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Kwara Gov Prioritizes Capital Expenditures In 2023 Budget

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Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Wednesday laid the 2023 budget estimates before the state parliament, restating the administration’s commitment to inclusive growth.

Fidel Info reports that the size of the 2023 budget is N189,436,248,054.00, with a recurrent expenditure of 49.1% and capital component of 50.9%, he said.

“This is a budget of economic expansion and sustainable development,” the Governor said, adding that the fiscal document focuses on strengthening the current gains and is built around the Kwara State Sustainable Development Plan 2021-2030, Medium Term Sector Strategy 2021-2023 and citizens’ need Assessments.

“Today, I stand before this Honourable House to present the 2023 Appropriation Bill. This fiscal document is as significant in its provisions as it is in expanding the gains of the past three years for maximum socioeconomic benefits of the state,” according to the Governor.

“With the support of this House and the good people of Kwara State, our government has delivered on key campaign promises in education, healthcare delivery, provision of potable water, agriculture, poverty reduction, gender mainstreaming, youth and women empowerment, financial inclusion, workers’ welfare, infrastructure, and rural urban development.

“Under us, Kwara has shed horrible indices and broken new positive grounds across development sectors. This is all due to our commitments to inclusive growth.

“Of particular interest are the recent positive data on healthcare delivery, poverty rate, unemployment rate, and fiscal management of the state. All of these show that Kwara is a lot better today than we met it.

“I’m glad to report that our investment in the premier hospital has earned the state university an accreditation to begin Medicine and Surgery for the first time.

“In the outgoing fiscal year, we expanded economic opportunities for the people and executed many impactful projects and programmes across sectors, while many are near completion.

“The commencement of the KwaraLEARN initiative has raised school attendance by 43% in four pilot local government areas of Baruten, Ilorin East, Ilorin West, and Offa. We have delivered a new waterworks at Dumagi, new and well-equipped Dental, Eye, Renal, ICU facilities, and an expansive new ward.

“The Garment Factory, Visual Arts Centre, Innovation Hub, General Tunde Idiagbon Bridge, Osi-Obbo Aiyegunle Road, Adeta-Yebumot-AlHikmah University Road, Ilesha Gwanara Road, Osi and Ilesha Baruba Campuses of KWASU, Oro General Hospital, Jebba Waterworks, among others, are all near completion.

“For the first time, we are 90% set to deliver a game-changing Electronic Management System (EMS) for our hospitals in Ilorin, Kaiama, and Offa. We have also completed the first radio station in Kwara North and 39 Digital Literacy Centres across the state.”

The Governor said the new budget places more emphases on continuous infrastructural development, completion of ongoing road projects, agribusinesses, irrigation and mechanisation, workers’ welfare, rural electrification, and improved water reticulation, among others. In the new year, the RAAMP road projects will begin full steam.

“So is the special agroprocessing zone that is supported by development agencies.  In the new year, we will also implement the National Programme on Food Security (NPFS) and Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment, among others,” he added

“Its key assumptions are oil price of 70 US Dollars per barrel; daily oil production estimate of 1.69m barrel per day; exchange rate of N435 to one United States Dollar; GDP growth of 3.75%; and inflation rate of 17.16%.

“Funding windows include the federal allocations, internally generated revenue (IGR), grants, and other capital receipts.”

Chaired by Rt. Hon. Speaker Yakubu Salihu Danladi, the budget presentation session was attended by Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi; representative of the Chief Judge Justice Olalekan Adegbite; Acting Grand Kadi Justice Abdullateef Kamaldeen; House members; cabinet members led by Secretary to the State Government Prof. Mamman Sabah Jibril; first class and other senior monarchs; top government officials and senior senior civil servants; and All Progressives Congress chieftains led by Chairman Prince Sunday Fagbemi; among others.

The Speaker commended the Governor for his efforts to steadily bridge the huge infrastructural gap in the state and for his focus on workers’ welfare, provision of basic amenities, and prudent management of public resources.

He assured AbdulRazaq of the readiness of the House to ensure timely passage of the budget after careful scrutiny as constitutionally required for the benefit of the people of Kwara State.

“Your Excellency deserves commendation for sustaining the zeal to fulfilling the obligations to the state by paying counterpart funds in all sectors. The result of this is visible to all as the state has since gone back to light and the people of the state are now better for it,” he said.

“It is a thing of joy to note that the efforts of this present government at ensuring transparency, accountability and fiscal discipline in government business are enjoying applause from within and outside the state.”

