Kwarans which made them to troop out enmasse to vote for AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq during the 2019 Elections. Kwarans through their civic rights, defined a new political atmosphere for themselves and 365 days after, the defined political atmosphere is being redefined for socioeconomic growth and developmental prosperities of Kwarans.
In his approach towards ensuring a Kwara that work for Kwarans, within the 365 days, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has been able to right the wrongs of the previous administrations in the state. His giant strides are being felt by the civil servants, pensioners, students, farmers, artisans, traditional leaders etc. Just to let you have a glimpse of the redefining moment Kwara State has experienced since May 29, 2019, I would be sharing some of those moments with you and would be enquiring from you if they are refining moments or not.
Towards his commitment to right the wrongs of the previous administration in the state, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has ensure that the seven months salary arrears of the state owned Colleges of Education and College of Islamic and Legal Studies (CAILS) which he inherited from the previous administration were paid. He didn’t just stop at the payment of their salary arrears, he also ensure that staff of the demonstration schools of the colleges were absorbed into the state civil service. Need I also let you know that he also got some of their courses re-accredicted. You can now be the judge, hasn’t AA redefined the moment for the staff of the state owned Colleges of education, CAILS, staff of demonstration school of the colleges and the students?
A redefining moment in an attitudinal shift in governance was when AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq decided not to lay-off the sunset workers. As the norms have been in the state and some other states in the country, Governors are fond of laying off workers enrolled into the state civil service on the few days to the tenure of their predecessors. However, the story wasn’t the same with AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq because he retained those sunset workers he inherited from the previous administration as against the widely spread speculation that he would disengage them. I spoke with my friend who is one of the sunset workers on the eve of the swearing of AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and he narrated his fear and uncertainty to me. However, when he had that they won’t be laid off, he was full of joy. In his words, “AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is different from them”. To me, my friend, those sunset workers and many Kwarans it was a redefining moment, isn’t it?
Remember I said earlier that students were also beneficiaries of his giant stride. He redefined the moment for them when he resumed the payment of students bursary to Kwara State Students of Kwara State origin in their final year with the introduction of e-bursary system. In total, 8,304 Kwara state students in their finals benefitted from the scheme. In the same vein, 89 students of Kwara State origin who are currently at the law school nationwide also received N100,000 each. This move was applauded by the National Association of Kwara State Students.
Personally, one of the reasons why I have been supporting the candidature of AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq since 2011 is because of his vision for education in the state. I saw his commitment to right the wrongs in the education sector of the state in 2019 and I never doubted it. Thank God I didn’t! Being a product of public secondary education in Kwara state, it is always a sad moment each time the issue of secondary education in the state is being discussed with my friends and relations particular those whom our parents sent from Lagos for secondary education in Kwara state. Before the coming of the last two administrations in the state, some of the public secondary schools in the state had boarding facilities, unfortunately, the story has changed because as of today, the secondary school I attended and many in the have stopped running boarding services more than a decade ago. However, in a bid to reposition the state education, within the 365 days, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has embarked on comprehensive rehabilitation of 31 public schools across the 16 LGAs in the state. I am hoping for the return of boarding facilities in secondary schools in the state. It might look like we have a long way to go, but it is evident that the moment in the education sector of the state is being redefined, isn’t it?
Another redefining moment which gladdens the pensioners in the state is the prompt payment pension. Kwara state used to be one of the states that haven’t been living up to expectation in the payment of pension. Pensioners in the state used to have it tough under the last administration. However, as attested to by some of the pensioners in the state, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has brought great joy to them and their families due to timely release of their pension and up to date payment of state pension. It is worthy of note that AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has also started clearing gratuities from March, 2014 where the former government stopped. Another redefining moment!
I might not be able to talk much on all the 68 township community roads which are currently under construction, rehabilitation or completed, but I can authoritatively share my opinion on the quality of work done on Esie Museum road having visited Esie which is just a neighboring town to my hometown, Iludun-Oro last week in company of some of my friends from Ilorin. Beyond any doubt, you would agree with me that the newly comprehensive rehabilitated Esie Museum road will further boost tourism in Esie, Kwara State and Nigeria at large. That a road that leads to the first museum in Nigeria is given attention by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is another redefining moment for me. What about you?
Water, being one of the most important substances on earth, access to it was a tug of war during the previous administration. However, despite the huge money the previous administration claimed they spent on water reticulation, they major sources of water they made available to people living in Ilorin metropolis was through branded godawful ABS water tankers. Without mincing words, I can tell you that potable pipeborne water is now available to Kwara households at regular interval and the branded godawful ABS water tankers have long disappeared from our streets. Isn’t this a redefining moment?
The health sector and its services in the state have been receiving lots of accolades from independent organisation. Few days ago, SB Morgen ranked Kwara State 4th on the Nigerian State Health Preparedness Index. Similarly, on Nigerian State Response to COVID-19 Index by Stears Business, Kwara State is currently sitting on the 4th position. Going by these independent surveys, it is evident that the commitment of AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to improve the health care facilities in the state is redefining the state and it has justified the investment of AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq in comprehensive rehabilitation of 37 primary health centres in the state.
As an advocate of inclusive governance and equal gender representation in governance, I was glad when Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq drew the attention of some national, continental and global organisations to the state when he appointed nine (9) women against seven (7) men as commissioners in his cabinet. This move was applauded by several organisations as first of its kind not just in Nigeria, but also on the continent which should be emulated. For me, this is a well redefined moment towards ensuring gender equality and breaking the cycle of women exclusion in governance in Kwara state and also encouraging girl child education.
In an effort towards redistribution of wealth and making Kwara resources serve Kwarans, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq in his few days in office as the governor of Kwara state sent Kwara State Social Investment Programme bill to the Kwara State House of Assembly. Upon passage by the state assembly, the bill was signed into law and Kwara State now has what is known as Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP). KWASSIP is aimed at wealth redistribution, increasing inclusive growth by efficientl tackling various socio-economic issues like poverty, hunger, and unemployment. It is exciting to note that KWASSIP has four (4) components which are: Kwara State Conditional Cash Transfer (KWCCIT) to support those within the lowest poverty bracket by improving nutrition and increasing household consumption; Kwara State Poverty Reduction Programme (KWSPRP) to assist the state’s indigenes to acquire and develop lifelong skills; Kwara State Government Entrepreneur and Empowerment Programme (KWSGEEP) which shall lend money to petty traders, artisans, farmers, enterprising youths, men and women; and the HomeGrown School Feeding Programme (HGSF).
Following the aforementioned, it is evident that AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq redefining approach to governance evolves around human capital and infrastructural development. This redefining approach can be said to be in consonance with the yearnings and aspirations of Kwarans for ownership of Kwara State by Kwarans and making Kwara work for Kwarans.
Adetola A. Kehinde is a Sociopolitical and Developmental Analyst and he writes from Ilorin.
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