OPINION: Ahmed, Kwara and the quest for World Bank funding. By Abdulwahab Oba

Date: 2017-05-17

JUST recently, Kwara state governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed had occasion to lead a team of government officials to a meeting with the World Bank, in Abuja. The meeting was aimed at creating a productive partnership between Kwara and the global financial institution. The partnership would result in easy financing of key components of the developmental programmes of the Ahmed administration as it marks the first half of its second term which coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the state.

Having seen the propositions by the state government to the bank, I have undertaken to debrief stakeholders on some of its contents as a way of linking the people with the state, to understand the mindset of the current administration on some of the key projects that are either being undertaken or that are projected to be undertaken before the end of its tenure.

Dr Ahmed, according to the document, seeks to pioneer a new approach to governance with his Quality of Life (QoL) Governance system and promised the Bank that his leadership of the state under the QoL platform has been influenced by three key factors: Clear Vision, Internal Realignment and Institution Building.

The Internal Reforms/Realignment led to the creation of KWIRS which was meant to build an independent revenue base outside of federal allocations.

The governor told the World Bank team that it was this move that helped the state to survive the ‘recession scare’. Having established a sound footing with IGR, the next phase is investment in infrastructure through the Kwara Infrastructure Investment Fund Strategies (KIIFS). The KIIFS, which gave birth to the Investment Fund Kwara (IF-K), targeted a portfolio of US$ 708 million when it was developed in 2014.

The state had decided at an executive session early this year to fund new projects in- house to the tune of US$ 33.5 million under the IF-K platform. The final phase would be investment in strategic commercial and capital intensive sectors of the economy which would need greater financial input, arguably beyond the capacity of the state.

These are the types of projects that dragged the state to the World Bank, in search of partnership. When the Team Leader reeled out the qualities and achievements of the administration that qualified it for such a partnership, the state scored high in availability of political will through which it allows decision making processes to drive the desired progressive change.

The governor had demonstrated this with the reform of the internal revenue generation system such that while the old system generated N8.05 billion averagely per annum between 2010 and 2011, the new system has raked in N8.3 billion for the first quarter of year 2017 alone! While our IGR was a mere 22% of our total revenue in 2010, today it stands at 56%! And we are doing well in the area of having a progressive tax-system administration and institutional mission of data gathering for development programme and accountability. The state’s financial income is published monthly for citizens’ engagement and transparency; very few states are doing this as at now.

We are also positively involved in citizen- ship inclusion orientation and strategies, and are also not doing badly in the area of raising awareness for citizens’ protection. The governor is accessible via social media and holds regular Town Hall meetings with diverse stakeholders in the state to sell government policies and agenda to them, and to deliberate and reach consensus on various issues. We are also very high in the area of having an enabling regulatory and policy environment, having our decisions data-driven instead of being based on intuition and political propaganda.

The area in which we need help, and for which the governor led the team to the World Bank, is in having enough funds to spend on social amenities and the transformation of Kwara’s economy. If the World Bank accedes to our request, we would expect $40 million to support the ongoing work at the International Vocational Training Centre (IVTEC), Ajase-Ipo, $38.9 million on school renovations with the aim of having schools with 30 students to one teacher, $21 million on state-wide health scheme and $21.1million for the ongoing Light-UP Kwara.

Other areas the governor said the state needs support include $20.6 million on water accessibility, $14.5 million on artisanal mining light processing hub, $2million on datadriven medium and large scale agriculture, $2million on MSME financial inclusion and $2million for a government efficiency unit.

And I am aware the state has a good track record when it comes to ring-fencing state entities from several projects to enhance transparency and successful outcomes. For instance, the state health care fund is not within the ambit of government interven- tion just as the IF-K which gives investors rest of mind that there would be no politi- cal interference or misuse of funds in such establishments.

As we stand at the threshold of history, waiting for good news from the World Bank, let’s all continue to pray for the success of this administration. There is nothing to doubt that Dr. Ahmed means well for Kwara; he is eager to write his name in the book of history as one man who was given an opportunity by the Almighty to be saddled with the responsibility of leading our state at a trying time and who had the privilege of devising successful means of dealing with the times for the continued prosperity of Kwara.

Oba, CPS to Kwara State Governor, writes viaabdulwahaboba@gmail.com

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