AbdulRazaq’s Silent Transformation of Kwara State Despite Party Crisis

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Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq

Adedayo Akinwale examines how Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State is gaining the confidence of his people with developmental projects, not minding, the crisis rocking the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress

During the 2019 general election, the All Progressives Congress (APC) did what many thought was impossible in Kwara State when it pulled off one of the most surprising results of the election with the demolition of former Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki’s dynasty in the State of Harmony.

Though the revolution against the Saraki dynasty did not start in 2019, it dated back to 2007 or thereabout, but it was not meant to be until an amalgam of politicians disenchanted with the political hegemony of the Saraki dynasty under the ‘O to Ge’ movement dismantled the 40-year reign of the Saraki family in the state.

It wasn’t long after the victory of APC at the polls that a war of supremacy started between the governor’s camp and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Minister of State for Transport, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, Prince Sunday Fagbemi and Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo.

The Kwara APC was further neck-deep in crisis in December 2020 when the deadline for every state chapter of the party to pick its Caretaker Committee members ahead of the party’s June 2021 national convention.

Expectedly, the governor, who is trying to hold a firm grip on the party structure in the state pushed for the chairmanship of Fagbemi, his long-time political ally. But the proposal did not sail through. Eventually Bashir Bolarinwa who was the chairman when the ‘O to Ge’ movement emerged victorious was retained.

However, the disharmony in Kwara APC degenerated from bad to worse a few days to the commencement of the ongoing party membership revalidation and registration exercise. The governor had written a petition intimating the Caretaker Committee led by the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni of his discomfort working with Bolarinwa as the state party chairman. Instead, he opted for Bolarinwa’s deputy, Abdullahi Samari.

Due to the supremacy battle for the control of the party, there has been a well coordinated and sustained campaign of calumny by the opposing camp aimed at bringing the government of AbdulRazaq into disrepute.

This, however, has not stopped the governor who has the determination to turn the state around. He has quietly been gaining the confidence of his people with various developmental projects going on in the state.

For instance, before his administration came into being, pipe-borne water was hard to come by in the state. Most residents relied on water tankers for their daily usage, while some who have the means provided. Even the Government House was not left out as it equally patronised the water tankers.

To put an end to this ugly situation, within his first year in office, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq embarked on projects that will ensure seamless supply of water in the state. These include; rehabilitation of Lafiagi Water Works, rehabilitation of Asa-Dam Water Works, rehabilitation of Patigi Water Works, rehabilitation of Igbaja Water Works, rehabilitation of Kaiama Water Works, rehabilitation of Gwanara Water Works, rehabilitation of Up Kwara Water.

The Governor also ensured the refurbishment of Agbabiaka Water Tanks Ilorin, rehabilitation of Yashikira Waterworks, rehabilitation of Oro-Ago Water Works, Inter-connection of Eastern Reservoir and Awolowo Road in Tanke, diversion of ductile iron pipes across Alagbado stream, repair of Lafiagi Water Works and its environment, among others.

A former member of Kwara State House of Assembly Hon. Abdulmumin Katibi said, “In May 2019, water tankers were the source of potable water in most parts of Ilorin, the capital city, even in the Government House. Today, pipe-borne water is back and stable in the metropolis while nearly 500 boreholes have either been dug or rehabilitated across the state. No fewer than nine water works have been fixed since this governor came on board while contracts for more have been awarded.”

The governor has also given priority to the education sector in the state. The sector had hitherto suffered neglect by previous administrations leading to the state being blacklisted from accessing from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) fund for more than seven years before his emergence as the governor.

Nevertheless, Abdulrazaq’s intervention in the education sector has ensured that the state accessed a backlog of N7.1 billion UBEC counterpart funds with a matching grant of N7.1 billion to gradually reposition the schools. The state is also carrying out renovation works in, at least, 43 basic schools. With the grants from UBEC now in the state coffers, about 600 basic schools are to get facelifts while teachers are also to be trained.

In order to increase the quality of education in the state, the governor has recruited 4,701 qualified and competent teachers into the public primary, junior and senior secondary schools in the state.

Also, the private school owners have also tasted his developmental efforts in the sector. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Proprietors of 1,119 privately owned schools in the state were given soft loans to help cushion the effects of the pandemic due to shutdown.

Moreso, since AbdulRazaq assumed office, urban and rural road infrastructure has continued to receive attention. The largest road reconstruction and rehabilitation projects across the nooks and cranny of the state was embarked on through his rural-urban renewal initiative project with a view to bridging the wide infrastructure in rural communities across the state and boost economic growth and development.

The administration has fixed over 100 rural and urban roads/culverts/bridges. Many agrarian communities are now getting standard roads, while those hitherto cut off from civilisation are being linked. About 500 rural roads are to be fixed under the World Bank-enabled Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) arrangement for which the administration had earlier paid counterpart funds. These road projects are spread across the senatorial districts, deliberately linking agrarian areas to the urban centres.

