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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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World Tourism Day: The AbdulRazaqs And Their Quest For Tourism Development In Kwara By Usman Lade

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As the world celebrates World Tourism Day with the theme, ‘RETHINKING TOURISM’, this year’s commemoration is an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the efforts of the leadership of the Kwara State Government in its dedication and commitment to repositioning the shape of tourism in the State toward meeting people’s quest for pleasure and economic prosperity.

Tourism can therefore be seen as a composite of activities, services, and industries that delivers travel experience to individuals and groups traveling 100 kilometers or more from their homes for purposes of pleasure.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, “Tourists are people who travel to and stay in places outside their usual environments for more than 24 hours and not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited.”

The Governor of Kwara State AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and the First Lady Amb. Olufolake AbdulRazaq have both demonstrated their commitment and quest to the development of tourism in the State through their various interventions, investment, and promotion of the tourist attraction centres in the State.

Ambassador Olufolake AbdulRazaq in her attempt to promote tourism in the State recently visited some tourist centres. Some of the existing monument and tourism centres in the State visited by the First Lady include the marvelous Owu waterfalls in Ifelodun Local Government Area; Dada pottery and Aso-Ofi weaving Hub, Sobi Hills, and the University of Ilorin zoological garden.

However, there is no denying the fact that major investment is being made in the tourism industry throughout the State since the assumption of Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq in 2019 as Governor of the State. His commitment and continued investment in the tourism sector in both infrastructural and human capital development has been regarded as one of its kind since the creation of the State in 1967.

The significance of tourism development in protecting both natural and man-made contents cannot be over-estimated, especially in the preservation and protection of several historic, archaeological and cultural destinations from destruction due to its positive utilization in such areas.

Some of the tourism infrastructural developments embarked upon by this administration included the soon-to-be-completed Ilorin Visual Arts Centre, which when completed, will house a Dolby studio, and a gallery where the artworks of both famed and upcoming artists will be displayed and also serve as a collection bank of artistic works.

The administration is also building a Sugar Film Factory which will provide an avenue for aspiring filmmakers and creatives to have access to world-class sound stages for TV/film production at affordable rates, attracting big production companies to come and shoot in Kwara.

In a bid to also create a go-to leisure place in the state capital and to reduce the annual human pressure on the Kwara Mall (Shoprite) during every festive period in the State, the Governor recently approved the beautification of Flower Garden in Ilorin as part of his efforts to make the place a beautiful recreational centre for residents of the state.

The flower garden, which will be a replica of the popular Agodi Garden in Ibadan, Oyo state when completed, would promote the look of the garden, as a green area for relaxation and healthy social interaction for one and all.

With Kwara becoming the fastest growing state in the North Central geo-political zone with so much interest from international and other prominent national organizations making the state a new destination to host their conferences, summits, and workshops amongst others, the administration of AbdulRazaq is building a two in one gold-standard facility that will make Kwara a go-to place for tourism, resort, and conference in Nigeria.

The state-of-the-art-centre will also in turn create thousands of direct and indirect jobs, and attract better attention to the state when completed.

Other digital and tourism infrastructures initiated by this administration are Ilorin Innovation Hub, Digital Literacy Centres, and the reconstruction of Esie Museum road, Irepodun Local Government Area of the State.

Recall that the Governor during the last Ilorin Durbar said his administration is taking steps to institutionalise such cultural events and treat them as tourist attraction for the state. Some of these events include Ijakadi Festival, Offa; Awon Mass Wedding, Shao; Gani Festival, Borgu Kingdom, and Regatta Fishing Festival, Patigi.

In his commitment to making this a reality, the Governor said: “From next year, preparations for it would be captured in the budget, and organizers and the affected ministry will have to go through the traditional budget defense at the House of Assembly.”

The quest of the AbdulRazaqs towards tourism development in the State is beyond dependence on the monthly Federal Allocation to boost the revenue generation for the state, hence, identifying tourism as one of the key sectors to explore for economic gain and prosperity.

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Yaman And His Shoes Of Trouble By Lateef Olamilekan

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The Governorship Candidate of the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in my state is one Shuaib Yaman.

