September 7, 2019

When Kwara governor disguised to ride on Okada

Kwara Gov launches 10-year agricultural transformation plan

Governor AbdulRazaq

…Abdulrazaq achieving much with less funding
…Unscheduled visits to govt offices and institutions
…Immediate release of funds and monitoring of projects
…Kwara people describe his 100 days in office as magical

By Demola Akinyemi

Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq,the symbol of “O to ge” (meaning Enough is enough) political machine that uprooted the political structures of the Saraki dynasty in Kwara has   come a long way in his political life.Gov. AbdulRazaq

The successful billionaire, Chairman First fuels among other companies was born with silver spoon in his mouth, being one of the children of Alh(AGF) Abdulganiyu Abdulrazaq, the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria in the whole northern part of Nigeria.

After contesting as the governorship candidate of Congress for Progressive Change(CPC) in 2003 and lost and further contested as Kwara central senatorial candidate of the then Peoples Democratic Party(PDP),which he also lost, God crowned his efforts and fortune smiled on him in the last gubernatorial primaries of the All Progressives Congress(APC) as he emerged the party’s flag bearer after a tough contest. Saraki’s movements to different parties influenced his own moves too as he preferred not to be in same party with Bukola Saraki.

Since he assumed office on 29th May 2019 he has left no one in doubt that he was ready to positively change the fortune of the state of harmony. He maintains low profile while doing so. He personally drives himself in his black Hilux Jeep to government house and some places.

Just like yesterday, it’s now 100 days in office. The days have, arguably, been described as magical in certain quarters which keen watchers in Kwara politics say can be equated to achievements of three years for the past governments.

His 100 days in office have been marked by surprise visits to state offices and institutions.

The governor’s many unscheduled visits to various sensitive areas of governance in the state have enabled him to appreciate the problems and quickly address them . Release of money is immediately done and close monitoring of implementation follows. Residents are now directly feeling the positive impacts of good governance. He has succeeded in reducing cost of governance. Kwara is one of the poor states. It is largely a civil service state and Abdulrahman’s approach hes helped tremendously. He has achieved much with less funding.

The era of chartered flights through which past administrations fleeced the lean resources of the state had gone for ever or so it seems as Governor Abdulrazaq had also chosen to use commercial flights to do   many businesses of the state.

In other seemingly crazy instance the governor was said to have shrugged off his security details and walked across the street opposite the government house to charter a motorcyclist popularly known as Okada rider to take him to certain parts of Ilorin to monitor the progress of some projects and also feel the pulse of the common resident.

The shocked security details were said to have kept a far distance from the governor and the Okada rider to follow them in a private vehicle while the governor   asked the rider pertinent questions about the government and the needs of the common man as they went around.

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It wasn’t until the governor disembarked and gave the Okada huge sum of money after more than two hours ride around the town that the elated motorcyclist knew that the governor was his customers all these while .

While briefing the media in the state on his 100 days in office in Kwara Hotels, Ilorin Governor Abdulrazaq recalled with nostalgia that with the state of rots which he described as below zero, he had to suspend his own manifestos in order to clear the rots.

He pleaded for patience with the people of the state assuring that with time they would reap the fruit of the patience.

He said,”All those who voted for us, we won’t disappoint you,we have come to work and the things we met when we resumed office were least expected,so we are pleading for patience. We have come to work for the whole Kwara and I’m assuring everyone that your patience would be rewarding.”

Water, as the saying goes, is life, so the governor attacked headlong the compounded problems of water crisis in the state. There was no water for several months inj the state. Workers in the ministry of Water Resources and that of Water Corporation were on strike when he assumed office.

Having inspected the water dams across the state, the governor released N48.5m for their repairs and today water has returned into the pipes of many homes.

He however told journalists that there is a deliberate plan by his administration to finally solve water problems in the state and that it would materialise in about two years from now.

He said,”I have heard them talking about reticulation and claims of billions of naira invested into Kwara water projects. We couldn’t find water and the money is gone. But when we came we have restored our water, don’t mind the articulation jargon,water is now running in our pipes. We still have a master plan to permanently solve our water problems and that will materialise in two years, so we want our people to please be patient with us”

Having inherited bad roads too Governor AbdulRazaq released N20m to fix the various township roads as Kwara State Road Maintenance Agency (KWARMA)   massively    rehabilitated   10 roads across Ilorin, the state capital, including the long-neglected Offa Garage Roundabout Road.

Engineer Usman Baba Jibril, general manager of KWARMA, who made the disclosure in an interview with journalists in Ilorin said it also   rehabilitated   the Offa Garage and Geri Alimi-Asa Dam roads.

