Despite Saraki’s Trial, Kwara is on Course

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The ongoing trial of the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki is not in any way affecting governance in Kwara State, writes Hammed Shittu

There is no doubting the fact that the current travails of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki over his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over allegation of false assets declaration, when he was governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011 has begun to create an impression that it would affect governance in the state.

But government in the state is focused on delivering on its electoral promises to the people even though it has left the Saraki matter in the hands of God. Apart from this, residents of the state especially his kinsmen in ‎Ilorin have been praying fervently as the only weapon believed could bail him out from his predicament.

Recently, organisations, opposition PDP and groups in the state had commented on the perceived political persecution being meted out to Saraki despite his contributions to the electoral success of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). They rallied support for Saraki as a way to reduce tension occasioned by his emergence as Senate President against the wish of some persons in the APC.

Among the organisations siding with Saraki are Concerned Citizens on CCT, the Nigeria Need Positive Change Group (NNPCG), the Congress of Nigeria’s Political Parties (CNPP), Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), the state’s chapter of the APC and its Kwara Central zone, leaders of thought in the North Central and the state Secretary of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Rex Olawoye.

In the build-up to the commencement of Saraki’s trial at the CCT, hundreds of youths and women in Ilorin, the state capital took to the streets and expressed solidarity with the Senate President. The state chairman of APC, Alhaji Ishola Balogun-Fulani while addressing the protesters lamented that from what has transpired so far at the tribunal, there was no need guessing that Saraki’s trial is a political set-up.

Some of the inscriptions on the placards carried by the protesters read: “Saraki’s case is political”; “CCT has two laws: one for Tinubu and one other Nigerians”; and “Sahara Reporters based in United States is an agent of evil.”
Leader of the protesters, Mr. Yinka Dalas asked the APC leaders to pass the message of the youths and women to the party’s hierarchy in Abuja, expressing disgust that Saraki was being persecuted after he had worked to help the party. “We as youths and women are concerned and that is why we have come here today. Senate President Bukola Saraki’s ongoing trial at the CCT is politically-motivated.

“This is a man that single-handedly exposed the fuel subsidy scam. We are protesting in his support today and we want APC leadership in the state to take our case to the appropriate quarters. They claimed he mismanaged our money, when he was the governor of Kwara State, but every discerning mind knows that it this same man that opened up Kwara to the whole world. His achievements in office are there for all who care to see.”

The Nigeria Needs Positive Change Group (NNPCG) in a statement by its Secretary, Mr. Jide Jokotade, re-echoed ‎ its stand that the CCT should re-arraign Chief Bola Tinubu to answer charges preferred against him “because it is the same tribunal and the same Judge that has delivered different rulings in similar matters.”
Also, the state’s chapter of APC alleged the hijack ‎of CCT by those it described as desperate politicians. The party warned that the judiciary may throw the country into needless chaos and pandemonium. The APC made the allegation in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Sulyman Buhari.

It said President Muhammadu Buhari “should not be seen to be watching helplessly when politicians hijack a crucial arm of the government to carry out political vendetta against perceived political adversaries. Like the c‎ounsel to the Senate President rightly noted, we are convinced that the right thing has not been done as far as the charges are concerned. It is now clear and glaring that due process has not been followed and the CCB has broken its own laws.”
However, as the rallying of support continues for Saraki in the state, the day-to-day administration of the state is not lagging behind as both the state House of Assembly and the executive led by Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed have been working round the clock to ensure the timely delivery of electoral promises to the people.
In the legislative arena, the state assembly led by its speaker, Hon. Ali Ahmad has been rising to the needs of the people of the state in the issues of series of resolutions aimed at bringing government closer to the grassroots. The lawmakers have been meeting as and when due to deliberate on how the state can move forward.

Among the resolutions passed by the lawmakers are summoning of the Commissioner for Environment and Forestry; Kwara State Environmental Protection Agency (KWEPA); agencies and other relevant stakeholders on the indiscriminate felling of trees; passage of resolution on indiscriminate or illegal parking on the roads and abuse of no parking signs by shop owners on major roads in the Ilorin metropolis; resolution on erratic power supply and over-billing by the PHCN officials in the state; resolution urging the state government to see to the reconstruction of Ohan and Moro bridges and resolution to prohibit illegal issuance of certificate of origin in the state.

In the executive arena, Governor Ahmed has put in a lot of efforts for the inauguration of the verification committee to determine the higher increase in the wage bill of the government every month occasioned by the consequences of ghost workers. The committee which has commenced work has fished out a lot of ghost workers in some of the local government councils in the state.

