By Abdullah Abdulganiy.
Last week, state governments across Nigeria celebrated 100 days in office. This celebration was marked amid reeling out of achievements made so far by these nascent governments in all strata of the society.
Expectedly, pundits and keen observers have also started assessing the performance of governments across board. While it might be too early to draw conclusions, pass fatwas or make hasty generalizations on governments within this short period of time, I think it is not out of place to critique governmental interventions in the sojourn so far. It is against this background that I deem it fit to throw my hat in the ring of discussion, coming down to Kwara state.
Though it is not yet Uhuru in Kwara state, I strongly believe that nobody would disconcur with me that Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq has kept the fire burning since he became the new Sheriff of Kwara state. He has clearly demonstrated a system of government that is a clear departure from the ugly past and has served to the best of his ability.
This is not to present Abdulrahman as a perfect man. And neither an attempt to say that his leadership style has been without flaws. No man is all-good and all-bad. However, his many positives have overshadowed his paltry negatives.
If there is any governor who is sincere with governance, Abdulrahman it is. From his unannounced visits to public offices through his on-the-spot assessment of realities to his show of deep concern to sundry issues affecting Kwarans, Abdulrazaq has given the impression that he really meant business. Inheriting moribund structures, bad roads, heap of debts and a generally failed system should ordinarily have deterred him as a person, but he keeps on waxing stronger.
Within his short stay in office, the challenge of lack of access to pipe borne water has been tamed to a very large extent with his efforts to revive the long-abandoned waterworks in the nooks and crannies of the state. This has made some people to taunt him as Water-Governor (whatever that means).
But I make bold to say that if the issue of water alone is what Mallam Abdulrazaq is able to solve for the remaining 3 years and some months in office, I say kudos to him. This is what some people had spent 16 years battling to no avail. The archaic tankers we were used to have been coming no more.
Interestingly, Abdulrazaq’s ‘Otoge’ has equally been felt in other sectors of Kwara state. His otoge train entered the civil service and civil servants have been kept on their toes. Nobody knows which office the governor would be paying unannounced visit to; hence, the perpetual late-comers in ministries, departments and agencies have been sounded a note of warning. Those who evade their duties have been shown a red flag. This government would no longer condone indolence which has become a norm in the civil service.
His otoge magic did collide with state workers’ salaries, and workers have been receiving full salaries unlike the 50 percent, 40 percent they were used to in the ugly past. SUBEB workers now have the cause to smile at the end of the month. Sunset workers are also not left out in the kind gesture. This is a positive deviance if you ask me.
Shockingly, the man Abdulrazaq has reportedly refused to give his salary account details to the ministry of finance. This is a clear case of a service-delivery oriented governance. What the governor is saying is that all state workers must get their take home before his. At a time public officers are not content with their humongous take home and continue to loot public funds by collecting kickbacks from contracts and all of that! Puzzling!
In the same token, his otoge worldview happened to our roads. The cumulative effect of this is that a massive repair of roads have been ongoing in Kwara state especially the state capital. Within 100 days in which some state governors were busy chasing shadows? A major road left in bad condition which instigated the stoning and shaming of the immediate past governor has received attention by the current government. This, Ahmed did not do until when the ovation became louder.
Gone are the days when contracts and public offices are used to compensate political cronies even when it is expedient that they do not merit to be awarded such contracts and occupy such public offices.
Otoge affected our state finance structure and the corollary is that there is no chance for wasteful and flamboyant spending. Clubs in Ilorin metropolis are now receiving low-patronage from politicians. Those who buy a 50cl bottle of water for N1000 are now finding it hard to spend lavishly due to lack of access to freebies. Nobody would come out to say we are donating 5 million to bla bla bla, using Abu’s money to welcome Abu. Prudence has crept into our political dealings in Kwara state in recent times.
Though Kwara has always been a relatively peaceful state, the security of lives and property has been moved to a top-notch level under the current administration. No cultist attacks have been recorded for the past few days. Robbers have gone into oblivion for the past few days. We have not been hearing from the “good boys”.