Governance

Governor AbdulRazaq Set To Commission Highest Number Of Modern Glass Squash Courts In West Africa

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Kwara State government is set to unveil 10 modern glass squash courts at the state’s stadium complex in Ilorin.

Fidel Info reports that according to the chairman of Kwara State Sports Commission, Bola Magaji, the modern arenas, which are the highest number situated in one location in Nigeria and West Africa, are currently being constructed by the state government to continue improving the standard of the sport in the state.

He noted that Kwara State, which has produced stars in squash and also dominated the sport across Nigeria in recent times, needed to upgrade its facilities and other sports arenas at the state stadium to meet modern athletics demands.

He added that Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is focusing on transforming Kwara State to Nigeria’s hub of sports.

“The two courts initially at the stadium have been renovated and the government is adding eight more courts that would accommodate singles and doubles events. It will be ready for use very soon.

“This facility has not been seen at the moment in any state in Nigeria and West Africa. Kwara State is known for outstanding performance in squash. Most of our athletes were used by other states at the 2022 National Sports Festival at Asaba, which shows the state’s commitment to the sport.”

Magaji, a former national squash champion, said that apart from the squash courts, other facilities at the Ilorin Stadium are being renovated to help athletes hone their skills in an organised environment.

“We have 32 active sports in Kwara State and all facilities to make athletes excel is being put in place.

“The state government is also working hard to prepare the basketball team for continental engagements… we are not leaving out the welfare of players and coaches of Kwara United F.C, who are currently playing in the NPFL,” he said.

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Governance

Ex-President Obasanjo Lauds Governor AbdulRazaq Over Youth Inclusion In Governance

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Former Nigerian President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has commended Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq over his policy of including and engaging youths in governance.

Fidel Info reports that the former President said he is extremely proud of developments in the state under Governor AbdulRazaq as he gets many testimonies from different quarters on his efforts and strides.

He made these comments during a chat with the Governor when he was received to the state at the Ilorin International Airport over the weekend.

Chief Obasanjo had visited the state to attend the wedding ceremony between the children of popular businessman Alhaji Kamarudeen Yusuf (KAMWIRE) and Alhaji Adelodun Oba Adebayo SAN.

The ceremony which was also graced by the Governor had many other prominent dignitaries in the country in attendance, including Chief of Staff to the President Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Minister of Mines and Steel Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite; Emir of Kano Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, Olofa of Offa Oba Muftau Muhammed Gbadamosi; top businessman Alhaji Aliko Dangote; among others.

Governor AbdulRazaq has earned recognition for youth and women inclusion in government. His cabinet is peopled mostly by youths and women in what has never been witnessed in the state in the past.

Kwara currently holds the record of having the youngest commissioner in the whole of Nigeria. The state has produced two youngest commissioners under Governor AbdulRazaq.

In his remarks, Chief Obasanjo said, “I am proud and happy about the great testimonies that come from Kwara State. I have followed and observed your passion for youth inclusion in governance. It is very commendable because it is a way of securing the future of our country.

“These young people are being exposed to governance and administration at the early part of their lives. They will surely contribute their quota to national development through the experience they have gathered over the years.

“I hear a lot of positive stories about Kwara State under your administration. I follow the developmental strides, particularly the transformation and revolution you are bringing to the agricultural sector. I commend all these efforts. You are doing so well and I wish you success at the forthcoming polls.”

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RE: NG-CARES Fund: Kwara State Government Sets the Record Straight

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The attention of the Kwara State Government has been drawn to some false and malicious claims by some opposition elements that the administration of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq siphoned over 20 Million Dollars NG-CARES Fund targeted at empowering more than three thousand small and medium scale businesses in Kwara State. This claim, which is a laughable copycat effort seen in some other states, is nothing but a theatrical display that is totally false. The agenda of these fake news purveyors is to misinform the public, malign, and smear the reputation of the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq-led government, which has invested resources and efforts into social safety programmes in Kwara State.

Fidel Info reports that this rejoinder therefore sets the record straight while offering the characters behind the malicious claims an opportunity to be properly informed on the concept, implementation, and achievements of the NG-CARES Programme in Kwara State.

2. The idea of NG-CARES came around May 2020 during the lockdown occasioned by the outbreak of Covid-19 in Nigeria. The NG-CARES is a two-year emergency response intervention designed by the World Bank and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to assist the 36 States and FCT cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives and livelihood of the poor and the vulnerable. The core objective of the programme is to “expand access to livelihood support and food security services, and grants for vulnerable households and firms”.

