They called the shots in their various capacities as lieutenants of immediate past Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed and helped in driving the policy thrust of the last administration. But their cause to serve the state did not come without sacrifices. In this special report by MUMINI ABDULKAREEM and MATTHEW DENIS, the immediate past Deputy Governor, Elder Peter Kisira, some former commissioners and former chairman of Local Government Service Commission, Hajia Sarat Adebayo speak on their experiences in the government while their tenures lasted.
Ex-Deputy Governor, Elder Peter Kisira: I’ll go back to farming
It was the first time Kwara North will be given opportunity to serve in this capacity and it has been an experience of much learning and I didn’t have anybody to look up to from the north to teach me one or two things with respect to serving our people. So, it has been an experience of learning process about leadership in this capacity.
Most challenging moment
The first challenge is that you must stay on the job whether it is interesting or not. Coupled with this is the political development in the state and as a deputy governor to remain loyal to the party and the leadership, especially when our people in Kwara North seem to be going the other way. Also we had the problem of funding and whether the money is there or not, you just have to perform your job to support your boss. But we are happy to have served in the position God bestowed on us especially for the younger generation coming to learn from.
Funding issue was a big challenge, there are quite a number of things you would probably want to do but can’t because of the paucity of fund. Issue of holy pilgrimage for both Muslims and Christians had to be stopped and there is also issue of funding education and some challenges in health service, the issue of unemployment which was particularly touching for me as one from the background of teaching and administration before dabbling into politics. These are the areas that I would have love to do more.
Going back to the classroom and considering farming which I have flair for is also not ruled out and any other role in the church. I would miss the official routine.
Why I almost resigned – ex-commissioner for Education, Hajia Bilikisu Oniyangi
It has been a wonderful experience this past one year especially coming from the private sector because the way we do things there is quite different from what is obtainable in the civil service. You tend to learn a lot working with the civil servants and I am taking lot back with me and if God wills it again that I am going to work with them, I am going to comeback a better person because I have been able to acquire a lot of knowledge and intrigues of civil servants. The assignment expanded my horizon.
When we have the issue of the undue PTA charges, I got a text message from Governor Ahmed asking why I suspended principals and that I should see him Asap the next morning. I told myself, “Bilikisu now you have done it” and that night I made a decision that “it is either I leave the system tomorrow or I continue.” I had decided that the affected principals had to go on suspension whether they like it or not because they committed the offence and if I am asked to revert, it means I cannot stay. When I entered the governor’s office the next day, he was seated and normally he would tell me to have my seat, but there was no such thing. He asked me what was going on and I told him and he said I should go ahead. I was so happy because it meant I have his support hundred percent.
I am going back to the private sector and there are so many things to do. I am a research student at the moment which will give me an avenue to complete my Ph.d. I can go back to the banking industry or be a visiting lecturer or consultant. What I will miss most is waking up every day and going as a spy into schools. I operated an open door policy. What I would have loved to do is to complete the move to take our education management and commission system will go online real time. All it needs now is implementation and I hope the next government will be able to complete it. It would revolutionise our education system for good with technology that will curb the so-called miracle centres and provide us with essential data, statistics, proper monitoring among others.
Inability to complete Kwara devt master plan, my regret – Former Commissioner for Planning and Economic Development, Alhaji Wasiu Odewale
My four years experience as Commissioner was fantastic. The major achievements during my tenure when I came to power first was the resuscitation of community and social development projects to enhance community driven development in our rural areas; execution of a subsidiary loans agreement with the federal Ministry of Finance/World Bank towards raising the sum of $4 million for rural development via KWCSDA; facilitation of the release of N50 million counterpart fund in the three senatorial districts of the state to benefit the pro-poor programme such construction of health centres, primary schools, rural roads, electrification etcetera; return of UNICEF field officers Kaduna back to Kwara state after their exit from the state four years; migration from incremental Budget preparation system to Zero based budget preparation system from 2016 to date, among others.
The inability to ensure construction of the building housing the ministry, which is presently using a rented apartment. I had promised my staff that the state Governor will erect another befitting state Secretariat from the Paris club funds which will accommodate the ministry too but it wasn’t achieved despite the fact that the project had reached 70 percent. Another aspect was that I was unable to complete Kwara State development master plan from 2015 to 2030 due to shortage of funds, but it has reached 50 percent.
Execution of anchor borrowers’ scheme, major goal : Former Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Bamidele Adegoke
My four years in office as Commissioner recorded tremendous achievements. The effective execution of Anchor Borrowers Scheme and expanded farming activities across the sixteen Local Government Areas has remained my major goals. Some of the programmes under my leadership are the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) where loans were given to youth farmers and cooperatives across the state; clearing of expansion of farmlands in Malete , Oke-Oyi, Alateko and other parts of the state. Also fish farmers were able to access loans from the Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme. The All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kwara state branch benefited a lot of programmes too. To boost the state revenue the ministry engaged in sales of eggs at a reasonable price to the people, as well as seedlings and other farming inputs to the farmers.
