*Stop comparing Kwara with those owing state workers
Dr. Muideen Olufemi Akorede is the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Strategy to Kwara State Governor, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed. Highly cerebral and very quick on the uptake with respect to the socio-political issues in the state, Akorede speaks on the ongoing projects in the state, how the state government will expend the remaining second batch of the Paris club refund and the factors responsible for some yet-to-be executed projects in the state captured in the 2016 budget among other issues. He speaks in an interview with WESTERN POST Kwara State Correspondent, Mosunmola Ayobami…
What is the update on some of the un-executed projects captured in 2016 budget of the state?
It’s been enshrined in this year’s budget and from all indications, it will be implemented. A budget is a statement of intention, which is subject to availability of funds. Last year was when the recession reached its peak and that reflected in the poor allocation that we got. That also affected our capacity to influence this project, so that’s why the project was not done last year. So this year, Oro, Patigi, Civil Service Clinic, all of them are scheduled for work this year, but we need to put everything in perspective.
Last May when the Governor addressed journalists, he said some health facilities will be rehabilitated. So far how many have been rehabilitated?
You said May, government does not work like that. It will take a minimum six months, one year to rehabilitate. General Hospital, Ilorin took more than a year, so rehabilitation of a general hospital is not about its physical structure, it’s about importing equipment, installing and testing, so you don’t expect everything to be done overnight. The governor gave a commitment in May and it would have been done now you have to put in perspective the fact that some of the projects will be funded under government infrastructure plan, IFK which is released every three months. It’s not been three months since we have that interaction.
So how many health facilities do you intend to rehabilitate?
Oro General Hospital, Lafiagi, Patigi Civil Service Clinic, those three mainly this year. Then next year, another set of hospitals will be looked at.
Care-giver, pregnant women who registered at Cottage Hospital, Adewole lament poor power supply, which they said made them go to the facility with lamps, touch light for delivery of their patients are you aware of this?
No, am not aware’, in fact ‘am hearing it for the first time and if it’s true, that is not good. The government has structure for reporting these things and it’s has been brought to my attention. Now that you’re saying it, I will escalate it to the Ministry of Health and ‘am sure something will be done and we also have to bear in mind that most of that, most of this cottage hospitals are under the supervision of Local governments, the same local governments that have recorded almost fifty percent drop in allocation.
An indigene of Share in Ifelodun Local Government Area said some portions of the road have been cut out for reconstruction and abandoned like three months ago, thus posing danger to residents and commuters plying the road. What is responsible for this?
Share-Oke is an ongoing road, the project was split into three. At the moment, they are doing two slots, so Share-Oke/Ode road and other rural roads and bridges construction are on-going.
On Gari-Alimi Diamond Underpass, how feasible is its completion in 18 months promised by the government and contractors?
The project will be completed before the end of this administration, go and write it down. The government gave a commitment it will complete that project.
How much is the state government releasing to offset the backlog of salaries from the recent Paris fund given to Kwara State?
A total of N2.3billion has been released for salary-related issue, two billion to local government council and three hundred twelve million to tertiary institution in the state out of N5.12billion.
So, how does the state government intend to spend the remaining Paris Club refund?
It will go for infrastructure, ongoing infrastructure, the state secretariat, ongoing road project across the state basically. Government Ahmed is committed to improving the welfare and security of every Kwaran, whether civil servants or unemployed, everyone whether citizen or resident in Kwara State. The government is committed to looking after their welfare and in doing that, government will make sure anything that comes to the state is equitably distributed in a way that benefits everyone, everyone in Kwara State is important. Everyone is under the care of Gov Ahmed, so to that effect, the governor will continue to look after the interest of everyone who calls Kwara State a home.
So, what’s your advice to Kwarans out there who expect more from Governor Ahmed?
You see we have a national problem, well my advice is let us be patient, prayerful and join hands with the government to solve this problem. That is only solution. Yes, there is anger in the land, but why we should continue to exploit all legitimate and moral avenues for expressing grievance or calling on government to do something for us, it’s not right for people to be using lies, blackmail just because you want something. At the end of the day, it’s counter-productive. Most of the states people are comparing Kwara State with are owing state workers. Every state has different problems. Oyo, Osun and Ekiti owe at the state level, so we cannot be comparing them with Kwara State, which does not owe at the state level. We should be realistic in doing all these things, people are suffering. The governor knows and feels their pain and every chance he gets, he talks about it and he is doing everything possible to remedy it. You know I always do this analogy and I will like you to put it in your story: you are a family man, you have three children, one of them is sick, one has no uniform and fees to go to school and the house you live in, the roof is leaking and you have limited money, who will you give the money to? So you address all of them the best way you can; will you say because one is hungry, you buy food with the whole hundred thousand naira? So we should balance our expectation from the government. We should look at things that will benefit the people today, tomorrow and the future.