‘We Can’t Politi­cise A Se­ri­ous Is­sue Like The Offa Rob­bery’

Hammed Shittu records high­lights of a re­cent in­ter­ac­tion with Gov­er­nor Ab­dul­fa­tah Ahmed of Kwara State at Gov­ern­ment House, Ilorin

THISDAY - - STARTERS -

Hammed Shittu records high­lights of a re­cent in­ter­ac­tion with Gov­er­nor Ab­dul­fa­tah Ahmed of Kwara State at Gov­ern­ment House, Ilorin

At the bud­get for­mu­lat­ing process, the leg­isla­tive arm is car­ried along. This al­lows un­der­stand­ing of where the fund­ing and what amount is avail­able. We usu­ally out­line our medium term ex­pen­di­ture clearly. The sources of rev­enues are also well ar­tic­u­lated and framed out in such a way that it is clear and seen by all. This gives the pas­sage of bud­get an easy flow be­cause, if you are part and par­cel of a devel­op­ment pro­gramme, it makes it eas­ier for you to be­lieve in it and own it

What are the ma­jor eco­nomic devel­op­ment high­lights of your ad­min­is­tra­tion in the last seven years? Firstly, we want to give sin­cere grat­i­tude to God Almighty, for mak­ing it pos­si­ble for us to take the state through these last seven years peace­fully un­der the cur­rent eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion. We came in with a strong de­sire to meet as­pi­ra­tions of Kwarans. We have mod­estly met our cam­paign prom­ises.

Dur­ing the cam­paigns, we clearly spelt our plans from the an­gle of con­ti­nu­ity on programmes that were on ground and also adding new ones. The slo­gan then was ‘Legacy Con­tin­ues’ through which we hit the ground run­ning by tak­ing programmes we met on ground to com­ple­tion, jump start­ing new ones and tak­ing them to com­ple­tion.

One of the key ar­eas we em­pha­sised was eco­nomic devel­op­ment. We no­ticed that our peo­ple were largely in a civil ser­vice driven en­vi­ron­ment and we felt that the only way to change things was to cre­ate a small and medium en­ter­prise agency. That agency was de­signed at in­cep­tion to be­gin to change the pur­chas­ing power of our peo­ple, in­creas­ing their ca­pac­ity to drive the econ­omy and, most im­por­tantly, to cre­ate wealth. We cre­ated a Small and Medium En­ter­prise Agency with a seed money of about N250 mil­lion. We had since in­creased this on a cu­mu­la­tive ba­sis to about N3.2 bil­lion. Un­der this agency, we have been able to em­power over 2,000 co­op­er­a­tive groups and we have also been able to sup­port over 60,000 small and medium en­ter­prise agen­cies who hith­erto were not get­ting ac­cess to fund­ing. But with the ar­tic­u­lated SME agency, we’ve been able to cre­ate en­trepreneur­ship for them and this has set them on a wealth growing path.

Of course, we’ve al­lowed as­so­ci­a­tions, groups to ben­e­fit from the Small and Medium En­ter­prises. We set up the Ar­ti­sans Congress which is made up of over 53 as­so­ci­a­tions. They’ve all ben­e­fit­ted un­der this Small and Medium En­ter­prise Scheme, in­clud­ing our trans­porters un­der the NURTW. We have the Mo­tor­cy­cle Rid­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, Okada Rid­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and Keke Napep Rid­ers As­so­ci­a­tion who have all ben­e­fit­ted in one form or an­other through our Small and Medium En­ter­prise Scheme.

We also put buses on the road to help move­ment of peo­ple from dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, es­pe­cially some of our stu­dents who have had chal­lenges get­ting to school on time. Un­der this scheme also, we reg­u­lated the use of auto cy­cles in trans­porta­tion be­cause we wanted to be sure that they are not in­volved in crim­i­nal­ity. So, we stream­lined their move­ment in the state and got them prop­erly com­part­men­tal­ized to spe­cific lo­ca­tions with proper iden­tity and pro­filed them un­der the scheme.

One ma­jor achieve­ment of this ad­min­is­tra­tion is the re­form in the col­lec­tion and ad­min­is­tra­tion of our In­ter­nally Gen­er­ated Rev­enue. Re­ly­ing on funds from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment was not sus­tain­able and the only way we could change the way things were done in the state was to come up with a new rev­enue gen­er­at­ing out­fit to en­sure that funds are cap­tured and ex­pended ac­cord­ingly.

For this rea­son, we re­pealed the law set­ting up the Board of In­ter­nal Rev­enue. We got a new law set­ting up the Kwara State In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vices that changed the peo­ple and tech­nol­ogy to drive the process. That alone en­sured the in­crease of our rev­enue from N7 bil­lion to N17 bil­lion. The im­pli­ca­tion is that it cre­ated lat­i­tude for a lot of things. We were able to raise funds to en­sure that paras­tatals run prop­erly and en­sure that ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions are cap­tured. Most im­por­tantly, funds were avail­able for cap­i­tal devel­op­ment.

