Kwara Governor-elect: A breath of “fresh air” or another long march in miniature?


By Nimi Princewill.

Having cruised to an eccentric victory by landslide at the recently concluded polls, the incoming Kwara State Governor Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq assuredly rides on the goodwill of the people—both for sheer political attraction, and his distinct role leading from the frontlines of the O To Ge (enough is enough) movement which ousted the long-lived “Saraki hegemony.”

Leveraging on the perceived shortcomings of the past and present administrations in the state, Alhaji Abdulrazaq and his All Progressives Congress party, APC, appeared to be the most endearing to the people.

The incoming governor never hesitates to express his displeasure over the current system of governance in the state, as he insists Kwara State is poor in social infrastructure despite receiving an average of 40bn naira annually from the federal accounts.

In his statement, “between January 2011 and August 2018, the Kwara State government has received roughly N300bn in federal allocations. In the same period, the 16 local governments have received more than N500bn. This means that this state has received an average of 40bn naira annually from the federal accounts while the local councils have taken over 27bn naira annually between 2011 and 2017.

“Yet Kwara is poor in social infrastructure even as it is one of the frontline states. Teachers and pensioners are owed, local government teachers are not paid, and civil servants at the state level are not properly remunerated and often have their pay slashed for dubious reasons without being able to protest same.”

He further questions why the state is indebted to the tune of N56bn as at December 2017, with 30 per cent of it being external debt and 70 owed to local financial institutions, despite the absence of commensurate development to justify it. He also attributes the poor nature of Kwara’s internally generated revenue to “lack of creativity.”

Some Kwara residents and political leaders maintain that the state’s growth has been stunted in the last 16 years by the past and present administrations, as the state’s progress cannot be compared to other first generation states in the country like Rivers, Kano and Lagos.

According to a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, Mr Oluwafemi Yusuf, this huge development deficit was because of misplaced priorities as in the last 16 years, projects that doesn’t concern the masses or are people oriented were being executed.

A prominent labour leader, Mr. Issa Aremu, who contested in the 2019 Kwara State governorship election under the platform of the Labour Party, mentioned in his declaration speech that Kwara State “in recent times is poorly governed” and needed “a radical change from underdevelopment, mass hunger and poverty.”

However, finding electoral value in the candidacy of the APC’s aspirant, Mr. Aremu directed his Labour Party supporters to vote overwhelmingly for Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq “to rescue Kwara from a dictatorship of one person for the past two decades.”

With the weight of expectations the incoming governor is inundated with, settling into office before hitting the ground running isn’t an available option he stands to enjoy. As a consequence of the APC winning over 70 percent of the votes cast in the elections, Kwarans demand nothing less than his very best.

In his acceptance speech, Alhaji Abdulrazaq acknowledged that Kwarans had spoken and the incoming administration could not afford to fail the people. In his words, “Kwara people have decided and that has put a lot of responsibilities on us. We cannot afford to fail and we cannot afford to steal and loot the treasury.

“The huge margin of our victory at the polls suggests that our people are fed up with the status quo and want a new approach to governance.

“God forbid that after three years, people will regret that why did they vote this new government. I can assure you that will not happen.

“We will work tirelessly as a team to deliver and make sure people start feeling the effects of government and dividends of democracy. When we assume office, by the Grace of God and the good people of Kwara, we will spread development to all parts of the state.’’

Nonetheless, the incoming Kwara State governor Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq isn’t coming into office with an exactly squeaky-clean reputation, as he’s had his fair share of scandalous accusations arising from his alleged certificate scam, which is widely regarded by his followers as a plot to distract the governor-elect.

Mr Oluwafemi Yusuf, assures that the allegation would end in futility, while accusing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of plotting to blackmail the state’s governor-elect by claiming that the Senior Secondary School Certificate he presented for his election was forged.

As the new government defines its priority programmes which revolves around education, health care, providing basic infrastructure, lifting Kwara from poverty, security, agriculture, looking into the welfare of teachers, among other critical areas in need of urgent attention, Kwarans lay in wait to see what will be done differently from previous administrations.

It is worthy of note that the outgoing Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, in a show of sportsmanship, has charged the people of the state to support and cooperate with the incoming administration.

Will the dispensation of Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq provide the much needed “fresh air” as the people of Kwara State crave for a departure from the past? The O To Ge (enough is enough) movement shouldn’t only be vicious in ridding the state of Senator Saraki’s influence. It should wrestle to the ground every appearance of bad governance in Kwara State going forward.