OPINION;GOVERNOR ABDULFATAH AHMED OF KWARA STATE: THE CLOCK TICKS
By Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo=
The ticking of the clock is the fleetness of time. There are sixty (60) seconds in one hour and one thousand four hundred and forty (1440) seconds,in a day. We have five hundred and twenty five thousand, six hundred (525,600) seconds, in a year. Though, Governor Fatah Ahmed has been elected to govern Kwara State for four hundred and twenty million, four thousand, eight hundred(420,4,800) seconds, representing the two terms tenure of his administration; by the 29th day of May 2016, he had spent in office as the governor of Kwara State, two hundred and sixty twomillion, eight thousand(262,8000) seconds. That represents the five years of the eight year tenure as the governor of the state. Measurement of time by seconds creates a consciousness of the fleetness of time and that in the life of individuals and administrations, every second is important.
The clock ticks and ticks fast and the eight year tenure is facing a downward trend. Atime of review of tenure is now around. The glamour of office will give way to sober moment of both self-reflection and people’s assessment of tenure.At the point of entry in 2011, it must be with high hopes and zeal that history will be made under Governor Ahmed. We naturally enter into this type of office with pomp and pageantry. Where now is the hope and where is the zeal? Where is Governor Ahmed’s brand,stamped on the geographical space called Kwara state or in the hearts of the people of Kwara state? Where is Fatah’s legacy? Moments of assessment and accountability are around the corner.
With what must we assess this governor? I am yet to lay hold on his document of promises; which should form the social contact between the governor and the people of Kwara State. Governor Ahmed is a governor whose script was written for him by his overbearing boss before he was instructed to hold fort for the ‘’Leader’’. The major agenda of our governor was continuity as if continuity should be a project. And what is spectacular in continuity since government is a continuum? Handling over note which is normally exchanged between the incoming and the outgoing administrations is a rationale of continuity. It is only in Kwara State that continuity becomes a celebrated agenda.
But if continuity is sustenance of the inherited projects and policies of the previous administration, even in the continuity agenda, the governor is a failure.For the first four years, Governor Fatah Ahmed was a filler of potholes and renovator of hospitals. There was what he called operation no potholes in Kwara State. Truly, some potholes were filled in the Ilorin metropolis of the State, the effect of which was never noticeable in several parts of the State or in many roads even within the city of Ilorin. As a road mender, the governor is a failure. As a renovator of hospitals, there are thirteen General Hospitals in Kwara State and forty six cottage hospitals. In his physical renovation program, he failed to touch nine of the thirteen and certainly none of the forty six cottage hospitals in Kwara State.Yes, the Ilorin general hospital was renovated and some state of the earth equipment bought, but can the same be said of Offa, Omu-Aran, Share (his home town) and Kaima general hospitals that were said to be renovated but are mere consulting clinics? When our governor renovates hospitals and calls it major achievements, what of the people that established the hospitals in the first place.And to show that the governor is a poor road mender; today in the streets of Kwara State are not mere potholes, but ditches and open wells that destroy life and property.
Governor Fatah in his 5th anniversary report on the occasion of the democracy day, 29th May 2016, made some wild claims unbefitting of his office. He claimed that he inherited 28 road projects from his predecessor covering 256.127 kilometres out of which he has completed 204. 8 kilometres. Where are these roads in Kwara State? In the South Senatorial District of Kwara State, the Governor constructed less than three kilometres of road in Isin local government area and that is specifically in Isanlu-Isin where he tarred about three kilometres of road to the town where his boss stopped at the entrance of the Isanlu-Isin community. In Irepodun LGA,the Esie-Ijan-Agbonda-Omido-Arandun- Rore and Aran orin road still remain unfinished. This is a road started by Governor ShaabaLafiagi in 1993, about twenty three years ago.Oke-Ode-Share road in Ifelodun Local Government Area is on-going. No new roads have been constructed in Ekiti,Oke-Ero, Offa and Oyun LGAs under this administration. And in the expansive Northern Senatorial District in the past five years, there had been no form of road constructions. Where therefore are the 204.8 kilometres of roads constructed or completed by Governor Ahmed? In the areas of housing, he admitted that the people of Kwara State, through his studies would need 584,000 housing units, but that he has just flagged off the construction of 1000 housing units. At the expiration of his tenure assuming he completes the 1000 housing units; he would leave the State with a deficit of 583 000 housing units. When the governor claims to have improved the water situation in the state, I leave this to the judgement of jerry cans and buckets carrying Kwarans who wake up in the dead of the night in search of water from boreholes and wells owned by good Samaritans. I also leave the Governor to the judgement of every house owners that have become Water Corporations by providing for themselves water from wells or boreholes, after the State Water Corporation is fast becoming defunct as a result of non-payment of salaries and non-availability of public water system.Thus far, when we talk in the terms of water, health and road infrastructural developments in the State, Governor Fatah should be scored low. And yet, the clock ticks.
