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Open letter to Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the owner of Kwara

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Your Excellency, I respectfully write this humble open letter to praise your bravery in speaking up against any perceived attempt to do anything without your say-so in Kwara State, especially if it affects properties owned by the public that your father “willed” to you. This letter is borne out of your recent viral Twitter post on the decision of the Ilorin West local government to renovate a library built with public funds but named after your dear father of blessed memory, Senator (Dr.) Sola Saraki in Kuntu area of Ilorin. To renovate that structure, which had become a shadow of its old self and had had its windows removed by hoodlums who were already doing all sorts of things there, the local government administration began the demolition of the structure.

Your Excellency rightly got mad at such derring-do. You were right, Your Excellency. Don’t mind that rude local government TIC chairman of Ilorin West. He should have written to you to get a permission to do anything on the said public library since it is part of your inheritance. Why should anyone take such a step without first telling you that they wanted to renovate the building? Silly.

You see, your excellency, this library was actually constructed by Ilorin West Local Government with public funds in the early 2000 long before you stepped your feet on Kwara soil. But, typical of official personalisation of public properties when Oloye was in charge of Kwara as well as during your dreadful reign as Kwara emperor, it was labelled Sola Saraki Library. Over the years however, under your vice-like grip of Kwara (2003 to 2019), the facility suffered neglect and became decrepit. Students were no longer using the place. It became some hideouts for thugs and drug addicts. Your Excellency is quick to throw your love for Oloye Saraki in our face as a good son. But that library lost its essence under your nose and you did nothing to it is what you should be ashamed of. It became a den for social miscreants. Right under your nose. What did you do to show your great love for your father?

Maybe you were right not to do a thing on it since it is a public property. But it shocked me and others to see you shed crocodile tears when the owners of the facility, the local government, brought it down predatory to giving it a facelift and restoring its glory. Could it be that all you care about is playing politics with the memory of Oloye?

Some people have said you did not at any time buy or donate a book to the library which you feel so nostalgic about as a legacy of your great father. I told my friends this cannot be true. Or is it, Your Excellency? They said the upkeep and funding of the said facility had always been the responsibility of the local government. Some of them are saying now that you have a sense of entitlement and that you cannot live with the reality that Kwara is not one of your inheritances. Me I told them this cannot be true but they said the way you carry your shoulder and talk about Kwara gives the impression that it is your property. They even mentioned Ile Arugbo land. They told me you woke up one morning and your administration dashed out public land to your late father. When the new administration in the state recovered the land, they said you said it was father’s property and that you have a legal title to it. I said that was true. Then they asked me that you have been running from pillar to post when the government challenged you to bring the said title.

Another thing they said is that Your Excellency appears to always confuse public assets with your family fortune. They said several government properties were named after your father even when you set out deliberately to wipe out the legacies of your predecessor, Mohammed Lawal. Does Your Excellency remember the ubiquitous Up Lawal water tanks across the whole of Ilorin metropolis that you changed to Up Kwara? Do you remember how vehicles the Lawal administration purchased for NURTW and the latter branded Up Lawal were converted to the personal private company with the names of Lawal obliterated? Did you forget how the beautiful ‘Up Lawal Garden’ inscriptions were chiselled out by your men?

I do not support personalisation of public properties. So, that is fine if Your Excellency also shares this sentiment. But our people say you practically railroaded various public offices to name public properties/edifices after you, your father, and your followers without giving consideration to the founding fathers of Kwara State. Your Excellency, sir, so bad was it that you named two different roads after your father: Olusola Saraki Road at Olorunsogo and Olusola Saraki Road (Fate). They asked if your family is the only one in Kwara. In fact, they continued, your Excellency changed the name of the only state university, KWASU, to Olusola Saraki University as if Kwara begins and ends with your family. They said your administration refused to even name Stadium after Rashidi Yekini, a football legend of all time, despite all pleas. Your Excellency, they even reminded me how you succeeded your sister as senator while your late father worked so hard to make the same sister the Governor.

Against this background, Your Excellency, our people felt your attacks on the state Governor was uncalled for and an insult on the intelligence of Kwarans especially that this is a property of a local government and not your family estate. But some of them insist that you are not convinced yet that there ought to be a limit to entitlement mentality which seems written in your intervention on the renovation of the library.

Sir, they said you should do well to focus on the Sola Saraki Education Foundation which was launched on 17th May, 2017 but with no beneficiaries so far. On that day Your Excellency, you promised that an academic research in the field of medical science will funded alongside the endowement of a professorial chair in medical discipline and an establishment in Kwara of a specialist hospital focusing on heart-related diseases.

They claimed that the foundation exists only as a rented structure without staff or anything else. To be taken seriously, Your Excellency, our people said you should focus on making these laudable agenda of the Foundation a reality as that would be a befitting legacy a son could give his father.

Just before I draw the curtains for another moment, Your Excellency, like other football loving Kwarans, when you announced that your football club would be renamed from Bukola Babes to Abubakar Bukola Saraki Football Club, I thought it would be named after your father, unfortunately you didn’t. So, I ask why haven’t you found it worthy no name a self-sponsored edifice or project after late Dr. Olusola Saraki?

