SO FAR SO POOR; RESIDENTS LAMENT BAD GOVERNANCE IN KWARA STATE AS THEY SCORE GOV AHMED LOW IN HIS FIVE YEARS RULE
Poverty, hunger, moribund infrastructure, decaying educational system and all forms of lamentations are the tales of Kwarans as SECURITY MONITOR beams searchlight on the achievements of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed led administrations in Kwara state. In this investigative reports led by SECURITY MONITOR’s editor, WALE ABIDEEN, NORTH CENTRAL BUREAU CHIEF, TOPE SUNDAY, SNR CORRESPONDENT, KENNY ADEMOLA and PHOTO EDITOR, SHOLA AKINYELE, residents of the State of Harmony decry lack of government presence in Kwara as some alleged the Senate President and former Governor Bukola Saraki of “caging” the state governor
As Governor Abdulfatai Ahmeed of Kwara State marks his first year out of the second term in office, a non-governmental organization, Advocacy Core Group of Nigeria, ACGN, has decried the non-release of funds earmarked for the family planning projects in the 2015 budgets by five local governments in Kwara State. The local governments are Ilorin-West, Ilorin East, Ilorin South, Offa and Irepodun.
ACGN, is a non- governmental organization saddled with the responsibility of promoting the adoption of family planning in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the group, Alhaji Wahab AJibola, stated this in a paper he presented on “Family planning in Kwara State: The Role of Advocacy Core Group Nigeria (ACGN) at a workshop held in Ilorin, recently.
The workshop, which was organized by the group, was in Collaboration with the Pathfinder International.
Ajibola said the group was faced with challenges of inadequate release of the budgeted funds in the five affected LGs despite its frantic efforts.
Giving a breakdown of the budget line of the listed local governments, Ajibola said, “Ilorin West in 2015 -budgeted N3million out of which only N200,000 was released.
He continued: “in 2015, Ilorin East-budgeted N2.5million out of which N150,000, was released.
Ajibola stated further that in 2015,Ilorin South-budgeted N2million, released N50,000 ,while Offa-budgeted N1.5million and released N100,000.
Also in 2015 ,he stated that the state government-budgeted N2million and released N1,580,300 ”
He lamented that Nigeria in 2015, lost at least 2,300 under five year- old and 145 women of child bearing age every day, adding that, that is the second largest contributor of the global under five and maternal mortality rate.
Quoting a report on “An evaluation of the maternal and child health project of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SUREPMEH) March-May 2015”,Ajibola stated that “the maternal mortality rate in Nigeria is 576 deaths for every 100,000 live births” being the “10th in the world ranking”.
In her paper titled: Role of the Media in Family Planning Advocacy, the Deputy National President, National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Hajia Bilqees Oladimeji, urged media practitioners to step up their coverage of family planning issues with a view to promoting safe motherhood and child survival.
She advocated effective media coverage that will influence policy makers to take positive decisions on family planning activities and building awareness around respective issues on modern contraceptives and accessibility.
In a similar development, the Kwara State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), recently tasked the Kwara State government to make interest of workers paramount.
The Union made the call in a Communiqué issued at the end of its May congress, held at the press Centre in Ilorin.
The communiqué, which was jointly issued by the Chairman of the Communique Committee, Isiaka Babatunde and the Secretary, Olayinka Alaya, also stressed the need for media owners to ensure regular payment of workers’ salaries and provision of working tools.
It charged the contractors handling the renovation projects of the two state owned broadcast media outfits; Kwara Tv and Radio Kwara to speed up action on the projects.
The Congress expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of work at the state’s own media establishments undergoing transformation.
The Congress suggested that rail traffic control personnel should also be deployed to strategic locations by the Nigeria Railway Corporation to forestall rail accidents.
The congress also stressed the need for public enlightenment in the state for safe motoring and frowned at the rate at which private and commercial drivers as well as okada riders disregard traffic rules.
In his own assessment, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Chairman in Kwara state, Akogun Iyiola Omisore, describes the “Abdulfatai Ahmeed administration as the third term of the Senate President Bukola Saraki who was the Ahmeed’s predecessor” Oyedepo, a famous politician in the state told SECURITY MONITOR that the five years reign of Ahmed was a symbolic waste for Kwarans as the governor cannot point to a single road, building or any other project he has achieved. The PDP chairman was however blamed Saraki for “caging” the governor” noting that “Ahmeed should have honorably resigned if he knows he cannot raise his head beyond Saraki’s dictation”
Sabith Mohammed, a civil servant from Governor Ahmeed home town told SECURITY MONITOR in Share that “aside from parading himself as an indigene of this town he has no presence here at all. He has not done anything to better the lot of the state. Alhaji Haroon from Lafiagi also spoke out of annoyance with SECURITY MONITOR when he said “is there a governor in the state? Do we have government at all? You people should just leave me alone as I have instructed my family to keep on raining curses on Saraki and his errand boy called Abdulfatah” The man who almost break our midget added that his motorcycle was seized by Government Task Force over helmet and no option of fine was giving to him since 2014 till date. Roseline Ibitoye told SECURITY MONITOR in Oro that since Saraki and his supported defected to APC he has erased his interest in the change mantra. Ibitoye noted that Kwara can never develop with Saraki’s style of leadership.
