Fashion



* His Social Palliative to the Poor, Elderly, others

How he Salvaged the State from 16 years of PDP Misrule

Kwara State, until the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq era, faded like a limp flower. Hitherto coveted for its promising blooms, the state wilted to inept leadership. Viewed up close, and from a distance, the state previously noted for its resource endowment, visual and structural harmonies splayed in spent glory.

It foundered and strained in weariness, under the yoke of misgovernance. Sixteen years of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership - comprising eight years each of Bukola Saraki and Abdulfattah Ahmed governorship - did a fine number on Kwara; they met a promising state and left it wretched.

Inadequate health facilities, substandard education, scarce water supply and a dying economy among others, rendered the state a shadow of the titan it was supposed to be.

Its proud claim to being the “State of Harmony” resonated futilely against the thick, gloomy expanse that the state had become. Enter Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. No sooner did he assume leadership of the state than its fortune changed.

Governor Abdulrazaq gained Nigeria’s attention by his penchant for progressive governance. He brought to national significance, the plight of Kwara State, a domain whose sparse, distressing fate dangled between his visionary administration and the cabal of feudal ex-governors and politicians struggling to retain its stranglehold of darkness over the state.

With inexorable courage and a compassionate heart, he deftly navigates the wilderness of governance, taking care to avoid the landmines of individual and sectarian greed. Ultimately, he inspires by his leadership, a boisterous narrative of hope, in a way that captures the spirit of his administration, allowing us to see into his seasoned, altruistic politics and truly understand it.

Every action and decision by him manifests as a heartwarming, stimulating shot of hope and reflection of the core of his administration.

 mind—deeply sad, yet incredibly kind.

To his failed predecessors, however,  Governor Abdulrazaq looms like a nomad in a strange land, a rebellious wanderer without a home. But that freedom comes with an edge: a special point of view that unburdens him from the usual familiarity with a culture of ineptitude and greed, and its reckless ideas of what loot could be harnessed from public office.

Viewing governance through his own lens, and navigating leadership through his peculiar, private ethics, he is able to govern humanely and decisively thus asserting the essence of his leadership and portraying it with deep empathy - irrespective of judgment or commentary bias.

Abdulrazaq is a true gem of a leader. His governance style involves treating every citizen in his domain as a human being searching for his or her place in the world and walking in virtual and administrative lockstep, to make each citizen’s journey a uniquely satisfactory and compelling experience. In a world of divisiveness, his vision for Kwara is something precious. Infinitely precious.

At the advent of his administration, Governor Abdulrazaq understood that the vulnerability of the poor, unemployed and elderly citizens had always been weaponised by Kwara’s previous leadership, to exploit these vulnerable divides and perpetuate the political hegemony that held the state captive for decades.

At his assumption of office, however, Abdulrazaq sought to change the narrative by asserting the dignity of these human divides. The pursuit of dignity and rights of these human elements, among other citizenry, constituted the core of his government's approach to poverty alleviation in the state.

He shunned the culture of tokenism that defined previous administrations in the state and instead, instituted a new social ethic of caring for the needy and the elderly. He painstakingly nurtured it into a dignifying institutional complex that shelters the people from the onslaught of attention-seeking juggernauts playing to the gallery.

Governor Abdulrazaq thus registered its firm resolve to improve the economy and Human Capital Development index in the State by establishing the Kwara State Social Investment Programmes (KSSIP).

Subsumed in this programme is an initiative called the ‘Owó Arúgbó’ conceptualised for “immediate relief from extreme poverty and increase in household consumption by delivering timely and accessible cash transfers to beneficiary households and helping them build their capacities for sustainable livelihoods.”

For Owo Arugbo, the target beneficiaries across the state get N6,000 bi-monthly. KWASSIP has since developed a credible and authentic database of poor and vulnerable households in tandem with the National Social Register.

With ‘Ounje Ofe’ (School Feeding Programme), KWASSIP established a seamless partnership with the Federal Government to provide one nutritious balanced meal each school day to pupils across all public primary schools in Kwara State.

Holistic and all-encompassing, KWASSIP also makes provision for petty traders, pupils across all public primary schools and unemployed youths.‘Owo Isowo’ (TraderMoni), is part of Governor AbdulRazaq’s measure geared at stimulating micro, small and medium locally owned businesses by providing financial support (interest-free loans) to the businesses (petty traders) at the bottom of the financial pyramid who ordinarily do not have access to such facilities.