The worst injustice the administration of Governor Fatah and his continuity category have done against the people of Kwara State and the Kwara farmers in particular; is the total neglect of agriculture as a strategy for economic development of the state.The royal and perhaps the easiest reliable means of economic development in Kwara state is by way of agriculture. But listen to what Governor Fatah regards as his policy thrust in agriculture in the state—‘’we flagged off Kwara Agricultural Modernization Master Plan (KAMP) 2012-2017, designed in partnership with Cornell University New York, University of Ilorin and Kwara State University. KAMP is to create agro driven economic diversification and establish Kwara State as the sub region economic hub’’ The statement goes further-‘’KAMP’s main strategy was development of the agriculture value chain in rice, soya beans, cassava and rice’’. KAMP gestation period is between 2012–2017, a period of five years. But where is the effect of KAMP a year to the end of its tenure? The governor also says that the government has established Kwara Agro Mall (KWMALL). The KWMALL is to provide loan facilities, subsidies, consultancy services and equipment to farmers. Let the government list at least one thousand out of over a million Kwara farmers that have benefitted one thing or the other from the services of the KWMALL. Let the farmers that have also benefitted from the scheme form the association of beneficiaries. In the area of the continuity agenda the governor is unable to maintain the now moribund Shonga farm and its own introduced policies are not working. And yet the clock ticks.
Majority of the roads constructed between 2003 and now were done during the administration of Bukola Saraki. Though, the erstwhile governor during his eight years stint, gave us what Kwarans did not need, he can beat his chest that he gave some projects: like International Aviation School, Football Academy, Cargo terminal (now moribund), Metropolitan Square, Overhead bridge, Shonga farm, International Vocational centre at Ajase-Ipo, Kwara State University etc. Some of these projects may never be projects of value that have much to do with the REAL NEEDS of the people of Kwara State; they are nevertheless Bukola’s projects. The above projects will wear the insignia of the ‘’Leader’’ not that of Governor, Fatah Ahmed. Now that Governor Fatah Ahmed has scanty claim to projects of legacy, could it be that his predecessor spent all the money meant for sixteen years in eight years? Could it be that having been overburdened with much debts, the present governor have been paying debts for the past five years on projects that cannot pay the debts incurred except through the statutory allocation that is now dwindling? Could it be that the leader would not allow his godson to outshine him, hence his amputation with this burden of debts? But then for Governor Ahmed, the clock continues to tick on.
Gubernatorial chair is not one to merely warm. Nobody should pray that he should be an executive governor without exercising the executive power of the office. A person elected to be the governor of Kwara State is one in more than two and a half million population of Kwara State. It is not a mean achievement or luck. David LasisiBamigboye was made one in 1967 at the age of twenty seven. He built the State Secretariat, Kwara Radio, College of Technology (now Kwara Polytechnic), School of Nursing, College of Education Ilorin, Kwara Hotel, Gateway Insurance, Midland stores, Government House,Amilegbe bridge among several others. General Innih came and built the present Taiwo Road, Amusement Park, Unity Road, Kwara State Stadium among others. Governor Adamu Atta built several Government Secondary Schools and three major Specialist hospitals in Sobi, Obangede (now in Kogi State), Jebba and Oke-Ode and did massive rural electrification in the state. Governor C. O. Adebayo within three months of his short stay in office established many government day Secondary Schools to de-shift the schools in the urban, under his party’s Free Education Policy.Governor ShaabaLafiagi gave established Kwara State Television, College of Education,Lafiagi,and massive investments in agriculture, especially the purchase of 100 units of tractors plus laudable investments in education among others. Governor Mohammed Lawal built palaces for all the First class traditional rulers, built 193 clinics and the equal numbers of civic centres across Kwara State. He equally built many rural and urban roads and empowered the poor of the State. Governor Fatah layon the eggs of his predecessor, the‘’Leader’’.
My worry and my fear is that if the clock continues to tick to its inexorable end; in the next remaining twenty four months of his active tenure, what shall we remember this governor for? Our governor will be remembered for words like ’’ agriculture value chain’’ Kwara Agricultural modernization plan(KAMP)’’, ‘’creation of agro driven economic diversification’’, ‘’establishing Kwara State as the sub-region economic hub’’. William Shakespeare will call all these ‘’mere sound and fury, signifying nothing’’ But then after the clock stops ticking for our governor, the above words and not projects are the things we shall inherit from Governor Fatah Ahmed. We shall also be left with illiteracy as teachers from primary to tertiary levels are no more teaching, but gisting and mourning for months that may run to years of unpaid wages. And so what will history say about Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, as the clock ticks on?
Akogun Iyiola OYEDEPO is the State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State.