This piece serves to correct the erroneous impressions created by an article published in the January 7th edition of Daily Trust, titled "Will Ahmed Make It to Senate in 2019".
While we regard the contrived debate on the 2019 Kwara South Senatorial District Senate ticket as premature since the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kwara State has established procedures for producing ticket bearers in all elections, we emphasize that Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed is focussed on fulfilling his mandate as Governor of Kwara State and has not declared an interest in contesting for the position or any other.
Having said that, we reject the label of non-performance and unpopular that the writer laboured in vain to pin on the Governor. For starters, we wish to dismiss as false and baseless, the writer’s claim that Governor Ahmed has misunderstandings with his predecessor and current Senate president, His Excellency, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
To be clear, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed continues to enjoy a warm and highly-cordial relationship with Dr. Bukola Saraki whom he regards as political leader and a respected stakeholder being a former governor of the state.
The failed attempt to label Governor Ahmed as disloyal to Saraki in the said article ties in with a long-standing desire nursed by those frustrated by their closeness despite the tradition in other states where incumbent governors hardly see eye to eye with their predecessors.
For the records, Dr. Saraki and Alhaji Ahmed’s relationship dates back several decades and is driven by love, respect and a mutual interest in the advancement of Kwara State.
Therefore, no campaign from any quarters, within and outside our political system in Kwara State, by those who think that the close relationship between the two leaders threatens their ambition, will succeed.
It is also patently false to claim that Dr. Saraki interferes with Governance in the state, other than offering counsel when consulted, like others, as a former governor of the state and a major stakeholder in Kwara State and indeed Nigeria.
We are particularly concerned by the attempts in the revisionist article to mould history and facts in favour of its biased agenda by painting Governor Ahmed as non-performing. Nothing could be farther from the truth. And the facts speak for themselves.
To begin with, Governor Ahmed has established himself as trustworthy by fulfilling his pre-election pledge to ensure continuity by completing and sustaining inherited projects as well as ground-breaking new ones.
Today, Kwara State, on Governor Ahmed’s watch, stands as an exception to the trend of abandoned projects in Nigeria with inherited and completed projects such as International Aviation College, Ilorin, Harmony Advanced Diagnostic Centre as well as major road projects including Zango Akerebiata Road, Ganmo-Afon Road, Offa-Irra Road, Lafiagi Township Road, Ahmadu Bello Way, Offa-Garage to Michael Imoudu, Afon-Eiyenkorin Road, Ola-Olu-Offa Garage Road, Omu-Aran Township Road, Eruku-Koro Road, Afon-Eiyenkorin Road, Isanlu-Isin-Ijara-Isin Road, Zulu Gambari Road and Eiyenkorin Ballah-Alapa Road, among a host of other inherited, completed and sustained projects.
Furthermore, not completing and sustaining these projects will have undermined trust in government and wasted the huge amounts invested in them. Besides the fact that the Ahmed administration showed faith by completing inherited completed projects, it has also initiated and taken new ones to various levels of completion, thus opening a new spectre of development in Kwara State.
In the road sector, projects include Erin-Ile-Ilemona, Oloro Palace Road, Oro, Babanloma Township Road, BabanlomaOgbondoroko Township Road, Sango-Oke Andi-Taoheed Road, Ilorin, Oko-Odofin-Igbana Odo Ashe, rehabilitation of Fate Roundabout to Agric Roundabout, Ilorin, Gerewu-Hajji Camp Road, Ilorin, Henry George-Mini Campus, Adualere-Ojagboro-Isale Koko, Sanu Shehu Road, Ilorin, Old Garage-Central Mosque Mission Road, Lafiagi, Ejiba Road, Ilorin, Stadium Road, Ilorin and among others.
