By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
The victory at the election petition tribunal was another opportunity for Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State to extend a hand of fellowship to his not too dismayed political rivals in the state.
“Our umbrella is broad enough to accommodate all who seek to contribute to the development of the state”, he said in an appeal to opponents to embrace his regime following the tribunal’s judgment last month.
The words of conciliation were undoubtedly framed against the background of the acrimony that shadowed the contest to step into the shoes of the immediate past Governor of the State now turned Senator, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Ahmed was an integral part of the Saraki administration for the eight years that the younger Saraki was in control of the state. In that period the former Governor inevitably altered the political dynamics of the state that had until then been largely shaped by his father, Dr. Olusola Saraki.
While noting that the tribunal’s judgment was a reaffirmation of the mandate vested on him by the electorate in the State, the Governor used the opportunity to reiterate his plans for the citizenry.
Interestingly, Governor Ahmed unlike many of his colleagues has made effort to show that his administration is a continuation of that of his successor. That inclination, however, has not stopped him from articulating fresh ideas for the state.
It was perhaps in that direction that shortly after he was inaugurated that the new Governor convened a retreat in Lagos for himself and senior officials of his administration during which they reviewed the policies of the Saraki administration with a view to harmonizing same into Ahmed’s own agenda.
Giving the thrust of his new regime during that retreat, Ahmed had said:
“In line with our determination to navigate this state towards greater success through consolidation of the previous administration’s policies, this retreat is convened to review those policies in view of current exigencies and formulate new ones where necessary.
Furthermore, our aim is to identify strategic policy thrusts for my administration, outline plans and strategies, establish key performance indicators and come up with specific timeframes for their achievement.”
Continuing, the Governor had said: “The retreat is thus expected to highlight concrete measures for ensuring a results-based approach to governance. In addition, you are to review the draft of a four year rolling strategy plan for the state, provide clear road maps and identify specific sectors that present high potential in developing capacity for the state.”
“Our expectations are that following the retreat, all government officials and indeed the people of Kwara State would imbibe the spirit of these policies and programmes and contribute towards their successful implementation for the benefit of our people. I urge you all to be change agents in your ministries and be in the vanguard of our determined effort to take this Kwara State to greater heights”
Following the retreat the Governor has been able to articulate a seven point agenda focusing on -Education, Health, Solid Mineral Development, Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Security.
One key element on the cards for the education sector is the plan to establish a N1 billion International Vocation Centre. This plan dovetails with the administration’s plans to boost the human capacity of the youths in the state by building up their entrepreneurship skills.
The government is also trying to build on one of the legacies of the Saraki administration – the Shonga Farms Project, by replicating the farm across 60 sites in the state in the coming year.
Remarkably, the economic empowerment plans of the administration are being fitted in with ongoing plans by the government to adopt a performance based approach to governance.
In this direction the administration has outlined key performance indicators which all newly appointed office holders are required to adhere to.
Ahmed’s efforts nonetheless, the respite he has so desired from the political class is yet not totally forthcoming.
The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN which took him to the tribunal is pursuing its case at the Appeal Court. Hearing in the case comes up on 20th December.
Alas, political harmony continues to elude the Governor of the State of Harmony.