*How he restored education, water supply
*He has delivered on key components of governance – Senate President Lawan
A sudden excitement seizes on Kwara as you read; it’s subdued yet electric. The chatter pauses for an instant, then erupts with cultured determination, sometimes, in wild abandon. Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is on song. He is the poetised visionary and the crowning progressive, the nurturant leader on whose watch Kwara has regained its greening.
Governor Abdulrazaq has earned the citizenry’s good graces, no doubt. He is a revolutionary leader and Prince Charming in one breadth. Before him there was nothing. Kwara careened and listed to the plunder of rapacious oligarchs. But at Abdulrazaq’s foray into the state’s political arena, Kwara, hitherto distraught, like the proverbial bride who lost her beauty and allure to the ravage of foul-minded suitors.
Kwara, proudly identified as the “State of Harmony,” lost its congruent repose amid the ruckus of rancorous oligarchs. The state, erstwhile notable for its rich melange of culture and ethnicity, lost its fabled peace and unity to the dissembling of felonious sons of the soil.
But no sooner did Governor Abdulrazaq assume the mantle of office than Kwara experienced the rejuvenation that eluded it throughout the locust years of the Bukola Saraki-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government and Saraki’s successor, Abdulfattah Ahmed’s unremarkable administration.
Infinitely gracious and sagacious, yet elaborately simple, Governor Abdulrazaq, has redirected the affairs of the state towards more promising trajectories, since he took over.
With unequalled grace, he has quietly gained the confidence of his people courtesy of the massive developmental projects that he initiated in the state. Many of these projects are ongoing in the state.
For instance, before his administration came into being, pipe-borne water was hard to come by in the state. Most residents relied on water tankers for their daily usage, while some who have the means provided their personal water supply system. Even the Government House suffered a dearth of water supply hence it also patronised the water vendors. This was undoubtedly an eyesore in the estimation of concerned citizens and illustrious sons of Kwara State, like Abdulrazaq, hence he intervened.
To put an end to this ugly situation, within his first year in office, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq embarked on projects that will ensure a seamless supply of water in the state. These include; rehabilitation of Lafiagi Water Works, rehabilitation of Asa-Dam Water Works, rehabilitation of Patigi Water Works, rehabilitation of Igbaja Water Works, rehabilitation of Kaiama Water Works, rehabilitation of Gwanara Water Works, rehabilitation of Up Kwara Water.
The Governor also ensured the refurbishment of Agbabiaka Water Tanks Ilorin, rehabilitation of Yashikira Waterworks, rehabilitation of Oro-Ago Water Works, Inter-connection of Eastern Reservoir, and Awolowo Road in Tanke, diversion of ductile iron pipes across Alagbado stream, repair of Lafiagi Water Works and its environment, among others.
Abdulrazaq’s intervention attains better resonance at the heel of water scarcity foisted on the state by previous administrations. In 2019, for instance, just about 6,725 households were connected to public water sources in Kwara. However, none of these households was getting water since the waterworks were either non-active, inoperative even as water corporation staffs were on strike to protest their unpaid salaries. The people were left at the mercy of politicians who moved round with water tankers in exchange for votes.
This has changed. To date, Governor Abdulrazaq’s administration has increased the number of households connected to public water supply to 10,426, that is, about 55 percent with defined access to potable water.
The number of public water stand pipes has risen by 1,107 more, or 72.31%. Measured against the population of the state, the figure is low but it represents a significant turnaround in the system. The administration has not only revived many of the moribund waterworks, including the one in Oyun, it is also building two new ones in Jebba (Moro) and Dumagi (Edu).
Aside from his remarkable success at restoring the state’s water supply, Governor Abdulrazaq has scored inspiring feats in the state’s erstwhile comatose education sector. Since he assumed office, Governor Abdulrazaq has given priority to education in the state. The sector had hitherto suffered neglect by previous administrations leading to the state being blacklisted from accessing the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) fund for more than seven years before his emergence as the governor.
It would be recalled that, prior to Abdulrazaq’s emergence as Kwara governor, the state foundered under the leadership of his immediate past predecessor, Ahmed. A major legacy of the Ahmed and Saraki administrations was the ghostly nature of the Kwara hinterlands.
That was a function of many things, atop of which is the lack of basic amenities like functional schools with teachers, healthcare facilities, drinkable water, and access roads.
Most schools in the Kwara hinterlands were without teachers, worsening the out-of-school children syndrome and drastically reducing the quality of education. In Isin and Oke Ero local governments, for instance, less than 50 percent of their senior secondary school teachers’ needs were met. Kaiama had just 68 teachers, falling below 45 percent of its needs, across its vast communities. Patigi had just 121, while Ekiti boasted just 135.
Abdulrazaq’s intervention in education, however, ensured new dawn of effectiveness and promise in the state; on his watch, Kwara accessed a backlog of N7.1 billion UBEC counterpart funds with a matching grant of N7.1 billion – these funds have been instrumental in no small measure to the gradual repositioning of schools and general improvement in education delivery in Kwara. The state is also carrying out renovation works in, at least, 43 basic schools. With the grants from UBEC now in the state coffers, about 600 basic schools are to get a facelift while teachers are also to be trained.
In order to increase the quality of education in the state, the governor recruited 4,701 qualified and competent teachers into the public primary, junior and senior secondary schools in the state.
The private school owners have also profited from his developmental efforts in the education sector. During the COVID-19 pandemic, proprietors of 1,119 private schools were given soft loans to help cushion the effects of the pandemic due to the shutdown.
Enthusing about Abdulrazaq’s achievements, incumbent Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, recently rated him very high on performance and project deliveries, saying his administration’s achievements have surpassed that of his predecessors, Bukola Saraki, and Abdulfatah Ahmed. According to Lawan, Governor Abdulrazaq has achieved in two years, what Saraki and Ahmed struggled to achieve all through 16 years of their administration.
Saraki, who is also Lawan’s predecessor as Senate President was Kwara’s governor from 2003 to 2011, while Ahmed took over from him in 2011 to 2019 before the ‘Otoge’ movement that ushered in the incumbent governor on the platform of All Progressives Congress.
Speaking in Kwara, at the mega constituency empowerment programme organised by Senator Umar Sadiq representing Kwara North in the National Assembly, Lawan urged Kwara residents to support Abdulrazaq in consolidating on his remarkable achievements in the last two years.
The Senate president said the governor’s administration has delivered on key components of governance in a style not seen before over the past decade in the state.
Likewise, a former member of Kwara State House of Assembly, Hon. Abdulmumin Katibi, said, “In May 2019, water tankers were 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 dug or rehabilitated across the state. No fewer than nine waterworks have been fixed since this governor came on board while contracts for more have been awarded.”