Despite the apparent paucity of funds in the country, the state also currently has hundreds of kilometres of on-going road projects at various stages of completion. These include the Geri Alimi Diamond Underpass, Dualisation of Zango-UITH Road, Airport-Egbejila Road, Ilorin, Share-Oke Ode Road, Construction of Arandun-Rore-Aran-Orin-Ipetu road, Construction of Kankatu-Samsudeen-Okelele Road, Construction of Erin-ile Street, Gaa-Akanbi, Ilorin, Construction of Ilala Bridge, Rehabilitation of Offa-Ipee road, Ilorin, Construction of Ilesha Baruba-Gwanara road, Construction of Arobadi Maigida road, Moro, Rehabilitation Anilelerin Agun-Ita-Erin road, Offa, Construction of Amule Bridge, and a host of other on-going road projects across the state.
However, the Ahmed administration’s strides cut across several other sectors. In the health sector, the Governor has expanded access to health by rehabilitating and remodeling general hospitals in Ilorin, Offa, Share, Omu-Aran and Kaiama as well as supplying equipment to all other hospitals across the state.
In addition, the administration expanded access to affordable health care by extending the inherited Community Health Insurance Scheme from three to ten local governments and is introducing subsidized health insurance across the state through the Kwara State Health Insurance Agency.
The education sector is not left out as hundreds of classrooms were rehabilitated across basic and secondary levels while education has been made free at pre-tertiary levels through abolition of tuition fees at the Senior Secondary school level. At the tertiary level, Governor Ahmed recently commissioned the new Engineering Complex at the state-owned Kwara State University, while new campuses and colleges are currently under construction at Ilesha-Baruba, Osi and in Ilorin.
Additionally, the acclaimed International Vocational, Technical and Entrepreneurship College, established by the administration, was recently declared open by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who recommended the model for adoption by other states in the country.
Similar strides have been attained by the Ahmed administration in energy sector where 400 communities across the state have been connected to the national electricity grid or provided access to enhanced energy infrastructure such as electricity transformers.
Today, the innovative solar-powered street light project, Light Up Kwara has enhanced the aesthetics of Ilorin, the state capital, boosted its night economy, improved security and will soon be expanded to key towns in the state such as Offa, Omu-Aran and Pategi.
Comparable achievements can be observed in the water sector where 17 waterworks were rehabilitated across the state to complement the state-wide provision of boreholes to communities. Currently, the inherited Ilorin Water Reticulation Project, which will expand water supply across the capital, has been upscaled by the Ahmed administration and is nearing completion.
Beyond infrastructure, Governor Ahmed’s strides in Agriculture such as the Off Taker Demand Driven Scheme and the MSME scheme under which a cumulative N2.2b has been disbursed to more than 60, 000 small businesses including artisans, farmers, transporters, traders and market women in the last five years bear eloquent testimony to how the administration has boosted the informal sector, empowered thousands of individuals and created hundreds of thousands of youth jobs indirectly. We therefore see no basis for the writer’s claim of non-performance against the Governor. The facts clearly negate that falsehood.
We must also correct the false impression that there is disaffection against the administration over perceived non-payment of workers and pensioners. For the record, Kwara State is one of the few states in the country that is currently up to date in payment of salaries and pensions. At the state level, no worker or pensioner is owed any arrears except for tertiary institution workers whose institutions are owed subvention arrears and will be paid soon.
Despite not being responsible for the unfortunate salary and pension arrears at the local government level in the state, caused by drop in federal allocation to that tier of government, the state governor is currently helping the councils to clear the arrears through biometric verification and IGR reforms.
Finally, we reject the claim that Governor Ahmed is unpopular in Kwara State, made by the writer without any factual basis, a fatal flaw apparent in the whole piece. On the contrary, Governor Ahmed continues to enjoy the trust, love and support of Kwarans from all walks of life across three senatorial districts of the state, who are impressed by his warmth, intellect, performance and achievements.
Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed swore to uphold the welfare and security of all Kwarans and residents. He continues to deliver on the mandate through a tradition of high performance initiated in his first tenure and sustained in the current one to the admiration of Kwarans and non-Kwarans alike despite serious resource challenges.
No attempt to revise history through untruths and patent bias can change that.
Dr. Muyideen Femi Akorede is Senior Special Assistant, Media and Communication, to the Kwara State Governor.