By Waheed Bello
Thank God some of us left our mother’s wombs before 2003. Otherwise, the APC government in Kwara State will have told us the state was created that year, that Dr Bukola Saraki was its first Governor, and Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, the second. Looks as if the Abdulrazak administration thinks it’s mandate is to convince us that every problem in the state goes back to the last ”16 years” when Saraki and Ahmed were in charge. In other words, we are to forget that several governors governed Kwara since it was created in 1967!
Most Kwarans must have felt this way reading that the Kwara State Local Government Staff Pension Board’s Executive Secretary, Mr Oyelowo said ex-governors Saraki and Ahmed left behind local government gratuity arrears of N21b. That’s laughable and deceptive. We were not born last night, Mr Oyelowo, sir. We know those arrears go back five generations of governors, including the previous military administrations in the state. Let us also remind you and your paymasters that previous administrations in the state, including Saraki and Ahmed’s, helped local government’s meet salary and pension commitments even though it was not their lawful responsibility to do so.
For emphasis, let us also jog Oyelowo’s memory and that of Kwarans that state governments are not responsible for local government salaries, pension and gratuities despite the desperate efforts to hang the responsibility on Saraki and Ahmed’s necks.
Kwara government should also admit to Kwarans that LGs in the state, like others in Nigeria, rely entirely on federal allocation and that most have no other viable source of revenue. So when the economy slumps and federal allocation drops, local government struggle to pay salaries and pension, never mind gratuities.
My advice to the government is to end this deceitful and boring propaganda. We are students of history. We know Kwaras challenges started before Saraki and Ahmed’s time. We can also see. Nobody should tell us the dog is the younger brother of a monkey.
Waheed Bello writes from Ilorin.
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