By Demola Akinyemi
ILORIN…Seven months after, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara state has not left anyone in doubt that he has come to make the state of harmony better than he met it in view of the far reaching decisions and steps he had taken which are already having positive impacts on the residents.
The reality on the ground is that the high figure of tertiary institutions in Ilorin and indeed kwara state which annually turn out hundreds and thousands of graduates into the already saturated employment environment without an existing commensurate job market has made unemployment to remain a big challenge in kwara state over the years.
Outside of the correctional measures the governor had taken in the areas of education, health, agriculture,staff and students welfare, he’s now frontally tackling the problems of youths unemployment in the state which had been an albatross over the years.
The upcoming BUA sugar factory in kwara is on the verge of creating not less than 10,000 jobs while the MTN has also collaborated with the present administration to create more jobs for the residents among other similar efforts that would manifest in the life of the current administration.
In view of this development, Governor Andulrazaq Abdulrahman himself a business man to the core who is also fully abreast of these challenges has commenced taking strategic steps by creating the enabling environment and also partnering with investors to reduce the big unemployment challenge in kwara state.
When late last month the representatives of the MTN multnational company paid the governor a courtesy visit, Governor Abdulrazaq and MTN were able to concretize plans on how the duo would create massive employment in the state.
According to the press statements by the governor’s Chief press secretary Rafiu Ajakaiye made available to Saturday Vanguard in ilorin, this is not the only step taken since the governor assumed office seven months ago.
Speaking during the parley with the MTN Nigeria led by the Regional head Lagos and core West MTN business ,Mr Ezekiel Bamigboye in ilorin, the governor said, ”We intend to set up an innovation hub in the state which will be well funded instead of traveling outside the state, we can get things done here. We have plans to modernise the state and to achieve this, we are going to invest in our people, innovation and technology,”
The visit came a few weeks after the Governor visited the Lagos office of the telecommunication giant.
AbdulRazaq assured Kwarans that free internet services will be available at the State Library which is under renovation and in public schools to support e-learning.
He particularly urged MTN to key into the state’s drive to run its activities through innovation and technology and make the state a model for others.
“For all networks, penetration is very low in Kwara North, particularly Baruten and Kaiama Local Government Areas, and I want to urge you to work on that so that the areas will be well covered,” the Governor also said.
The MTN representative Mr Ezekiel Bamigboye said the team has visited the state’s Ministries of Education and Human Capital Development, Sports and Youth Development and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Health Matters, Prof. Wale Sulaiman, to identify areas of collaboration with Kwara State.
“We come here as a follow up to your visit to our office in Lagos and I want to assure you that with what we have seen, there are enough areas to intervene such as driving health technology (telemedicine), capacity building in the sports sector, and getting schools in the state connected,” Bamigboye said.
Also last month the governor visited BUA sugar factory in Lafiagi in Edu local government area of the state to confirm the state of the factory and see how the government could leverage on the company’s efforts and support it to also create employment for the people of kwara state.
AbdulRazaq during the visit said the state would support the upcoming BUA Sugar Factory and other investors in the state to succeed by creating the right environment.
AbdulRazaq said the strategies to attract and keep investors in Kwara would include sustaining the state’s peaceful environment and putting in place the necessary infrastructure and policies to ease the business climate.
He commended the BUA Group for citing its multimillion dollar sugar plant in Lafiagi in Edu local government area of Kwara, enthusing that the facility would make the local government the richest in the North Central.
“BUA today is the biggest investor in North Central Nigeria and we are happy about their investment is in Kwara State. I am in fact happy that it is in Lafiagi, Edu Local Government,” AbdulRazaq said as he toured the facility in company of its chairman AbdulSamad Rabiu and other officials of the conglomerate .
AbdulRazaq was accompanied by the Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly Yakubu Danladi; and Kwara commissioner-designates Rotimi Iliasu and Joanna Kolo who is from the local government.
He said the plant will produce about 25% of Nigeria’s sugar need when it begins operation later next year and 75% of the country’s sugar needs in the next 10 years.
“Kwara wants to be the epicentre of sugar production in Nigeria and we are creating a peaceful environment for business to thrive,” AbdulRazaq added.
He added that such investments would cut poverty rate and strengthen Kwara’s capacity to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals since the issues of water and electricity would be tackled once the factory begins operation.
The chairman of BUA Sugar factory Alh AbdulSamad Rabiu, for his part, said the sugar plantation in Lafiagi and the refinery is one of the most advanced anywhere in the world with the capacity to produce 14,000 tonnes of canes per day when completed.
“Kwara State is one of the states with land, water and climate and we set up our business here because we knew sugar refining would succeed here,” he added.
“Instead of importing raw sugar and process it in Nigeria, we decided to establish sugar plantation and refinery in Nigeria and Kwara State happens to be the best located state for the investment.
“When completed, it will generate over 10,000 direct employments and produce over 200,000 tonnes of refined sugar together with 200,000 litres of ethanol and 35 megawatts of power – using the bye product of sugarcane.”
Rabiu praised the effort of the state in attracting investments, saying “this is the only sugar plant in Nigeria with plantation and refinery and will be completed by the end 2020”.
The Governor later inspected some roads and a cottage hospital in Tsaragi, a town in the local government.
He also directed Share and Tsaragi communities to forward letters on their requests to the state government.
Also in a related development,the culture of protesting for bursary by students who are indigenes of kwara state and the attended scams in the payments of the bursary which were the norms in previous administrations in the state have been attended to by Governor Andulrazaq .
The governor has now devised e payment for bursary whereby the benefiting students receive direct alert unlike the previous cash disbursement which gave opportunity for the students to be defrauded.
No fewer than 8,304 Kwara students have been paid the bursary after the e-process while the governor also approved N100, 000 each for 89 Law School students indigenes of kwara state, nationwide.
According to the statement by Rafiu Ajakaiye ,”a total of 8,304 final year students of Kwara State origin have each been paid N5000 as bursary straight into their accounts following weeks of electronic processes and verification of their applications by the government.
“The AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq administration had recently launched a strictly e-bursary in a step meant to ensure that the process is transparent, with all eligible students directed to apply through a dedicated portal.”
The Governor had approved N50m for the second tranche of 2019 bursary but insisted that applicants must apply online and have their money paid straight into their accounts without any middlemen.
“A total of 10,491 successful applications were received within a period of four weeks but only 8,304 of them were verified to be genuine and therefore recommended for payments.”
The statement also said that the exercise, in which Kwara students from across the country benefited, gulped N41,520,000 out of the N50m approved for the bursary at N5000 each per beneficiary.
Meanwhile,the governor has directed that the approved payment of N100,000 each to 89 students of Kwara State origin who are currently at the Law School nationwide be paid directly into their accounts.