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OPINION: The silent revolution of Governor AbdulRazaq in the Sports Sector

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Kwara over the years was known for exceptional performances in sporting activities in Nigeria, such activities include, Squash, Weight Lifting, Table Tennis, Handball, Hockey, gymnastics, athletics amongst others.

In those era, 70’s – 90’s specifically, Kwara State is a team to beat, most teams were always nervous to meet Kwara athletes at any stage of a competition – because Kwara athletes are fearless, highly skillful, talented and disciplined. This glory is gradually being restored!

The restoration of the new odds is talk of the town in the sporting community especially with the creation of Kwara State Sports Commission with a team of professionals and enthusiasts ably led by an erudite Sports Icon, Mallam Bolakale Adisa Magaji. The establishment of the Kwara State Sports Commission which made the state the 9th state to join the league of states that operate Sports Commission is another testament to the new development in the Kwara sporting sector. This is a giant stride to rejuvenate sports development and promotion.

One of the talks in the town is the recent public statement of Ex-President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo at the just concluded Olusegun Obasanjo Open Squash Game in Abeokuta, he said Ogun state is eager to take over from Kwara State as the champion of Squash sports in Nigeria. Kwara State has historical footpath in squash sports which is dated back to 1977 – came to limelight in 1977 during the sports festival and this status remains till date.

Kwara State government is making a massive investment in sports infrastructure to productively engage the youth and make the state a centre of attraction for national and international sport championships.

Kwara Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s effort in the sporting sector is not unconnected with his long time passion for grassroots sports development. AbdulRazaq himself is not just a sport enthusiast, he was an ex-athlete who represented Kwara State in many competition outside the state.

Interestingly, before he became the governor of Kwara state, he has been supporting Kwara athletes in his own capacity as a private citizen without fanfare in terms of welfare, kits, travel fare (when traveling outside the state) etc, he was doing all that with his personal funds, therefore, having the official capacity as the chief executive officer of the state one should not expect less.

The re-introduction of Kwara sports festival, after 15 years of abandonment helps in preparing Kwara contingents for the 2021 National Sports Festival in Edo State hosted earlier this year where Kwara state for the first time in the recent history of the state qualified for six-team sports at the National Sports Festival. Kwara athletes performed marvelously and won several medals in various events.

In addition to the re-introduction of Kwara State Sports Festival after 15 years of abandonment, the governor has also prioritized the upgrade of sporting facilities in the state. This administration inherited a shameful sporting arena, these challenges are presently being address bit by bit. The facilities currently undergoing a facelift and at various levels of completion are Swimming Pool and Squash courts. Rehabilitation of Baseball and Handball courts are completed and ready for use. The rehabilitation of other facilities are in pipeline. The construction of additional eight (8) new courts are also ongoing, upon completion, Kwara State will become the first city with the most concentrated squash facility of international standard in Africa. This is an unprecedented stride in the global sporting community.

For the record, magnificent edifice which was built in 1977 by the then Military Administrator of the state, Brigadier George Innih (retd.) the main bowl was the only facility that received government attention under Ex-Governor Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and was completed by Ex-Governor Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed leaving out other facilities. The indoor sports hall not only had many of the railings and ceilings as well as the paints rusted away and fallen, reptiles now inhabit some of the facilities. It was also noticed that the seats had become traps as many of them had their sitting tops removed which could harm unsuspecting fans who sit on any of them. Also, an offensive smell oozed from some sections of the complex thereby endangering the health of people who work or walk within the surrounding.

Also, through the encouragement of Governor AbdulRazaq the state’s handball team (Adorable Angels) have become national champions.

For the first time in many years, Kwara United football club moved from being a relegation team to finish at the top four of the Nigerian Premier League during the 2020/2021 NPL season. The players were fantastic, they gave their best to get that feat. Kwarans are proud of them and urge them to do well in the coming season to commensurate the unfluncinhing support the club is getting from this administration.

Kwara Football Academy is a place to look out for under this administration. The Academy just got a new acting administrator to steer the affairs of the business-driven establishment. The academy was gradually dying before the coming on board of this administration. Since, 2019 to date, the academy is gradually getting its fading glory, for the first time in the history of the establishment remitted training compensation on one of his ex-players to the covers of the state treasury!.

