Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State and his team have made some influential decisions to bring home huge benefits to Kwarans beyond anything they experienced in the past, writes Nseobong Okon-Ekong
Most of the political fireworks in Kwara State right now is either conflagration from the All Progressives Congress (APC) intra-party feud or the continuing face-off between Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and the leaders of the immediate past Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led administration in the state. On the side of the APC, a huge ditch of controversies has been dug to separate the Kwara Governor and his team and APC members who have queued behind Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed.
Neither of these fighting political armies are going to solve social problems like mass illiteracy, lack of access to qualitative health care, and generational poverty—which have been recurring decimal confronting each administration in Kwara State since 1999.
While past governments, especially the immediate past, lays claims to towering achievements, in all areas, which are not quite supported by reality on ground, the current administration asserts that the state was virtually on its knees, humbled by crippling debts and rot in all Ministries, Departmentsand Agencies. Counterpart fund from the erstwhile Kwara State Government to many international development partners and national organizations were not paid, necessitating a withdrawal or negligence of shared obligation by these bodies. Unpaid salaries due to civil servants had accumulated for close to one year. Retirees were owed for a much longer period. The state’s work force was demoralized. Pupils in public primary and secondary schools were gathered under trees for tutorials when they were not sitting on the floor in dilapidated classrooms. Communities were cut off from the rest of the state, owing to collapsed road infrastructure. With a need to drive his own narrative by changing approach to governance and optimizing performance, AbdulRazaq and leaders of the new government in Kwara have been deliberate, seeking a higher priority for the people, who simply want to taste a better life. Both on the surface and on a deeper level, this is an impressive target, not minding the tension that it has created with the factions in the Kwara APC; and between AbdulRazaq and his predecessor. The Governor is at the head of a homogeneous team that supports his expected outcome, which have been tested in his private enterprise. For instance, the appointment of a commendable number of women and youths into his cabinet to handle sensitive offices is groundbreaking nationwide. His concern that best thinking does not always prevail and that a future government can reverse this important gain inspired an executive bill mandating the state to have at least 35 per cent women appointees in the state executive council and other classes of political appointments. This has since been passed by the Kwara State House of Assembly and cited as Political Offices (Gender Composition) Bill 2021.
In the later part of last year, AbdulRazaq highlighted a worrisome data of maternal mortality indicting the previous administration. These flaws have not been limited to healthcare, in the area of education, internal revenue generation, roads construction and education, according to AbdulRazaq, the persistent efforts of his administration to overcome the difficult environment which was bequeathed to him, has led to excellent decisions which produce more comforting grounds for the people of Kwara.
AbdulRazaq insists his government has made fewer mistakes, because he is won’t to scrutinise and weigh alternative options that can heighten a good debate before a major conclusion is reached. Previously, the majority of Kwarans were treated like outsiders to their own commonwealth. Through the deliberate inclusion of more women and youths, this segment of representation has vastly improved on empathy and understanding for the government of the day.
On the wrangling over maternal mortality between AbdulRazaq and his predecessors, it stands to reason that the evidence and testimony will weigh in favour of the serving governor who has more women rooting for him. The point that is driven home here is that diversity is good. Before AbdulRazaq, the highly diverse, but disenfranchised population of women and youths were helpless in Nigeria in general and in Kwara, in particular. Teams that represent these groups frequently succumbed to subjective fallacies based on cultural profiling. Some of these widely proclaimed assumptions is that “women are the weaker sex, should be heard less and their place is in the kitchen;” while “youths are inexperienced, irascible, irrational and impressionable.”
In all cases relating to health care, based on the table released by the Kwara State government, the previous government in the state had blood on its hands and their leaders may be at a disadvantage when seeking a seat in future in any of the representative public offices.
Mr. Wahab Oba, Media Aide to a past Kwara governor insists upon itself that the Dr. Bukola Saraki administration signed the Kwara State Primary Health Care Agency bill into law in 2009 for further improvement in the health sector of the state. He said, “As that time only three states, Lagos, Kwara and Cross River could boast of the law; the immunization rate of Kwara state was between 88 to 92 percent from 2005 till 2019. Kwara state led others in the North-central and was fifth in the country in the implementation of the Saving One Million Life programme of World Bank in 2016 /17, which allowed the state to access another USD1.5.million.”
However, through well-documented research, facts and data have emerged to counter Oba’s claims. There was a Maternal Mortality rate of 1,404.4 per 100,000 deaths in 2019. By 2021, it had dropped to 20.7 per 100,000, which os second lowest in the country. Infant Mortality of 2.6 per 1000 during the previous administration now stands at 0.4 per 1000. Death of Under-5 children was 4.3 per 1000. It is now 0.4 per 1000. Attendance in public primary health facilities has increased by 597.29 percent since 2019, while attendance in public secondary health facilities jumped from 79,408 to 1,181,774, an increase of 1388.23 percent. Previously, there was only one nurse in the Primary Health Care Development Agency, the AbdulRazaq administration has since hired 43 more nurses. The number of doctors in the Kwara Health care system has increased by 28.6 percent between 2019 and 2021. The government of AbdulRazaq has rehabilitated over 25 PHCs, while the general hospitals in Oro and Lafiagi have been given a new lease of life after years of gross deprivation.
The incontrovertible truth is that the AbdulRazaq team has made some influential decisions which has brought home huge benefits to Kwarans beyond anything they experienced in the past. There is no doubt that there is outstanding work being done in Kwara, by a good mix of youths and the elderly who are constantly ideating on how to bring wholesome improvements to this truly diverse and dynamic state, in order to exploit and reap its many benefits for the people.