By Rafiu Ajakaye
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has long unveiled his multi-sector agenda for the people of Kwara State. He speaks to this agenda every day — and will continue to do so in town hall meetings, off-the-cuff gatherings, e-platforms, and at every opportunity he has to talk to any Kwaran on the street. The Governor will build his re-election bid on his achievements, tangible and intangible, and the plans already being implemented.
With an experienced head on young shoulders, the Governor had come to office on the back of a democratic revolution, which swept away the old order. The last three years of his first tenure recorded pleasantly measurable achievements in public access to qualitative education, healthcare delivery, potable water, agriculture, urban planning, rural development, social safety net, youth engagement and women empowerment, and pro-business policies. Data earlier provided have shown positive growths in several areas (see: _Notes on the Kwara journey; Kwara marches to greater heights — it won’t recede_ ), including improvements and greater efficiency in internal revenue generation. Hard fact: the state revenue agency posted a record-high N10.7bn in the first quarter of 2022. That was the highest IGR for a quarter in the history of the state. This is mainly due to the introduction of new technology and deliberate efforts to widen the tax nets and block leakages without undue burden to the people.
In agric, we have laid bare the journey ahead in the administration’s five-year transformation plan. It is accessible to the reading public (via kwara state government’s website), and has repeatedly been communicated at various fora over the last two years, including on radio and town hall meetings, and is steadily being implemented as resources permit.
Whether in crop or livestock farming, the administration has made its mark as can be seen in the phased investment in new tractors, bulldozers, farm inputs subsidy programmes, and reorganisation of farmers along manageable strata based on verifiable database system. The latter curtails the notorious ‘political farmer syndrome’ and ensures that government’s support get to those who truly need it.
The Governor has also shown lucid understanding of climate change issues and their ramifications for now and the future. It was in this context he has situated the question of the drying water bodies, transhumance, herders-farmers’ clashes, sustainable living, and food security. That explains Kwara’s successful bid and commitment to the AfDB-funded agroprocessing zone — one of the six planned for the whole of Nigeria.
Under the programme, herders will be supported to settle down to a life of sustainable living that not only affords them everything to productively raise their herds in modern way and an even more decent family but also ends the centuries-old confrontations with other economic groups. The gains will be unquantifiable: a more peaceful society; fatter cows with healthier and improved milk yield; a better prospect for food security; and a new frontier for job creation.
That is half the story. The agroprocessing zone entails a lot more. The zone will open a new economic frontier along agric value chains and backward integration with prospects for massive private sector-led job creation for young and old people and general prosperity that in turn reduces crime rates.
Technology is not left out in his plans for the state. The concept of workplace has changed; so must our preparations for the future. Not only has the innovation hub been designed for the urgency of now, the state is implementing what is called the Kwara State Education Transformation Agenda (KWETA), an offshoot of which is KwaraLEARN.
Under KwaraLEARN, every Kwara child in public basic schools is introduced to technology and is taught in a way that guarantees better learning outcome and a brighter future. An important plank of KWETA is the Kwara State Education Trust Fund whose law has since been passed. This officially encourages the private sector and philanthropists to support public education, including adopting schools for infrastructural upgrade and other supports that help the people.
The Trust Fund is built on the reality that government needs all the support it can mobilise to provide qualitative education to the children. While such support is certain to give massive public goodwill to the private sector funders, the law does not invite anyone to impose hidden costs on the people.
On December 13, 2021, the Governor launched a 10-year sustainable development plan (2021-2030) — the third of such Kwara-specific comprehensive plan in the history of the state. The first, a five-year plan, had been unveiled in 1970, while the second ran between 1975 and 1980. A product of wide consultations, it had been drawn by serving and retired bureaucrats and stakeholders with good heads on their shoulders.
As the Governor remarked at its launch, the blueprint is anchored on four core pillars: governance and institutional reforms; economic development; social development; and infrastructural development. The plan is estimated to gulp N4.7tr between now and 2030 — a long-term investment he said is necessary for sustainable growth with funding windows from private and public sources.
It is a plan that speaks to everything needed to build a modern state and chart the path to collective prosperity: good infrastructure, youths and women empowerment; support for farmers and food security; small and medium scale enterprises, creativity, tourism and arts; and leveraging technology and innovation for improved revenue generation, mass employment, good healthcare system, and sustainable living in 21st century.
An offshoot of the blueprint is the Ilorin City Master Plan, the second of such since 1970s for the capital city. Covering an area of 2,000 kilometre square and drawn largely from stakeholders’ inputs, the 20-year master plan provides professional insights into how the city will be organised in the areas of public transport and utilities, waste management, water and drainage system, education, health, climate change management and green areas, job opportunities, agriculture, and future expansion of the city as its population grows.
The Governor has said such plans are in the pipeline for Offa/Oyun, Igbomina, Patigi/Edu, and Baruten axes of the state. This is the path to sustainable future.
With signature projects like Sugar Film Factory, Visual Arts Centre, Innovation Hub, Garment Factory, Ilorin International Conference Centre, and support for small businesses, it is clear Kwara is boldly registering itself back to national consciousness. The vision is supported by many big road projects in the north, south, and central which connect important parts of the state. Add those to the imposing General Tunde Idiagbon Bridge — a soon-to-emerge cynosure which will serve as Kwara’s version of the beautiful Ikoyi Bridge, decongest traffic into University of Ilorin, and ease the traffic for Ilorin of the future.
The whole idea is to improve the business outlook of Kwara State, raise its competitiveness among its peers, create fertile grounds for sustainable growth and employment, and improve the living standards of the people.
The above, and more, shows a clear, sure-footed and implementable vision the Governor has for the state and its people. He will continue to speak to not just this vision and its implementation strategies, but importantly to his bold footprints in every part of Kwara State, especially in basic amenities, education, infrastructure, expanding economic base, support for the poor and elderly, gender inclusion policy, and many projects of now and the future.
These are things that speak for AbdulRazaq and are readily available for public assessment ahead of the polls. When campaign opens in the next few weeks, the Governor will prefer to (as he did in 2019) move from one community to the other, in city centres and in far-flung agrarian settlements, at night and in day time, to seek people’s mandate. If he isn’t on fancy platforms beset by cameras, he definitely means no harm or disrespect. It is because he is elsewhere on the road inspecting ongoing projects or talking to the electorate and community leaders.
• Ajakaye is CPS to the Governor of Kwara State