One Year After Otoge, a Postmortem
The idea behind Otoge Movement in Kwara and its gains deserve a critical dissection, writes Olukayode Thomas
In Kwara’s 53-year history, few politicians have offered to serve the state like Governor Abdulrasaq.
From contesting to be the State’s Governor to Senator, Abdulrasaq has offered to serve on many occasions on the CPC and PDP platforms.
For someone who has been offering himself to serve his people for over a decade, this reporter expects that Abdulrasaq has a blueprint on how take Kwara to the next level and has identified men and women that will help to turn his vision into reality.
But 365 days after, discerning observers are united in the thought that Abdulrasaq lacks the capacity or even the will to improve the fortunes of the State
They posit that this is due to his limited education, abject inexperience, lack of exposure and inferiority complex, which make him abhor cerebral people.
Parochialism in Appointment
Even before he was elected governor, Abdulrasaq’s appointees gave credence to insinuations that he has inferiority complex and can only work with family members who will not expose his lack of capacity.
Abdulrasaq’s next appointment was his uncle Aminu Adisa Logun, whom he appointed as Chief of Staff.
When he eventually named his cabinet after several most of the appointees are family and friends, or their children. A third-rate, mediocre collection of apprentices who lack even the basic capacity to hold positions at local government, much less state level.
Insiders in Abdulrasaq’s government could not fathom the choice of a teacher Oyeyemi Olasunmbo as Commissioner of Finance. Governor Muhammed Lawal appointed a former director of finance in Coca-Cola, Bukola Saraki appointed Fatah Ahmed a highly experienced banker and Ahmed also appointed Ademola Banu another financial guru, as finance commissioners.
By appointing a teacher, no disrespect meant, to lead and engineer the finances of the state at a most critical time, one must again wonder if Abdulrasaq really knew why he was Governor.
At FAC meetings, when top bankers, accountants and financial gurus representing other states are using statistics and technical acumen to defend their states’ interests, what will be the contribution of Oyeyemi, how will she defend the interest of Kwara?
KWASU VC Crisis and Abdulrasaq’s Leadership Acumen
Aside appointing incompetent hands, Abdulrasaq’s handling of the Kwara State University Vice Chancellor appointment clearly shows he is ungrateful, lack of wisdom and tact.
Kwara North gave him more votes than his constituency, Kwara Central, but Abdulrasaq in his usual narrow mindedness denied the region’s son Mahmud Saka the chance to be Vice Chancellor despite coming first in the interview and already occupying the position in acting capacity.
Farooq A. Kperogi a professor from Kwara North based in the United States said “passing over the most qualified candidate for the job of Vice Chancellor for a barely qualified intellectual parvenu because of where they come from is just outright condemnable.”
Phantom Governor Fighting Needless Wars
A challenged state like Kwara needs all hands on deck to move forward, but Abdulrasaq has been a phantom governor in the last 365 days, appearing and disappearing with the wind.
Reporters in Kwara revealed he has only met the media twice, the first time being when he was celebrating 100 days in office and when he addressed the media on Covid 19.
Some claim the State Executive Council have only met once since inauguration, while others claimed they have not met at all.
Those conversant with Abdulrasaq from his childhood are not surprised that he turned out to be a phantom governor. They revealed that as a child he was a recluse popularly called KoSin Le.
Earlier in his politics career, during his days in CPC and PDP, his supporters call him Mr. Dakor, an Ilorin slang for an elusive and deceptive person.
Because of his perpetual absence, the state is grounded.
Due to lack of depth or inferiority complex, Abdulrasaq is fighting many battles on many fronts. His relationship with the Emir of Ilorin is frosty. Upon assumption of office, he withdrew from the traditional rulers in State the Government Chalet opposite the Presidential Lodge, where they usually stay whenever they are in Ilorin.
Abdulrasaq’s lack of tact has also led to the factionalisation of his party, the APC in Kwara. As at today we have a group loyal to party Chairman Basiru Bolarinwa and those loyal to the governor, known as the AA Group.
While civil servants in Kwara are still waiting for him to fulfill his promise to pay the N30, 000 minimum wage, Abdulrazaq retired all permanent secretaries in the state though many of them are still tenure protected and replaced them with some directors who have failed promotion exams.
Between Abdulrasaq and the two ministers from Kwara, Lai Muhammed and Gbemi Saraki, there’s no love lost. The cold war between them was fought on the pages of newspapers recently over who supported or worked against the appointment of Fareeda Dankaka as Chairperson, Federal Character Commission.
Days of the Locust and Unsubstantiated Claims
Acting without tact the way Abdulrasaq has carried on in the last 365 days is usually costly in the long run.
Members of factions within APC claimed he recently gave APC Ward Chairmen fifty thousand Naira each to buy their loyalty, if the party had been united, there won’t be need for this wasteful spending.
Claims that he had spent N8 billion on health, has been described as bogus as there is nothing on ground to justify the claim.
There are also allegations that all contracts in Kwara now goes to members of the governors’ family. They cited the return of First August, the construction company that held the sway when Lawal was Governor between 1999-2003.
With the better part of 365 days spent on frivolous activities, fighting former governors of the state endlessly, introducing probes to cover his lack of capacity, Abdulrasaq’s Media Team came up with some phantom achievements to justify 365 days in office.
The most annoying is bench marking one year of government that promised us Eldorado with the performances of Saraki and Ahmed.
Even some of their claims were false. The money they claimed they used to pay the state share of health interventions was in the State’s account before Abdulrasaq was sworn in but after losing the election, the outgoing government was denied access to all state government’s accounts.
Abdulrasaq media team’s claimed that he has enrolled 10,000 people in free health insurance. This is a lie from hell.
I am bemused that Abdulrasaq is celebrating employment of 37 doctors when Ahmed that we called a failure employed several consultants, remodeled five general hospitals and established the only renal center in the North Central.
After 365 days, Kwarans are asking Abdulrasaq; where is your development plan? What is your vision for agriculture and the 193 tractors you promised each ward during the 2019 election campaign? Why is the revenue generated by KWIRS shrouded in so much secrecy? Why have you refused to sign the freedom of information bill in to law?
Kwara Professionals Must Stand Up
To move forward, Kwara needs a Third Force that will set the terms of engagement between the leaders and the led, and Kwara professionals from Central, North and South of the State need to rise up against these professional politicians, jobbers and charlatans.
Kwarans should be worried that states established about the same time with Kwara like Rivers, Cross Rivers, Kano, Imo and others are far ahead of Kwara. Even states that were created after ours like Ogun are ahead of us. How can a State that was the never centre of bureaucracy in Northern Nigeria at the time of creation now be led by a governor with hardly any education to speak of?
Enough of Abdulrasaq’s shenanigans, pretentious humility and deception, he is not collecting salary but what about security vote and monthly running cost of his office which is millions?
We Kwarans must rise up and take back our state from political jobbers. The revolution that overthrew Saraki in 2019 showed the real power of the people. But certainly, the job is not done. This Abdulrasaq could not have been God’s plan for Kwara State.
*Thomas, a native of Offa resident in Lagos, is a two time CNN African Journalist of the Year Award Winner