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OPINION: Dear Saraki, Kwarans Are Not Foolish




Bukola Saraki, immediate past President of the Nigerian Senate and former Governor of Kwara State has learnt nothing from the Otoge movement that crumbled a dynasty whose foundation his father, Dr Olusola Saraki laboriously laid long time ago. Kwarans don’t pray he learns though because in it lies their continued freedom from the shackles of fiefdom which the Saraki dynasty he superintends represents. So, they are saying never again to the dynasty.

Before Otoge happened in 2019, the Sarakis called the shots. Bukola Saraki determined who gets what, when and how. All the elective posts in the state were in his grip. Then, over the years something led to something, and to Otoge which completely uprooted the Saraki dynasty.

If there was any lesson from the Otoge movement, it’s that of humility. This, many observers thought the proud Saraki would have internalised long after the revolution. But a leopard does not change its spot. You cannot feign humility. Saraki, as many scenarios have confirmed and continue to confirm, is anything but humble.

He was therefore in his true colour when on Tuesday, October 27, 2021 he granted an interview to Arise TV. Very condescending, he talked down to Kwarans. Asked what he has learnt from Otoge, Saraki said the Otoge movement taught him that “elections have to do sometimes with sentiments or propaganda.”

According to him, “If you come to Kwara today and talk to people, you’ll find that a lot of them will tell you that ‘we were sold lies and propaganda… We have made certain mistakes in following up the issues’ and that at the end of the day, they were better of then than now.”

Sir, Kwarans are not daft. This attempt to revise the narrative and guilt-trip the people is dead on arrival. The import of the Otoge revolution is not lost. Everyone was clear about the motive of the movement: to send the feudal lord and his acolytes packing, thereby ending decades of misgovernance and impunity, enslavement of the masses, tokenism, amongst others.

It’s the height of disrespect and revisionism for Saraki to then come out and say Kwarans were sold lies and propaganda to provoke the Otoge movement. By this, he is unwittingly insulting the sensibilities of the Kwara populace, saying they are gullible. Kwarans are not foolish, please. We were wise enough to see that based on the realities on ground then, our state deserved better. And there was no need for anyone to sell lies or propaganda. The demarketing factors were all there for everyone to see.

Basic education was in a shambles. The administration of AbdulFatah Ahmed, Saraki’s sidekick got a facility from UBEC to upgrade and enhance basic education in the state. The facility was diverted, leading to UBEC blacklisting the state for several years. This took the state aback as a large number of schools across the three senatorial districts of the state are nothing to write home about in structure and facilities.

Despite the humongous funds voted to tackle the problem of water in the state under the Saraki dynasty, the current administration of AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq inherited a decripit water system where major waterworks were already dysfunctional and as such many homes cut from getting water; a basic necessity of life. Workers in the water corporation were already on strike over unpaid salaries and entitlements.

The tale at the health sector too is sordid. Many health facilities were already in a state of dilapidation across the state. Important health materials and equipment were not available despite evidence of funds allocated for them. In the heat of the COVID-19 virus, Kwara had no single ventilator. How we were able to push through, emerging one of the best sub-nationals that responded well to the virus is thanks to the good governance style and efficient resources management skill of Governor AbdulRazaq.

The sad story is the same for the agricultural sector. The present administration did not inherit a single functional tractor in the whole of the state. Political farmers had a field day and were incentivised by the previous governments. All these are a microcosm of the failed system Bukola Saraki in his rude remark said Kwarans were better of with. I have not added the ill-treatment workers got under the dynasty. Their salaries were not paid as and when due; at the local government level, civil servants were getting percentage salaries. No promotion, and when there is, it is not cash-backed. The morale of workers was at an all-time low. These are areas, basic, basic ones, where the Saraki dynasty failed woefully.

So, what has changed? A lot. This AbdulRazaq government brought Kwara out of UBEC blacklist, clearing the backlogs owed to the federal government commission. Basic education is now getting optimum attention. Schooling facilities are being upgraded across the state. About 600 basic schools were drafted for facelift and renovation. And for the first time in recent history, Kwara had a recruitment process of teachers that was clearly merit-based and objective. In the past, recruitment forms were distributed at political platforms, paving the way for misfits in such a sensitive sector.

Otoge has led to the resuscitation of our major waterworks. Staff of the water corporation have been paid their backlogs. Water pipes are being properly channeled and replaced. And the tankers we saw yesterday, we are seeing them no more. So many health facilities have got a facelift under this administration. New specialist health centers are being built. Kwara now has ventilators. Our oxygen plant is back to life after years of abandon. The present administration has procured new tractors for the use of farmers.

Civil servants are getting their pay as and when due, both at state and local levels. Several backlogs owed by the previous administrations have been settled and are being settled. Civil servants are now getting promotion, cash-backed promotion. These and more are what have changed. Is this a move forward or backward? So what does Saraki mean when he said Kwarans were better off under the failed system led by his dynasty than now?

If he had really learnt anything, Saraki was expected to have wholeheartedly used the medium to apologise to Kwarans for dragging them aback and denying them the most basic things, not opening his buccal cavity to talk down to the people. It shows he’s yet to be humbled.

Abdulganiy writes from Ilorin, Kwara State


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




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




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




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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