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Gov AbdulRazaq And His Royal Endorsement For 2nd Term By Mashood, Abdulrafiu Agboola

There is naturally an appointed time to fulfil dreams or every purpose in life. For us in Nigeria, it's ripe for political activities as part of the buildup to the 2023 polls. And in making it a fait accompli, Nigerians of voting age are not left out of playing varying roles. 

In the spirit of that and in what appears to be a vote of confidence in the leadership of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State, the State Traditional Council led by the First-Class monarchs echoed their stance to pitch tents behind the Governor's re-election for another four-year service. This public endorsement came some weeks earlier than the party (APC) itself held its primaries to produce candidates for various elective positions.

Recall that the exercise, which saw AbdulRazaq and the likes of incumbent Mai Mala Buni of Yobe, Bello Matawalle of Zamfara and Babangana Zulum of Borno, emerging flag bearers unopposed, had taken place across the APC-controlled states with exception of Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Bayelsa, Kogi, Anambra, Edo and Imo states, whose dates of their governorship elections are peculiar.

The monarchs in their separate visits to the Government House Ilorin, early May, 2022, hinged their resolve on the Governor's catalogue of achievements, his style of leadership and the rapport the administration sustainably built with the State Traditional Council in the last three years. 

According to the Emir of Ilorin and Chairman State Traditional Council, Dr. Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari (CFR), who led other chieftains in the Ilorin Emirate on Sallah homage (Bareke), AbdulRazaq is not only hardworking but also evaluative to see that the needs of people are met.  

"Governor AbdulRazaq has been hardworking. In fact he is a field man. I think he spends more time on the field (attending to public needs) than in his office. I wish the Governor is willing to do another term in office," the Emir said, asking him to go ahead with the aspiration to become a second term Governor of Kwara State. 

This open declaration of support enjoyed a thunderous applause from the excited audience at the event that day. 

In his own submission, Etsu Patigi and Vice Chairman Kwara State Council of Chiefs Alhaji Ibrahim Umar Bologi II, who led the Emirs from Northern Kwara, said they are proud to be associated with the Governor on account of his feats and how his government positively touched lives of their people through physical development and other forms of democratic mileage. 

"Your Excellency, you have touched lives all around our communities. We have seen the dividends of democracy all around our communities. We are proud to be associated with you and we pray that you will be the person to pilot the affairs of the state in the next four years," he said. 

Leader of the Kwara Southern Obas and Olofa of Offa Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi Esuwoye Il, in their visit, said: "it may interest you that having put heads together with all the first class traditional rulers from Kwara south, we would have been the ones to obtain your form if we have the resources. We believe that, even without us, some people would do so and you will consider our plea to contest for a second term." 

Endorsing candidates vying for political offices though is not alien to our political culture, especially when an endorser does that to encourage the contestants on the course or to pursue a vested interest. Getting such a seal from the royal class is however rare and not ordinary. Because, as community heads, they are believed to be closer to the grassroots, hence aware of their basic needs. They also tend to know what their feelings and reactions are if their needs are met (or otherwise) by any tier of government. 

In the light of the foregoing, the monarchs have succeeded in speaking the minds of a larger percent of their subjects, who they said find the government's projects in their domains highly impactful. And what projects could they have referred to? They are apparently talking about the various people-focused interventions that have changed the fortune of key sectors such as the Education, Health, Road, Agric, Civil Service, Enterprise and Media sectors. 

In the Education sector, for instance, 
over 600 public schools in the state are undergoing renovation or remodeling to make the learning environment conducive. Many of these schools, selected from across the three senatorial districts, have been completely refurbished while some are nearing completion, courtesy of the present administration. As such, infrastructural decay in government owned schools is now on the low side, while effort is ongoing to select more schools for the rehabilitation programme. 

Also worthy of note was the recruitment of 4,701 qualified teachers and their deployment to various stations where their services are needed. This was adjudged to be giant among several steps the government has taken to enhance the teacher-pupils ratio in the classrooms; create an enabling atmosphere to aid teaching and learning, and to improve the students' access to quality education.  

Within three years, at least 45 primary and secondary healthcare facilities in the state have witnessed a serious turnaround in the health sector, both in terms of physical development and provision of modern equipment, thereby increasing patronage and public confidence in the service of the government's owned hospitals. Very recently also, the government recruited not less than 197 medical personnel and health workers to boost human resources and make quality and affordable health care services accessible to the vast majority of the citizens. 

Talking about the road network, close to 200 roads have been fixed as of today as part of the administration's agenda to alleviate the traffic situations and maximize driving comfort. The urban renewal programme of AbdulRazaq's government sees dozens of compounds in the city being interlocked - making those spots more useful both for motorists who may wish to maneuver traffic jams, and the pedestrians, if not also for the beauty of the affected places. Yes, there are some link roads in the city that are marred with potholes. Roads are, no doubt, bound to wear out any time provided they are plied on a regular basis. What is important is how quickly they are fixed to restore the road standard. The government, despite opening the new ones, is not unaware of its obligation too, and has, through KWARMA (Kwara State Road Maintenance Agency) been fixing those potholes in phases. 

The monarchs are also living witnesses to how the government is seriously fighting poverty and raising hope of the hopeless youths, market women and the aged through its safety net and empowerment programmes. Over 30,000 women and youths have benefitted from no-interest loans of the State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP), apart from equipping tens of thousand of them with basic digital skills for marketing chances. Another typical example is the recently concluded Kwara Trade Fair where more than 300 business owners participated in an exhibition of their products. Creating good platforms to support enterprising youths to thrive is honestly the best option and a way to go for any government conscious of security and economic factors. 

What about the Agric sector? In line with the government's 10-year Agricultural Transformation Plan that was launched in 2021, and which has the basic objectives of ensuring food security, generating employment opportunities and reducing poverty, Governor AbdulRazaq has since been providing necessary aids for local farmers towards achieving the goals. For instance, at least 15 tractors were made available for rent at a subsidized rate; fertilizers and other farm inputs are regularly provided for farmers to enhance their access even at cheaper rates. Just last month (June), the Governor flagged off the Kwara FADAMA NG-CARES (Result Area 2) inputs and asset distribution in Oke-Oyi, Ilorin East LGA, where at least 6,000 crop and livestock farmers in Kwara State benefited from the first round of government and World Bank-enabled support along agricultural value chains.

The implementation of the #30,000 minimum wage including the consequential adjustment for all categories of workers is the product of the government's regard and commitment to an improved well-being of the State workforce. Yes, paying workers' salaries ought not to be seen as an achievement provided that these workers too render the service. However, it is not out of place to celebrate any employer of labour who not only pays their workers fine wages but are also paying them as and when due. This comes in addition with the conducive working environment that was created for them to perform excellently. These workers are incidentally residing amidst these community leaders if not as children, and are expected to feel the impact in the socio-economic lives of their people. 

All the aforementioned achievements, as inferred from the public endorsement of the royal fathers, are just a few out of many giant strides of the present administration, and which have the capacity to determine the electoral chances of the ruling APC in the coming elections in the State. 

Agboola is the Deputy CPS, Government House Ilorin.

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