3. The NG-CARES Programme is a state-budgeted intervention with support from the World Bank through a credit facility in the sum of $750 Million USD, with each participating State eligible to access an equal amount of $20 Million USD, depending on the results achieved. It is imperative to also educate the general public that the NG-CARES Programme is a Programme for Result (PforR), as opposed to the usual Independent Project Financing (IPF) approach adopted by the World Bank. This is a novel financing instrument developed by the World Bank that links the disbursement of funds directly to the achievement of specific programme results. It is also important to state that while the programme is a grant to beneficiaries, it is a credit facility to the State Governments.

To this effect, a Subsidiary Loan Agreement (SLA) was entered into by the State government with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning on 30th August 2021. The programme was declared effective by the World Bank on 28th September 2021.

4. The NG-CARES Programme is being implemented in Kwara State by the following Delivery Platforms: the State Cash Transfer Unit (SCTU); Labour Intensive Public Works (LIPW); Kwara State Community and Social Development Agency (KWCSDA), Kwara State FADAMA Coordinating Office; and Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP). The Kwara State CARES Coordinating Unit (SCCU) in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development provides institutional support to the implementing units.

5.  As a participating State, Kwara State, like other States, was expected to meet the eligibility criteria set by the World Bank. In the end, the State was eligible for a DLI advance of N900 Million, which was released in March 2022. Thus far, the total sum of N1,418,314,964 has been expended on the NG-CARES Programme in Kwara State, out of which only N900,000,000 was provided by the World Bank. The sum of N518,314,964 was provided by the State Government towards implementing the Programme.

6. It is apt to state at this point that being a programme designed by the World Bank, the NG-CARES Programme is being implemented in strict adherence to the domesticated Operations Manual of the Programme. The Kwara State CARES Operations Manual was cleared by the World Bank. Being a Programme For Result, any State that implements the programme outside of the dictate of the Operations Manual is at risk of forfeiting the reimbursement from the World Bank.

7. For the programme, Kwara State subscribed to 8 of the 11 programmes designed by the World Bank. The following are the results achieved so far by the Kwara State government under the implementing agencies:

S/N Implementing Agencies Achievement

1 State Cash Transfer Unit (SCTU) 1690 Beneficiaries receiving N20,000 Bi-Monthly

2. Labour Intensive Public Works (LIPW) 1025 Youths Engaged in Social Service receiving N10,000 Monthly.

3 Kwara State Community and Social Development Agency (KWCSDA) 35 Micro-Projects has been executed in 9 Local Governments in areas of health, water and sanitation.

4.  Kwara State FADAMA Coordinating Office 6561 Farmers have benefitted from agric inputs and assets across the 16 LGAs of the State.

5. Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP) 688 Small and Micro Businesses across the 16 LGAs supported with an operational grant in the range of N200,000 and N700,000.

8. The allegation by some opposition elements that the actual amount designed by the Federal Government was N3.2 Million or N3.5 million (as they variously claimed in self-contradiction) to MSMEs is false and concocted misinformation. This is nothing but a figment of their imagination. This falls under Result Area 3 being implemented by the Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP) which supported a total number of 688 Small and Micro Businesses with operational grants size of between N200,000.00 and N700,000.00 in the 16 Local Government Areas of the State. This is in tandem with the World Bank approved NG-CARES Operations Manual. This is contrary to the false claims  that businesses were given peanuts of N15,000.00 each.

9. In addition, the NG-CARES Programme embraced transparency right from the application processes to the disbursement in collaboration with the Bank of Industry.

KWASSIP deployed an online portal where interested businesses provided documents and records of their businesses, while the Bank of Industry (BOI) was mandated with scrutinising their documents and disbursing to the eligible businesses. Through different news media, interested members of the public were adequately sensitized to register their businesses through the portal. The choice of BOI was to ensure that every application was treated based on their merit. All of the 688 businesses selected as first batch of beneficiaries were based on meeting the required eligibility criteria as stipulated in the Kwara State CARES Operations Manual.

10. At this juncture, it is germane to state that as one of the best-performing States, Kwara State was chosen by the World Bank for a Technical Support Mission to help other participating States learn from the modus operandi of the NG-CARES Programme in Kwara State.

11. Finally, we would like to enjoin members of the public to ignore the mischief being peddled by these opposition elements on the programme. The unfounded claim is an attempt to mislead the public as well as distract the good works of His Excellency Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, especially in the area of social safety investment. The first assessment by the Independent Verification Agents appointed by the World Bank was just recently concluded. Thereafter, the state government is expected to be reimbursed of its resources already invested into the programme in line with the verifications by the IVA.

However, the state government would not allow itself to be distracted by the noise of the mischief-makers in NG-CARES implementation since the programme implementation is expected to continue after the reimbursement.

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