Opinions

EFCC, the state’s Abachas and the wind of change in Kwara by AbdulFatah AbdulRahman

On Tuesday 3rd of February, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission gave Governor AbdulRazaq another #263m funds recovered from some officials of the previous administration. The development brings it to roughly #373m looted funds handed to the new administration. The EFCC had earlier given #111m to the AbdulRahman-led government last year.

In one of their statements, the EFCC said the Zonal office has also secured 48 convictions in Kwara and recovered assets and cash in excess of N8bn. As surprising as that is, it is a pointer to the unassailable fact that, Nigeria had many untraced sons of Abacha– the heavenly ATM– and Kwara was their haven. Only if O to ge had not happened, one wonders if this state wouldn’t have become a model of a failed state.

Sharu, speaking on Tuesday, said the latest recoveries were mainly from the money stolen from the KW-IRS and local government funds by the former officials. It is disheartening but factual that some people have eaten the state’s future since yesterday. That the KW-IRS struggles on revenue collection now while the local governments are still confused about how to pay the minimum wage are not unconnected to bad management they suffered from. Maybe if they had these funds saved in the treasury–and not in the bellies of the former administrators– we wouldn’t be facing this problem today.

Amidst these troubling revelations, what is however gratifying was the decision of the state government to plunge the recovered funds into the social investment program. KWASSIP– the number of programs designed to tackle malnutrition, poverty; aid youth engagement, cater for the old, widow and the needy generally– is a great social policy that could turn around the state social and economic fabric if greatly handled. It is reassuring to see Governor AbdulRazaq backing the program with funds from the thieving elites to make it work for the common citizens.

That, without doubts, was the wind of change long overdue in Kwara. The state needed a break from the blinding speed it was running towards a haunting end before he came. When the government released a statement on FAAC for February, many people were preoccupied with the reduction in the allocation and its implications for the payment of minimum wage. But for the sake of information, there was something else to it.

The statement clearly absolved the AbdulRazaq-led government of the allegations of interference in the financial management of the local governments. During the height of negotiation with the Labour Union, the government showed strong interest in paying but expressed concerns for the LGs financial strength which unfortunately didn’t go down well with many. The reports that LGs got a total allocation of 2.4bn whereas they spent N2.6bn in February have validated the worries. The other thing we need to pick from the statement on allocation is: this Governor is not touching LG funds. The augmentation of the LG salaries comes from their own savings. That is integrity!

Another thing I found impressive in this administration is AbdulRazaq’s flexibility. He knows when to be proactive or responsive. You will agree with me that these were ingredients missing in the past leaders. On Tuesday, he presented a 5000-litre capacity fire-fighting truck to the state fire service a few months after the administration gave two ultra modern skytick fire technology to the service. This is a quick, fine measure to tackle the rise in fire incidents in the state because of the present weather condition. What no one can accuse AbdulRazaq- led tenure of since its inauguration is insincerity and lack of empathy.

He has clearly demonstrated passion, commitment and determination to do right by the citizens. That is evident in his unabated popularity with the populace. Time was when one was ashamed of his root because of the bad image past leaders carved for us. Now I believe everyone will like to be identified as a Kwaran with a silent reformer as his/her governor. This is a departure from the past–a fresh breath– away from the world of Abachas in Kwara state. To echo the Kwara North emirs, it has never been so good, oh compatriots.

May Kwara succeed.

4th of February, 2019
AbdulFatah AbdulRahman

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