Oto’ge: Can Kwarans trust Abdulrasaq for second term?




BODE OLAGOKE, in this piece takes a look at the ongoing politics of wit at the Kwara state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) vis-a-vis the performance of the incumbent Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq in less than two years in office.


Background 


The 2019 effect of the ‘Oto’ge revolution’ in Kwara state which threw up Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq of the All Progressives Congress (APC) could be said to have ended a political old order, where the late Chief Olusola Saraki, Waziri Ilorin, reigned supreme in Kwara politics.
In fact, from the second republic down to the present democratic dispensation, Oloye’s name made or marred the political fortune of many aspirants, his political clout transcended over three decades and remained unrivalled until 2019 when the ‘Oto ge Tsunami’ stopped it.


Who is AA?
The new Kwara helmsman, popularly known as AA is the son of the first lawyer from Northern Nigeria, late A.G.F Abdulrazaq, SAN. Although he is not a flamboyant typical Nigerian politician but having contested and lost the governorship seat in 2011 under the defunct Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), could not be described as a novice in politics.


Challenges of 2023
Obviously, the Kwara state main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has returned to trenches ahead of the 2023 governorship election with its leader and former Senate President Bukola Saraki and other leaders strategiszing on how to reclaim the state. However, the task will depend on many factors.
Apart from the opposition party, the infighting and rebellion by some APC leaders against the mainstream of the ruling APC is another bridge which has to be successfully crossed if the effect of Oto’ge will live beyond the 2023 election.
Despite governor Abdulrasaq being the leader of the party in Kwara state, it was gathered that the recent public crisis spearheaded by few chieftains of the party against the removal of the Kwara state APC chieftain by the National Caretaker Committee was part of the game to control the structure of the party ahead of next election.
While resisting the decision of the APC National Caretaker Committee over the removal of Hon Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa as the state chairman, the opposing group within the Kwara APC, in a statement read by Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo entitled: ‘Road to the destruction of the All Progressives Congress in Kwara state’, said: “We shall prove to those that aborted the peoples’ revolution, foisting on our party the present situation since 2018 that Kwara is not an appendage of any outside power conspiracy. They continue to compromise our noble cause with these unacceptable decisions and we shall henceforth prove to those that are not popular at home but rather rely on political manipulations from outside that, the game is up.”
If the above statement is anything to go by, the days ahead will be, however, full of interesting developments in the ruling APC ahead of the next governorship election in Kwara state.


Politics of membership registration and revalidation
The APC has since embarked on nationwide membership registration and revalidation exercise and Kwara state is not an exception. The ongoing exercise has however changed the narrative with massive new and old members joining the party in Kwara chapter and playing support for the leadership of governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq. 
The ongoing exercise has also firmly given the control of party structure to the governor with his camp of APC daily getting stronger, bigger and larger against the expectations of his perceived “enemies” within the ruling party.
One of those strong politicians in Kwara politics who has recently joined the APC (AA’ camp) in Kwara state with his structure and all his supporters is Alhaji Ganiyu Galadima, a 2019 former presidential candidate of the defunct Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), a party founded by the late Oloye Saraki, the then strongman of Kwara politics.
Apart from Galadima, so many other Kwarans were said to have been attracted to the party due to the performances of governor AA in infrastructure, health, welfare of the citizens, regular payments of pension and salaries and so on.


Giant strides 
Another factor that Kwarans will examine in the 2023 election is whether the incumbent governor AA has lived up to expectation in terms of good governance. 
In the words of Ambassador Nurudeen Mohammed, a Chieftain of the ruling APC and Nigeria’s immediate past Ambassador to Malaysia, “Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq remains a man of the people and he stands tall as a man of honour among the majority of our party members in the state, in spite of the unfair demarketing campaign launched against his administration by some party chieftains and their co-travelers in the opposition. This is not by chance. Not only has AA demystified the office of governor with his uncommon humility, simplicity, and prudence, he has redefined the story of our state in many positive ways. Whether in health, education, road, or water, the governor has touched lives in many ways never seen before. He has strategically taken governance to the people such that there is no electoral ward in the state that cannot point to one or two things that they have benefited in just 18 months of his administration.
“A modest and humble personality, the governor has driven his own private car since day one of his administration to date. Here is a governor who lives in his own house till date. Here is a governor who is not taking a salary. Here is a governor who is willingly opening up his government for accountability through the phenomenal social audit process. Here is a governor who just wants to deliver his campaign promises to the people, despite the biting economic realities. Here is a governor who gives every part of the state a fair sense of belonging by always identifying with them in time of cultural celebration or mourning, and extending government’s patronage to every segment of the state. Today, Kwara is a model state on the continent in youths and women inclusion in government.”
The retired diplomat rated the governor high in the health sector. According to him, the health sector of the state has received about the highest priority even before the advent of Covid-19 pandemic. 