A prominent traditional ruler in Ilorin who does not want to be named told our crew that “the backwardness in the state was as a result of over ambitious of the state political leader (Saraki) who wanted to rule Nigeria as a president and by so doing enriching his purse to wage his presidential war” The octogenarian muslim cleric noted that he was reliably informed that the governor cannot execute any project as he was just there for formality sake. “Ahmed cannot do anything. He’s handicapped. Saraki is actually the governor whereas Ahmed is the deputy and what can a deputy do without his boss, nothing” he added rhetorically. Another source from Emir Palace confided in the medium that “there was a day Saraki slapped Governor Ahmed in the Emir’s Palace over the Governors reactions to Emir’s inquisitiveness on his alleged nonperformance. It wasn’t a laughing matter” he concluded.
A cross section of residents who spoke to our crew scores the All Progressive Congress, APC led by the duo of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed low. They point to the growing hunger, lack of portable water, joblessness and other unfriendly living condition as problems which the government should have solved. They decry lack of standard drainage to serve as passage for erosion. The situation they described as the worst environmental situation in the state. “There are wastes and all forms dirt littered all over the state capital
Ajia Ibrahim told SECURITY MONITOR in Agaka Surulere that “We wonder if there is existence of Ministry of Environment. You hardly see people disposing their wastes properly in this state. People are used to the old style of disposing wastes on drainage during rain and this has health effects on the people”
When contacted through his mobile line, the Commissioner for Environment, Otunba Taiwo Joseph said he cannot grant interview on phone and that he was in his home village in Eruku, adding that he will not come back to Ilorin for the whole of the week spent in the state by our team of investigators. Muideen Femi Akorede, Senior Special Assistance to the Governor on Media was also called upon but he said that he was in Lagos for the whole week our crew spent in the state. Wahab Oba, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor also told the medium that he was also on his way to Lagos when SECURITY MONITOR called on him
Babatunde Mahmud Ajeigbe,The Commissioner of Information however, met with SECURITY MONITOR at the famous Kwara Hotels where he chronicles some of the governors achievement. He noted that since he came back for the second term, Governor Ahmed has delivered on some of his electioneering promises to consolidate on his first term’s achievements. The Commissioner for Works, Yahaya Aro also spoke extensively on the achievements of the government in the area of road construction
Shortly after he resumed office in June, 2016, the governor signed a bill establishing the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) into law in order to increase the revenue base of the state.
The governor also procured 42 buses through Harmony Holdings Limited, for the Kwara State Transport Corporation to improve the operational efficiency of the transport company. The company invested about N.5bn in the Kwara Express with the procurement of the buses and the injection of another N170m into the scheme to revamp the transport company.
The governor, who is known for his prudence, also approved the release of N3.2b for the completion outstanding capital projects in the Education, Energy, Health, Roads, and Works.
However, the governor’s achievements in the first year of his second term are not yet noticeable compared with what he recorded in the first term.
GOVERNOR AHMED’S FIRST TERM ACHIEVEMENTS
A critical study of Governor Ahmed’s achievements in his first term reveals that the Health sector had the highest percentage of no fewer than 20 projects and programmes, while other sectors reportedly suffered total or partial neglect.
1.The comprehensive rehabilitation of 5 General Hospitals spread across the three Senatorial Districts of the State.
2.Also, he completed the then Kwara Advanced Diagnostic Centre, Ilorin, now Harmony Advanced Diagnostic Centre.
3.Construction/upgrading of 15 Cottage Hospitals/Comprehensive Health Centres spread across the three Senatorial Districts of the State.
4.Over 160 Free surgeries of various forms of Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) were performed in collaboration with Engender Health Organisation at Sobi Specialist Hospital.
- Various Medical Missions were embarked upon where free surgical operations and treatment of various ailments were performed in collaboration with Kwara State Association of Nigeria in North America (KSANG), Rotary International and Moses Lake Foundation.
6.Establishment of full scale tuberculosis and other chest- related disease centre in Sobi Specialist Hospital. We also have 97 DOTS centre spread across the 16 LGs in the state.
7.Upgrading of the Family Planning Centre at Children Specialist Hospital Centre Igboro.
8.Distribution of Blood Bank to 21 Hospitals and presentation of Medical Equipment to Children Specialist Hospital Centre Igboro.
9.Distribution of medical equipment to all Government Hospitals in the State during the first 100 days of this administration.
10.Increment of Health workers salary with payment of 50% CONHESS.
11.Introduction of Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits for Malaria.
