By Demola Akinyemi
The commencement of payment of “Owo Arugbo”, (money for the aged) in Patigi, Patigi Local Government Area of the state for the aged women and widows of 60 and above in Kwara state was no doubt another master stroke in the efforts of the current administration of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to take care of the poorest of the poor in the state.
Since he came on board, the governor, though a core Ilorin man, has not hidden his passion for all parts of the state including the northern part where he flagged off his governorship campaign after he was given the gubernatorial flag by his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), preparatory to the last general elections in the state.
According to keen political observes in the state, the governor’s frequent attention in Kwara North, which is the least on the ladder of electoral votes among the three senatorial districts, was due to his firm believe that the area was arguably far behind in developmental projects, hence his deliberate efforts to help Kwara North.
So, when Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq again went to Patigi last Monday to flag off the commencement of his Social Investment Programme, it was not a surprise to many.
The AbdulRazaq administration had in May this year earmarked the sum of N300m to fund the state’s social investment programmes targeted at the poorest of the poor, including the aged, the widow, and others at the lowest level of the economy.
Each beneficiary is entitled to N6000 and will be paid once in two months in the life of the present administration to support the beneficiaries across the state. Beneficiaries in other local governments of the state have also been slated to receive theirs as scheduled by the KWASSIP team.
“Owo Arugbo” is one of the four components of the KWASSIP, which has been designed to support poor and vulnerable families, petty traders, and young people at various levels.
At least 10,000 indigent 60-year-olds and above have been captured for the first phase of the anti-poverty measure. The KWASSIP team also disbursed N10,000 “Owo Isowo”, another people-oriented scheme designed for petty traders.
The showers of prayers and obvious joy on the faces of the beneficiaries were electrifying and could not but justify the decision of the governor and even encourage him to explore further means of taking care of the vulnerable people in the state.
The governor while addressing the beneficiaries said “This government will do whatever it takes to take care of the poorest of the poor in this state, and what we are doing today attests to that fact and also a fulfillment of my electoral promise.
“We are for everyone, and we are clearly different from the previous administrations in the state by every standard and I’m happy by now that the good people of Kwara state are feeling our positive impacts towards making lives much better for the residents. I just want to encourage you people to continue to pray for us so that we can do more to better the lots of the residents “
In their response, beneficiaries of Owo Arugbo, the conditional cash transfer (CCT) component of the Kwara State Social Investment Programme praised the AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq administration for fulfilling its promises to the vulnerable.
Old and vulnerable people across Patigi Local Government area of Kwara State described the ongoing disbursement of conditional cash transfer (Owo Arugbo) to them as a first in the history of the state.
Receiving the November/December cycle of the social safety, recipients said no administration had ever mapped out a deliberate strategy to reach out to the poor and vulnerable directly as was being done under the AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq administration’s Kwara State Social Investment Programme.
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke with newsmen in Patigi commended the state government for taking the bold step in alleviating their suffering and pleaded for its sustainability.
Mayaki Gudugi of Patigi Ward four expressed delight on the gesture and promised that the money would be used judiciously. “I am very grateful for this money given to me. I thank the government for this gesture,” he said.
Aishatu Madu of Patigi Ward three said that the stipend would help to improve the standard of living of her family. Madu commended Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for the initiative, saying that the gesture would be the first from the state government in history. She noted that the beneficiaries would remain grateful to the governor for providing succour for the aged and vulnerable.
Another beneficiary, Alhaji Saadu Gomina from Lade Ward 2, urged the government to sustain the allowance in order to reduce poverty among the people of the state.
“I am here to collect N6000 from the state. The government is helping us with this money. I want the governor to continue to give us this money till he leaves office. God will bless him,” he told reporters.
Also speaking, Mr Shehu Naibi, a beneficiary of trader money component “owo isowo, said he would inject the money into his petty business. Naibi, who received N10,000, hailed AbdulRazaq for the people-oriented programme. “I am a Chemist from Patigi Ward 2. I have collected N10,000 and this will help my business to grow. I appreciate the government. The government is doing well,” he said.