Thank you, Your Excellency.

Adetola A. Kehinde

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2023: Will Kwara Civil Servants Return To The Bad Old Days?

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By Olanrewaju Sofiyullah

While we might not have got to the peak we want for civil servants in Kwara State as per welfare, they sure know that their today is way better than yesterday of the Saraki dynasty where non-payment of salaries, ‘gerigedi’ salaries and the lack of working tools were a way of life.

Considering the dwindling federal allocation, the COVID-19 effect and a global economic meltdown, many a government at the subnational level in Nigeria has had to contend with meeting several obligations, particularly to the workforce. We have governments that are owing backlogs of salaries, even when they’ve not implemented the minimum wage of N30,000.

But not in Kwara State where the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has not only implemented the minimum wage of N30,000, but has also been consistent with payment of salaries to the workforce as and when due. The administration has also equipped the civil service with necessary materials to boost the morale of workers and bolster their confidence.

Once upon a time, officials of government had to type, print and make copies of sensitive documents with private computer centres because many of their offices barely had computers, photocopiers, printers and other working tools. The story has changed under the current administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.

Laughably however, the Sarakis, notorious for disrespecting the civil servants by considering their payment doing them a favour, and as such choose any day that suits the powers-that-be to pay the workforce, that’s even when they pay at all, say they are coming back. To wreck more havoc in the civil service. Will Kwarans allow them? Certainly not!

We must join our hands together as people of Kwara, especially as civil servants to put a nail in the coffin of a dynasty that had no iota of regard for us, but considered satisfying the greed of a certain honcho as top priority, come 2023. They owed backlogs of salaries and entitlements at a time when oil sales was booming which meant a huge federal allocation, plus the various bailout funds, Paris funds drawn from the Federal Government.

Some may argue that salary payment is not an achievement. Maybe? Maybe not? But it is really a big deal, especially when we consider that in the past in Kwara State, there were months of unpaid salaries, and in fact, the previous government had to borrow to pay salaries to the civil servants. How is the present government doing it? That should be a concern.

When AbdulRazaq got power in 2019, several government departments and agencies; schools; parastatals were swimming in months of unpaid salaries. Mark you, salaries — not allowances. There were no promotions, and where they were, we had ceremonial promotions not cash-backed. It was a demotivated workforce.

Staff of Kwara State Water Corporation went on strike over unpaid salaries. There were also cases of unpaid salaries at The Herald, Radio Kwara, including some state owned colleges. Pensioners were long abandoned.

The new sheriff took over power, cleared all the mess, and has since then been consistent with salary payment across MDAs. That’s a big feat! It marks a breath of fresh air and shows Kwara has left where the maladministrators of yesterday left it. With this impactful change, it will be a tall order for civil servants in Kwara State to return to the old order which the PDP seeks to enthrone with another lickspittle Yaman Abdullahi whom his recent outbursts show he lacks the slightest idea of running a state.

Olanrewaju Sofiyullah writes from Ilorin, Kwara State.

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AbdulRazaq: Rebuilding Kwara State

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By Dapo Ibikunle

Governance in a participatory democracy is about ensuring the greatest good for the greatest number of citizenry. In other words the hallmark of good governance is the deliverance of the dividends of democracy.

In pursuance of this, the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq’s administration in Kwara State is turning Ilorin, the capital city, other towns and the rural areas into one sprawling workshop, by engaging in the construction of good roads and urban renewal projects, therefore bringing about a revolutionary change in a once comatose economy.

Since assuming office on May 29, 2019, the story of strategic infrastructural transformations in Kwara State is an inspiring one that has lifted the ambiance of the capital city and facilitated development of the other parts of the state.

Not one to rest on his oars, Abdulrazaq was not just satisfied with providing portable water in communities that had hitherto given up, he is also opening up these communities with roads and electricity.

This is premised on the development logic that in looking at the challenge of fighting and defeating poverty, one has to look at the structure of the system. How can one deliver water to rural communities if there are no roads? How do one get doctors to locate a village that is not accessible by motor vehicles? So, identifying roads, water, electricity, health centers and education were critical areas of focus for Governor Abdulrazaq in this first term.

Moving forward, ln 39months, Abdulrazaq is further demonstrating that taking development to the rural areas is not a mission impossible.

The AbdulRazaq-led Kwara State Government has commenced the construction of the 87Km Kosubosu-Kaiama road.

The road which was abandoned for over thirty years (30yrs) left the people of the community in economic disaster and hardship while transportation goods and services within and outside the community had been greatly affected.

The community, while appreciating this economic renewal and infrastructural upgrade has commended Governor AbdulRazaq for embarking on this project which has reached Gwasoro (36Km) despite being a federal road.

No doubt, when completed, the road would facilitate with ease, the movement of goods and services, which will in turn increase revenues for the farmers and the government as well. It would also open up the long neglected communities of Kwara North areas to development from other partners and well meaning individuals.

Recently, AbdulRazaq compensated Alanamu market fire victims whose property and goods were damaged by fire.

