By Abdullateef Ishowo
Yesterday, being Thursday 22nd December 2022, offered another opportunity for Kwarans to listen to the popular radio program, Efunra. A very influential radio program in Kwara state anchored by an experienced journalist, Segun Ajileye along with selected elders known as Kwara Stakeholders Consultative Forum (KSCF) on Harmony 103.5 FM, Idofian. On the program, issues bothering on the welfare of the masses are often dissected; recommending possible solutions to the government. So Yaman’s appearance on the program on this day speaks volume.
Sitting side by with Alh. Yaman, riding along on his way to Harmony FM 103.5, Idofian where he joined the Efunra crew to relay his blueprint to kwarans, I was stunned by his erudition, versatility and sheer understanding of Kwara economic and governance environment.
Yesterday’s ride revealed his kind of person to me as he rose to his feet while welcoming me to his team earlier in the morning. Persistently, he used for me the Yoruba plural form of referring to one person like many and bowed slightly while greeting me. His humbleness was further displayed when we arrived the premises of Harmony FM and went straight to the GM’s office to salute him.
At the opening of the program, the anchor asked about his background, educational attainment and work experience. His robust explanations revealed that he hails from Shonga in Edu local government. According to him, he started his education journey with primary school in Shonga between 1964 and 1969. He attended GSS Omu-Aran between 1970 and 1974 where he sat for his SSCE. He proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he bagged B.Sc in Business Administration in 1979.
Subsequently after his NYSC, he worked briefly with the then ministry of external affairs before moving to work for Square Motors in 1981. He worked in the company’s branches in Sokoto, Maiduguri, Kaduna and Kano and rose to become the company’s Deputy General Manager. “I resigned in 1988 and set up my own company known as Agro-matrix”. He added.
When he was asked by the anchor to explain what he would be doing differently if he becomes the next governor of the state, he beamed like an eloquent professor whose student just challenged on his area of specialization. He said the civil servants are his first priority, as nothing tangible will be achieved if the civil servants that will implement government policies are not comfortable enough to deliver their job effectively. In his words, “paying an inconsequential N30,000 minimum wage where a level 10 officer takes N56,000 is not encouraging”.
Explaining further, he opined that the civil servants under the current administration of Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq are going through a difficult time; citing current situation of the staff of Kwara Hotel who have been technically sacked as punishment for demanding their right. “Isn’t this an indication of what the civil servants will pass through, should Gov. Abdulrahman be reelected?” He queried.
He went further to corroborate his position by reminding listeners of the Kwara Head of Service’s reaction to the Governor’s earlier statement that the sacked Kwara Hotel workers would be redeployed to the ministries or KWATMA to become road traffic workers without training. Mrs. Susan Oluwole was reported to have said that the statement credited to the state government over the promise to redeploy them was political. “A responsible government will not close down a revenue generating organization like Kwara Hotel and layoff the staff”; promising that his own government won’t handle sensitive matters of this magnitude like that.
He added that a situation where pensioners’ gratuities are paid in bits is not a good way to improve the morales of the existing workers. He promised to always conduct retirement seminars for civil servants as early as three years to their retirement so that they will have adequate plan for what they will do in their retirement; noting that “a situation where they retire to nothingness is discouraging.
Explaining how he will improve IGR so that the state wouldn’t need to continue waiting for monthly allocation from the FG, he gave a tip of his agricultural revolution plans in each of the three senatorial districts of the state. As this will generate about 20,000 jobs for the youths. With this, according to him, “our economy will be diversified from depending solely on oil that is no longer sustainable by waiting for monthly allocation from the FG to venturing into a well planned agricultural mechanized economy. He promised to improve the state IGR to N120bn by the fourth year of his administration.
“We shall improve the state IGR by ensuring that our agricultural revolution cut across the three senatorial districts– North, South and the Central”. He affirmed. In the north, “we shall embark on agricultural revolution that will be called cotton revolution by investing heavily in it in Baruten and Kaiama, being cotton domiciled communities. We shall provide over a hundred thousand hactres of land for cotton alone. It will engage thousands of youths from every part of Kwara.
In the central, he continued, “the Ilorin dual-carriage road to Kaduna, standard gage railway from Ibadan and Ilorin airport shall be used to facilitate development to the state”. For instance, Ilorin airport is one of the 5 airports in Nigeria with the longest runways which could be useful for the landing of big aeroplane like 747, which is good for commercial purposes. Kwara has River-Niger and the FG is channeling the river to Baro community which is quite close to Jebba in Kwara. So a government headed by a man of foresight would have approached the FG to extend it to Jebba. We will do that and we shall create seaport in Jebba. Creation of dry port in Jebba is equally visible. This will automatically bring development to Jebba and Kwara at large by clearing goods at Jebba port rather than Kwarans continuing to suffer by queueing at the congested Apapa port and Tinka highland.
The implication of this is that the prices will be cheaper or same with Lagos. So, this will help commercial activities in the state as it’d attract about 16 states from the northern Nigeria to patronise the port and safe people the risk of traveling to Lagos.
Citing Kenya example where cargo planes export flowers to foreign lands from Nairobi, the PDP Guber candidate explained how his government will train alticulturists to prepare flowers every morning to be exported to Amsterdam from Ilorin airport thereby generating IGR for the state and at the same time creating employment for the teaming youths.
Cassava revolution shall take place in Kwara South. starch has become a huge international commodity. We shall establish big starch companies in the southern part of the state so that youths from that axis will benefit from our agricultural revolution plans. In such a way that starch will be so exported to the Western World that our youths will start earning dollars.
After listening to all these beautiful ideas, I became much more relieved that PDP has not made wrong choice in Alh. Shuaib Yaman Abdullahi. And now that the party has become the favourite of Kwarans as we approach 2023 elections, we should be rest assured that the state will be in the safe hands Yaman.
is the Director Media and Communications, PDP Presidential Campaign Council in Kwara state.