Kwara State government announced plans to implement reforms on the ease of doing business in the state. Construction and rehabilitation of 26 urban roads is also set to commence, ABDULLAHI OLESIN reports
In furtherance of his commitment to the industrialisation of the state, Kwara State governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq has announced plans to implement reforms on the ease of doing business in the state.
The state government during the week also set in motion machinery for the commencement of construction and rehabilitation of 26 urban roads.
While the governor made public the intention of his government to promote ease of doing business in the state on Tuesday, the state’s ministry of Works and Transport, acting on the governor’s directive, on Wednesday organised open bid for contractors willing to partake in the construction of the selected urban roads scattered across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Speaking at the north central regional engagement on the ease of doing business in Ilorin, the state capital, Abdulrazaq who was represented by his deputy, Kayode Alabi pledged to implement reforms to ease business climate in the state, saying the current narrative about it ranking lowest in the north central region is unacceptable.
He said various concrete steps are already being taken to make business transactions a lot easier and faster to attract investors.
The North Central regional engagement on Ease of Doing Business was organised by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and the Kwara State government.
The event was attended by the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business Dr Jumoke Oduwole; Secretary to the Kwara State Government Prof Mamman Saba Jibril; Chief of Staff to the Governor Aminu Adisa Logun; Kwara Commissioner-designates; PEBEC Enabling Business Environment Secretariat Project Manager Ayokunnu Ojeniyi; representatives of federal government agencies; several small and medium-sized enterprises; and regulatory bodies from across the region.
The Governor expressed dismay at a World Bank report in 2018 which ranked Kwara 30th out of 37 states including the FCT — and the lowest in the North Central — in the ease of doing business.
“On the national average, according to the report, Kwara ranked the lowest among its peers in the North Central. In terms of starting a business, Kwara ranked 7th out of the seven states sampled in the zone, including the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja). In dealing with construction permit, we ranked 4th out of seven; in registering of properties, Kwara ranked 6th out of seven; and in terms of enforcing contract, Kwara ranked 7th out of the seven states/places,” Abdulrazaq said.
“This was the stark reality of our state — and it only confirmed our position that this state was practically run aground, notwithstanding the propaganda. We have decided to put these figures in perspective not necessarily to brood over the past but to challenge ourselves on the need to do things differently as we get set to rewrite the story of our state. Our officials are to note that this narrative must change going forward. Kwara must reclaim its glory!”
He added however that many steps are already being taken by his administration to turn the page, citing the ongoing reforms at the Kwara State Internal Revenue Services (KW-IRS) and the efforts to run e-governance which have begun with the strictly online administration of students’ bursary and upcoming take off of e-learning from the Kwara State Library.
“Apart from security and peaceful environment which we enjoy, this administration believes that human capital and infrastructural development constitute important incentives for any investor as they contribute to significantly reducing transactional costs. To this extent, our first budget in 2020 will focus more on basic education, healthcare, and road network, among other things. We are also irrevocably committed to building strong institutions to drive growth.
“Kwara means business and our target is to make our state one of Nigeria’s friendliest in the ease of doing business. We are seriously working on e-governance whereby you can be anywhere in the world and transact business with the government or anybody in Kwara State. As we speak, the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KW-IRS) is in the process of rearranging of our processes such that tax assessment, payment, printing of receipts for tax payment down to processing of tax clearance certificate can be initiated real time and completed online. Another upcoming reform is the harmonisation of bills and structured payment of tax/revenue obligations.
“We have also built a full digital bursary process which has cut off the influence of middlemen and potentially ended a regime of criminal diversion of bursary funds. Now you can be anywhere in the world and apply for our bursary and get paid once you satisfy all conditions without visiting any office or knowing any official in charge.”
Oduwole said PEBEC has done a lot within the last three years to ease the business environment in Nigeria, with the country moving many inches up the ladder in global ranking.
She charged the North Central zone, which she called a vital trade corridor in Nigeria, to break some barriers against SMEs by implementing reforms already recommended by PEBEC which itself has carried out over 140 reforms.
On the planned construction of 26 roads, no fewer than 134 local contractors on Wednesday participated in an open bid held for the projects.
Permanent Secretary of the ministry of Works and Transport,Dr Yusuf Manjo said the bids were the first phase of the exercise because roads for consideration under the phase 2 are still being compiled and are scheduled for execution in the first and second quarters of 2020.
“The present administration under the leadership of Abdulrazaq is committed to ensuring that construction works are given to competent contractors.
“In furtherance of this, the Ministry shall follow due process to ensure qualified contractors are awarded the projects to ensure quality service delivery to the people. We shall ensure strict compliance with the Public Procurement Act,”he said.
He said the road construction/rehabilitation is part of the urban renewal programme of the new administration.
Some of the contractors commended the state government for the transparency employed in the bidding process.
The 26 roads in the first phase include Ipata Market Internal Road network; Emir’s Road Patigi; College of Education Road linking Unilorin Mini campus; townhall/station road, Erin Ile; Market Junction-Emir’s Palace Gwanara; Tsaragi-Market Batakpan road; Museum Road, Esie; Adeta Primary School Road, Kuntu; Queen Elizabeth School Internal Road.
Others are Tipper Garage Junction, Ilorin, Amuyo-Adesoye College Offa; Shao Township Road; Osi Township Road; Oro-Ago-Oyate Road; Sobi Specialist Hospital—Gaa-Osiris-Medina Road Ilorin; Awolowo Road Tanke-Danialu Primary School; Asadam Lower Road by Railway; and Gberia Township Road Kaiama, among others.
The bidding process came amid accolades for Abdulrazaq over the recent rehabilitation (asphalting) of Taiwo Road in Omu Aran; Popo Road in Offa; and Alawonla- Dada road in Ilorin metropolis.
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