Governor AbdulRazaq

•The change he needs for second term ticket

By Demola Akinyemi

Twenty nine months after he assumed office, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara state has redefined governance with the simplicity he brought into office, even as he has been widely adjudged to be running one of the leanest and most transparent governments in the country.

The political template which Governor AbdulRazaq is using in governance has completely changed the nature of Kwara politics.

He checked situations in the ministries and parastatals across the state unannounced to avoid any cover up by civil servants and their bureaucratic attitude and also most importantly to enable him appreciate the problems as they are. Governor AbdulRazaq who said that he took off from below zero level based on the revelations he personally encountered has gone ahead to record many firsts in the history of the north central state.

He was the first Governor in black Africa to appoint a 56% female cabinet, and the first in Nigeria to launch a social audit programme which enables civic groups and communities to audit government’s projects and save public funds. Governor AbdulRazaq also recently restored the Public Procurement Agency to clean up government’s contract process. His social investment programme, targeted at the poor and vulnerable, is adjudged the biggest and most transparent by any subnational government in the country. It is the first institutionalised social safety system in the state.

AbdulRazaq has also built what is currently Kwara’s first well-equipped intensive care unit (ICU) facility in the entire central Nigeria located at the state’s premier General Hospital Ilorin. Building the state’s first tech-driven response to infectious diseases, his administration is rated among the first four nationwide in COVID-19 response and the best in vaccination preparedness and implementation nationwide.

Under him, Kwara has the largest health insurance scheme, which is now supported by various international bodies owing to its transparency and focus.

Seven years after Kwara was blacklisted by the Universal Basic Education Commission, AbdulRazaq has also got the state back to national reckoning in basic education sector.

At the moment, various infrastructural projects are being undertaken across 600 basic schools in the state. Recently, his administration conducted the most transparent and totally apolitical recruitment exercise for 4,701 teachers. This exercise has been adjudged the best and largest teachers’ recruitment exercise in the history of Kwara State.

In 2019 when he assumed office, public water system had collapsed in Kwara State. Today, public water is running across the metropolis and many parts of the state. So far, he has rehabilitated over 10 water works across the state while new ones are being built.

He has also produced the state’s first 10-year agricultural transformation plan, among other people-focused programmes to help farmers and drive food security.

As the administration is moving closer to the third out of the four years tenure of first term, the eyes of the stakeholders in the state are already fixed on the second term of Governor AbdulRazaq.

Impressed with Governor AbdulRazaq’s achievements, one of the political pillars in the state and his staunch supporter, the septuagenarian Senator Suleiman Makanjuola Ajadi said recently that Governor AbdulRasaq’s performance in 29 months surpassed that of 16 years tenure of Dr Bukola Saraki and Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed as governors put together. Ajadi said,”Your handwork will speak for you in any situation at the end of the day. So, people will not evaluate Governor AbdulRazaq based on what anybody is saying about him, no community will judge him based on the abuses few people in the system are passing on him, so all the communities will decide whether or not to vote for him based on what he has done for them.”

Saturday Vanguard went to town to have conversations with other stakeholders. In his assessment, renowned labour activist and former Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)in Kwara state, Comrade Emmanuel Ayeoribe said Governor AbdulRazaq should be interested in the kind of legacy he wants to leave even if he gets second term.

Speaking in an interview with Saturday Vanguard, he said ,”If anybody is saying that it’s the people that will decide Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s second term, I think that is correct to the extent that the elections would be credible. Any governor is a tenant in the government house, the best AA can get is second term and that’s all.

“On the other hand, factionalisation of the party is also a bad omen. A good leader must strive to ensure the unity and oneness of his members. For the governor to have started on a factionalised party also spells bad omen. So he will dissipate more energies on raising his own army within and outside the party instead of spending the same time and resources on improving the lots of the people and residents of Kwara state. So, in a way there is no way factionalisation won’t affect progress in any system.

READ ALSO: Teachers Day: Governor AbdulRazaq releases promotion letters to teachers

“I challenge the governor to take a bold step to do personal survey to know how people feel about him and their ratings of him and his administration. This is because he should be interested in the legacy that he wants to leave after office. I think this is necessary because in a big office like that and with what is currently going on in the ruling party, I have strong feelings that many people who surround the governor might not be telling him the truth but only what he wants to hear.”

