BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI, ILORIN
The inauguration of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State for second term didn’t come cheap. Before he was picked by the political leader in the state,Senator Bukola Saraki, as the gubernatorial flag bearer of the All Progressives Congresst (APC) in the April 2015 elections, there were other equally qualified contenders ?for the plum office; so he had to justify the need for the second term ticket to be given to him.
Ahmed, who came into office on May 29, 2011 for the first time under the slogan of “Legacy Continues”, had done his best to add value to the socio-economic development of the state. part from the fact that his first term was used to complete the projects left behind by the immediate past administration of Bukola Saraki, his government embarked on new programmes like Quick win, Kwara State Bridges Empowerment Youth Scheme (KWABES) and the renovation of five General Hospitals in Ilorin, Kaima, Offa, Omu-Aran and Share.
The administration also constructed Ajase-Ipo vocational school and completed the Ilorin International Aviation College, among others. ? So,in order to gain the acceptance of the people of Kwara for the second term bid, the politica in his government, late last year, went to ? major cities across the 16 local government areas of the state for Town Hall meetings,where they met with the stakeholders of communities seeking their assessment of the administration of Ahmed so as to know his performance rate and their expectations if given the chance for second term.
At the end of it all,their assessment favoured the governor and this largely encouraged the leader of the APC in the state, Saraki, to approve his second term desire. Ahmed, fondly called ‘Maigida’, became the second governor to have won second term. Saraki was the first.
But like never before, the expectations of Kwara residents, particularly those in Ilorin, for the second term of Ahmed, are not unusual but are very passionate about them. A vulcanizer around Challenge area of Ilorin, Rasheed Abdulllahi, who though said he did not vote, wants the returning governor to pay attention to the problem of youth unemployment in the state. Speaking in an interview with Sunday Vanguard,he said,”There is a big problem in the area of unemployment in Kwara, but I have not seen any serious action from our government,both past and present, to solve the problem. Bukola’s government said he will build vocational centre in Ajase-Ipo. Up till now,we have not heard anything about. I have people looking jobs for the past five years,no work; they want to start business, no money. To feed at home has been difficult. That is why I didn’t go to vote even though I have the permanent voter card.
So,if Governor Ahmed can do something serious about youth unemployment this time, I will be happy because it will also in a way solve the problem of insecurity in Ilorin” Also, a former Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC), Kwara State Council, Comrade Emmanuel Ayeoribe, told Sunday Vanguard that Ahmed, during his first term, did well in the area of prompt payment of workers salaries even when federal monthly allocations to the state get depleted every time. Another resident,Miss Elizabeth Anigioro, who owns a supermarket along Gaa Akanbi area of Ilorin, lamented unemployment in the state and called on the governor to do something concrete about it. Also, a plumber, Mr Adebayo? Balogun, a native of Offa who lives in Ilorin, criticised the Ahmed government on public water supply in the state despite the huge amount of money government allocates to it in its budget yearly.
Meanwhile, despite fuel scarcity that hit many states ahead of the inauguration, residents of Kwara stormed the venue of the swearing-in of Ahmed and his deputy, Mr. Peter Kisra, for second term. As early as 7.a.m, the residents, who came from all the 16 local government councils of the state in chartered buses, arrived the venue early enough. The state Chief Judge, Justice Durosinlohun Kawu, first administered the oath on the deputy governor, and later the governor. Addressing the mammoth crowd after the swearing-in, Ahmed said his main priority in office remained the people’s welfare.
He stated:“In the coming months, we will begin the process of decoupling our economy from a reliance on the unstable global oil market and the associated fluctuations in federal allocation. To achieves this, we will build more schools, roads, hospitals ,power projects and structures needed to get more of our youths working, businesses growing, food on more tables and greater prosperity for everyone who calls Kwara State home.
“This administration will upscale development and boost entrepreneurship to get a greater number of our youths working. Starting from today, we will begin the work of transforming our state to the North Central’s Economic hub. “We will create a new frontier of prosperity where everyone has the opportunity to better their lives subject only to their willingness to apply themselves”. Ahmed stressed, ”To begin with, education is the pivot of development and the most tested route to economic empowerment. In line with this, we intend to enhance functional education and expand access to formal education.
“We will overhaul an initial 120 secondary schools across the state by building 1,274 new classrooms and rehabilitating 2,000 existing classrooms.
“Additionally, we will open new campuses for the Kwara State University, KWASU, in Ilesha-Baruba with the establishment of the College of Agricultural Science and another one in Osi where we will locate the new College of Architectural and Environmental Studies”.
The governor went on: “In keeping with our determination to bring portable water within the reach of all residents, we will expand the Malete and Okuta Waterworks and begin work on Oyun Water Works to meet the needs of an estimated 180, 470 people in seven communities.
“Also, the final phase of the Ilorin Metropolis Water Reticulation and Distribution Network will be completed to bring piped-water to every connected home in Ilorin and environs”.“He promised to deliver more socio-economic development programmes to the doorsteps of Kwarans so as to create a new platform for economic prosperity in the state. Residents hope these statements would transform into reality in the next four years.