Mohammed further said, “the administration has started rehabilitation works across dozens of decrepit primary healthcare facilities. Long-abandoned routine immunisation and vaccination is back. For the first time, Kwara now has isolation centres equipped with modern gadgets like ventilators, defibrillators, patient monitors, and others. Its oxygen plant has been revived. For the first time, the state now has ambulances with capacities to manage patients in critical conditions on the go. Indeed, Kwara is now listed as an A-list state in the healthcare sector.
“The story of education sector of the state has continued to beat the imagination of Kwarans, priority attention was accorded 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 N7.1bn 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, the APC chieftain said.
He continued: “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 were given to help cushion the effects of the pandemic due to shutdown on public places on their schools and teachers.”
Another major area the people of Kwara can’t forget in a hurry is Governor AA’s attention to the perennial problem of water in the state capital.
“In May 2019, water tankers was the source of potable water in most parts of Ilorin, the capital city, even in the Government House. Today, Pipe-borne water is back and stable in the metropolis while nearly 500 boreholes have either been sunk or rehabilitated across the state. No fewer than nine water works have been fixed since this Governor came on board while contracts for more have been awarded. With the water situation being tackled, Kwara is keying into the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), a key component of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 to promote hygiene and end open defecation. Under this scheme, many schools and hospitals across the state would now for the first time get tap water and pour-flush toilets,” said the retired diplomat.
To some others like Ambassador Nurudeen Mohammed, the 7th executive governor of Kwara state in less than two years on the saddle, has changed the narratives of governance in the Kwara state. 


Plans ahead
Our correspondent learnt reliably that Governor AA has secured an approval from the parliament to raise a N35 billion bond from the capital market to fund new and existing infrastructural development and various economic projects that will drive growth and create jobs for the people. 
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, however, explained that the N13 billion would go into funding 37 (ongoing and new) roads of varying sizes across the three senatorial districts. That includes but not limited to the ongoing 33km Ilesha-Baruba road and the prized Iwo-Sabaja-Owa-Onire-Owu road which empties into the phenomenal Owu Fall. 
According to him, “the agricultural sector will gulp the second biggest investment at N7bn. The government plans to establish ‘virtual farms’ spanning thousands of hectares of land, supported with processing and packaging factories. The focus, according to the plan, is on cashew, soya bean, shea, and cocoa processing. 
“A cumulative sum of N15bn will be spent on the education, health, entertainment, and creative sectors.
“The hospital management board is appalled at the horrible situation of most of the state’s 48 secondary health facilities. Massive rehabilitation and equipment of some major general hospitals in the state with modern gadgets will be covered. Dozens of primary health care facilities will be upgraded and equipped – in addition to those already undergoing similar facelifts. The upgrade will include an electronic medical record system for the state, significantly boosting the quality of healthcare delivery in the state. Kwara holds the trophy as the state with the highest prevalence of open defecation. A massive anti-open defecation campaign, or Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), worth N500m would be funded with the bond to complement some existing initiatives that recently won Kwara State a pledge of 1000 pour-flush toilets from the private sector stakeholders.
“A film factory will be built in the capital city Ilorin. A race to tap into the multimillion-dollar entertainment industry, the facility will offer production and post-production services for Nollywood and other West African movie industries. Primed to rival Lagos and Accra, the two major hubs for post production in the African subregion, the film factory will have capacities for sound stages, render farms, animation, green rooms, production rooms, visual editing, master dubbing, sound overlay, editing and subtitles. The facility would be attached to the relevant department of the Kwara State University. Some funds will also go into completing the ongoing visual arts centre, with a space for gold-standard antiquities sourced from across the state, workshop studios for artists to practice, a space for exhibition of contemporary art, art shops, and a café. This will boost the creative industry, promote tourism, create job opportunities, and increase revenue generation in the state.”
Ajakaye also revealed the establishment of a fully-integrated Kwara Garment Village and an industrial park which is estimated to gulp N5bn. 


“The expansive facility will be equipped with fully automated equipment and uninterrupted power supply, generating at least 3,000 direct jobs, affordable quality wear, technology transfer, and revving up revenues. All things being equal, the facility is planned to come with backward integration that would lead to large-scale cotton cultivation involving 2,000 farmers. The industrial park, for its part, will lead to improved infrastructure for development of free trade zone, agro-processing facilities, reduced transaction cost, and better the living condition for the people, among many others.”


Citizens speak
In an interview with the Kwara born former presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) Alhaji Ganiyu Galadima, who recently joined the ruling APC, described governor Abdulrahman as a contented leader who considers leadership as a sacrifice and service to the people not opportunity for self aggrandisement.
According to Galadima, the Kwara state governor is redefining leadership and governance in the state in an unprecedented manner. 
“First is his simple and humble approach to leadership which has distinguished him from the previous leaders produced by the state. He carried himself with all simplicity that demystified the office he is occupying. Sometimes you wonder if he is a governor save for the authority inherent in his office. 
“He goes about his official duties quietly without harassing or intimidating anyone. A low profile and a meticulous resource manager. A goal getter and a result-oriented leader,” Alhaji Galadima said.


In his own, another citizen of Kwara from Baruten LGA of Kwara state, Abdullahi Yakub, said in less than two years of his reign, Governor A.A has recorded successes in the areas of infrastructure and human capital development touching every nook and crannies of the state. 
“Kwarans are enjoying a fresh breath of politics deviating from the archaic model of mass slavery and personal enrichment. This is a trend we can’t afford to forfeit.
The governor has successfully shelved the status quo of money politics and replaced it with people-oriented politics by taking governance and development to the doorsteps of everyone, this move remains his biggest crime against the proponents of the former. Politics was seen as an investment; put in a dime to install a leader and have a bullion van at your doormat throughout his reign even at the expense of a dying state.
“Power belongs to the people (electorates) and not the multimedia politicians. The governor is aware of it and this is his driving force.”

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