By Wahab Oba
This is not Nollywood. It is not another awada kerikeri series. It is a reality show. The governor lied again. This has become another method by this governor to cover up the obvious gaps in governance in our state. This governor seems intellectually impotent to govern the state. He is too petty, to say the least.
It is on record that more than any governor in recent history of the state, the governor has received more than N314billion and $21.6billion from State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability for Result, a World Bank Assisted Program to States, as revenue to the state in the last three years of his administration. Other sources include but not limited to FAAC, IGR, Bond, FG Infrastructure Support Fund, Loan, Nutrition, Save-One-Million Live Support Fund, donations towards Covid-19 both from Federal Government, Multinationals and Individuals. Rather than lamentation, unforced show of shame and pretence to hide his incapacity to the people of the state that voted for an assumed change for better life, the governor should tell Kwarans what he has done with this huge sum.
Paradoxically, in less than a year, this government has also accumulated a debt of almost N52b. The two previous administrations in sixteen years never got to this terrible state even in the face of obvious global economic recession and depression.
During his tenure as governor of the state, Dr Bukola Saraki came up with a master plan for a new Kwara of his dream. This gave birth to massive investments in education, health, infrastructure, socio and economic welfare, sports, agriculture and human capital development. Kwara State University, Malete, Aviation College, Harmony Diagnostic Centre, dualisation of major roads in the state and construction of new ones, Kwara Stadium Complex, Shonga Farms, Banquet Hall, Post Office overhead bridge, among others are living testimonies to a resourceful government and a thinking governor. Dr Bukola Saraki got a bond of N17billion from the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) after due process to execute some of the projects because Kwara lacked sufficient fund, both in IGR and FAAC allocation, to meet the infrastructural needs of the people of the state at that time.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed completed all on going projects of his predecessor because government is a continuum. He paid the balance of the bond and remained focus on the Master Plan. The Kwara State Medium Term Development Plan Strategy was adopted and implemented. This is a product of a well researched inputs from all stakeholders in the state; the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, all MDAs and Parastatals in the State, technocrats, players and masters of industries, market women, artisan, traditional rulers and the good people of Kwara State in a well-conceived and celebrated Kwara State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy ( SEEDS) 2005-2009, the Shared Prosperity Agenda, 2011-2019 and the Kwara Infrastructure Investment Strategy 2013-2014.
More importantly, and conscious of the financial constraint and infrastructural deficit facing the state then, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed, a financial and banking expert and alumni of Harvard Business School, ingeniously created a stable and independent revenue base for the state, the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) and Kwara State Infrastructure Development Fund (called InfraFund Kwara or IF-K) with an established and sustainable funds from KWIRS to addressed the estimated N255billion infrastructural deficit in the state.
The IF-K enabled further investments in Kwara State University, (KWASU, Malete, KWASU Osi and Ilesha-Baruba campuses, KWASU School of Governance and Administration, construction of Geri Alimi Diamond Underpass, dualisation of GSS Ilorin/ Sango road, complete rehabilitation and upgrading of six general hospitals across all senatorial districts in the state, establishment and construction of International Vocational Centre, (IVTEC), Ajashe-Ipo, the Civil Service new secretariat, Ahmadu Bello Way, Ilorin and the Light Up Kwara, to mention a few of the legacy projects of a focus and visionary leadership of those administrations that have ruled the state.
Rather than move on or evolve a workable, verifiable and sustainable master plan and a good development agenda, this governor has shamelessly chosen the path of lamentation and propaganda as a way of administering the state. The Governor has chosen to keep lying as a cover-up for his failure and lack of vision for the state. Only an intellectual imbecile will believe that there was no investment in education in the state in the last sixteen or twenty years as Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq and his pairs of liars keep saying.
What can we take of the Governor’s unsubstantiated assertion to his visitor, Governor Prof Zulum of Borno State, that it will take more than twenty years to put things right in education in Kwara State? Haba!!!. But, the visitor, a professor and one of the best first-term performing governors in Nigeria today, knows the obvious fact as stated in his speech at the Kwara State University, KWASU’s 8th and 9th Convocation Ceremony. Zulum’s well-publicised statements on KWASU represent a clear acknowledgement of the huge investment and planning that went into KWASU, a world-class citadel of knowledge and education, by visionary leadership Kwara has produced.
Even in bandits ravaged Borno State, the Governor has rebuilt and reconstructed more than 380 schools and reconstructed well over 720 roads in less than three years of his administration. To allege that a state not under siege was in total collapse when he took over as the governor of the state is another lie from the governor.
On the SUBEB Fund deliberately distorted by GAA; truly, the last administration took a loan as counterpart fund for SUBEB. But the loan was returned to the bank to save the state from interest accumulation and reduce the further unbearable debt burden on the government. More importantly, was the welfare of the teachers and the future of our growing youths in our schools as the government must set its priority right in the face of dwindling revenue to the state and more pressing needs of the welfare of its workers and the people of the state.
N550million of the part of N1billion federal government SUBEB fund contribution was used to offset salaries of SUBEB teachers because of the fall in allocation to local government from the federation account. This was to save our pupils and our future generation. The then administration has started the repayment of the borrowed fund from SUBEB allocation through its collected N5.2billion Paris Club Refund before the EFCC illegally flagged the state’s accounts, stopped all payments or directives for payment to banks by the last administration and completely taken over the running of the state. The facts are before the public.
Again, on College of Education. The school, among other higher institutions in the state, pledged to be self-sustaining with the level of revenue being generated by those institutions and support for accreditation and urgent fund needed from the state government. It is on record as documented in the State’s budgets of 2018 and 2019 that KWASU, Kwara Poly and Offa Health Technology performed very well by meeting up with the agreement. Thus, the state government monthly subvention to the institutions was stopped and the revenue was freed for other uses in the institutions.
But who will believe this governor again?
Firstly, Minimum Wage. Now we understand the varied and various definitions of what a minimum wage is in Kwara state. But no matter the political and dramatic gymnastics anyone plays over the matter, the truth is our governor failed to fulfil his electoral promise of paying the minimum wage to state workers. Today, a new term has entered the local lexicon in Kwara: gerigedi; a way of describing someone who cuts off your entitlement into shreds while pretending to love you. Our workers are no fools. This time shall pass.
The governor also promised not to sack any worker in the state. Alas, what happened to the so-called sunset workers? What about the appointment of transition committees, even against subsisting Supreme Court judgement? The governor must tell Kwarans what he has done with the huge resources at his disposal in less than thirty months and stop these lies and lamentations. Only an incompetent government will award a contract of the magnitude of the proposed overhead bridge at Tanke without due diligence only to revoke the same after project commencement. What a shame!
Wishing you Merry Christmas and a happy new year in advance.
By Wahab Oba