The academy has also hosted at least two teams of foreign scouters, one from Kauno Zalgiris football club, Lithuania and the other from Southampton both from Europe. Two of the academy products are now in Lithuania (Kauno Zalgiris FC), Four more are perfecting their documents to join the Southampton club side in Europe courtesy of state government, this is to promote exceptional talents to stardom. Kudos!

KFA equally won the U17 Ramat cup back to back in the year 2020 and 2021.

Under AbdulRazaq’s administration, almost every week Kwara athletes are in one part of the country representing the state, showcasing their talents and skills and winning medals for the state and making name for themselves in various sporting event. There is now an increasing number of trainees on training grounds, they get more serious with their training sessions and always optimistic that they will attend competitions unlike some years back that Associations and coaches struggle to get fund to sponsor state athletes. It is no longer business as usual.

This shows the governor is passionate about sports development in the state. You have somebody who is a sports person, you can see the impact all around the stadium. I am aware that some of the facilities we are renovating have never been renovated before.

It is no gainsaying that no governor had ever given priority to the renovation and repositioning of the facilities and initiated new ones like Gov. AbdulRazaq when completed, the facilities would help develop the state’s athletes and they would compete with the best hands in the country.

In other hand, when completed, would help attract competitions from outside the state, thereby boosting the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR).

The political will of AbdulRazaq led administration to rejuvenate the sporting sector is commendable. Since the inception of this administration serious commitment is being made to motivate the athletes and coaches to enhance performance and results and it the believed that this would enable Kwara State to reclaim her lost glory in the global sports map.

Young people will be inspired to go into sporting activities once the facilities are fixed.

Abdullahi Yunusa-Lade, is a member, Kwara State Sports Commission.

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OPINION: Lai Mohammed a Liar and a Thief?

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Lai Mohammed’s notoriety as a compulsive and inveterate liar is already secure and unchallengeable, but the normally reticent governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, told ThisDay newspaper yesterday that Lai is also a common thief.

He said Lai literally stole N100 million donated to the governor by an unnamed Igbo businessman to help with his election in 2019.

That’s a pretty grave allegation against a serving minister by a serving governor, particularly one who isn’t known for flippancy and for hogging the limelight. At the time of writing this, Lai hasn’t denied the allegation even after the Peoples Gazette reached out to him for comment.

As I wrote in a June 10, 2017 column titled “Large Lies of Lying Lai Mohammed,” Lai Mohammed’s entire career as a Minister of Information and Culture has been defined by a bewilderingly extravagant fondness for willful and easily falsifiable lies. His first name doesn’t just share an uncanny phonemic kinship with “lie”; he actually embodies lies in the most audaciously disreputable way imaginable.

Now that we now know that in addition to his well-known lies, he is also an unsophisticated and conscienceless thief, I think he should have been named “Lateef,” which would have given cartoonists and comedians the artistic liberty to say that the “La” in his name is “liar” and the “teef” is “thief.” 😂That’s a joke, please! Incidentally, all the Lateefs I know are honest, honorable, hardworking people.

Seriously, though, lies are the parents of all kinds of moral pervasions. My father used to say liars are almost always also thieves—and more.

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OPINION: Expectations Ahead Of APC State Congress in Kwara

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The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is moving closer to reaching crescendo in the process of electing new leaders across the strata or organs of the party with the national convention expected to hold at a yet to be declared date.

Hitherto, new leaders have emerged across wards and local government levels in states of the federation while the state congresses are to hold today, Saturday October 16, 2021, all things being equal.

The Mai Mala Buni led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, which comprises experienced hands with the hindsight of wide consultations, is deftly managing the the hues and cries of some people who continue to allege marginalisation in some states. An example is Kwara.

It appears the national headquarters of the party has truly done its due diligence and concluded that those still crying being sidelined have chosen to be mischievous as they have repeatedly ignored opportunities to work with others. For instance, sources at the national headquarters of APC averred that the appeals committee constituted in the aftermath of party registration did not find most of the allegations leveled against Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to be true. While a faction led by Honourable Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed alleged that thousands of its members were shut out of the process, a team that was sent to register those purportedly shut out found the claim to be a ruse. It was also established that virtually all the leaders who shouted that their members were disenfranchised were found to have themselves renewed their membership without any harassment, leading the party headquarters to question their subsequent claims. This explains why the APC national secretariat began to see through the noise in Kwara. The thinking now is that the Minister’s camp is taking advantage of their closeness to the media to want to mislead the public about the true situation in the party.