The new government should look at all available opportunities in ensuring food security and interact directly with the farmers ad various stakeholders.
My worst day in office: Ex-Commissioer for Culture and Tourism, Dr Amina Ahmed
My first assignment was in Ministry of Tertiary Education, which was my area of specialisation. It was very interesting though there were challenges and we had to deal with it. As Commissioner of Culture and Tourism, I was able to organise lectures to correct many things. An academia in a political zone is a very serious issue, in academics you are free to talk have you lectures when you want and public demand is not that high, but in politics, it was hell, everybody see you as a commissioner and think the whole money come to your purse and they want you to do everything for them.
My happiest day was when my name was announced for the second time as commissioner by Governor Ahmed. In all my life, I have never lobbied for anything. God has always done it for me.
Worst day was during my first tenure when thunder killed one of the Oro College of Education staff.
If God says I will continue in politics or go back to the classroom, so be it.
KWASU VCship issue, my biggest challenge – ex-Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Barr. Saadudeen Abdullahi Alikinla
The post of commissioner is quite different from my previous positions. There, we served the whole state and not a segment. The task is enormous when you consider the issue of unions and students, strikes and demonstrations, but we have been able to solve it; meeting their demands. We met at least 50 percent of their demands.
Most challenging assignment
It was when government wanted to ask my brother and VC of KWASU who is a family member, Prof AbdulRasheed Na’Allah to proceed on terminal leave and I was ordered to do it. I was told that I’ll be sacked if I refused to do it. The smoke of the little thing I did has still not cleared yet. Later I was able to plead to the government and he was reinstated. It was my biggest challenge.
As for what next, I am lawyer and I will continue with my practice and also continue my Islamic activities as preacher. I had wanted all the tertiary institutions to be digitalised in Kwara State and have a central controlling internet which will be at the ministry but the cooperation was not there. That pains me.
Allegation of looting govt property saddened me – ex-Chairman, Local Government Service Commission, Hajia Sarat Adebayo
It was interesting and challenging and we thank God. We did the little monitoring we could do to put the workers on their toes for proper service delivery at the grassroots and training and retraining of staff for all cadres despite the meagre resources at our disposal. They have never had it so good and many people applauded our effects. What I will call regret is just the finance challenge, altitudinal behaviours of staff and politics attached to it coupled with the fake news and slandering that we encountered. We were alleged to have engaged in clandestine employment which was untrue. My message to Kwara is that we should be prayerful for our state to grow from strength and in human capacity
My worst day
My worst day was the day the Senate President was docked for an offence he did not commit. It also include all the allegations being peddled about me on the issue that the property of the commission is in my care and I challenged the commission to name the property that is still in my care. I am a woman of integrity and understand rule of law as an administrator and anybody that feels otherwise can take me to court.
I will continue to stand with my leader, mentor and role model, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and we will continue to make contribution where necessary as an opposition and also engage in some businesses as an entrepreneur to keep body and soul together. Nobody can silence us on what we believe in and we will lend our voice where necessary. We wish the new government well. Saraki came, saw and conquered. We are foot soldiers of Bukola Saraki and there is no regret or apology for that.
Paucity of fund, challenging: ex-Commissioner for Energy, Taiye Eleja
As a Commissioner for Energy and a cabinet member in the state, I had good and bad experiences. Good in the sense that I was able to make impact within the short time spent as commissioner. As we all know, we have paucity of fund that is what I can mention as the negative side. At times, we will want to do certain projects but because of paucity of fund, we became handicapped.
I had so many happy moments but the only one I can recall vividly was about four months ago when we had power shortage, and tried to sign an MoU with the IBEDC, at the dime minute, they refused to go ahead with it, that served as an impediment for me to serve the people. Later, I was able to convince the governor to make certain investment so that power could be restored to the people. The day it was restored, was one of my happiest days.
Wish my mum was alive when I was appointed – Former Commissioner, Industry and Solid Mineral, Hon. Ahmed Al-Hassan
Talking about my experience, I will first thank Almighty Allah for giving me the opportunity to serve. Where I come from in Lafiaji, the issue of commissionership is a rotational system. We have three zones in our area. For two terms now, the selection they’ve been making in Lafiaji, the person picked died after the screening, the second person, after the screening, three months in office, he died. I was screened, sworn-in, I resumed office on 23rd May, 2018 and I left the office on the same 23rd May, 2019. I thank God for sparing my life.
What’s your happiest day?
It was when my family visited me in my office as commissioner, I was happy that they did. And sister visited too that same day. That day, they prayed for to be governor of the state.
The only thing that pains was that my mother is late. If she were to be alive for the one year Ie served in government, I would have been the happiest person on earth. I lost her before I was appointed.
I’m a politician and I will continue to be, I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Uptill now, I’m a PDP member. I’m expecting God to call me again, and I’m sure, He will.
My prayer is that Kwara progresses and develop more than this. The state should become like London, United State of America.