Editor’s note: Mr Anjolaoluwa Folajimi, a member of the All Progressives Congress in Kwara, in this piece, outlines why Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazaq has a cult-like following in the state and also explains how the O to get mantra has made the governor a political force to reckon with.
For several years, late Chief Olusola Saraki, Waziri Ilorin reigned supreme in Kwara state politics. From the second republic down to the present democratic dispensation, his name made or marred the political fortune of many aspirants in the state.
His political clout transcends over three decades. The political legacy “Oloye” remained unrivalled until 2019 when the “Oto ge” tsunami put an end to the political influence been enjoyed by the Sarakis in Kwara state politics.
With a change in government, courtesy of the “Oto ge” revolution, a political “greenhorn,” under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq emerged as the governor of the state of harmony. The new Kwara helmsman, a consummate businessman is the son of the first lawyer from Northern Nigeria, late A.G.F AbdulRazaq, SAN.
Though not known in the political landscape of the state and by extension, the country, Abdulrazaq was fully prepared for governance, having contested and lost the governorship seat in 2011 under the defunct Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), he has attended to the demand of the office since May 29, 2019, with total zeal, dedication and commitment.
A focused and committed leader, the 7th executive governor of Kwara state in the less than two years on the saddle, has changed the narratives of governance in the state. A development that has endeared him to the people in the 16 local government areas of the state. Not even his political detractors and the opposition can deny the fact that the 61-year-old governor has turned the face of governance, delivered the dividends of democracy, give purposeful leadership to the state and written his name on the hearts of Kwarans with indelible ink.
Despite the rot in the system and the downturn of the economy, Abdulrazaq has brought his ingenuity to bear in turning the almost comatose fortune of the state back of its heels.
The story of the education sector of the state has continued to beat the imagination of Kwarans. Priority attention was accorded to the sector, which had hitherto suffered neglect by previous administrations leading to the state been blacklisted from accessing the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) fund for more than seven years before his advent as the governor.
It is on record that Kwara state under Abdulrazaq, has accessed a backlog of N7.1billion UBEC counterpart funds with a matching grant of N7.1bn to gradually reposition the schools. Aside from the upcoming UBEC intervention, the state on its own is carrying out renovation works in at least 43 basic schools. With the UBEC funds in the kitty, no less than 600 basic schools are to get facelifts while teachers are also to be trained.
Worthy of commendation is the transparent process of recruiting 4701 qualified and competent teachers into our public primary, junior and senior secondary schools in the state.
Abdulrazaq’s developmental efforts are not limited to public institutions. In the wake of the novel Covid-19 pandemic, he extended his hands of kindness to proprietors of 1,119 privately-owned schools in the state. Soft loan was given to help cushion the effects of the pandemic due to shutdown on public places on their schools and teachers.
Urban and rural road infrastructure since Governor Abdulrazaq assumed office has continued to receive attention. The administration has fixed over 100 rural and urban roads/culverts/bridges. Many agrarian communities are now getting standard roads, those hitherto cut off from civilisation are being linked, while at least 500 rural roads are to be fixed under the World Bank-enabled Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) arrangement for which the administration had earlier paid counterpart funds. These road projects are spread across the senatorial districts, deliberately linking agrarian areas to the urban centres.
Modelled after President Buhari’s Social Investment Programme, Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP) is the governor’s multi-faceted and nonpartisan response to the question of extreme poverty and the government’s poor attention to the vulnerable. Under the scheme, at least 21,623 petty traders have accessed soft loans to stay afloat while over 10,000 transporters who could not work during the COVID-19 lockdown were supported. Similarly, already-enumerated 10,000 vulnerable and poor senior citizens, from age 60, are now getting monthly stipends under what would be the state’s first-ever institutionalised social protection scheme.
The scheme is also offering free digital training to young people to help them cope in the new economy. Over 3000 persons received training in July last year while 10,000 more are undergoing a richer version of the course in the second phase of the programme in conjunction with Wootlab Innovation and Grow With Google. A total of 30,000 young people are billed to benefit from the training within three years.
It is on record that the federal government has indeed hailed Kwara state’s version of the Owo Isowo (TraderMoni) for its innovative features, such as the inclusion of BVN of the beneficiaries. These are just a few of the many interventions Governor Abdulrazaq has made to lift our people out of poverty. The interesting thing about him is that he sees governance as an affair that transcends party loyalty, and this explains why he has become so popular with the masses, to the chagrin of his traducers!
To achieve the desired transformation in the state, Governor Abdulrazaq’s administration has positively changed the narrative of staff welfare in the state civil service. There is now a regular payment of salary. No more percentage payment and promotion of staff have resumed while arrears of salaries and allowances dating back to as far back as 2012 are now being paid. Besides, pensioners now enjoy regular payment of pensions. A sustainable arrangement for payment of gratuities on monthly basis has now been put in place.
However, the unprecedented achievements recorded within this short period is now being threatened by some self-serving political leaders, with a dangerous sense of entitlement, greed and lust for personal gains are out to foment trouble.
It is a known convention in the ruling All Progressives Congress that the governor of a state is the leader of the party in the state. This explained why the likes of the minister of information, Lai Labode, his counterpart, minister of state transportation, Gbemisola Saraki and Akogun Oyedepo have failed in their bid to highjack the party machinery from the governor.
Despite a well-sustained campaign of calumny by these set of individuals, the political rating and public perception of the governor continue to assume a constant rise.
An instructive development was the recent endorsement of Governor Abdulrazaq by the kinsmen of the information minister from Irepodun local government area of the state. Lai Mohammed kinsmen and APC leaders who publicly identified with the governor include former Kwara state commissioner for information, Oloriewe Raheem Adedoyin, a member Kwara state House of Assembly, Hon. Tayo Awodiji, Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Princess Bukola Babalola, Prince Shuaib Olanrewaju, Barr. Teju Ogintoye, Gen. Lasisi Abidoye (rtd), Elder Agboola Adewumi, Conrade Ben Dintoye, Alhaji Raheem Olokoba, Prince Samuel Alebiosu, Mrs Deborah Aremu, Gen. Lasisi Abidoye(rtd), Mrs Shade Omoniyi, Chief Raphael Awotunde, Mr Yomi Adeboye, Mr Femi Ajibade, Dr Sule Popoola, Mr Debo Adeleke, Hon. Azeez Yakubu and others.
Declaring their support for the governor at a press conference recently in Ilorin, the minister’s kinsmen through their spokesperson, Hon. Olabanji Olayemi, who is also the chairman, Kwara South caretaker committee, was quick to refer the minister to some laudable projects of the governor in their area.
The voice of people of Irepodun is on a daily basis being re-echoed from all the nooks and crannies of Kwara state. If in less than two years, Governor AbdulRazaq has recorded these milestone achievements spread across all the wards in the state, no sooner than later, he may emerge as the new political force that will dominate the political horizon of Kwara state for long.
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Jerrywright Ukwu is a senior political/defence correspondent at Legit.ng based in Abuja. He is a graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos and the International Institute of Journalism in Abuja. He is also an active member of both the Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations. He spends his leisure-time reading history books.