Disappointing Governor, Uninformed Aides

By Abdulyekeen Mohd Bashir

I read, paused, then laughed. Then I read again, paused, and laughed all over. What was I looking for while pausing? I was trying to make sense of the response made by the SSA on Communications to the Governor, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.

Some time ago, there was a slot, a state slot for an agency belonging to Kwara State, which remains vacant because the Governor doesn’t even know it exists. Kwara lawmakers continue to look away simply because they don’t want to offend the Governor. Few lawmakers in particular know this, but it seems they are conserving their strength for the imminent war.

I have seen Ibraheem’s mentor goof, not because he is not brilliant, but because discussions often test their limits. Then, it becomes clear they don’t know what they are talking about. Plus, it is stressful defending a man like Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. With or without a working visit to the Federal Ministry of Works, Kwara will get what it is due. Why? There is an established blueprint on how highways are critical to Nigeria’s economy, especially agriculture, which has deep benefits for the country. Kwara’s importance in North Central can’t be overlooked, and the fact that it is a link and in the middle of various routes to both North and South makes it a valuable and considerable place for investment, especially highways. Despite recurring accidents on the Oko-Olowo axis, I believe the Governor may need to make another visit to the Ministry of Works regarding the construction of a pedestrian bridge to mitigate accidents on the route. It costs the Kwara State Government nothing significant to actually build a pedestrian bridge on that highway. Rather than addressing the issue causing deaths and destruction along the Oko-Olowo axis, Governor Abdulrahman is busy constructing a white elephant bridge at Challenge, wasting billions of taxpayers’ money on the ridiculous project.

I believe Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq also paid a visit to the Federal Ministry of Communications on the 3MTT programme of the Ministry. If not, Kwarans might have been excluded. Funny people! There are statutory benefits that go to each state every budget year. The Appropriation Act is very clear; projects to be executed are contained in both actual and supplementary budgets. Unlike Kwara, the FG hardly spends on what is not initially in its budget, except where unspecified, which is more peculiar to the constituency projects of lawmakers.

I wouldn’t want to make this about Saraki. The induction programme of the NGF is one of his legacies. He was instrumental in the doctrine of necessity that was eventually adopted to hand over power to Jonathan. He led the national polio eradication programme as NGF Chairman. In fact, the NGF became a policy forum rather than politics, a legacy that remains to this day. Perhaps, it is this lack of capacity that is making the current Governor of Niger, Bago, be tipped as a potentially better Chairman of the Forum than Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. It is known across Nigeria, in the largest and smallest rooms at the national level, that Governor AA can’t drive policies. It is an open secret, and perhaps some of his aides who travel to Abuja trying to scout for the state may be honest about this. Which door has Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq’s name conveniently opened for them? Before I forget, how many State Governors go to MDAs with lawmakers rather than cabinet members who will drive policies and implementations? The last time the lawmakers visited TETFund along with the Governor, what was their role there other than escort and advance team? To date, neither the Governor nor the lawmakers have returned to the Agency to follow up. Adeleke of Osun State visited the same Agency with relevant Commissioners who took over and followed up on areas of discussion. Will lawmakers abandon their duties and assume cabinet roles? These inadequacies are open and seen by many like a gladiator’s game.

Like I said, many of the Governor’s appointees committed to personal development and growth must seek to learn outside of their immediate environment. Many other governors go with young individuals to agencies to learn, be part of discussions, not leave them to be attending Student Union programmes of their universities. There is more out there to learn about administration, inter-government relationships, bilateral agreements, and MOUs, among other exchanges that will make them understand the workings of government. Ibraheem is definitely limited, as he sang like Ajobiewe throughout his response rather than discuss issues critically. Also, he was quick to be political about it, his safest way out. I saw on some platforms how they were parading a lack of response as an achievement. Isn’t that too clownish? Who told him Saraki even saw his long essay or is interested in a rejoinder from his camp? When you support the government, you are not sponsored, but when you speak against it, you are sponsored or paid and/or belong to a side.

What role did the governor play to ensure Lukman Mustapha retained his position at the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, especially with the proposed Ilorin Smart City project where such an agency could play a critical role? He did nothing. Like I tell some of Lukman’s boys, he neither worked against their boss, nor did he do anything to ensure he survived the axing. Abdulrahman enjoys watching an open field, enjoying the breeze, and just smiling.

Did the Governor play any role in the emergence of Fagbemi and Bio as Ministers? No, he did not. While Kwara APC was touting Belgore as a potential Minister, Belgore didn’t even make the list. His name never crawled there, and Abdulrahman’s alleged solicitation for his brother was blatantly refused and thrown out the window. The dinner held for Minister Fagbemi was just for attachment. And let us even pause: does Fagbemi even identify with Kwara? He is a Kwaran only on paper. Bio’s appointment was allegedly facilitated by Seyi Tinubu, son of the President. Yet, Abdulrahman is NGF Chairman—hilarious!

Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme? Buhari signed that and granted tax holidays to private companies and individuals that committed funds for the rehabilitation of roads. Companies get a tax holiday for doing that. It is being handled by FIRS, and I will recommend that Ibraheem read about it. It is one of the existing PPP frameworks in the country. The present FIRS Chairman is currently kicking against the scheme and advocating that rather than Executive prerogatives, it should be done via the Federation Account. If it is just for learning’s sake, just follow the discussion.

Beyond photo ops, statutory projects allocated to Kwara, excursions, and acting as Airport ushering coordinator for the President, what is the true value of the NGF Chair? I believe Saraki people have the right to speak on the attack on their principal. Definitely, he commanded more respect than Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, even to this day.

*Bashir writes from Ibadan

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