In his own opinion, Mr Olusegun Modeyin, a legal practitioner based in Kwara state said the governor as a technocrat in politics has tried his best but that he must carry his people along to get a second term.

He said,”I see Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq as a technocrat, he came with good intentions to serve his people and with the way he mobilized the people through “O to ge” slogan to secure victory, it showed that the state really needed a change. But at times getting a change doesn’t mean that you can get the change that you really want. What I mean is that the change you have might not bring what you need to your table. With the quantum of development the governor has brought, I think he has tried being a technocrat.

“But I want to say that as a politician you need to carry your people along. With just one vote you can lose or win an election and if you don’t carry your people along, you will have problems with them because there are some people in the society that you need their blessing. I learnt the governor at times took decisions without consulting people coupled with the kind of cabinet that he has where most of his cabinet members are not performing.

“The commissioners should be politicians who are popular among the people, not those who don’t know their left from their right politically. The governor has jettisoned some of those who helped him into power but there is still a way out. If he can retrace his steps and bring back these people to his fold, he will get his second term if he wants to come back.”

For Engineer Dickson Tolufase who described Governor AbdulRazaq’s early days as very impressive, he believes that if he increases the tempo of his performance to warm himself into to the hearts of the masses, the second term ticket would be easy for him.

He said,”the governor’s early days in office was victory for the masses, I would say. We were happy, we jubilated for his victory with the assurance that he would be able to deliver. As time went by, I personally discovered that he has slowed down his performance. For example, by now as we are getting to the dry season the roads should have been maintained. Virtually every road in the town is bad, so where does our money go to? I learnt that he doesn’t give money to thugs to enable him pay attention to development. Though money might not be coming like it used to come for the previous administrations but at least we expect to see some reasonable level of development.

“For sometime now, we have not heard him speaking and even his Deputy. The masses are not feeling his impact like his first days in office. I’m aware of the factionalisation in his party but my point is that if the masses who are to decide are not feeling his impact, then what are we talking about?”he queried.

Mr Lekan Ajayi, a public analyst and educationist told Saturday Vanguard that the powers that be would decide the fate of the masses in any election, citing Kogi,Osun and Imo state governorship elections among others.

He recalled that,”In Lagos state when the then Governor Akinwunmi Ambode wanted to contest for second term, we were told that he performed but his offence was that he didn’t carry the so called politicians along, and that was why he could not win the primaries of the ruling party APC in Lagos state.

“In Kwara, when Governor AbdulRazaq came he did something to carry the masses along. I was made to understand that at Yidi praying ground, Government House used to spend N7m annually to cut the grasses, clean up the place and make it ready for the annual Sallah prayer. But when they approached him he promised to give them the money but instead he mobilised people to the place and we were told that he spent less than N1m. It was a laudable effort to those of us who are keen about the development of Kwara state.

“We also saw some projects springing up but we were told that they were the projects of the last administration that he resuscitated and since then I can’t point to any serious project in the town that he has done to portray him as being on the side of the masses.

“If the governor is not giving back to the party that him to power, I don’t know how he wants to succeed without carrying the people along. In Nigerian politics, the masses vote vote for candidates who have been sold to them. So, now if you are fighting the stakeholders and you are still not doing something good for the masses, how will you win an election.

“But we are in Nigeria where anything is possible, we have seen where elections are won by unpopular candidates. We saw what happened in Kogi state,what did Governor Yaya Bello do that made him to win second term? Nothing, and he knew he didn’t win. That can repeat itself anywhere. But when Governor AbdulRazaq came people really respected him,he needs to step up his performance.

“If the stakeholders are not happy with him and the masses too are not feeling his impact then he needs to go back to the drawing board. In Nigerian politics there is no popular candidate except you come through the stakeholders. Buhari came about five times and didn’t win until he came through the combined efforts of some stakeholders who campaigned for him and changed people’s mindset about him.

“For Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to get second term ticket he has to win back the masses and he has to reconcile with his people because he’s not an independent candidate. If there is a faction in the party it’s his fault because he’s the leader of the party, it doesn’t cost him anything to carry these people along and of course nobody supports a candidate in politics without expecting anything in return.”

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