The governor has also set up Kwara Internal Revenue service during the issue under review and this has now improved the internally generated revenue in the state in view of the dwindling monthly federal allocations to the state in the recent time. Apart from this, the governor has been meeting various stakeholders on how to develop the state and this was done during the ongoing travails of his leader, Senator Saraki.

Speaking with THISDAY, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications to Governor Ahmed, Dr. Muideen Femi Akorede said, “Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed has sustained the pace of governance despite the current challenges posed by the CCT trial of his political father and most importantly, the problem imposed by drop in allocations.

“For example, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed recently paid N2.4 billion to contractors handling over 35 road projects spread across the state. These include the Aduralere-Isalekoko-Ojagboro-Sanu Sheu Road, Henry George-Agbo-Oba road, Henry George-Unilorin mini campus road, Ita-Alamuvillage road, Oloro palace road, Share-Oke 0de (lot 1) and Share-Oke Ode (lot 2).

“Others are Kishi-Kaiama road, Egbejila road, Ilorin, Arobadi Magida road in Moro LG, Baboko market road, Ilesha Baruba-Gwanara road, Rore-Ipetu road, construction of three span bridges in Ilala, Ifelodun LG, Oniju Street Babanloma in Ifelodun LG and Anilelerin road, Offa. Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed also announced that with the approval of the N10 billion infrastructural development bond by the Debt Management Office (DMO), the government will soon kick-start major developmental projects.”

He noted that the tempo of infrastructural development in the state would be accelerated, adding “Some of the projects tied to the bond, included the expansion of some major roads in the state capital, construction of two new campuses for Kwara State University in Ilesha-Baruba and Osi in Baruten and Ekiti local government areas respectively, construction of overhead bridge at Garin Alimi, construction of Kishi-Kaiama road, dualisation of Michael Imoudu to Ganmo road in Ilorin, and construction, equipping and fitting of New KWASU School of Business and Governance.

“Others are renovation and equipping of the Ilorin Stadium Indoor Sports Hall, Equipping and Training for the International Vocational Centre, Ajase Ipo, renovation of Oro General Hospital and four other cottage hospitals, renovation of 481 old classrooms and 318 new ones at secondary level, contribution to the construction and equipping of the Kwara Textile Industrial Park, Compliance with Contributory Pension Scheme and sinking of 938 boreholes.

“To increase water to supply to residents of the state and alleviate their sufferings, the state government has commenced the final phase of Ilorin water reticulation project. Similarly, as part of its vision to develop the State Housing sector, Governor Ahmed in March commenced the construction of a commercial complex known as The Hub, in Ilorin. The landmark ultra-modern shopping and office complex; a project of the Harmony Investment and Property Development Limited (HIPD), a subsidiary of Harmony Holdings, is one of government’s efforts aimed at stimulating the Kwara economy.

“The governor also commenced the construction of 1000 housing units at Budo-Osho area of Ilorin. The construction of the 1000 Maigida Housing Units aims at addressing the housing deficit in the state by providing quality and affordable shelters for low and middle class workers and free them from the shackle of landlords. The Housing scheme will comprise 700 three-bedroom flats and 300 two-bedroom flats”.

It is also worthy of note that the day-to-day governance at the 16 local government councils in the state are running smooth without any hindrance. The development has continued to give confidence to the administration that any time, the people of the state would continue to support the Saraki political dynasty in the state in view of the delivery of dividends of democracy to the doorsteps of the populace.
In his comment, the chairman, Association of Local‎ Government Council of Nigeria, Kwara State chapter, Alhaji Lateef Okandeji said the day-to-day administration has been going well at the grassroots.

Okandeji, who is also the chairman of Ilorin East local government council of the state said, “We have been delivering the dividends of democracy to the people of the grassroots. We believe that the ongoing code of conduct tribunal trial of our leader and Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki was the handiwork of some political elements in the APC and by the grace of God they will be disappointed at the end of the day. It is a political persecution that would soon fade away because our leader didn’t deserve the kind of insult he has been exposed to.”
He assured the people that the present government would continue to embark on social infrastructure development that would improve the living standard of the rural populace.

Generally, the people and the political class in the state especially in the ruling APC are said to have put their minds to God to rescue the senate president in view of the fact that Saraki is seen as being persecuted by his political rivals in the APC, despite his contributions to the success of the APC.

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As the rallying of support continues for Saraki in the state, the day-to-day administration of the state is not lagging behind either as both the state House of Assembly and the Executive led by Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed have been working round the clock to ensure the timely delivery of electoral promises to the people