OPINION: Another look at 'Kwara at 50'! By Abdulrazaq Magaji

Date: 2017-05-31
By May, 2019, Bukola Saraki would have directly and indirectly maintained an unbroken 16-year asphyxiating grip on the destiny of Kwara state and her wonderful people out of the state's 50 years of existence. The heart-wrenching part of the story is that the Bukola Saraki era has been years of unprecedented inflow of federal funds into the state but most of which ended up in the private bank accounts of a few privileged indigenes.

This is sad, to say the least, in a state that is not in short supply of very intelligent individuals. Since the return to democratic rule, especially, the years between 2003 and now, Kwara state has fallen into the hands of a dubious political class who consider politics as a prominent mainstay and sole source of subsistence! It must have been the state of melancholy that residents were forced into that irked them when their state government rolled out the drums to celebrate 50 years of the state's creation.

One can hardly controvert one columnist who wondered what happened to the huge federal allocations that Kwara state collected in the last fourteen years. What Governor Akinwumi Ambode has done with Lagos state's allocation in two years has revealed that a thin line separates competence and incompetence. Little wonder that residents of Ilorin, the state capital, had to resort to pelting and hauling invectives at their elected senator at an Eid praying ground.

With educated, intelligent, god-fearing and incorruptible people out there, the people of Kwara state have no business with throwing stones at their oppressors as a way of venting their anger. If the rain has stopped and people have now begun to see clearly to the point of realizing that they voted for the wrong people all along, the best option available to them is to bear their self-inflicted insults with equanimity and throw out their oppressors in 2019.

And, why not? Truth is, there are several high-achieving and result-oriented individuals who can take Kwara state to the next level. One name that stand out of the crowd is Nigeria's minister of information Alhaji Lai Muhammed. is a man of integrity. He is his own man, meaning Alhaji Lai Mohammed is nobody's man Friday! Lai Mohammed belongs to the fast-receding list of Nigerians who can be entrusted with state funds and people can go to sleep assured that their money is secure! It is in the direction of people like Lai Mohammed that voters in Kwara state should look when they vote in 2019.

Honestly, the years of puppetry that turned the people of Kwara state into a vulnerable, unquestioning and submissive lot and which is also responsible for turning the state into the butt of derisive jokes of neighbours must stop! What the state needs at the expiration of the current caretaker government in the state is a foresighted government, not another surrogate or caretaker government that holds power in trust for plunderers!

The State of Harmony must not be bled to death by a pilfering few. The state should no longer provide sanctuary for discredited leaders who do not see the demarcation between state funds and personal wealth! It will be another mistake if, in 2019, voters in Kwara state put their destiny in the hands of another surrogate and his principal who feed fat at their expense!

For now, how to snatch the State of Harmony from the jaws of death should be paramount! Equally important is for the next government, like the corrective Buhari/Osinbajo administration, to erect formidable structures as a bulwark against a clique, however devious they are and whatever the depth of their pocket, from pocketing the state! A situation where one man determines the fate and destiny of a people for selfish and parochial purposes, especially in a state overflowing with intelligent, far-sighted and, more importantly god-fearing people, is not healthy!

Honestly, the sad experience in Kwara state, especially over the past decade and half, has shown that nothing good comes from any political arrangement where one man decides who gets what. The people of Kwara state have God to thank for the gift of the Buhari/Osinbajo government! Today, those who hitherto held Kwara state by the jugular appear to be losing grip and the people are beginning to breathe freely. At least, more people are beginning to see ass-licking as repulsive and demeaning.

The collective dream of a brave, new Kwara devoid of the manipulative tendencies of a thieving cabal is realistic. But, first, there must be a sustained and deliberate drive to draft the independent-minded and farsighted Alhaji Lai Mohammed into the race for Government House, Ilorin, in 2019. Nothing should be left to chance in the drive to entrust the future of Kwara state to a politician who will not improve himself at the expense of the people!

Come 2019, voters in Kwara state should not make the mistake of electing puppets either as state governor or representatives to the state and national assemblies! They have no business in electing representatives whose loyalty is not to the people. To that extent, there is no gainsaying the fact that politicians in the mould of Alhaji Lai Mohammed have a key role to play in salvaging Kwara state.

Kwara state has been held down for too long and Nigerians of goodwill must join the effort to free the state from the vice grip of a few. But, there is need for vigilance and no one should delude themselves that it is going to be an easy duel. Reason? Thieving cabals do not give up without a fight.

Magaji is based in Abuja

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