By Dunmoye Temitope Ismail
I received a call from an old friend in Lagos on October 10, 2022. He said he has always followed me on Facebook and wanted me to reconsider my political stance based on his belief that the current APC government in Kwara State is doing fairly well. As a good listener who is always ready to learn, I asked him what his yardstick for measuring the performance of the government he was referring to was. In response, he said schools are being renovated, hospitals are being equipped, roads are being constructed, and salaries of government workers are being paid as at when due, and calculated based on national minimum wage.
He added that the metropolis is now a huge construction site. I politely asked if he is through with his submissions. He said yes. I now asked him: ‘where is the development’? He was dumbfounded. His answer was: ‘what of all those things he earlier enumerated?’
It was now my turn to educate my friend. I told him that those things he mentioned above are seriously lower than expected considering the level of resources available to the governor in terms of monthly federal allocation, Internally Generated Revenue, Paris Club refund, counterpart funding from development partners, and massive, unprecedented credit facilities obtained by the present government. For instance, in terms of road construction, the present administration has so poorly performed that its officials only mouth lame excuses that the government is busy renovating existing roads. A drive around the state capital and other major towns will show how much of these renovations have been done in the last forty-one months.
I told my friend that while Kwara State government officials were busy celebrating fictitious growth in the state, they forgot that development is actually what the people need. They forgot that their fraudulent growth indices mean nothing if it cannot translate to sustainable development.
My friend still did not get the point. He was trying hard to decipher the difference between the two concepts of growth and development.
I now asked him: Are Kwarans better off in their standard of living than they were in 2019? That was the golden question that left him disturbed. In terms of feeding, clothing, shelter, access to Medicare, access to clean water, the standard of living, and responsibilities to wards and parents, were they better off? I told him to conduct a random sampling of people’s opinions to verify my claims. It became clear to him that the outcome of such a survey is determinable from the beginning. A good majority of the respondents would indicate that their standard of living had gone south while the cost of living is shooting toward the north. The people are worse off than they were before the present administration in the state took over power.
How do you rate the performance of a state government where the level of poverty is on constant rise, where there is no real plan or roadmap for governance, where promises to ease the burden of parents by reducing school fees in state-owned tertiary schools still remained unfulfilled till date, where 18,000 naira minimum wage paid by the previous administration commands a higher purchasing power than the 30,000 naira currently being paid, where members of the state House of Assembly, as currently constituted, have turned themselves into appointees of the governor, where artisans have absolutely no sense of belonging, where the media space is filled with propaganda and praise singing than actual information dissemination, where painters are more engaged than bricklayers, where dissenting voices are muffled through arrests and incarceration based on flimsy and baseless petitions, where a Chief Press Secretary will continue to justify a regime of reckless borrowing without due process with an incremental percentage rather than the real value, where local government administration has become a mirage, where the cabinet is dissolved and almost all the were reappointed after several months.
So, I asked my friend again, where is the development? The welfare of the people is the most important gain in governance. If a government has not improved the lives of the generality of the people, then without mincing words, it has failed.
Warah, Kilanko, Osin, Egbejila, Gbagba, Oke-fomo, Alagbado, Ganmo, Amoyo just to mention a few were areas within Ilorin metropolis that were opened up for development during the Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki ‘s administration in the state between 2003 and 2011. Civil servants, artisans, and others own lands and built houses in these areas. That was development occasioned by people-oriented policies and programmes. The government at that time paid more attention to policies that had greater multiplier effects on people’s lives.
I concluded by telling my friend that this government came in through empty propaganda on the RADIO and through factual information dissemination on RADIO, they shall be eased out.
Dunmoye, a concerned Kwaran, writes from Ilorin.