Another thinking is that a few of the disgruntled leaders may have decided to go for zero sum politics whereby they want to leave the party unless they have things their own way. Many in the party have condemned this attitude as they are still being urged to embrace dialogue and accept the leadership of the Governor like in other states of the Federation. Their obvious intention to fully control the party and exclude the Governor is seen as unacceptable because that will be a bad precedence.

While attempts are still being made to convince these few elements to embrace peace, keen watchers of events in Kwara APC will notice the near seamless conduct of the congresses so far, beginning from ward to local government. Not only were these two congresses totally peaceful and devoid of any violence, reports of the APC appeals show that Kwara has one of the least cases before the appeal. This, according to sources in the party headquarters, shows that the so called crisis in the party is largely a media creation, fuelled by fifth columnists to create wrong perceptions.

Of course, disagreements, conflicts, internal maneuvering for power, conflict resolution and consensus building are usual phenomenon in politics everywhere in the world. In fact, they are part and percel of the dynamics of internal politics as seen largely among political parties in sub sahara Africa. It is the capacity of each leadership of the party to deal with emerging or widening cracks and them move on that dictates the direction and future of such party. Events of the past few weeks since the congresses began have shown that Kwara APC is not doing badly, compared to other states.

The fact that various interests want to control a political party does not mean the party is doomed. Such interests are universal. This is especially not strange for a party like APC in Kwara that is a potpourri of different interests that came together to form it. Major focus was on Kwara prior to the commencement of the ward congress about the possible happenings during and after the congresses of the APC. But the zero violence so far shows that the party is getting on well. Today, the party is waxing stronger building on the successes recorded during the wards, local governments congresses to the state congress billed for this Saturday.

Ahead of the congress, different names have cropped up as chairmanship candidates. Whoever emerges, it is clear that the party cannot be the same again as discipline and party-government relations will be top priorities. Observers expect to have a new party leadership that will truly propagate the good works of the Governor which are very obvious in education, health, rural development, agriculture, workers’ welfare, security, and gender and youths inclusion and empowerment. These strides, coupled with the Governor’s live and let live philosophy, have attracted more members into the party, especially from the opposition.

Today, Kwara APC is going into Saturday’s state congress as a more determined party ready to consolidate on its remarkable progress and achievements, leaving behind elements who may have decided not to participate for some personal reasons. The consensus of the Kwara people is that while the government is clearly making impacts in the lives of the people, it needs a disciplined and cohesive party executives that will concentrate on selling the programmes of the government ahead of the 2023 election.

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Kwara APC Inaugurates LG Chairmen, Secretaries, Stakeholders Pledge Peaceful State Congress

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Kwara State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday sworn-in the newly elected local government chairmen across the 16 local government areas.

A chieftain of APC, Barrister Anthony Towoju, administered the oath of office and allegiance on the chairmen and secretaries on behalf of the party.

At the brief event in Ilorin, the state caretaker chairman of APC, Alhaji Abdullahi Samari congratulated the new officials on their victories at the last local government congress.

“On behalf of the leader of the party in Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, I want to congratulate our local government chairmen and secretaries on your victories at the last local government congress. This victory is a victory for all of us. Some of you contested against one another. Try to embrace everybody. Try to make peace. Try to work and make the party waxing stronger in the state,” Samari advised.

The chairman urged them to be magnanimous in victory and embrace all members of the party in their domains.

Samari advised to work towards consolidating on the successes of the party in their respective local government areas.

The chairmen are: Sheu Yahaya (Asa); Abubakar Adamu Doo (Baruten); Muhammed Kudu Dumagi (Edu); Awelewa Olawale (Ekiti); Abdullateef Kadir (Ifelodun); Abeeb Ajibola (Ilorin East); Ambali Jaji (Ilorin South); Suleiman Tejidini (Ilorin West); Azeez Yakub (Irepodun); Segun Awogbade (Isin); Ismail Dio Mora (Kaiama); Adebayo Jimoh (Moro); Adekunle Moshood (Offa); Gbadebo David (Oke-Ero); Kamar Akanbi (Oyun) and Muhammed Alhaji Swasun (Patigi).

The swearing in came hours after APC stakeholders across the state held a parley in Ilorin, the state capital, pledging a peaceful state congress on Saturday.

The parley was attended by Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi; House of Assembly and cabinet members; party elders; and representatives of the party from Abuja.

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