In a similar vein, the health sector is receiving utmost attention. The appointment of Professor Wale Suleiman, which is devoid of political colorations could attest to this. Basic facilities are now being provided in Ilorin General Hospital. Our judiciary also felt the heat of otoge, and decrepit courts have been penciled down for complete overhaul as in the case of the Ilorin fire service and amusement park.
I have been rolling out the positive sides of Governor Abdulrahman as if he has no negative sides. Of course, that is not true. Since he is a human, he is borne to commit gaffes. Yet, these mistakes have not been too obvious. To start with, the governor, in my personal view, has not done well in the area of carrying members of the public along.
He takes actions on his own without considering the view of the ruled. For instance, after 100 days of emerging governor of the state, he is yet to bring to the fore the list of those who will make his cabinet. Despite concerns from political analysts, commentators and the general public, the governor didn’t come out clear to say a word on it until last week. I, for one, see this as an affront.
A quick straightforward response would have doused the tension and excitement. Similarly, the ado that trailed the change of state logo could not have surfaced if the governor had tabled the discussion to the masses to air their views. Of what economic benefit is changing of the logo? What is the rationale behind it? The governor is yet to come out clean on this.
Against this backdrop, the governor must start learning how to come open and close to the people. He was elected by them and is accountable to them. His continued taciturnity on his asset declaration after uproars from different quarters is one gaffe too many. If anything, it presents him as a governor that is snobbish.
One thing I cherish the last administration for despite its many undoing is that it kept people informed on ongoing developments and created platforms on the mainstream media where people can always call in to share their views on governance. Programmes like Kwara Today, Meigida n se bebe ni Kwara where sundry issues affecting governance are addressed by the mouthpiece of the governor should not have died naturally like that. They were avenues through which people channel their grievances.
Here, I suggest that at least the governor should always come on air once in a month to hear from his people. His media-man should have a stable weekly radio programme where he discusses new developments with the people. Communication is very key in governance. This is one of the factors that have caused President Buhari so much. He is not media-friendly. As governor, the people want to hear from you.
Another observable challenge with this current administration is that it has not been transparent enough with governance. In terms of transparency, it is yet to be different from the past administrations. Apart from the budget, Kwarans want to know how public funds are expended and how much revenues are generated either on a weekly basis or monthly basis. A leaf could be borrowed from the University of Ilorin. This will go a long way in improving public perception about the current administration and enhance transparency and accountability on the part of the government.
Also, I have not noticed that the government has done much with regard to the educational sector. For the past 100 days, policies that will spur educational reform are yet to be formulated and actions are yet to be taken. The governor should understand that there is more to revamping physical structures in education reform. What are the qualities of the teachers that teach these children? Having NCE or B.Ed. alone does not make one qualified. These teachers have to be trained and retrained to ensure quality education for our future stars.
Your Excellency, let me quickly do this. I learnt that you have made a move lately to sack unqualified teachers. I say this is a welcome development. But have you considered the problem of unemployment that would be an aftermath of this? I am sure that were a proper test to be conducted to screen these teachers, 70 to 80 percent of them would be sacked.
What is your provision for this 80 percent that would became unemployed in turn? Thus, it would be better to design a training section for these teachers to correct them than sack them all. Afterwards, the incorrigible ones could be relieved of their appointments because they are dealing with a life-time reality. But then, these people must be properly compensated for them not to become social misfits in the society.
In the end, I can sum it up that it has been 100 days of progress, 100 days of development 100 days of redemption and 100 days of rebirth. In this light, I urge the governor not to relent on his efforts and take to some of the raised corrections in different quarters to make Kwara an el-Dorado. Indeed, it’s a new dawn in Kwara!
Abdullah is a finalist at the better-by-far University of Ilorin. Email: email@example.com.
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on our opinion page are those of the writer and do not represent the position of INSIDER or any of its reporters/editors.