By Abdulwahab Oba
When the mantle of leadership fell on Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed as the 6th Executive Governor of Kwara State, those familiar with his pedigree as a highly successful banker who also held forth as Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning, at different times in the preceding administration of Dr Bukola knew something different must happen in the state.
A highly cerebral personality, team player and management expert, Governor Ahmed wasted no time in cruising comfortablly the ship of the state. Completing on going projects was no big deal since he knew where the job started and where it stopped. In hundred days, there was no single pothole in the capital city of Ilorin, the cynosure of all eyes. The diagnostic centre, the police A division/Michael Imodu road, the cargo wet station of the Ilorin International Airport among other on going projects were completed in record time.
Fine tuning the financial landscape and building on the successes of his predecessor, the equally gifted administrator, Dr. Bukola Saraki qualify Gov Ahmed’s ingenuity. As political activities occupy the centre stage across the country with the Governor legitimately and deservedly eying the Kwara South Senatorial ticket, it is apt to take an inventory of major achievements of the Ahmed’s administration. Things were relatively easy in the first four years. The governor wasted no time in exploiting the opportunities presented by a buoyant national economy. He ensured that workers salaries were paid as at when due. He initiated policies that would expand economic opportunities for residents of the state.
However, the second term of the administration became a testy experience for stakeholders as Nigerians woke up to the reality of an economic recession; skyrocketing prices, falling government revenue and eventually accumulation of salary arrears. It’s been such a long time we had it that bad. But such test of fire only helps to bring out the best in the prepared. And Ahmed appeared prepared for the task as he coalesced his team to create a Kwara that will in the future, if it occurs again, defend itself against the harshness of recession. That is the role of a futuristic leader; being able to project into the future and prepare the followers for what it takes.
More than these, my interest is that in the past few weeks, I have been going through various documents about the activities of this administration and I was amazed that even in the midst of the turbulence that was the economic recession, this government was still working. I was therefore not surprised that the governor told newsmen who interviewed him recently that his government has modestly achieved what it sought out to do in Kwara state. For doubters, I seek to produce below a summary of some of what this government has done in seven years, all of which are verifiable.
Since the inception of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed’s administration in 2011, his vision has been to make Kwara State a major economic hub by levering on competitive advantages in agriculture, entrepreneurship, innovation and location. In summary, the state government completed the 28 projects it inherited from the previous administration in the ministry of Works and Transport and has gone ahead to complete 28 fresh ones scattered across the state. In the Ministry of Water Resources, the administration inherited 10 projects which have since been completed, initiated 22 new ones and completed them after which it started three fresh others that are currently ongoing.
In the Ministry of Energy, it inherited 177 projects, did them and went ahead to initiate 237 others that have been completed and currently the ministry is working on 30 fresh projects. In the Health Ministry, the administration inherited a total of 15 projects, did them to completion and undertook 42 new ones which have been completed. Six new ones are now ongoing. The Ministry of Planning had no inherited project but in the last seven years has completed 68 projects across the state. The Kwara State Community and Social Development Agency inherited 15 projects at the inception of the administration in 2011, completed them and went ahead to initiate 110 others which have also been completed. Now the agency is working on 47 fresh projects across the state. There is no space to list the projects one after the other but there is no community where they are sited that would deny their existence.
The document I perused stated as follows: “Among the various programs embarked on by the administration to ensure prosperity for Kwarans is the Kwara Micro Credit Intervention Scheme which was established to boost small and medium scale enterprises in the State with an initial N250m. The scheme has since grown to a cumulative N1.9b with more than 50,000 beneficiaries. In recognition of the need for engineering education and to position the state for technological leadership, Governor Ahmed constructed an N800m Engineering complex for the Kwara State University (KWASU and expanded access by subsidizing tuition at the university.
Furthermore, in his drive to promote entrepreneurship in the state through vocational training, Dr Ahmed established the International Vocational Technical and Entrepreneurship Centre, (IVTEC), at Ajase Ipo in Irepodun Local Government Area of the state. To ensure global recognition, the state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Alfred University New York for technical and management collaboration at IVTEC. Following the need to ensure access to medical facilities in the state, over 300,000 rural dwellers have been enrolled into the state’s award-winning Community Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS). The scheme has been adjudged as one of the most successful by the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In order to sustain infrastructural development in the state, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed launched the Kwara State Infrastructure Development Fund (IFK). The fund is a sustainable platform designed to finance major projects. In addition to a N5billion seed fund, the sum of N500million is drawn every month from the State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) into the IFK. In terms of economic empowerment of the people, particularly the youths, the present administration is laying solid foundation for the future through comprehensive education reforms, provision of educational infrastructure, promotion of science education, entrepreneurship and the establishment of Kwara as the hub for vocational skills.
(To be continued next week)
*Oba can be reached via e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org