By AbdulWahab Oba
Last week governor Abdulfatah Ahmed flagged off the expansion of the Kulende-UITH road. The work, when completed, would ease traffic around the Sango-KWARAPOLY corridor and grant much easier access to urgent medical attention at the teaching hospital. The project is estimated to cost over N2 billion.
Early in the week, Gov Ahmed had also performed the ground breaking of N450m Kwara State University (KWASU) Postgraduate School, incorporating the School of Business and Governance in Ilorin with a commitment to developing education at the foundational, secondary and tertiary levels.
At the event, Governor Ahmed emphasised his commitment to human capital development, especially functional education, as an indispensable ingredient of sustainable development.
In no mood for slow-walking, governor Ahmed also visited the state’s television service where he harped on government’s readiness to enable state broadcast Industry meet the deadline for digital switch over. He said the state is working on a time scale to meet the deadline set by the International Telecommunication Union.
What is significant about these and other on going projects, is the determination of the governor to leave a long, lasting, enduring legacy on the sound of time. Instructively, most of these projects are tied to the new funding platform for capital projects, the IF-K, in the state. Through the Kwara Infrastructure Development Fund (IFK), the State government has funded various ongoing infrastructural projects in the State to the tune of N4.7billion out of an approved N13billion. Another N12billion is slated for funding new infrastructure. IFK will ensure that all ongoing and new capital projects are funded to completion, which gives no room for abandoned project.
Starting the projects was based on the approval of the 2017 financial estimates by the state House of Assembly. It was based on the approval by the legislators that governor Ahmed himself signed the 2017 Budget into law at a short but impressive ceremony inside his office in Government House.
The circumstances that surrounded the budget was another testimony to the kind of political development taking place in Kwara State. While some with little knowledge of the relationship between the executive and the legislative arms of government in the state have insinuated that the two are at loggerheads, the presentation of the budget, the process of approval and eventual signing into law all made a mockery of the insinuations.
At that ceremony, Speaker of the House, Hon. (Dr) Ali Ahmad commended the financial strategies being put in place by the executive arm, pointing out that Kwara remains one of the top States that are doing well in education and health, with performance indicators that surpass the threshold laid by both the UNESCO and WHO. The Speaker equally expressed confidence that with the passage of the 2017 budget, the water sector would also receive a definite touch and join the other sectors in meeting with international standards of performance.
Many may wonder at times about some of the issues the legislative arm often raised concerning the executive arm in the state, given that ours is one of the very few state assemblies where there is no single opposition. But the truth remains that the leaders of both arms of government have come to understand and determine to work within the provisions of the expectations of the constitution in guiding their relationship without sacrificing their age-long relationship. That was why the lawmakers could increase the budget proposal submitted by the executive arm and pass same for promulgation in to law, without any protest from the latter.
Assenting to the bill, the obviously elated gov Ahmed eulogised the House: “this House is a very vibrant and professional. It’s not a rubber stamp House. We’re very proud and privileged to work with it.”
The total size of the Kwara State 2017 budget as passed is N160, 900, 388, 017.
The budget tagged “Budget of introspection and sustenance” has a total capital vote of N90, 141, 420, 267 and a recurrent expenditure of N70, 758, 967, 750, continuing a trend started two years ago.
Some of the projects to be funded under the budget: Equipping and furnishing of International Vocational technical and Entrepreneurship College (IVTEC) Ajase – Ipo, rehabilitation and reconstruction of Schools across the three senatorial districts in the State and establishment of Gifted and Talented School at Oke-Oyi.
The budget will also be used for the construction, equipping and fitting of new KWASU College of Agricultural Science in Ilesha – Baruba, construction, equipping and fitting of new KWASU College of Architectural and Environmental studies in Osi and construction, equipping and fitting of new KWASU School of Business and Governance in Malete.
Some road works to also benefit from the budget is the dualisation of Michael Imodu-Ganmo road apart from the Sango-UITH road. The budget shall also be used to fund the remodelling of Indoor Sports Hall of the Ilorin Township Stadium,as well as the unique Light Up Kwara Project.
Also in the budget are provisions of empowerment Programmes for the youths, among them the following:
The State Micro-credit Intervention scheme prioritises young entrepreneurs and women in the State. More than 50,000 SMEs across the State have benefited from the scheme with a cumulative N1.8b. The sum of N500m is earmarked to be injected into the SME scheme in 2017.
Also, early this year, the government launched a N41m empowerment scheme for women in the State.
The State Government is also determined to promote youth empowerment and human capital development through the International, Vocational, Technical and Entrepreneurship College (IVTEC). IVTEC is an internationally-affiliated training institute to train students to fill gaps in middle level manpower locally and nationally.
The Community Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS), under which beneficiaries receive all-year round healthcare for a premium of N500, has been extended from the initial three local governments to 10, and there are plans for the scheme to be extended to all the LGs to cover 1m rural dwellers. This year, the government approved the release of N100m for the expansion of the scheme in Ilorin.
Our democracy continues to improve with each passing administration. When the golden history of our state will be written, governor Ahmed will forever be remembered as a stabilizer, developer, resourceful, committed, loyalist and one governor who stood firm where others faltered. Kwara State is once again on the path of sustainable development.
“Eke olere,” your Excellency, please ride on.
*Oba, can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org