The Governor distributed millions to victims of the market fire disaster.

At a ceremony held at the Alanamu Market, Ilorin cash were disbursed with varying sums of money aimed at giving support to bring back their businesses. Varying sums of money of 2.5m, 1m, 500,000 and 300,00 and so on were received from Governor AbdulRazaq by the beneficiaries.

“We believe that these people are the genuine victims of that fire incident. They are traders and we will continue to support them. My administration will continue to promote the interest of traders in the State” AbdulRazaq said.

Meanwhile, a victim and beneficiary of the compensation, Abdullahi Muse, who is the Babaloja of Alanamu market, prays for Governor AbdulRazaq after receiving N2.5m relief fund for compensation for his burnt wares during the market fire.

Similarly, Dalegan Afeez also prayed for Governor AbdulRazaq after receiving his N1,000,000 (One Million Naira) as a beneficiary of the relief funds disbursed to victims of Alanamu Market Fire.

Kwara people definitely appreciate good governance when they are lucky to have one. This saying is ignited with the progress recorded in the health sector. Before now, the health sector was in comatose. Aptly described as
having been sucked and sapped of all nourishment for growth and prosperity.

Interestingly, the state government is now being commended for the state of our basic Health Centres, Specialist and General Hospitals. The usual referrals of patients from our hospitals to the federal government’s teaching hospital has become a story of the past. Now, referrals are made to the state general hospital, which is a progressive departure from the old order.

The Government during the week, also inspected the ongoing construction of the expansive Innovation Hub.The Innovation Hub is expected to create a unique space where hi-tech entrepreneurs, industries, researchers and investors could be brought together to create jobs and boost the state economy using technology. The hub holds significant potentials for small and medium scale tech startups in the north central region. This state-of-the-art Innovation Hub — when completed will be the first of its kind in the north central region.

Dapo Ibikunle, a Public Affairs analysts.

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Of Kwara PDP, Alanamu And The ‘Mùnírù Kònírù’ Syndrome

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By Abdullahi Abdulsalam

For those who are very familiar with Ilorin folklore, they will be able to easily relate with the import of the title of this piece. While we were growing up in the 80s, names like Nurudeen (shortened and pronounced as ‘Nuru’), Kareem (pronounced as ‘Karimu’), Muneer (whose Ilorin version is Muniru) etc all have a distinct song that were often rendered to whoever bears the name, either as a praise or mockery.

For example, there was a particular song of rebuke normally used to chastise anyone who bears the name of Muniru and whose attitude often depicts that of someone who will refuse to do something and still will not have good words to encourage those who choose to do.

It goes thus: *_“Muniru, koniru, koni j’eleru o ru…’(loosely translated to mean someone who will not do and would not allow those who choose to do have their peace)._*

At the moment, this particular song perfectly describes the Kwara PDP in relation to the interventions posted by well-meaning individuals in support of the victims of Alanamu market fire incident.

It is sad to note that a terrible occurrence such as a fire disaster occurred within the community, and people made genuine efforts to ameliorate the pains of those affected (the same people who belong among those the PDP seeks to govern); but instead of joining to support the victims or at least keep quiet if it could not commend the efforts of those who chose to intervene; the Kwara PDP instead descended low to play politics with a serious issue of that magnitude.

While it is fine to play politics, it is unfortunate that the major opposition party in Kwara does not even know the right moment and what matter to trivialize. At a time they should be commending the efforts of those who offered support to the victims of the unfortunate fire outbreak in Alanamu market, assuming they do not have the resources and the good heart to intervene; they are instead busy creating a fiction out of genuine intervention and messing around with a laughable story of one person struggling to outshine the other.

A PDP commissioned viral contents had emerged yesterday with a wanton claim of friction between the Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and the Turaki, Mallam Saliu Mustapha. Because these two great individuals had offered separate supports for the victims of the Alanamu fire, the obviously zero sense group had claimed that it was a mere election time showmanship, and it amounted to a competition for space in the political circle between the Gov. and the Turaki.

But assuming, without conceding, that there was such a struggle between Gov. AbdulRahman and the Turaki as the PDP claimed, which ultimately is to the benefit of the people and the community concerned; would that not be regarded as a “healthy competition”? Yet, such competition is not one that the PDP finds attractive, since the people matter the least in their calculations.

What a lot of people do not realize is that the relationship between Gov. AbdulRahman and the Turaki did not start today. It is a 2-decade long relationship that dated back to their time in Kaduna, where they all grew up. And it has so solidly blossomed it would take more than seventh sense to put asunder, if at all.

But I have nothing but pity for the PDP. Their kite has refused to fly. Their ship is wrecked and now sinking right in their own faces without a rescue. They have inadvertently ended up with unpopular and unsellable candidates who are running a lackluster campaign that’s obviously leading to nowhere. So, instead of focusing on their ship that’s sinking, they would rather prefer to poke nose into the mundane, with the hope of distracting the ruling APC and its star chieftains from their goals.

It is my prayer that God will give the Kwara PDP and its candidates the genuine heart to know and appreciate that everything cannot be about politics and election.

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