The other won­der­ful side of it is that funds that were ac­cessed un­der the in­ter­nal rev­enue were used to set up the Kwara In­fra­struc­ture Fund (IFK), to drive in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment. These funds have gone into driv­ing cap­i­tal projects es­pe­cially in wa­ter, roads, en­ergy, schools and health sec­tors.

The IFK, which is the Kwara In­fra­struc­ture Fund started with an ini­tial seed money of about N5 bil­lion and has grown to over N11.6 bil­lion. This fund has been de­ployed to crit­i­cal ar­eas that af­fect our peo­ple. We have been able to de­ploy about N3.5 bil­lion to cap­i­tal projects in Kwara Cen­tral, about N3.2 bil­lion to projects in Kwara South and about N2.9 bil­lion to projects in Kwara North.

This is apart from projects we in­her­ited and en­sured their com­ple­tion. We also ini­ti­ated new projects. Some of these projects have been com­pleted, while oth­ers are on-go­ing. Part of the programmes un­der the in­fra­struc­ture fund is the Split Di­a­mond Un­der Pass con­structed in Asa-Dam Road in Geri Alimi which, by God’s grace, will be taken to com­ple­tion in the next six months.

We wit­nessed the flag off of the Kwara State Univer­sity in the three cam­puses across the three se­na­to­rial dis­tricts. We have the School of Gov­er­nance in Kwara Cen­tral, School of En­vi­ron­ment in Kwara South and the School of Agri­cul­ture in Kwara North.

We also wit­nessed the du­al­iza­tion of the UITH/Sango Road, which is ex­pected to be taken to com­ple­tion within next few months.

The ben­e­fit of that is im­men­su­rable, es­pe­cially as it re­lates to move­ment of hu­mans and ve­hi­cles. It also en­sures free move­ment of pa­tients un­der emer­gency ser­vice. This will not only im­prove the aes­thet­ics of the area but in­crease ac­cess to bet­ter health care.

In the area of hu­man cap­i­tal devel­op­ment, which in­cludes health and ed­u­ca­tion, we have been able to ren­o­vate close to 600 class­rooms, in­clu­sive of the School of Spe­cial Needs. We re­duced the amount payable by stu­dents of Kwara State Univer­sity, by 30 per­cent to re­duce the bur­den on the par­ents in terms of pay­ment of school fees. We have also es­tab­lished the School of En­gi­neer­ing at KWASU.

Part of the rea­sons why we setup the univer­sity was to drive tech­nol­ogy. We want to en­sure that we have a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for the study of en­gi­neer­ing, there­fore, we es­tab­lished an ul­tra-mod­ern En­gi­neer­ing Fac­ulty, to keep stu­dents abreast of mod­ern en­gi­neer­ing tech­niques.

An­other area which is very crit­i­cal to Hu­man Cap­i­tal Devel­op­ment is vo­ca­tional train­ing. You’ll agree with me that in as much as we are cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment to teach and make our youths learn and de­velop them­selves, there are gaps that ex­ist in terms of what the mar­ket needs.

Our ad­min­is­tra­tion rea­soned that these gaps can only be filled with vo­ca­tional train­ing programmes. In other words, we have an in­sti­tu­tion that trains peo­ple. The Ajase Ipo In­ter­na­tional Vo­ca­tional Train­ing and En­tre­pre­neur Col­lege which op­er­ates in con­junc­tion with City & Guilds, Lon­don trains ar­ti­sans on in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices so that they can ex­port their ac­quired skills to any part of the world.

In the 70s and 80s, one of the big­gest earn­ers of for­eign ex­change for In­dia was remit­tances largely from peo­ple that they ex­ported to other parts of the world to de­liver ser­vices. This is why we set up the In­ter­na­tional Vo­ca­tional Train­ing and En­tre­pre­neur Col­lege, Ajase Ipo. Their train­ing is sub­si­dized by the state gov­ern­ment while some are spon­sored by var­i­ous stake­hold­ers. The most im­por­tant part of it is that the World Bank is cur­rently fund­ing 75 stu­dents un­der this pro­gramme for en­trepreneur­ship un­der the Hu­man Cap­i­tal Devel­op­ment programmes to en­sure that drugs are avail­able in our health in­sti­tu­tions through a well-structured drug re­volv­ing scheme.

Un­der our health-for-all-pro­gramme, we re­mod­eled five gen­eral hos­pi­tals in Ilorin, Offa, Share, Omu Aran and, Ka­iama. These are crit­i­cal ar­eas that are sup­posed to serve as sec­ondary health care fa­cil­i­ties. In ad­di­tion, we also re-mod­eled 50 pri­mary health care in­sti­tu­tions which are largely to serve the ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

We’ve also im­proved on ac­ces­si­bil­ity to health­care ser­vices through the ex­pan­sion of our com­mu­nity health in­sur­ance scheme which hith­erto cov­ered one lo­cal gov­ern­ment to a com­pre­hen­sive state wide health in­sur­ance scheme. The law to drive the health in­sur­ance scheme has al­ready been passed. This will, no doubt, make health­care ser­vices avail­able to an av­er­age per­son in the ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment with as low as N1,000 or N2,000 all year round.

Gov. Ab­dul­fa­tah Ahmed

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