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For Kwara, 2023 Is About Facts And Relatable History- Rafiu Ajakaye

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Soft-spoken, easy-to-admit his human frailties, and not given to noisemaking, Kwara Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq speaks only to give a message or deliver a blow of maximum impacts to the target. That’s what he recently did when he flagged-off the campaign for Turaki Ngeri and APC Senatorial Candidate for Kwara Central Mallam Saliu Mustapha (MSM) in Ilorin.

Remnants of the arrogant dynasty are still reeling from the blows, many of them wishing they had not put their hands in his mouth.

The Governor speaks with facts, verifiable and relatable facts. He garnishes same with interesting political anecdotes for impact. At the event, he mentioned how his administration is spending billions of naira to clear gratuities and pensions dating back to 2009 and 2010. That’s a fact of history with living witnesses. The Governor said the former administration embezzled billions of naira of UBEC funds meant for school development. This is not open to any debate. The details of the fraud are gorier and messier than imagined. Very dubious withdrawals of UBEC counterpart funds were made by the former administration, including a N1bn withdrawn in cash on 14th January 2015, provoking the federal agency to place immediate embargo on the account.

There is no link whatsoever between what was withdrawn and education. This was a clear violation of the UBEC Act 2004, and an offence for which someone stood liable. There were several other cash withdrawals from the SUBEB account between the 14th January through June 1, 2015. The purpose of such withdrawals remains dodgy till date.

Again, various communications from UBEC to KWSUBEB; UBEC to Skye Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank; and Skye Bank to the Chairman KWSUBEB dated 8th June, 2016 detailed the degrees of unholy transactions from KWSUBEB matching grant by the previous administration.

Beyond grandstanding, no man born of a woman would stand to deny these hard facts. Where did the money go to?

A former Finance Commissioner Ademola Banu claimed there was nothing special about not accessing UBEC grants. He was probably right. Judging from the state of infrastructure in the schools and the welfare of teachers, it was clear that basic education was never their top priority. But there is a big deal in diverting funds as documents have shown. That those who committed that crime (against the state and humanity) walked free supports the Governor’s position about someone somewhere blocking prosecution of their lackeys. This roguish behaviour had started since 2013. The infraction of 2015 was the last straw that broke the camel’s back, with UBEC demanding a refund of its matching grants illegally withdrawn from 2013 (see a letter referenced UBEC/FA/SUBEB/KW/193/V.III/87). It was this messy situation they left in 2019. Facts do not lie! Some people have asked why the government has not prosecuted the culprits in the face of the weight of evidence against them. This is neither out of cowardice, negligence, nor complicity.

Governance is about priorities. The priority of the Otoge administration is to fix things as much as resources and the environment may permit. Our records in key sectors like education, health, water and workers’ welfare, rural-urban development, among others, attest to this. Occasional talks about the past are either borne out of a need to set the record straight or to put the arrogant, loquacious old order in their place. The Governor understands clearly that he now ‘owns the sheets’ in the wise words of the late General Colin Powell. At any rate, a number of these issues are before different anti-graft agencies.

One of the most decorated lies of this republic was that the former administration could not pay salaries because of low allocation. It is a fake history! No government has all the resources it requires to do everything at the same time. However, paying workers their monthly wage should be a top priority, while other things may wait till things improve. The Governor recently stirred the hornet’s nest when he said that what the former administration got in federal allocation (FAAC receipts) between 2015 and 2019 is more than what this government has received between its inauguration in 2019 and December 2022. He was right, per official documents verifiable from the Federation Account/Federal Ministry of Finance. While the former administration got a total of N209,456,454,555.75 monthly allocations between June 2015 and May 2019, the Otoge government has only received a total of N203,113,105,761.03 to date. Full disclosures: These figures exclude other revenues for the two administrations, such as internal revenue, Paris Club Refund, Budget Support, PAYE Refund, or SFTAS receipts.

Even if you consider every kobo so far earned, including FAAC receipts, loans, budget support, grants or reimbursements, internal revenue and other incomes, the Governor is right, still. Between June 2015 and May 2019, a total sum of N383,068,089,151.25 accrued to the former administration. Conversely, this administration has received a cumulative total of N338,302,769,544.20 (including the bond and bridge financing facility) between June 2019 and December 2022.

That is a difference of N44,765,319,607.05. Kwarans may well ask the opposition vuvuzelas where they got the half a trillion naira claim they parrot around, including in their official statements.