Some of these road projects have either been completed or nearing completion as at today. The projects include: Construction and repair of box culvert at Pampo Town, Asa Local Government Area; construction of 1.1km Market Junction, Emir’s Palace Road, Gwanara; construction of 33km Ilesha Baruba, Gwanara Road, Baruten (ongoing), construction of 87km Kaiama Kosubosu Rural Road Reconstruction, Baruten/Kaiama (ongoing); construction of 1.5km Secretariat Road, Lafiagi, Edu; Construction of 1.5km Tsaragi Market -Batakpan Box Culvert, Edu.

Others are: Construction of 3.5km Osi Township road (3.5km), Ekiti; construction of 2.3km Oro Ago – Oyate Road, Ifelodun; rehabilitation of 1.7k.CAC,Ogere, Babanloma road, Ifelodun; construction of Oriza bridge – Oro-Ago, Ifelodun; rehabilitation of 1.2km Zango Akerebiata Road, Ilorin East; construction of 2km Sobi Specialist Hospital Road, Gaa Osibi – Medina (2km), Ilorin East; construction of 1.3km Awolowo- Danialu Road, Ilorin South, among several other ongoing projects.

A chieftain of the party and a former presidential candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Mr. Ganiyu Galadima, said the governor is redefining leadership and governance in Kwara State in an unprecedented manner.

He stated: “First is his simple and humble approach to leadership which has distinguished him from the previous leaders produced by the state. He carries himself with all simplicity that demystified the office he is occupying. Sometimes you wonder if he is a governor save for the authority inherent in his office. He goes about his official duties quietly without harassing or intimidating anyone. He is a low profile and a meticulous resource manager; a goal getter and a result oriented leader. A very sincere leader of his people that is not trapped by the aura of the office he is occupying, but providing services that will benefit the entire people of the state.”

“The achievements of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq in less than two years cut across all the sectors of governance. From health to water, education, agriculture and rural development, roads and unrivaled social safety nets and empowerment for the most vulnerable members of the society and the old people in Kwara State. His rural transformation agenda is second to none and I believed that on completion of his first tenure of four years in office he would have achieved in concrete terms, what the previous governments could not achieve in 16 years of projects and programmes that benefits the people directly.”

The health sector is not left behind in the ongoing transformation of the state by AbdulRazaq’s administration. At the moment, massive rehabilitation and equipment of some major general hospitals in the state with modern gadgets will be covered. Dozens of primary health care facilities will be upgraded and equipped – in addition to those already undergoing similar facelifts. The upgrade will include an electronic medical record system for the state, significantly boosting the quality of healthcare delivery in the state. Kwara holds the unattractive trophy as the state with the highest prevalence of open defecation. A massive anti-open defecation campaign, or Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), worth N500 million would be funded with the bond to complement some existing initiatives that recently won Kwara State a pledge of 1000 pour-flush toilets from the private sector stakeholders.

Also, what mentioning is the Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP), a multi-faceted and non partisan response to the question of extreme poverty and government’s poor attention to the vulnerable. The programme is modelled after the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme. Under the scheme, at least 21,623 petty traders have accessed soft loans, while over 10,000 transporters who could not work during the COVID-19 lockdown were supported. In addition, 10,000 vulnerable and poor senior citizens, from age 60, are now getting monthly stipends under what would be the state’s first ever institutionalised social protection scheme.

The scheme is also offering free digital training to young people to help them cope in the new economy. Over 3,000 persons received training in July last year while 10,000 more are undergoing a richer version of the course in the second phase of the programme in conjunction with Wootlabs Innovation and Grow With Google. A total of 30,000 young people are billed to benefit from the training within three years.

The Kwara State version of TraderMoni (Owo Isowo) has been commended by the Federal Government for its innovative features, such as the inclusion of BVN of the beneficiaries. This is just a few of the many interventions Governor AbdulRazaq has made to lift his people out of poverty. As far as the governor is concerned, governance transcends party loyalty, hence his increased popularity with the masses.

In addition,the AbdulRazaq administration has positively changed the narrative of staff welfare in the state civil service. There is now regular payment of salary. No more percentage payment and promotion of staff has resumed while arrears of salaries and allowances dating back to as far back as 2012 are now being paid. Besides, pensioners now enjoy regular payment of pensions. A sustainable arrangement for payment of gratuities on a monthly basis has now been put in place.

The state government has concluded plans to establish a fully-integrated Kwara Garment Village and an industrial park is estimated to gulp N5 billion. The expansive facility will be equipped with fully automated equipment and uninterrupted power supply, generating at least 3,000 direct jobs, affordable quality wear, technology transfer, and revving up revenues. The facility is planned to come with backward integration that would lead to large-scale cotton cultivation involving 2,000 farmers. The industrial park, for its part, will lead to improved infrastructure for development of free trade zones, agro-processing facilities, reduced transaction costs, and better the living conditions of the people.

Even, with the internal crisis within the state chapter of the party, the governor appears not to be slowing down in his determination to transform the state. Within two years of his administration, Governor Abdulrazaq has redefined governance and leadership. But the crisis, no doubt, is a distraction. However, AbdulRazaq keeps marching on.

QUOTE

Due to the supremacy battle for the control of the party, there has been a well coordinated and sustained campaign of calumny by the opposing camp aimed at bringing the government of AbdulRazaq into disrepute. This, however, has not stopped the governor who has the determination to turn the state around. He has quietly been gaining the confidence of his people with various developmental projects going on in the state