Hammed Shittu writes about an innovative measure that would help the administration of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed overcome the challenges created by the overall national economic situation and the dwindling federal allocations to Kwara State
The essence of good governance to the socio economic and political development of any society cannot be over-emphasised. Apart from the fact that it would allow dividends of democracy to get to the targeted audience, it would go a long way of bringing government to the doorsteps of the rural populace; thereby accelerating their socio economic development
But, the desire of any government to realise the above objective to the society is being hindered due to the non-availability of funds in the purse of the government. This ugly situation is showcased in the dwindling federal allocations being accrued to the 36 states of the federation and thereby preventing government from fulfilling their programmes to the people.
In Kwara, the State of Harmony is not an exception as the current leadership of the state under Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has adopted a proactive and innovative measure that would assist the administration to look beyond the challenges created by the economic quagmire and dwindling federal allocations to the state.
Towards this end, the administration in September, 2016 launched the Kwara Infrastructure Development Fund (IF-K) to serve as a sustainable means of funding major infrastructural projects in the State. IF-K is a contributory scheme designed to pool funds for high value infrastructure projects. Under the IF-K scheme, all ongoing and new developmental projects above N300 million will be funded to completion.
Among the objectives of creating IF-K is to ensure that project contractors are paid on time to deliver completed projects, thereby erasing the era of abandoned projects. IF-K is being financed through an initial N5billion seed fund, and a N500 million monthly contribution from the stateâ€™s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
The Development Fund is being managed by a reputable investment company, â€˜Investment Oneâ€™, as a way of insulating the funds from political control and also to ensure accountability.
Under IF-K, contractors are paid by the State government on a quarterly basis. The implication is that contractors do not have to be mobilised before they commence projects since they are guaranteed payment at different milestones of the project, thereby giving no room for abandoned projects.
Since its establishment, the State government has released over N7billion to contractors handling various road projects across the State. The government recently released another sum of N862, 605, 337.94 to contractors handling various ongoing infrastructural projects across the State.
The State Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Demola Banu, who disclosed this in a statement issued recently in Ilorin, said the latest release represents 2017 second quarterâ€™s payment for projects under the Kwara Infrastructure Development Fund (IF-K) payment grid.
He said, â€œThrough IFK, the State government has been able to fund ongoing projects and initiate new ones across the State.â€
He said the affected projects include the ongoing construction of Geri-Alimi split diamond underpass, the ongoing construction of KWASU campuses in Ekiti and Ilesha-Baruba, KWASU Post-Graduate School in Ilorin, ongoing dualisation of UITH – Sango road and the Light Up Kwara Project (LUK).
Other projects scheduled for implementation under IFK include a new State Secretariat for civil servants, renovation of Indoor sport hall of the Kwara State stadium among others.
Alhaji Banu also said, â€œIn January, 2017, the State government released the sum of N2,163,367,825.19 to contractors handling various infrastructure projects across the state.
In furtherance of his commitment to ensure that all ongoing and new projects are completed, Banu added that, â€œGovernor Abdulfatah Ahmed in March this year released additional N900 million to the contractors.
The commissioner stressed that, â€œSome of the beneficiary projects include Gerewu road in Ilorin, rehabilitation of Oko bridge, Awolowo-Bubu-Oke odo road, Ilorin, Agbabiaka road in Ilorin, Eiyenkorin-Afon road, construction of Igbesi Tanke road and Kokorokan-Isale Aluko road.
â€œThe payment also covers various ongoing projects across the State, which include construction of Arobadi-Megida road, Share-Oke Ode road (section 1 & 2), Arandun-Rore Ipetu Road, Eruku township road, Amule Saraki bridge in Ilorin, Obbo Ile-Isapa road, Erin Ile-Ilemona road, Oko Idofin-Odo Ase road, Idofian-Fufu-Lajiki road, Chikanda Kosubosu road, Offa-Ipee road, Ogbondoroko township road, Offa-Ira road, construction of Ilala Bridge and rehabilitation of Anilelerin-Ita Erin road, Offaâ€, he added.
Others include construction of a female hostel at College of Nursing, Oke-Ode, channelisation of Olaolu Offa Garage Ajase-Ipo, channelisation along Akerebiata road, and channelisation network of Ita-Alamu village.
Under the IF- K review, the state government also ensured that the inter and intra state transportation improved through its agency, Harmony Holdings Limited, which procured 42 new buses for the State Transport Corporation, now called Harmony Express with the cost of N275 million.
The government has also intervened on different federal roads within the State to ease economic activities and reduce the hardship faced by motorists who ply the roads. Similarly, several state and rural roads, either inherited or initiated, have been completed or are at various stages of completion.
These include Ganmo-Afon Road, Fate-GSS Road, Ilorin, Babanloma Township road, Oloro Palace Road, Adualere Isale Koko road, Ilorin, Maigida-Arobadi road, Ilesha Baruba Gwanara road, Kishi-Kaiama Road, Airport-Egbejila Road, Ejiba road, Ilorin, Oke Opin Township Road, Oke Andi-Taoheed road, Basin Ilorin etc.
However, at the flag-off of one of the projects under the IF-K, the School of Agriculture of the KWASU located at Ilesha-Baruba in Baruten local government council of the state, the state governor, Alhaji Ahmed said, â€œIndeed, the citing of the School of Agriculture at this location is no less strategic. Baruten Local Government and indeed Ilesha Baruba is well known for her agriculture practices. Here, we do not only have cattle international market but buoyant yam production alongside other cropsâ€.
Ahmed said, â€œIn the last three years, Nigeriaâ€™s economy went into recession because we failed to save the proceeds from crude oil sales when the demand was high with good pricesâ€.
He said, â€œThe over-reliance on crude oil as the mainstay of the economy then led to massive unemployment because crude oil production is capital intensive with fewer hands required in the sector.
â€œArising from this bad experience of the economic recession, the need to look inward for recovery becomes expedient; this explains why our only option is to develop agriculture. To do this as a purposeful government, support to Kwara State University to promote knowledge in agricultural practices in all its ramifications becomes a task.â€
â€˜This flag-off ceremony here today therefore is a testimony of my determination to promote a broad base knowledge in Agricultural development and practices.
â€œAs you are aware, subsistent agriculture using the traditional hoe and cutlass is not acceptable as it is not attractive to our young men and women and this would ruin our future. Using this location for School of Agriculture to teach and research on modern approach to higher productivity in agriculture is therefore meant to drive mechanised agriculture to the grassrootsâ€, the governor added.
Some of the residents of the state who spoke on condition of anonymity with our correspondent lauded the state government initiative for the introduction of IF-K as a platform to address the issue of infrastructure deficit in the state.
They opined that the development would bring new lease of life to the socio-economic development of the state. They however advised the state government to extend the initiative to other rural areas of the state in order to end rural – urban migration in the state.
IF-K has boosted the capacity of the State government to carry out developmental projects despite the current national economic downturn. With the stable funding provided by IFK, it is certain that all projects at hand would be funded to completion. Also, the development will have direct impacts on the socio-economic evolvement and well-being of the state; in both the urban centres and the rural localities.