There is an irony here, nonetheless. This government has paid more in salary, pensions, and gratuities, among others, than the former administration in the period under review — just as it has done a lot more and better in provision of basic amenities for the people. In April 2019, the former administration spent N2,526,268,389.21 for salary-related expenditures across the civil service, teaching service, pension, gratuities, SUBEB, judiciary, legislature, traditional rulers, parastatals, sports, among others. For the same categories (and more not paid for by the former administration such as Council of Arts and Culture, KWARTMA, Kwara Rehab, Kwara United, Water Corporation, KWEPA, Hospital Management Bureau, among others), the new administration paid N3,337,427,162.68 in November, 2022. That’s a staggering difference of N811,158,773.47. This is due in part to the full implementation of the new minimum wage as it is to new obligations. For instance, while the former administration expended a paltry N50m on gratuities monthly, the new administration commits N100m to same every month — representing 100% rise in its commitment to retired workers.

The achievements of the new administration are self-evident and relatable. In his well-received speech at the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) over the weekend, the Governor spent a quarter of his time on the podium listing projects that his audience could instantly relate with in their immediate community and they nodded in agreement to his factuality. These include the Old Yidi Road through which they had all passed; the new Yidi Road; dualisation of Yebumot/Oloje Road; Adeta-Pakata Road; Pakata/Oja Oba Road; the eight-winged new squash court; several interlock access roads; visual arts centre; innovation hub; General Tunde Idiagbon Flyover; Ilorin International Conference Centre; garment factory; improved water supply; and many others in Ilorin alone. Several projects are also scattered across Kwara. The administration is not building castles in the air; so the Governor speaks to issues and projects that an average person can confirm, including how salaries were owed pre-June 2019 and how prized public properties were sold to cronies for pittance. These are facts of history!

Propaganda clearly has its roles in political communications. But it must be built on relatable realities and deployed for the right audience. Outright lies that the administration owes salaries, does not pay or promote SUBEB teachers, has not improved the lot of teachers at the teaching service commission, has no projects to commission, or that Oloje area has no public water, and all such funny concoctions, are mere tomfooleries — not propaganda in the right sense of the concept. These are things that cannot sink with the average person in Kwara, which is the theatre of play.  Propaganda has its audience, usually people who are far removed from the realities you want to paint. Woe betide you, and your client, if you get the audience wrong.

The futility of the social media mobs, the (radio) jock-shocks, the samurais of Ile Loke, and the Lord of the old order (by their own confessions) wanting to lie their way back to government is therefore apparent. Victims of their reigns are not in Rwanda, Accra, or the Bahamas; they are still living here, and they constitute the bulk of the voting population and influencers. They are all entitled to vote.

A victory for the unrepentant and entitled old order under such circumstances will be the classic example of the Stockholm syndrome. It is certain that majority of Kwarans do not suffer from such. For the people of Kwara, today is not perfect. Tomorrow will not be perfect. But yesterday and today are light years apart, the latter being a lot better, dignifying, and progressive.

Ajakaye is Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kwara State.

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Saraki: A Man Who Refused To Pay Pensions, Gratuities Is Pontificating On Governance- Qudus Adelodun

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Bukola Saraki, the leader of the dynasty that ruined Kwara State and destroyed every great legacy for which the state is known, was in Ilorin some weeks back. He was pontificating on governance. This is a shameless attitude because he has no moral right to do so. During his reign as governor of the state, he had every down resources to take Kwara to a greater height, but he frittered everything with greed, avarice and kleptomania. He was lucky to have governed at a time of oil boom where the country had so much resources. But what can he point out today as his achievements?

If Bukola Saraki is not fraudulently taking the glory of federal government funded projects such as KWASU, Post Office Flyover, renovation of Ilorin International Airport, among others, he would be advertising failed, white elephant investments such as Shonga Farms, Cargo Terminal, Kwara Mall, Mandate III Estate as achievements. All these are failed multi-billion naira projects that Kwara continues to bleed from because the state still services huge debts on them long after Saraki is gone. Did he do us favour or doom?

Mandate III estate is there with billions of debt. Shonga Farms too with billions of debt. Cargo Terminal did not benefit the state. Kwara Mall has not yielded one kobo as returns on investment to the state. Bukola Saraki did not pay the contractors that handled the Metropolitan Square project for him. He did not pay the contractors that brought machines at Kwara Advanced Diagnostic Centre for him. These are what he point out as his achievements. Failure!

As if those are not enough. Bukola Saraki did not pay pensions and gratuities of retired civil servants in 2009 and 2010, despite the huge resources available at his disposal. That’s too mean. It is the Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq he loves to talk down to every time he has the opportunity that has cleared that mess many years after. Even his stooge, Abdulfatai Ahmed that governed after him couldn’t help him clean that mess. Did Ahmed ever fail in paying the pension packages of Bukola Saraki as a former governor during his reign? This was even when he was drawing huge salaries and allowances as senator. They can comfort themselves, but comfort is not to be given to the masses. Yet they continue to pontificate and still nurse the idea of coming back. Is that not shameless of them?

