ABDULLAHI OLESIN examines the performances of women who served as commissioners in the recently dissolved cabinet of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State.
In December 2020, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State appointed nine women as commissioners in his 17-member cabinet. The number of women in the cabinet, representing 56.25 percent, even surpassed the 35 percent slots reserved for women in such appointments across the globe.
It was, therefore, not surprising that the appointment of nine women into the cabinet was greeted with disdain and not many gave the women any chance to perform. But, a year after their appointments into the cabinet that was dissolved on December 31, 2020, a cursory look at the performance of the cabinet showed that the female members had indeed proved their mettle and justified their appointments.
The female commissioners- Hajia Fatima Bisola Ahmed, Hajia Fatima Arinola Lawal, Hajia Saadatu Modibbo Kawu, Harriet Afolabi- Oshatimehin, Joannah Kolo, Oyeyemi Olasumbo Florence, Oyedun Juliana Florence, Aremu Abosede Deborah, had all proved to be performers going by the achievements recorded in their various ministries within 12 months.
For instance, the Ministry of Water Resources, which Hajia Fatima Arinola Lawal headed, was able to fix all the five moribund water works in the state and water now runs regularly from the hitherto dry pipes.
Also, the Ministry of Tertiary Education supervised by Hajia Saadatu Modibbo Kawu was able to return life to all state-owned tertiary institutions by offsetting all the backlog of salary arrears owed staff of the institutions by the past administration in the state. Money was also released for the accreditation of the institutions courses.
The erstwhile commissioner for communications, Harriet Afolabi- Oshatimehin, also recorded landmark achievements in her ministry. The government, through her ministry, revitalised the state-owned newspaper, The Herald, and the State Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Kwara). While The Herald had gone digital, Radio Kwara-both AM and FM stations are now heard loud and clear in far and near 24 hours daily.
But, there is this woman whose achievements are monumental. The achievements of Hajia Fatima Bisola Ahmed as commissioner for education and human capital development are so glaring that they earned her and her ministry commendations from the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
Before the inauguration of the AbdulRazaq administration on May 29, 2019, the state had been blacklisted for eight years by the Universal Basic Education Board (UBEC) over the failure of the past administration to pay counterpart funds, while the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) also sanctioned the state over the large scale examination malpractices in the state’s public secondary schools during WASSCE examinations.
The effect of the blacklist by UBEC for eight years was the deterioration of infrastructure in the state’s public primary and junior secondary schools.
But, under the watch of Hajia Ahmed, Kwara is now off the UBEC blacklist. It has accessed a backlog of N7.1bn UBEC grant to gradually reposition the schools. Thirty-one basic schools have been renovated.
Hajia Ahmed also carried out radical reforms in the ministry to stop examination malpractices.
Under her watch, the state has commenced the process to employ 4,107 teachers who will be deployed to primary and secondary schools across the state. The recruitment process is digital-proven to ensure that only qualified candidates are employed.
In recognition of its efforts in tackling examination malpractice headlong, WAEC wrote a letter of commendation to the state government.
WAEC’s human resources manager, Adesoji Faboro, made the commendation in Ilorin during the 2020 state committee meeting.
“The swapping of principals to other schools and the involvement of external monitoring teams that cut across lecturers from state’s Colleges of Education was a good initiative which is going to go a long way in reducing examination malpractices and enhancing the development of the education sector in the state,” he said as he implored the state to sustain the initiatives in the interest of future.
Governor AbdulRazaq also commended Hajia Fatima Ahmed for her invaluable efforts in the development of human capital.
The governor, in a commendation letter dated November 23, 2020, thanked Hajia Ahmed for the measures she put in place, which he said had helped in eradicating examination malpractice in last year’s WAEC examinations.
Reacting to the development, Hajia Ahmed thanked Governor Abdulrazaq for giving her free hands to operate.
This, she noted, had contributed greatly to the successes recorded by her ministry since her assumption of office. She assured the governor that her ministry would continue to introduce and implement reforms that would further enhance the standard of education in the state.
The performances of these women have justified the clamour for the appointment of more women in public offices across board and vindicated Governor AbdulRazaq’s decision in populating his erstwhile cabinet with nine women against seven men.