By ANJOLAOLUWA FOLAJIMI
For several years, late Chief Olusola Saraki, Waziri Ilorin reigned supreme in the Kwara State politics. From the second republic down to the present democratic dispensation, his name made or marred the political fortune of many aspirants in the State.
His political clout transcend over three decades. The political legacy “Oloye” remained unrivalled until 2019 when the “Oto ge” Tsunami put an end to the political influence been enjoyed by the Sarakis in Kwara State politics.
With a change in government, courtesy of the “Oto ge” revolution, a political “greenhorn”, under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq emerged as the Governor of the State of Harmony. The new Kwara helmsman, a consumate businessman is the son of the first lawyer from the Northern Nigeria, late A.G.F AbdulRazaq, SAN.
Though not known in the political landscape of the state and by extension, the country, Abdulrazaq was fully prepared for governance, having contested and lost the Governorship seat in 2011 under the defunct Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), he has attended to the demand of the office since May 29, 2019 with total zeal, dedication and commitment. A focused and committed leader, the 7th executive Governor of Kwara State in the less than two years on the saddle, has changed the narratives of governance in the State. A development that has endeared him to the people in the 16 local government areas of the state. Not even his political detractors and the oposition can denied the fact that the 61 year old Governor has turned the face of governance, delivered dividend of democracy, give purposeful leadership to the state and written his name on the hearts of Kwarans with indelible ink.
Despite the rot in the system and the downturn of the economy, Abdulrazaq has brought his ingenuity to bear in turning the almost comatose fortune of the state back of its heels.
In the words of Ambassador Nurudeen Mohammed, a Chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress and Nigeria’s immediate past Ambassador to Malaysia, “Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq remains a man of the people and he stands tall as a man of honour among the majority of our party members in the state, in spite of the unfair demarketing campaign launched against his administration by some party chieftains and their co-travelers in the opposition. This is not by chance. Not only has the Governor demystified the office of Governor with his uncommon humility, simplicity, and prudence, he has redefined the story of our state in many positive ways. Whether in health, education, road, or water, the Governor has touched lives in many ways never seen before. He has strategically taken governance to the people such that there is no electoral Ward in the state that cannot point to one or two things that they have benefited in just 18 months of his administration.
“A modest and humble personalty, the Governor who has driven his own private car since day one of his administration to date. Here is a Governor who lives in his own house till date. Here is a Governor who is not taking salary. Here is a Governor who is willingly opening up his government for accountability through the phenomenal social audit process. Here is a Governor who just wants to deliver his campaign promises to the people, despite the biting economic realities. Here is a Governor who gives every part of the state a fair sense of belonging by always identifying with them in time of cultural celebration or mourning, and extending government’s patronage to every segment of the state. Today, Kwara is a model state on the continent in youths and women inclusion in government.”
The retired diplomat rated the Governor high in the health sector. According to him, the health sector of the state has received about the highest priority even before the advent of Covid-19 pandemic.
Mohammed further said, “the administration has started rehabilitation works across dozens of decrepit primary healthcare facilities. Long-abandoned routine immunisation and vaccination is back. For the first time, Kwara now has isolation centres equipped with modern gadgets like ventilators, defibrillators, patient monitors, and others. Its oxygen plant has been revived. For the first time, the state now has ambulances with capacities to manage patients in critical conditions on the go. Indeed, Kwara is now listed as A-list state in healthcare sector.”
The story of education sector of the state has continue to beat the imagination of Kwarans. Priority attention was accorded the sector, which had hitherto suffered neglect by previous administrations leading to the state been blacklisted from accessing from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) fund for more than seven years before his advent as the Governor.
It is on record that Kwara State under Abdulrazaq, has accessed a backlog of N7.1bn UBEC counterpart funds with a matching grant of N7.1bn to gradually reposition the schools. Aside from the upcoming UBEC intervention, the state on its own is carrying out renovation works in at least 43 basic schools. With the UBEC funds in the kitty, no less than 600 basic schools are to get facelifts while teachers are also to be trained.
Worthy of commendation is the transparent process of recruiting 4701 qualified and competent teachers into our public primary, junior and senior secondary schools in the State.
Abdulrazaq’s developmental efforts are not limited to public institutions. In the wake of the novel Covid-19 pandemic, he extended his hands of kindness to Proprietors of 1,119 privately cowned schools in the state. Soft loan were given to help cushion the effects of the pandemic due to shutdown on public places on their schools and teachers.
Recalling Governor Abdulrazaq intervention in the provision of portable water, Hon. Abdulmumin Katibi, a one time member of Kwara State House of Assembly said, “in May 2019, water tanker was the source of potable water in most parts of Ilorin, the capital city, even in the Government House. Today, Pipe-borne water is back and stable in the metropolis while nearly 500 boreholes have either been dug or rehabilitated across the state. No fewer than nine water works have been fixed since this Governor came on board while contracts for more have been awarded. With water situation being tackled, Kwara is keying into the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), a key component of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 to promote hygiene and end open defecation. Under this scheme, many schools and hospitals across the state would now for the first time get tap water and pour-flush toilets.”
