BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI,ILORIN
Governor Abdufatah Ahmed of Kwara State is one year in office in his second term today. His Special Assistant on Media and Communications,Dr. Muideen Olufemi Akorede, in this interview, speaks on the journey so far.
What have been the challenges of governance in the last one year?
The main challenge of governance has been the consistent drop in monthly federal allocation. We all know that the fall in global crude oil price has led to a significant decrease in the funds available for distribution to federal, state and local governments from the federation account. In Kwara, the state government used to run on allocation of between N3.2b to N3.4b monthly, but has now dropped to as little as N1.3b to N1.5b monthly.
This has impacted negatively not only on government’s capacity to pay salaries on time, but also, its ability to execute development projects in the State. The state government requires about N2.4b for worker’s monthly salaries alone. Yet, at the state level, civil servants, secondary school teachers and pensioners have continued to receive their salaries and pensions as when due, while staff of parastatals are then paid afterwards. Thanks to Governor Ahmed’s financial ingenuity. The main problem is at the local government level, which as we all know, is not under the control of the state government. Governor Ahmed is, however, making concerted efforts to ensure that the lingering salary crisis at the local level ends soon.
In the next one year, what do you want Kwarans to expect from this administration?
Kwarans should expect rapid infrastructural development and increase economic prosperity across the State. Our people should expect more human capital development in terms of functional education and continuous provision of financial support for small and medium scale enterprises in the State. Expect a serious transformation of the landscape of Ilorin and major cities across the State.
We are going to have a new flyover at Geri Alimi. The state government is going to dualise Michael Imoudu/Ganmo road and Sango/UITH road to decongest traffic along that axis. The government is also going to start the construction of the first 32km part on the Kishi/Kaiama road this year as well as the Ilesha Baruba/Gwanara road. The indoor sports hall of the Kwara State stadium will be done. The building of two new campuses for Kwara State University in Osi and Ilesha Baruba will also be started this year. As I said earlier, the Ilorin water reticulation project will soon be completed and this will ensure that an additional twenty-five percent of Ilorin population get adequate water supply. Basically, let’s expect a more rapidly developed Kwara State, a robust and broad base economy focusing on sustainable agricultural development, and also bringing in more investments to the State. More strongly, we will be able to say that it is indeed, good in Kwara State.
There is ongoing move to curb wastage in governance, what is the outcome of the exercise?
The immediate outcome is the implementation of Single Revenue Account (SRA) introduced by the governor. The system is designed to ensure efficiency in revenue collection and disbursement, and as well block leakages. As a result of that, wastages and revenue loopholes have been blocked.
Additionally, the state government has also cut its monthly overheads from an average of N800m to N400m. That is a reduction of about 50%. The government is also currently conducting a physical and biometric verification of workers in the state and the government projects a 30% reduction in its monthly wage bill. At the state level, we are looking at a reduction of about 450 to 500 million naira in the monthly wage bill and the government is committed to channel this money towards providing critical and necessary infrastructural projects for the people.
What is the high point of achievement of this administration in the last one year?
The high point of achievement in the last one year is that the Ahmed’s administration has put a structure in place that will provide sustainable development and continuing on the solid foundation of development that it laid in the last administration. The first thing His Excellency, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed did was to reform the revenue collection system to make it much more efficient, effective and block all loopholes.
This led to the establishment of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) to take over from the now moribund Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), which consistently failed to meet its set target of N1 billion monthly, despite getting the necessary assistance from the State government. This effort is aimed at making the State financially viable and economically sustainable.
The approach is to change the people, processes and technology for revenue generation and the new revenue service has an IGR target of N5b monthly by 2019. But this year, their target is about N2.5b monthly, up from the N600m they used to collect under the BIR. This is beginning to yield results. The organization met its first quarter target and the expectation is that going forward, it will be able to meet its 2016 target and start working towards meeting its 2019 target of N5b per month.