Promoting Evidence–based Governance: Kwara State Modernising At A Slow Pace

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Kwara State was created on May 27, 1967 with Ilorin as capital. It is located in the North Central zone of the country with a land Area of 36,825 km2 (14,218 sq mi) ranking ninth by land area amongst Nigerian states.  Major Languages in Kwara State are Ebira, Nupe, and Yoruba.

The Population of Kwara state, as at 2006 census was 2,365,353, the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics’ 2011 Projection put the state population at 2,742,093. By population Kwara ranks 30th out of the 36 states. The state is governed by the All Peoples Congress and the Governor is Abdulfatah Ahmed

Kwara state has 16 Local Governments Area, namely; Baruten, Edu, Patigi, Kaiama, Moro, Asa, Ilorin East, Ilorin South, Ilorin West, Offa, Ekiti, Oke – Ero, Ifelodun, Irepodun, Isin, and Oyun

The state 2016 Budget is N 116.2 Billion according to National Planning Commission. The state’s 2015 Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) stood at N 7,178,922,182.76 (Ranked 18th in Nigeria).

The state has a fairly good website with links to state MDAs and local governments The website is user friendly and easy to navigate. The website does not provide information on a state strategic plan, we see some sectoral strategic plans like the Kwara State Education Strategic Plan 2011 – 2018 and Kwara state Strategic Health Development Plan        2010 – 2015.

The Local Government Areas have pages in the state website with very basic information mostly gathered and uploaded centrally. We do not see any local government strategic plans aligned to the state plan.

The state Education Strategic Plan is a very detailed and well developed document. It records baseline figures and sets numerical targets. It provides for annual performance review and the only review we saw was in 2010. There is no information on the website about the yearly performance targets and actual delivery. According to the state education plan, “Only 28 percent of primary school classrooms have adequate seating and as many as twenty-nine percent are in need of major repairs. Only one in three primary schools has a potable water supply and one in seven primary schools has a functional toilet. The situation in junior and senior secondary schools in not markedly better. Large disparities exist between LGAs in provision of infrastructural facilities.

“In order to assess performance of pupils in primary schools, Kwara SUBEB conducted an assessment exercise in 2008 in Numeracy, Literacy and Life Skills. Assessments tests were carried out on primary grade four and grade six pupils from 64 randomly selected schools in the State. Mean score for all three tests by gender and grade are as follows. For grade 4 pupils, girls mean score was less than the boys in all three tests and for grade 6 pupils, girls mean score was higher than boys in all tests. The overall performance was low with pupil from grade 6 having lower mean score in numeracy test compared to pupil in grade 4.” There was no information that the yearly work plan has reversed or is reversing this situation. The plan has indicators and responsibility assigned to state bodies has no evidence of monitoring and rating of the agencies.

The Kwara State Strategic Health Development Plan which covers 2010 – 2015 made some assessment that can lead to improvement. The report notes that “there are about 49 doctors under the employment of Kwara State government.  However, only 3 out of 16 Local Government Areas have medical doctors in their service. There are close to 450 doctors in the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital and about 50 doctors from General Medical Practice to complement the medical service in the state.

“As at 2009, 3.6 per cent of Kwara State total budget was allocated to health, but in actual sense, only 1.9 per cent is released in the same year. The Strategic Health Plan hopes to improve the budgetary allocation to Health and ensure better performance of the budget through release of all the budget estimates `allocated.” There is no evidence on the website that the 2010 – 2015 plan has been evaluated and a 2016 – 2021 plan in place, if it is a 5 yearly routine.

The state budget and its performance is not given prominence on the website. The last financial statement reported was 2011 and the Auditor – General report is not available on the website and not available on the Kwara State House of Assembly website  The state House of Assembly website is well laid out but poorly updated with information particularly the 8th Assembly. The links to laws passed by the assembly is moribund. The state Facebook page has 27,094 followers and is fairly active. The twitter page has 6,479 followers and is also fairly active.

There is no State Employee Accountability System available online. No evidence of a performance contract and no tracking mechanism of projects. The two state strategic plans available online have monitoring and evaluation component but no evidence of any state institution taking ownership and tracking performance and outcomes.

Stakeholder engagement appears not to attract the attention of the state government. There is no call centre phone number for citizen interaction. We do not see any rule – making process that involves citizens or any formalised reporting mechanism. The state has rich data sets on the state Bureau of Statistics web page about key social indicators, population, justice and crime, health, education, employment, water, housing amongst others. The data appears not to be linked to any state-wide or local government plans. The data needs to be disaggregated by local government to reveal local variances and direct investment.

State Evaluation Mechanism is clearly not a priority as there is no information on project status, award process, delivery timetable and impact of projects on state objectives.

Kwara State appears to have dropped the ball in running a modern transparent state as most of the data and information on the site were last updated in 2011. The state needs to go back to the basics and develop, if not available, a state strategic plan that is signed off by stakeholders in the state across party, religious and tribal lines. The plan must have a clear steward with the budget and authority to implement the plan. Local government plans must flow from the state plan and made available online with clear targets.

The state needs a new strategy for engaging the citizens across multiple channels. The citizen engagement needs to be proactive and interactive. Citizen services that are routine needs to be provided online like the Ifelodu local government is doing with citizenship registration online.

The state needs to appoint a Chief Information Officer and a Chief Technical Officer to steward the digitalisation of state processes and proactive engagement.

An employee accountability system is critical, if the state wants to achieve its objectives. The office of the Head of Service will need a revamp and a monitoring office created or supported to lead in ensuring that performance is tracked. A reward and sanction regime is imperative to achieving set goals.

In all Kwara state has much to do to improve on the State Transparency Index. Kwarans need more sunlight on state activities.

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