By Dapo Akinrefon
GOVERNOR Abdulfatah Ahmed, Kwara State comes across as one who knows his onions as far as governance is concerned. In the last eight years, Governor Ahmed has proved critics wrong and this endeared him to the people of Kwara State.
Prior to his election as governor of Kwara State in 2011, his critics had felt he would not live up to expectation. In fact, they envisaged him performing abysmally but he proved otherwise. Interestingly, eight years down the line, the governor has shut the mouths of his critics by performing above board. It is not an understatement that under Ahmed’s leadership, Kwara State has experienced growth and development across all sectors.
The Organic Chemistry graduate is not in the business of self-praises especially when it has to do with his administration’s achievements. His mien does not give him away easily but he comes across as one who has the capacity to take up any challenge. Between 2003 and 2009, he lived up to the expectation of his predecessor, Senator Bukola Saraki when he was Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development of the state.
In the eight years, the Ahmed-led administration garnered immense acclaim for its strong determination to ensure even development in all sectors. From roads, water, to agriculture, health, housing and education, the present administration has recorded giant strides in Kwara State. Little wonder he is one of the recipients of Vanguard’s Governor of The Year Award. For first timers in Kwara State, it is obvious that the governor recorded achievements across some key sectors in the state.
The works and transport sector in the state received priority attention under Governor Ahmed’s administration, especially with regards to completion of inherited and new road projects. For instance, majority of inherited roads from previous administrations have been completed under the state’s Urban and Rural Road Project. As of 2015, about 28 inherited projects covering a length of 256.127kms were targeted under this scheme. In all, 80 per cent of these roads covering 204.8 kilometres have been completed.
In furtherance of his intention to construct more roads, Governor Ahmed in February 2016, approved the payment of N2.4 billion to contractors in charge of over 35 road projects across the state. It should be noted that the Ahmed administration flagged off the Kwara Agricultural Modernisation Master Plan, KAMP 2012-2017, designed in partnership with Cornell University, New York, University of Ilorin and Kwara State University to create agro-driven economic diversification and establish Kwara State as the sub-region’s economic hub.
One of KAMP’s main strategies was the development of the agriculture value chain in rice, soy, cassava and rice. Under its Off-taker Demand-Driven Agricultural Activities, ODDA, the current administration disbursed N214 million to 172 lead farmers for improved mechanised farming across the state. Another feat recorded by the administration is the significant improvement of water supply in the state.
In the face of the increasing population particularly in Ilorin, the state capital, the government has adopted a phase-by-phase approach to rehabilitate its existing 94 waterworks. Within the space of five years, hundreds of motorised and hand pump boreholes have been drilled and distributed across the three senatorial districts to achieve the equitable spread.
Also, as part of contributions to the development of the education sector, Governor Ahmed constructed and rehabilitated 400 blocks of classrooms at primary and secondary school levels. His administration introduced free tuition and notebooks at senior secondary school level. To expand access to tertiary education in the state, Dr. Ahmed also approved the reduction in the tuition fees for Kwara State University, KWASU, students by 30 per cent.
Not only that, Dr. Ahmed also commenced the construction of an N800m Engineering complex for Kwara State University, which is now nearing completion. The health sector was not left out as a tremendous transformation was recorded in the sector in Kwara State under the able leadership of Governor Ahmed. One of the major thrusts of his administration is the provision of quality and affordable health care for the people within 500m radius, an intention he has pursued with tenacity.
The Community Health Insurance Scheme, CHIS, under which enrolees receive all-year round healthcare for a paltry sum of N500, has been extended to 110, 000 beneficiaries and adjudged as one of the most successful by the United Nations, UN. In the same vein, medical equipment was distributed to all Government hospitals as well as MDG equipment to 13 General Hospitals and 43 primary health care centres across the state. In 2014, five General Hospitals in Share, Omu-Aran, Offa and Kaiama, were renovated and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.