Urban and rural road infrastructure since Governor Abdulrazaq assumed office has continued to receive attention. The administration has fixed over 100 rural and urban roads/culverts/bridges. Many agrarian communities are now getting standard roads, those hitherto cut off from civilisation are being linked, while at least 500 rural roads are to be fixed under the World Bank-enabled Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) arrangement for which the administration had earlier paid counterpart funds. These road projects are spread across the senatorial districts, deliberately linking agrarian areas to the urban centres.
Modelled after President Buhari’s Social Investment Programme, Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP) is the Governor’s multi-faceted and nonpartisan response to the question of extreme poverty and government’s poor attention to the vulnerable. Under the scheme, at least 21,623 petty traders have accessed soft loans to stay afloat while over 10,000 transporters who could not work during the COVID-19 lockdown were supported. Similarly, already-enumerated 10,000 vulnerable and poor senior citizens, from age 60, are now getting monthly stipends under what would be the state’s first ever institutionalised social protection scheme.
The scheme is also offering free digital training to young people to help them cope in the new economy. Over 3000 persons received training in July last year while 10,000 more are undergoing a richer version of the course in the second phase of the programme in conjunction with Wootlab Innovation and Grow With Google. A total of 30,000 young people are billed to benefit from the training within three years.
It is on record that the federal government has indeed hailed Kwara State’s version of the Owo Isowo (TraderMoni) for its innovative features, such as the inclusion of BVN of the beneficiaries. This is just a few of the many interventions Governor Abdulrazaq has made to lift our people out of purverty. The interesting thing about him is that he sees governance as an affair that transcends party loyalty, and this explains why he has become so popular with the masses, to the chagrin of his traducers!
To achieve the desired transformation in the State, Governor Abdulrazaq’s administration has positively changed the narrative of staff welfare in the state civil service. There is now regular payment of salary. No more percentage payment and promotion of staff has resumed while arrears of salaries and allowances dating back to as far back as 2012 are now being paid. Besides, pensioners now enjoy regular payment of pensions. A sustainable arrangement for payment of gratuities on monthly basis has now been put in place.
However, the unprecedented achievements recorded within this short period is now being threatened by some self serving political leaders, with dangerous sense of entitlement, greed and lust for personal gains are out to forment trouble.
It is a known Convention in the ruling All Progressives Congress that the Governor of a state is the leader of the party in the state. This explained why the likes of Minister of Information, Lai Labode, his counterpart, Minister of State Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki and Akogun Oyedepo have failed in their bid to highjack the party machinery from the Governor.
Despite a well sustained campaign of caluminy by this set of individuals, the political rating and public perception of the Governor continue to assume a constant rise.
An instructive development was the recent endorsement of Governor Abdulrazaq by the kinsmen of the Information Minister from Irepodun Local Government area of the state. Lai Mohammed kinsmen and APC leaders who publicly identified with the Governor include former Kwara State Commissioner for Information, Oloriewe Raheem Adedoyin, a member Kwara State House of Assembly, Hon. Tayo Awodiji, Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Princess Bukola Babalola, Prince Shuaib Olanrewaju, Barr. Teju Ogintoye, Gen. Lasisi Abidoye(rtd), Elder Agboola Adewumi, Conrade Ben Dintoye, Alhaji Raheem Olokoba, Prince Samuel Alebiosu, Mrs. Deborah Aremu, Gen. Lasisi Abidoye(rtd), Mrs Shade Omoniyi, Chief Raphael Awotunde, Mr. Yomi Adeboye, Mr. Femi Ajibade, Dr. Sule Popoola, Mr. Debo Adeleke, Hon. Azeez Yakubu and others.
Declaring their support for the Governor at a Press Conference recently in Ilorin, the Minister’s kinsmen through their spokesperson, Hon. Olabanji Olayemi, who is also the Chairman, Kwara South caretaker committee, was quick to refer the Minister to some laudable projects of the Governor in their area. The projects include, “the completion of Taiwo Road, Omu Aran-Esie Museum Road asphalt lay, renovation of court building in Omu Aran, free surgery, state government social investment programmes such as Owo Arugbo and Owo Isowo, comprehensive renovation and construction of additional facilities in Oro Grammar School, Oro.
“Renovation of block of 3 classrooms with an office and store, GSS, Omuaran, renovation of a block of 4 classrooms, CHS, Ajase-Ipo, renovation of a block of 4 classrooms and workshop building, Esie/Iludun Technical College, renovation of examination Hall, GSS, Omu Aran, renovation of a block of Laboratory, PMC, Oro-Ago, and many mores.”
In their verdict, Olayemi said, “In the light of the enumerated achievements of the governor in Irepodun LGA, it is not difficult for us to publicly declare unequivocal support for His Excellency, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, the Governor and our party leader in Kwara State.”
The voice of people of Irepodun is on a daily basis being re-echoed from all the nooks and crannies of Kwara State. If in less than two years, Governor AbdulRazaq has recorded these milestone achievements spread across all the wards in the state, no sooner than later, he may emerge as the new political force that will dominate the political horizon of Kwara State for long.
Folajimi is a member of APC in Kwara State.