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Kwara Floats Schemes To Boost Economy, Healthy Environment



Kwara state governor, Abdulrahman Abdukrazaq is floating two schemes to boost state’s economy and ensure residents healthy living. ABDULLAHI OLESIN reports.

The All Progressives Congress- led government in Kwara state during the week took too pragmatic steps towards ensuring economic buoyancy and healthy living of the vast majority of residents, especially the vulnerable ones.

The government has announced plans to float what it terms  Kwara State Social Investment Programme( KWASSIP) and equally set up a 15-member committee to undertake a comprehensive assessment and recommendation of the Kwara State Social Assessment Vulnerable Indicator (KW-SAVI) Parameters; a scheme designed to clean up the state and ward off environmental disasters.

Already, the state governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq has sent a bill on KWASSIP to the state House of Assembly for consideration.

At least 1000 traders, marketers and artisans will benefit from a N1billion soft loan to run their businesses under KWASSIP.

Abdulrazaq disclosed this at a maiden breakfast meeting with journalists in the state.

He maintained that the focus of his administration centres around human capital and infrastructural development which would attract investments, combat poverty and take the state to the top of the table of revenue generation and competitiveness.

He listed his major landmarks to include fixing the perennial water crisis within Ilorin metropolis, taking Kwara out of its pariah status as the least performing state in the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) ranking, getting contractors back to work to complete abandoned or uncompleted projects, paying counterpart funds that have changed the story of the state in health and education sector, paying years of arrears owed Colleges of education, and reaccreditaion of the state’s tertiary institutions, among others.

Abdulrazaq said his administration has done these without touching the N4.8bn it inherited from the previous government, saying the fund is reserved to kickstart the state’s social security programme and putting basic infrastructure in place.

“Under the Kwara State Social Investment Programme, for instance, we plan to spend N1bn to help traders and artisans with soft loans. We are looking at roughly 1000 beneficiaries of such soft loan. We cannot watch while our people are suffering. We have to do something in that regard,” he stated.

Dwelling extensively on his development priorities, he said the recent budget review and the 2020 budget would help redirect funding for infrastructural projects that fit into his campaign promises to the people.

“We have prioritised and will always prioritise water, education, health, road and general infrastructure. Agriculture is also a priority and we are looking at ensuring that a lot is done in the area of agroprocessing because of our comparative advantages. We want to completely change the story of this state and our plans revolve around just that, beginning from the budget review,” he said.

He said the World Bank has indicated interest in supporting the scheme which is the first of such state-led initiative modelled after the Federal Government Social Investment Programme which components included TraderMoni, MarketMoni, and FarmerMoni, among other supports for small and medium scale businesses.

“We are targeting 1000 beneficiaries under our own scheme. We are working with the Federal Government agencies that handled the market moni and trader moni. They will help to train our own officials. And we are also working with the Bank of Industry which will do the disbursement to allow for transparency and ensure that the money gets to the real beneficiaries,” he said.

He also said the school feeding programme, a key component of the KWASSIP, will begin next year, and is designed to address the menace of malnutrition such as stunting and wasting which the governor noted affects many children in the state.

Abdulrazaq said the state will also access N7bn from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to fix the infrastructure deficits in the primary education once it pays its own counterpart fund of N7bn, adding that such funds would go a long way to turn around the fortunes of primary schools in the state.

The governor also said he has discussed major road projects in the state with President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the focus of his administration is to change the story of Kwara for good in the area of infrastructure and human capital development.

Modelled after the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes, the KWSSIP would comprise Kwara State Conditional Cash Transfer (KWCCIT) to support those within the lowest poverty bracket by improving nutrition and increasing household consumption; Kwara State Poverty Reduction Programme (KWSPRP) to assist Kwarans to acquire and develop lifelong skills; Kwara State Government Entrepreneur and Empowerment Programme (KWSGEEP) which shall lend money to petty traders, artisans, farmers, enterprising youths, men and women; and the HomeGrown School Feeding Programme (HGSF).

“The HGSF will ensure school feeding of schoolchildren in order to increase school enrolment, reduce malnutrition, empower community women, and support small farmers in the state,” the governor said.

Governor had in a letter to the state legislature on August 22, 2019 on KWASSIP bill, said the bill aimed at institutionalising his various initiatives to drive economic growth, counter poverty, and ensure equitable distribution of resources in the state.

The bill, when passed, will establish the Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWSSIP) which would be charged with the responsibility of tackling poverty, ensuring equitable distribution of resources and economic growth.

“Mr Governor’s plan is to ensure that his various interventions to tackle poverty and make living a lot more meaningful for our people are formalised and institutionalised. It is a social security plan that benefits everyone, regardless of their affiliations,” Rafiu Ajakaye, chief press secretary to the Governor, said in a statement.

The statement said such programmes would outlive the administration and guide against people, especially the aged, falling into destitution or depending on any individual politicians to access whatever support the state can offer them.

Abdulrazaq has also set up a 15-member committee to undertake a comprehensive assessment and recommendation of the Kwara State Social Assessment Vulnerable Indicator (KW-SAVI) Parameters – a key part of AbdulRazaq’s plan to clean up the state and ward off environmental disasters.

The committee is to be chaired by former Chief Judge of Kwara State, Justice Raliat Elelu- Habeeb , while the Secretary is Shuaib AbdulGaniyu, an assistant director in the Governor’s Office.

The committee was on Monday inaugurated by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Mamman Saba Jibril.

The governor said the Raliat Elelu Committee will look into environmental issues such as unlawful dumping of waste and other violations that hurt public planning and endanger public health.

“We have also set up a committee in place headed by Justice Raliat Elelu to look at the issue top down on environment and once they submit their report, things will start changing. If you drive through our major roads, you will see rubbish all over the place. But give us time all these will be a thing of the past,” he said.