Last week, the new leaders of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union, IEDPU, were at Government House on a courtesy visit to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed. It was an opportunity to rub minds on diverse issues affecting the emirate from point of view of the community leaders and also appraise how far the elected government has been able to tackle some of these issues.
The union expressed delight over some of the achievements of the governor, particularly in the areas of road maintenance, the Light Up Kwara project, improvement in commitment to education as well as the health policy outlook of the administration. These are just few of the unprecedented achievements of the resourceful and innovative Governor Ahmed.
And for real, I marvel at what Dr Ahmed has been able to achieve in the face of daunting but unexpected economic challenge confronting our nation. States, especially those bereft of needed intellectual capacity to turn things around, became incapacitated at paying workers’ salaries, talkless of fulfilling their electoral promises. From an insider’s perspective, I know our expected income from the federation account has shockingly dwindled from a monthly average of N3.4b to a ridiculous amount of N1.7b. With an average wage bill of N2.4b, only an innovative and resourceful governor can weather the storm.
This was what gave birth to the reformation of the administration of the state’s tax collection processes. Before now, revenues collected by various collecting agencies seldom get to government coffers. Our collective wealth were often diverted to private pockets. The personalities and the processes were reformed to meet modern challenges and needs. The new Kwara State Internal Revenue Services, KWIRS, headed by a season administrator and academic, selected through a transparent process, succeeded in blocking leakages in our revenue within the first few months of its operation. This process, though has yielded tremendous success, is on-going. It is on an auto cruising mode.
The success in our capacity to up our internally generated revenue without undue burden on our people whose interest Governor Ahmed swore to protest, has delivered a major product, the Infrastructure Fund Kwara, IF-K. Under If-K model, the state sets aside N500 million monthly. And quarterly, contractors working on various projects in the state collect parts of their contractual sum. This means that every month, a contractor or some contractors must collect something. This, no doubt, is new and original. It has no equal, at least none that I know.
Governor Ahmed’s originality has made it possible to fund the ongoing Gerin Alimi Diamond Underpass, the dualisation of Sango-UITH road, the two campuses of KWASU, the new secretariat complex, among others, simultaneously without the state having to borrow either from the capital or commercial mark.
So, such encomiums coming from the umbrella organisation for the entire Ilorin emirate, therefore, are not to be taken lightly. As a newsman, I know if it had been a condemnation, my colleagues would have gladly scurried after its content to spill it out to the public. But we thank God that IEDPU is seeing what the administration is doing. The LUK has become a toast of many residents with daily requests from communities now asking to be included in the project as well as the investment in education and health.
While Gov Ahmed invited the union for a continuous and constructive dialogue asking them to seek clarifications on all issues of mutuality, I also see this as a right time to make some interventions on what I think the new leadership of the IEDPU should think about and pursue with all vigour to have their tenure recorded in gold just as their predecessors have done. And no doubt, the IEDPU has recorded unprecedented achievements in the community, especially on education and other social and religious services to the community.
Now is the time to go back to base.
We live in a very challenging time; where the interface between western culture and our cherished indigeneous ways of life has produced some astonishing outcomes; some pleasant and bitter results. The family and community values have deteriorated. One of the challenges the new leadership of our beloved union would therefore have to deal with is the fast eroding value attached to community upbringing. It is sad to note that unlike in the past, today’s child is the child of his father, and no longer a property of the community. We grew up hearing our parents tell us that two people may bear a child, but the responsibility of training the child belong to the entire community. But not anymore; the benefits we derived from corporate child upbringing have been killed by the emergence of the philosophy of individualism. The new IEDPU must rise to the occasion and find the required strategy that would reinvent community upbringing as part of our way of life.
This becomes all the more imperative when we consider the fact that one worrisome fall out of the dearth of community parenting is the escalation of anti social activities, particularly the prevalence of cultism among our youths of both gender. Cultism in Ilorin has become a strong social menace that must be tackled. One cannot but commend the efforts of the immediate past leadership of the IEDPU in terms of social education, awareness, empowerment, etc to reduce the menace of cultism and miscreants in the emirate. The new leadership must spring from where its predecessor stopped and work with all stakeholders until we are able to return our community to its initial pristine nature where evils such as cultism were foreign to us.
Another issue the new leadership must also confront boldly is hate speech and emergence of political preachers. Let me clarify this: there is nothing wrong if a preacher, in the attempt to point men to God, religiosity and piety, speak against what is perceived as wrongdoings by those in government. That to me is their sacred duty. But when a preacher uses the privilege of his platform to deliberately incite and attack government in order to give an undue advantage to self or a group to which he belongs, I think such a preacher has left the threshold of religiosity and joined the band of politicians.
Unfortunately, it does appear to me that we have more of such preachers around in the community these days than ever. They breed hatred, instead of love. They breed division, instead of oneness. They are the ones who set our boys against one another with their imbalanced messages; they are the ones who set the people against the government based not on fair argument but antagonism dressed in the garb of a sermon. We must condemn them. We must stop them from further polluting the society. We must not allow them to create another version of the evil in the North-East on our soil here.
These preachers should focus on dealing with the myriad of moral decadence in the community. Or how much have they done to end the daily exposure to immorality among our girls and wives? This reduction in the degree of moral conformity is at the root of most of the social problems. It is because our clerics have abandoned the role of genuine social crusaders and reformists and advocates of parental responsibilities, that our children have embraced strange cultures and now trouble us day and night. Let the IEDPU leadership in conjunction with our traditional institutions and committee of Ulamas put in place tangible measures to curb the proliferation of political preachers who are actually more deadly than the active politician. This is what is done in Saudi Arabia and other sane climes.
You know you can choose either to believe a politician or not, but you are expected to choose to believe a preacher, because of that title; preacher. But when he is preaching hatred? The fact that they control the belief of the people is a potent reason IEDPU must work to ensure they do the right thing. Lest we breed our own Boko Haram
I wish the IEDPU new leadership a successful tenure. Congratulations on your elections.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org