Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has long unveiled his multi-sectoral agenda for the people of Kwara State. He speaks on this agenda every day – and will continue to do so in town hall meetings, impromptu assemblies, e-platforms and at every opportunity he has to speak to every Kwaran on the street. The governor will base his re-election bid on his tangible and intangible achievements and plans already implemented.
With an experienced head on young shoulders, the governor had come to office on the back of a democratic revolution that had swept away the old order. The final three years of his first term saw pleasant, measurable gains in the areas of public access to quality education, healthcare, clean water, agriculture, urban planning, rural development, social safety nets, youth engagement and women’s empowerment, and pro-business policies. Previously provided data has shown positive growth in several areas (see:
Notes on the Kwara Journey; Kwara marches to greater heights – it won’t go back_ ), including improvements and greater efficiencies in internal revenue generation. Hard fact: The state Treasury posted a record high of N10.7 billion in the first quarter of 2022. That was the highest quarterly IGR in the state’s history. This is largely due to the introduction of new technology and conscious efforts to expand control networks and block leaks without unduly taxing people.
In agriculture, we have uncovered the path ahead in the administration’s five-year transformation plan. It is available to the reading public (via the Kwara State Government website) and has been communicated repeatedly in various forums, including radio and town hall meetings, over the past two years and will be implemented on an ongoing basis when resources permit.
Whether arable farming or raising cattle, the administration has made a name for itself, as evidenced by incremental investments in new tractors, bulldozers, farm input subsidy programs and the restructuring of farmers along manageable strata based on an auditable database system. The latter curbs the infamous “political pawn syndrome” and ensures government support reaches those who really need it.
The governor has also shown a clear understanding of the issues of climate change and their implications for now and in the future. In this context he has placed the question of the drying waters, transhumance, the clashes between herdsmen and farmers, sustainable living and food security. That explains Kwara’s successful application and commitment to the AfDB-funded agroprocessing zone – one of the six planned across Nigeria.
The program helps herders adjust to a sustainable lifestyle that not only provides them with everything they need to keep their herds productive in a modern way and an even more decent family, but also ends centuries-old disputes with other economic groups. The gains will be unquantifiable: a more peaceful society; fatter cows with healthier and improved milk yield; a better prospect of food security; and a new frontier for job creation.
That’s half the truth. The agroprocessing zone includes much more. The zone will open a new economic frontier along agricultural value chains and backward integration, with prospects for massive private sector job creation for young and old, and general prosperity, which in turn lowers crime rates.
Technology is not left out in his plans for the state. The concept of the workplace has changed; so must our preparations for the future. Not only was the Innovation Center designed for the urgency of now, the state is also implementing what is known as the Kwara State Education Transformation Agenda (KWETA), of which KwaraLEARN is an offshoot.
As part of KwaraLEARN, every Kwara child is introduced to the technology in public elementary schools and taught in a way that guarantees better learning outcomes and a brighter future. An important pillar of KWETA is the Kwara State Education Trust Fund, whose legislation has now been passed. This officially encourages the private sector and philanthropists to support public education, including taking over schools to modernize infrastructure and other supports that help people.
The trust fund is based on the fact that the government needs all the support it can mobilize to provide the children with a quality education. While such support will certainly garner massive public goodwill for private sector financiers, the law does not require anyone to impose hidden costs on people.
On December 13, 2021, the governor launched a 10-year sustainable development plan (2021-2030) – the third such Kwara-specific comprehensive plan in the state’s history. The first, a five-year plan, was presented in 1970, while the second ran between 1975 and 1980.
The result of extensive consultation, it had been drawn up with a wise head on the shoulders of current and retired bureaucrats and stakeholders.
As the governor noted at its inception, the draft is anchored in four pillars: governance and institutional reform; economic development; social development; and infrastructure development. The plan is estimated to cost $4.7 trillion by 2030 — a long-term investment he says is necessary for sustained growth with windows of private and public funding.
It is a plan that addresses everything needed to build a modern state and the path to collective prosperity: good infrastructure, empowerment of youth and women; support for farmers and food security; small and medium-sized enterprises, creativity, tourism and art; and leveraging technology and innovation for improved revenue generation, mass employment, good healthcare and sustainable living in the 21st century.
An offshoot of the draft is the Ilorin City Master Plan, the second for the capital since the 1970s. The 20-year master plan covers an area of 2,000 square kilometers and is largely based on stakeholder input. Health, climate change management and green spaces, job opportunities, agriculture and future urban expansion as the population grows.
The governor said such plans are in preparation for the state’s Offa/Oyun, Igbomina, Patigi/Edu and Baruten axes. This is the way to a sustainable future.
With signature projects such as Sugar Film Factory, Visual Arts Centre, Innovation Hub, Garment Factory, Ilorin International Conference Center and support for small businesses, it is clear that Kwara is boldly re-engraving itself into the national consciousness. The vision is supported by many major road projects in the north, south and center connecting important parts of the state. Add these to the imposing General Tunde Idiagbon Bridge – a soon-to-be Cynosure that will serve as Kwara’s version of the beautiful Ikoyi Bridge, relieving traffic into the University of Ilorin and easing traffic for Ilorin of the future.
The whole idea is to improve Kwara State’s business prospects, increase its competitiveness among its peers, create fertile ground for sustainable growth and jobs, and improve people’s living standards.
The above and more demonstrates a clear, surefooted, and actionable vision that the governor has for the state and its people. He will continue to speak not only about this vision and its implementation strategies, but most importantly about his bold footprints in all parts of Kwara State, especially in the areas of basic services, education, infrastructure, expanding the economic base, support for the poor and the elderly, gender inclusion policies and many projects of the present and future.
These are things that speak for AbdulRazaq and are readily available to the public in the run-up to the election. When the campaign begins in the next few weeks, the governor will prefer (as he did in 2019) to moving from one community to another at night and during the day in city centers and in far-flung agricultural settlements in search of people by mandate. When he’s not on fancy platforms besieged by cameras, he’s definitely not being mean or disrespectful. That’s because he’s off elsewhere, inspecting ongoing projects or speaking to constituents and community leaders.