He listed other roads to be covered “under Phase 1” to include Isale Aluko-Kokorokan-Ita Kudimoh Road; Adeta-Al-Hikmah road; Olorunshogo-Geri Alimi road; Kaduna Road, Adewole; Osere-Cemetry road; General Hospital- Geri Alimi; Offa Garage Geri Alimi Road; and Sani Okin Road.

Similarly Governor   AbdulRazaq has paid    the first tranche of N200m as counterpart funds for the takeoff of Rural Access and Agricultural Market Project (RAAMP III) in the state.

Funded by the World Bank, French Development Agency and other donor agencies, RAAMP is a $60m programme involving at least 13 Nigerian states, according to a statement   by AbdulRazaq’s chief press secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye.

The statement said each participating state is to pay 8 percent of the $60m to fund preliminary activities of the project such as consultancy fee, environmental and social management framework (ESMF) and resettlement policy framework (RPF), among other things, as preconditions for accessing the funds.

“The approval of the first tranche of N200m fulfills the first condition for Kwara State to access this fund. Once approved in September, this will lead to rehabilitation of rural roads up to 600 kilometres across the 16 local government areas of Kwara State,” the statement added.

“This action again proved the Governor’s oft-stated commitment to open up Kwara for industrialisation especially in the area of agricultural value chain. Such roads are meant to facilitate access to market by farmers and traders alike.”

The statement said RAAMP was meant to have kicked off in Kwara in 2017 but the state did not pay the counterpart funds.

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“From paying the debt owed to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), counterpart funds for nutrition and good health care for women and children and now RAAMP, the Governor is simply telling the world that Kwara is ready for investments and all-round development,” it added.

He also halted the ongoing industrial action across Kwara State Colleges of Education he inherited   with   the   immediate payment of N250m to pay at least two months of their outstanding salaries.

AbdulRazaq also assured the schools of subsequent prompt payment of their salary along with gradual offset of the arrears inherited from the previous administration under which the schools embarked on the strike.

The affected colleges are Kwara State College of Education, Oro; Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin; Kwara State College of Education (Technical) Lafiagi; Kwara State College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies (CAILS), Ilorin; Kwara State College of Nursing and Midwifery, Ilorin and Kwara State College of Nursing, Oke Ode.

“The total amount the Governor released for salary payment is 250,774, 328.34. This covers salary for the months of May and June,” Rafiu Ajakaye, spokesman for the Governor, said in a statement.

“Concerned about the status of the schools, the Governor also approved additional N25m for the College of Education Technical Lafiagi for immediate re-accreditation and N24.8m for CAILS for re-accreditation.”

Ajakaye said this, along with similar steps over the last month, represents a bold step by the Governor to match words with action on his commitment to education, workers’ welfare and socio-economic growth of the state

“It is the intention of this administration to stabilise Kwara for growth. Greater things are coming but the Governor is working round the clock to first restore normalcy across all sectors,” he said.

The Colleges of Education had long embarked on strike to protest the non-payment of their salary and other administrative issues, leading to the shutting down of the schools.

The statement said the Governor has also approved immediate payment of N49,786,667 as counterpart funds for FADAMA project.

The sum includes an outstanding of N13,914,667.00 third national FADAMA Development Project Additional financing for 2018 and N35,872,000 already due as 2019 counterpart fund for the same project.

An initiative of the World Bank, FADAMA is a project that seeks to empower local farmers with some funds to boost their   production of staple foods like rice, cassava and sorghum in irrigable land area.

The project is financed through a counterpart funding arrangement between the World Bank and the participating states, including Kwara which had so far benefitted up to $4,685,500 since it keyed into the programme.

Governor Abdulrazaq payments of various counterpart funds that had been abandoned by last administration has however prompted various international bodies such as UNICEF,UNDP etc to return operations   in   kwara, a development he said signalled good omen for the people.

The governor also lamented the loss of accreditation of Nursing school in Ilorin which he also inherited and vowed to make necessary payment to ensure the return of the accreditation shortly.

The elated governor told journalists that his intervention in the lack or near absence of basic amenities in School of Special Needs at Zango Ilorin has paid off as a company in Lagos has visited the school with the aim of providing the needed amenities.

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Furthermore   Governor AbdulRazaq has paid N350m for the completion of the New Kwara State Secretariat Complex in Ilorin also inherited from the last administration.

AbdulRazaq however made the payment    after securing a discount of N50m from the contractors who were being owed N515m out of the N1.38bn total cost.

The statement said the governor is alarmed that some of the state’s civil servants are still in rented accommodation, 52 years after Kwara was created.

Each of the blocks has 76 office spaces.