Moved by his sterling leadership, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a former presidential candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Ganiyu Galadima, said Governor Abdulrazaq is redefining leadership and governance in Kwara State in an unprecedented manner.

He said: "First is his simple and humble approach to leadership which has distinguished him from the previous leaders produced by the state. He carries himself with all simplicity that demystified the office he is occupying. Sometimes you wonder if he is a governor save for the authority inherent in his office. He goes about his official duties quietly without harassing or intimidating anyone. He is a low profile and a meticulous resource manager; a goal-getter and a result-oriented leader. A very sincere leader of his people that is not trapped by the aura of the office he is occupying, but providing services that will benefit the entire people of the state."

Enthusing KWASSIP’s success, Governor AbdulRazaq stated that the initiative has been impactful for vulnerable groups, including petty traders. He gave kudos to President Muhammadu Buhari for initiating the safety net programme from which Kwara State had borrowed a leaf and appreciated in national rating, and among development agencies.

He said, “We are making a real impact with the programme. You can imagine a woman with a net worth of N2000 and you are giving her N10, 000 to scale up her business.”

The ubiquitous nature of this social investment programme makes it even more impactful. “Most of our people in the hinterlands could not get credit facilities. So, they are happy getting the money to support themselves.

“In cities, you can think that N10, 000 is too small but when you go to the hinterlands, you will see how it changes lives. N10, 000 means a lot in our villages and among the poor.

“We are here again to launch the KWASSIP command centre. Before the election when I heard about the Federal Government’s social investment programmes, I followed the Vice President to launch the programme in Kwara and we went to the market and I could see the real impact,” said Abdulrazaq.

The impact of the programme was even more pronounced during the lockdown occasioned by the novel Covid-19 that grounded so many states to a halt. K-Power is the Human Capital Development Component of the KWSIP targeting the teeming population of the youths in the state running focused interventions on four core pillars: i). Technology Training (Kpower-Tech); ii). Agriculture Support (Kpower-Agro); iii). Vocational Training (Kpower-Build); and iv). SME Training and Business Advisory (Kpower-Biz). The programme would have benefited not less than 75,000 people and businesses directly within three years and more than 40,000 indirectly.

That the World Bank has adopted the programme under its CARES programme and is replicating it in other countries speaks to the profundity of thoughts and diligence of work put into the programme.

The governor is already giving action to his promise to expand the programme by making more resources available. Evaluated as one of the largest social safety nets by any state government in the country, every beneficiary of the programme has a unique identity that is verifiable, and with which the programme reaches out and disburses funds to them. The transparency brought to bear on the operations of the programme has also received applause from quarters that matter.

Impressed by the monumental results witnessed in the state, the Chief Operating Officer of the Bank of Industry (BOI)’s Growth Platform, Uzoma Nwagba, commended Kwara Government for its commitment to transparency which he said differentiates Kwara from others doing the same.

 

“Kwara's approach is one built on transparency. It is not about the lack of people who need this intervention and it is not the lack of ideas and how it can be done; what is unique is the political will, honesty and sincerity that you want the money to get to the hands of the people fully. It is also good that the state embraces technology to drive the process instead of filing papers.

“I am extremely proud of what the state government has done. I am extremely proud of the vision of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq which made this happen. We have seen tens of thousands of people who have benefitted from KWASSIP. These are people who ordinarily wouldn’t have such opportunities. Money is one thing but more importantly, they now have things like identity such as BVN by virtue of being captured. So, they can now get a wallet to transact with,” said Nwagba.

The institutional mindset of the Abdulrazaq government is depicted in the strategic objectives of the programme, namely: improving the living conditions of households of the poor and vulnerable with access to targeted funds; reducing the rate of youth unemployment; eradicating malnutrition in school-age children by partnering with the FG’s school feeding programme. Others are promoting access to financial services and increasing the rate of financial inclusion; and stimulating productivity and growth, especially in our rural communities through investment in Agriculture and local businesses.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Governor Abdulrazaq has brought back purposeful leadership to governance and this has continued to rub off on the vulnerable.

Under Abdulrazaq’s leadership, Kwara has clearly exited and survived the ravage of the locust years foisted on it by bad leadership. To large segments of the electorate, Abdulrazaq is a man of conscience, a miracle worker by whose nurturant leadership, their beloved state has regained its greening.

Abdulrazaq has taught the state to trust in his leadership. He has taught the citizenry to appreciate that there is a beauty too in restoration, as there is in growth.

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