I was at the bank last week after the payment of the accrued pensions of 2009 and 2010 by Governor AbdulRazaq. I could see the happiness, excitement and fulfilment in the senior citizens that came to withdraw their monies. They were so glad. I tried to engage one of them, and he told me they had been suffering to get their pensions and gratuities for long; and even some of them had died in the process. The old man commended Governor AbdulRazaq, saying his impacts are always felt in the state.

These are the testimonies on the streets, but the PDP elements who are tired of life said they have not seen anything good. May our minds not be blocked. What Governor AbdulRazaq has achieved in the last three years have been massive. The schools the Saraki dynasty left to rot are being renovated and rehabilitated. The waterworks they left in a total state of dysfunction have been repaired. Salary payment, pension payment and gratuities have been up to date, timely and consistent. Road construction projects are hitting the nooks and crannies of the state. Our health facilities are witnessing overhaul. The agric sector is also getting a turnaround. The youths and women are being empowered and included in the decision making table.

The governor is also embarking on legacy projects that will change the face of Kwara and make it the one of the preferred destinations for business, investment and economic activities. For instance, the International Conference Centre the Governor AbdulRazaq-led administration is building will be the best in the whole of North-Central after the one in Abuja, the national capital. No state in Nigeria except Lagos has the facilities for last mile finishing that the Visual Arts Centre/Film Studio Governor AbdulRazaq-led administration is building will house. The Eye Centre in the state built and equipped by Governor AbdulRazaq follows that of Kaduna in terms of standard in the whole of the North. We also have the Innovation Hub. And many more.

If Kwara has had a visionary, selfless and financially responsible and disciplined governor like AbdulRazaq instead of the kleptos that superintended over our affairs for 16 years, our state would have moved forward and be competing fairly with the likes of Kaduna in the North. We must give AbdulRazaq another chance to solidify the placement of Kwara on a sound footing. One good turn deserves another. Those who cannot pay something as basic as salaries and pensions during their time should bury their heads in shame and stop rubbing it in our face!

Adelodun writes from Oro, Kwara State

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Count On Our Support At The Polls- Emirate To Gov AbdulRazaq

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The Emir of Gwanara in Baruten local government of Kwara state, Alhaji (Dr) Sabi Idris KotoKotogi II, on Thursday said the Emirate has witnessed significant growth and development under the APC government in the state, declaring their resolve to overwhelmingly vote for Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq in the coming elections.

Fidel Info reports that He said the administration has not only prioritised their infrastructure needs but also restored their dignity as a people, saying the Emirate is reputed for paying virtue with virtue.

The Emir was speaking in Ilorin when he led a powerful delegation from the Emirate on a courtesy visit to Government House.

“To whom much is given much is expected. We want to use this opportunity to assure you and your government that ours is an Emirate that pays virtue with virtue. Therefore, you can count on us and on our support for your second term. On the days of election, we shall vote en masse for this administration that gave us a sense of belonging and treated us as human beings,” he said.

The Emir spoke through the Magajin Geri of the Emirate, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu Oyooru.

The First Class monarch commended AbdulRazaq for his leadership quality and appreciated him for being passionate about the welfare of the people.

The Emir had earlier conferred on the Governor the Emirate’s Chieftaincy title — Dallatu of Gwanara — with the coronation ceremony coming at a later date. He was decorated with the traditional emblems of the Emirate, including a sword and other attires.

“The purpose of the courtesy call is to express our very sincere appreciation for the many good things, which your administration has done and is still doing in my domains, including the construction of the Gwanara township asphalt road within the first one hundred days in office,” he said, adding that the administration was the first to construct asphalt Road in the whole Baruten local government.

“Other projects of importance that are/being executed are the renovation of Gwanara Basic Health Center (BHC); construction of 33km Gwanara/Ilesha asphalt road; rehabilitation of Gwanara waterworks; remodelling and rehabilitation of LGEA Central School Gwanara, and provision of ICT Centre in the school; provision of new classrooms in Damera, Gogere, Suuru, and other communities in the Emirate; total renovation and remodelling of Grade 1 Area Court; and the facilitation of the newly established Federal Science and Technical College Gwanara, among others.”

Prominent in the Emir’s entourage were the Speaker Kwara State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Yakubu Danladi Salihu; Clerk of the House Hajia Halimat Jumai Kperogi; Special Assistant to the Governor on Political (North) Hon. Abdulkareem Yusuf (Dan-hawah); and the Chief Imam of Gwanara Alhaji Salihu Usman; among others.

AbdulRazaq, for his part, thanked the Emir and people of Gwanara Emirate for their objectivity and how they firmly stand by his government, asking them to sustain that tempo.

