From the first day of his inauguration on May 29, 2019, Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has left no one in doubt about his determination to restore the glory of the state and making the masses the centrepiece of his administration.
Indeed, AbdulRazaq’s simplicity in running the affairs of the state is unprecedented. He maintains a low profile while achieving a lot with the meagre resources at the disposal of the state government.
In the last two years, the administration of Governor AbdulRazaq has not borrowed a kobo from any financial institution.
The administration relies only on statutory allocations from the Federation Account and internally generated revenue (IGR) to run the state.
Despite the economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KW-IRS) generated N9,598,504,939.90 in the first quarter of 2021.
The Executive Chairman of the agency, Mrs Shade Omoniyi attributed the feat to KWIRS’ increased adoption of technology and steady blockage of leakages within the tax administration system.
She stated that the figure is the highest ever collected by the agency without any extraordinary item at any quarter since its establishment in 2016.
Omoniyi added the feat was recorded without any new raise in the tax rate, even as the agency made deliberate steps to tackle multiple taxation.
As part of measures to ensure that the monies in the state government’s coffers are judiciously utilised and for developmental purposes as well as welfare of workers alone, the governor did not approve purchase of officials cars for his cabinet members.
The impacts of AbdulRazaq’s financial prudence have clearly manifested in various sectors, including education, agriculture, health, information, sports and the civil service.
AbdulRazaq’s administration has rescued a state that once tottered on the brink of collapse.The governor has successfully changed the Kwara narrative. From instant payment of relevant counterpart funds, which have brought back development partners, and taking the state off the Universal Basic Education (UBEC) blacklist.
In the health sector, AbdulRazaq’s administration began with injecting N232million to tackle malaria, maternal death, and malnutrition.
Equipped with state-of-the-art ICU facility like defibrillators, patient monitors, ventilators, Kwara for the first time now has a five-ward air-conditioned isolation centre for infectious diseases. The administration has purchased five new military-grade ambulances with the capacity to manage fragile patients on the go. Apart from trainings for health workers, the administration was about the first in the country to pay mouth-watering allowances for medical workers managing COVID-19 patients. The long-dead oxygen plant has now been revived. Kwara, which used to buy oxygen for its hospitals, is today self-sufficient and can sell oxygen to neighbouring states and private hospitals.
Along with health insurance scheme for the people of the state, the government has renovated 37 primary health centres across the state, while 70 new medical personnel, including doctors were recruited to strengthen access to quality healthcare.
Kwara prides itself as an agrarian state. It even once constructed a large cargo shed to attract agroprocessing investments. Yet the farming hinterlands in Kaiama, Baruten and elsewhere had no good roads connecting them to the market in the city. This is changing. The administration is today constructing the multipurpose Maigida – Bani road which connects farming communities in the north to those in the central for easy access to market. The Gwanara road in Kwara north is now receiving attention. Kwara had almost lost its RAAMP III slot to Bayelsa for failing to pay N200m counterpart funds. The new administration had since paid and Kwara is back to reckoning.
In the education sector, AbdulRazaq’s administration has rehabilitated 31 schools across the state.These renovation works gulped N1.7bn.
Having taken Kwara off the UBEC blacklist, the administration has accessed the over N7bn trapped there. The state library complex has been rehabilitated, a part of it equipped with e-learning facilities powered with 24-hour solar energy.
Teachers across the three state- owned Colleges of Education have returned to the classroom after the new administration paid their salary arrears worth N700m. Like the school of Midwifery, courses at the College of Education (Technical), Lafiagi and College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies, Ilorin have now been re-accredited. Monthly subventions have been restored to the institutions after many years.
For the first time, bursaries and scholarships were paid through transparent electronic windows to rule out sharp practices by officials saddled with the responsibility of paying the students . The inherited N19.5m salary arrears at the International Vocational, Technical and Entrepreneurship College (IVTEC), Ajase- Ipo had been settled.