12.Improvement of children’s health through maternal neonatal and child health week twice in a year. In this programme children are de-wormed, administered with food supplements and most importantly mothers educated on nutritional values to aid in growth and development of children.
13.Extension of Community-Based Health insurance scheme to cover 3 senatorial districts of the state.
14.Commissioning of new School of Nursing at Oke-Ode to address the shortage of Nurses.
15.Training of 30 Midwives on Life Saving Skills (LSS) in December 2011.
- Mobile Clinic project and free eye surgery In Baruten LGA and other LGAs in Kwara State were carried our by LEAH Foundation.
17.Provision of free drugs for patients in Baruten LGA and other LGAs by LEAH Foundation in collaboration with Ministry of Health.
- The establishment of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency to bring Primary Health Care under one Roof in the state.
- Free Malaria treatment for children under five and pregnant women.
20.Distribution of 30,000 units of Mama kits and 30,000 personal Health record books for improved save motherhood activities.
Governor Ahmed, who served as Commissioner for Finance and Economic and Planning, respectively under Senator Bukola Saraki from 2003 and 2011, upon assumption of office in 2011 ran a government of continuity. To this end, the achievements of Saraki’s two-term on Water, will also be credited to him.
Between 2011 till the end of his first term, a total of 367 boreholes in the motorised and hand pump category were drilled. The distribution across the three senatorial districts was carefully done to achieve equitable spread.
No doubts, he performed above the average in his first term, which resulted in his re-election. But same can’t be said of his second term as Kwara Residents are now groaning over some of his programmes and policies.
THE NEW TAX REGIME
The introduction of KWIRS as lofty as it appears, is now seen as a ‘killer’ agency in the state. Residents of the state are now groaning over its activities as they pay for services they did not enjoy. For traders, hoteliers and low-income earners, the agency is anti-masses. Though, the agency is making money for the government to fiance its programmes, the tax being paid in the state is tagged ‘multiple taxation. For instance, a hotelier pays #5,000 for selling liquor annually and the same investor also pays for his hospitality facility which is charged annually depending on the status of the hotel.
For a Butcher to slaughter a cow, #500 will be paid and this is said to be responsible for the hike in the price of meat in all markets in the state. In the state now, house owners are now paying yearly tenant rate to the government as tax.
Though, it is not the responsibility of his government to provide electricity, it is however, expedient for his administration to provide transformers to aid the supply of electricity across the state. One year into his second term, no distribution of Transformer in any part of the state; no community was electrified and connected to the National Grid as done in the first term. The razed Ministry of Energy is yet to be reconstructed barely one year it was gutted by inferno.
The establishment of Agro Mall in the state is seen as anti-small scale farmers policy. To them, the government is depriving them of their right because all services that should be provided by the state’s Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources free of charge have been transferred to the mall. The small scale farmers contend that the mall was established for the large scale farmers because they are moneybags.
Also, under his government, about eight agricultural stores were demolished following the allocation of the ministry’s land to government’s contractors and political associates for construction of residential buildings.
Fertilizers worth millions of Naira were also hoarded and allowed to rot away while small scale farmers did not have access to such facility.
ABANDONED MALETE YOUTH FARM
The much- hyped Malete Youth Farm is now a ghost of itself as it now completely deserted. Contrary to the success recorded earlier, the farm is not measuring up to the standard as all the graduate farmers are left unattended to.
Governor Ahmed is now toying with workers’ welfare in his second term and this is evidenced with the non-payment of about five months’ salary arrears to the state workforce. He later tried his best to pay them the arrears. However, according to the affected workers in the state’s parastatals, they are being owed three months’ salary now.
RESURGENCY OF CULT CLASH
Despite the enactment of anti-cultism law in the state, cult members are on the prowl. Between January and May, 2016, no fewer than 20 souls were lost to cult related clash in the state. Though, the state police command had declared about 118 people wanted in connection to the clash, it appears as if it doesn’t have the political support to tackle the problem head-long.
In the last few months, residents of Ilorin metropolis have been battling with water scarcity following the industrial action embarked upon by the staff of the state’s Water Board over alleged non-payment of their salary. On the daily basis, they walk down miles to fetch water. This is against the governor’s electioneering promise that he would make water available to all residents of the state.
NON-COMPLETION OF INTERNATIONAL VOCATIONAL CENTRE
The International Vocational Centre sited at Ajase-Ipo in Irepodun Local Government area of the state is sliding into a white Elephant project because of its non-completion. The programme started shortly the governor came to power in 2011 and five years after, it still remains at infancy level despite several millions it had gulped.
APPOINTMENT OF SOLE ADMINISTRATOR FOR STATE-OWNED MEDIA HOUSES
The state- owned three media houses have lost their independence and now being controlled by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Dr. Muideen Akorede, who is now the Sole Administrator. The headships of the media houses are now answerable to the administrator not the state’s commissioner for Information. The editorial contents and other editorial decisions of these media outfits are determined by him. This development is seen as a way to silent and render the management staff of the affected organizations redundant.