He urged the Emirate and the entire natives of Baruten to intensify their support for Hon. Yakubu Danladi, who he said has been his government’s partner in progress and has been using his influence to bring many goodies to Gwanara and Baruten as a whole.

“It is important for you to give him the support he needs at home so that the government knows that it is working with a strong partner,” the Governor said.

“Let’s face the reality, there is no (political) position that Baruten LG has not had in the past, apart from Governor and President of Nigeria. You have done Deputy Governor, you’ve done Speaker, you’ve done Minister and all that, but you can see the level of development in just over three years compared to their (PDP) entire sixteen years.

“It is not about voting anybody to a position of either senator or governor. It is about voting for somebody who can do the job and have the interest of the people at heart. Somebody who goes home and is responsible to the people at home. Nobody goes home more than the Speaker (Yakubu Danladi) as far as we are concerned. Why is this young man doing these laudable things? You need to rally around him. And from the projects you have seen, he has delivered.

“You gave us overwhelming support in the last elections without knowing what we were up to. It was a blind trust. But we have shown you the good results and that we can do more, so give us the opportunity to do more and be able to officially open up Gwanara to the Republic of Benin. And to work with the federal government to have a new border post to be able to cross from Gwanara axis.”

He promised to continue to deliver good governance to Kwarans and assured the Gwanara Emirate of his administration’s commitment to equip their basic healthcare centre and provide it with adequate doctors to meet their health needs.

Hon. Danladi said the real development exists in Gwanara community only during the present administration, and that there is no single ward in the whole Baruten that has not seen the government’s presence, thanking AbdulRazaq for a job well done.

“Your Excellency, our people in Baruten are grateful to you. You are doing wonderfully well. I am sure we are the younger generation. Since when we know what they call politics, this is the only time we are seeing the presence of government in our Emirate. There is no district or ward in the local government that your government has not touched. So, we are proud of this administration,” he said.

He said the Emirate has always spoken in one voice on the ballots since 1999, and will repeat the same at the next elections, promising to deliver the 230 polling units in the Baruten LG for the Governor and other APC candidates.

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Kwara: APC Presidential Campaign Rally, Atiku’s SUG-Like Campaign And The Doubting Thomases Of The Saraki Dynasty- Abdulqaudri Mahmud

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Before the All Progressives Congress presidential campaign plane landed in Ilorin on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, the doubting Thomases of the Saraki dynasty had said all sorts of condemnable things like “Buhari will not come because he does not like how AbdulRazaq is managing the state”, “Tinubu and AbdulRazaq are not on good terms”, and “Kwarans won’t attend the campaign because they are fed up with AbdulRazaq”, among others. They took to the internet and misled as many as possible of their unsuspecting readers.

The campaign which was massively attended by the loyalists of the APC, and most especially Kwarans, slapped the rumor-mongers and doubting Thomases of the Saraki dynasty with facts and proof that President Muhammad Buhari, incoming President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Kwara APC, and specifically Kwarans are solidly behind Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq — who has been the hope of the hopeless since he became the mayor of the state in 2019.

The unprecedented APC presidential campaign didn’t only clear the doubts of the doubting Thomases of the Saraki dynasty — it also proved that the Saraki dynasty has been rejected by the majority of Kwarans who said Otoge, enough is enough in 2019. Their massive presence at the campaign is a pointer that their stance remains the same — Otoge! As I pointed out in one of my previous articles that “Kwarans have compared and contrasted the Saraki dynasty/PDP inglorious 16 years and Governor AbdulRazaq’s progressive 3 years and some months, and they prefer the latter’s.” Has the APC presidential campaign not proven me right?

If not that Bukola Saraki and his fake boys aka Sarakites are shameless, the Saraki dynasty does not deserve to come back in 2023 — not even in the next 50 years. But see them, shameless folks, regrouping themselves to return to power, so that they can continue the loot if allowed to stir the affairs of the state. Kwarans, specifically the civil servants can’t forget how the Saraki dynasty maltreated them. The dynasty owed them salaries and denied their promotions. It didn’t stop there, it also made their children learn under terrible conditions with dilapidated school buildings and the absence of learning materials. The diversion of Kwara’s money for personal use ended with the Saraki dynasty.

The APC campaign has thrown the Saraki dynasty and Kwara PDP into confusion and excruciating pain. They didn’t expect the massive turnout. Of course, they had thought it would not be different from the Atiku-Okowa SUG-like campaign. It has shredded and shattered their hope of coming back. But if you know these Sarakites like this essayist, you will trust them to start giving a dumb reason for the massive crowds at the campaign.

Abdulqaudri Mahmud writes from Ilorin East LGA, Zango Ward, Ilorin Kwara state

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