I’ve not had the opportunity to have seen any video of him speaking directly to issues either on live TV, pre-recorded or in print – he’s nowhere to be found.

One astonishing thing is that since he declared his bid for the governorship seat, he has been a recurrent guest in the online news platform, always in the news.

A discerning one would have thought he’s in the news because he’s addressing issues of governance or meeting different fora in the state to galvanize support but no.

The candidate is wearing a shoe of trouble, he’s always running from one trouble to the other, hardly would a week come by without him being in the news for negative reasons though.

At a time, he was in the news for not being in the state he wishes to govern for the Sallah festival but rather stayed back in his official residence in Kaduna State, North West Nigeria.

He was also reported to have donated a paltry sum of 750k to the victims of the Alanamu inferno with some getting as low as 3000 naira, how would you give someone who lost almost a million naira something as low as that, isn’t that trouble finding and prospeterous.

This week, Yaman has now rammed into another trouble.

A Former Governorship candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) in Kwara state, North Central Nigeria Dr. Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia sued Yaman for 2500 dollars debt.

This is contained in suit no. KWSG/280/2022 pending at High Court of Kwara State, sitting in Ilorin.

Ajia was reported to have after trying to reach out to Yaman through his friends and political associates resort to litigation as his final of reclaiming the fund he Yaman owed him.

The fund was reportedly lent to Yaman in the build up to the primaries to settle party leaders and delegates.

Yaman in a statement credited to his Media aide said the fund in dispute was for a manifesto the plaintiff wrote for him.

Shameless trouble finding Yaman couldn’t come up with a manifesto that he had to hire the service of Ajia to help him come up with a manifesto.

Isn’t that supposed to be the first duty of a candidate who’s serious about governance? I would leave the answer to Kwarans to decide during the election in 2023.

I will be waiting on the sidelines for him to get into another trouble again.

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Owo Isowo: Does Kwara PDP Have A Short Memory?

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This question becomes necessary as members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara state continue to call the disbursement of N20,000 grants each to 30,000 female petty traders across the 16 local government areas in the state by the Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq-led administration vote buying. “The money is not to empower petty traders but to buy their vote since elections are coming,” Kwara PDP ignorantly alleged.

While this writer admits that the 2023 elections are some months away and that politicians across parties are currently buying votes with gifts, cash, and kindness ahead the elections, he discredits Kwara PDP’s mischievous claim that AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s social intervention to the 30,000 female petty traders was influenced by the coming elections to buy their votes in anticipation of the elections.

Those who know AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq very well and have been following the activities of his administration, would agree with me that he doesn’t joke with the welfare of the good people of Kwara state. The AbdulRazaq-led administration has proved it countless times through its social investment and poverty alleviation programmes handled by the Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP).

From ‘Owo Isowo’ for the petty traders, ‘Owo Arugbo’ for the aged, ‘Kwaprenuer’ for the Kwara youths, these life-changing programmes are an incontestable proof that the government of AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq prioritizes the welfare of the indigenes of Kwara. The civil servants in Kwara state and students can also attest to the fact that Governor AbdulRazaq has been a blessing when it comes to welfarism.

What this writer observed in the vote-buying claim by Kwara PDP about the disbursement of N20,000 grants to female petty traders by the state government which commenced on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, is that hate politics and fake news have shorten its memory. If not, it wouldn’t have been hawking lies that the grants were disbursed to buy the votes of the traders.

For the record, the Wednesday disbursement wasn’t the first phase of the empowerment programme for traders. The first phase was in September, 2020; the same month! 21,623 petty traders benefited from it unlike the latest which incorporated 30,000 petty traders. Where was the Kwara PDP when the empowerment was done in 2020? It wasn’t vote-buying then but it’s now? Smiles.

This writer wishes to advise the Kwara PDP to continue telling lies and spreading propaganda which is its trademark. Since it doesn’t know how to market its gubernatorial candidate. Where did the propaganda it spread about the person of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq towards the 2019 governorship election landed it? Distant second! History is about to repeat itself. Again, the Kwara PDP will ‘lu lule’ because AA lo tun kan!

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