By Joke Adeniyi
It was the usual early morning rush along Yidi road, Ilorin, Kwara State, vehicles were trapped in traffic snarl and noise of car horns filled the air. Motorcyclists out of impatience, dashed in between vehicles trying to beat the traffic gridlock. A particular commercial motorcyclist caught my attention with the manner he maneuvered to navigate his way. I watched with mouth agape at his dangerous stunts. I envisaged danger lurking in the corner. My fear was confirmed when he fell inches short of stumbling off the culvert into the plunge pool below. I was shaken by the scenario as I had always anticipated the eventuality given state of the culvert, which poses danger to road users; pedestrians and motorists. I was later to hear tale of how a schoolboy fell off the culvert and narrowly escaped death and story of a woman who had a baby strapped to her back and almost suffered same fate. Aside the fact that the road is narrow, the culvert lacks required headwall or handrail for the long stretch as only a portion has the barrier, which as observed is not to specification.
Given this development, there is the urgent need for government to do the needful. It is an emergency that deserves attention. The road witnesses heavy vehicular and human traffic daily owing to its strategic location. Hence, the culvert without a guardrail is a disaster waiting to happen particularly considering width of the road.
The state Ministry of Works should look into this issue with a view to addressing the challenge it poses to road users. Durable handrail or headwall for the culvert, should form part of the road development effort of the state government for 2017. The safety of lives and wellbeing of citizens is responsibility of Government, which is sacrosanct.
However, it is no gainsay that the present administration of Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed has paid priority to road development through rehabilitation and construction. The commissioning of asphalt plant, filling of potholes within the metropolis and payment of contractors handling road projects in the state is testimonies to this developmental effort. It must, however, up its ante in this sector given the socio-economic importance of road to overall development.
Governor Ahmed’s love for women
Former United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Kiddo Annan once said, “there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.”
This must have been the propelling force, which nudged the Kwara State Governor, Dr. Abdulfattah Ahmed to embark on programmes aimed at empowerment of the womenfolks in the state. The role of women in the socio-economic development of any society cannot be overemphasised. Little wonder, Former United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said when women participate in the economy, everyone benefits. As the real architects of the society women have been agents of change.
Having realised importance of women in the society with their strength in the ability to multitask, the present administration has continued to pay premium to empowerment of women economically as well as politically through robust policies and programme aimed at uplifting Kwara women.
To buttress this fact the governor said at a recent state function that “as a progressive state, we have realised that no society can get ahead if it leaves women behind. For this reason, the Kwara State government believes that women, being the largest component of our population, are critical to achieving our shared goals of prosperity.”
The relevance of women in the political sphere of the state cannot be underestimated. Towards fulfilment of the 35 per cent affirmative policy, the Ahmed administration appointed many women as members of the state executive council while others benefited from the recent re-constitution of the Transition Implementation Committee in the 16 local government Councils of the state. This policy has provided spring board for the female folks to participate actively in politics and other sectors of the economy. The state government has continued to take bold steps towards gender equality, women rights, liberation and empowerment, giving women the recognition they deserve, and the state is better for it.
The recent disbursement of N41m Women Empowerment Fund, lends credence to the effort of Governor Ahmed at tackling poverty among women as part of empowerment process through soft loans that are capable of improving their existing business ventures and creating new ones. This will no doubt give the beneficiaries a new lease of life, thereby improving the socio-economic growth of the state.
However, it behooves the beneficiaries to live up to expectation by making judicious use of the fund because the multiplier effect will benefit households and the economy of the state will witness turn around.
Nonetheless, the gender friendly disposition, which has engendered political and economic inclusion of women, needs to be applauded.