With five water works fixed and some others at various stages of repair, clean potable water is back to Kwara households at stable intervals. At least 402 boreholes were rehabilitated in the early days of the government, while 14 more have been dug in Baruten, Kwara north, where water scarcity had been a menace. The boreholes will complement the ongoing Yashikira water work.
The civil service is at its best in two decades. The new administration has not only restored running costs across the MDAs, 27 new vehicles were also recently purchased to aid mobility of workers while modern computers were given to them. The state government has commenced gradual implementation of the new minimum wage in the state. As at the time of filing this report, no civil servant earn less than N30,000 in the state.
The AbdulRazaq’s government constantly sends out the right signal that a new Kwara has arrived. The NYSC camp, which was no better than a penitentiary, has undergone complete rehabilitation and equipped with basic amenities. Fifteen years after it was held, the administration revived the Kwara State Sports Festival. The baseball court has been rehabilitated after decades of neglect. Various capacity trainings and enlightenment programmes have been held for youths, including a three-day Nigerian youth parliamentary workshop in Ghana.
The government has done so much to engage young people, with nearly 60 percent of AbdulRazaq’s appointments going to persons below 40.
All outstanding allowances to judicial officers, some dating back to 2014, have been paid by the administration. Its expansive waterlogged compound now paved with modern interlocking tiles, the administration has undertaken a complete remodelling of the ‘Centre Igboro’ Area Court in Ilorin —more than 30 years after it was abandoned. For the first time since it was constructed during military rule, the administration has reroofed the State High Court complex while the Sango Magistrate Court, gutted by fire over five years ago, has been reconstructed.
The governor believes Kwara holds the ace in agriculture. He has not only paid N350m to enrol the state in the FADAMA III scheme, Kwara has keyed into the National Livestock Transformation Plan which is designed to ensure food security and end the perennial deadly clashes between herders and farmers. The governor recently launched 15 new tractors and other farming implements to boost food production in the state.
Apart from renovating the juvenile correctional home, the children reception centre, and paying counterpart funds for the World Bank-funded community and social development projects (CSDP), the administration has launched its social investment programme (KWASIP) which targets the aged, the unemployed, petty traders, and little children who would be fed in school.
On youths employment, the state government recently employed 4,701 teachers at both the basic and secondary education levels.
The process of recruiting more staff for the civil service has commenced as advertisement has been placed for the vacancies in the core civil service and KWIRS.
In the media sector, the governor has repositioned the three state owned media outfits for optimum performance. While the State Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Kwara) which had gone off the air before the inauguration of the AbdulRazaq’s administration has been resuscitated and has taken back its leading position in the broadcasting space, The Herald has been fully digitised and now more regular on the newsstand. The Kwara Television Service (KWTV) is also receiving attention as a new General Manager who shall oversee its repositioning had been appointed.
As a media friendly governor, AbdulRazaq had appointed three accomplished journalists as members of his cabinet and Chief Press Secretary- Alh Sa’adu Salahu, Alh Bashir Adigun and Rafiu Ajakaye ( Special Advisers on Strategy, Political Communications and Chief Press Secretary) respectively. He also ensured the appointment of professionals and seasoned journalists; Kayode Aremu and Yomi Adeboye as General Managers of Radio Kwara and The Herald respectively.
The governor also undertook a complete rehabilitation of the Press Centre of the Kwara State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) with whooping sum of over N17M million. He also organised training programme for journalists covering COVID-19 and as well extended COVID-19 palliatives to both the working and veteran journalists in the state.
The governor’s avowed commitment to the security of lives and property has also made Kwara one of the few safest states in the country. He had put the round pegs in the round holes by appointing a retired General, Tunde Bello and a retired Director of the State Security Service, Alh Muyideen Aliyu as Security Adviser and Senior Special Assistant on Security, respectively.
AbdulRazaq, is indeed redefining governance, giving hope to the disadvantaged, empowering local artisans, redistributing wealth, and calling global attention to Kwara with his bold enlistment of women in the decision-making.