HARMONY HOLDINGS THAT HOLDS EVERYTHING. BY ALIYU AJANAKU
If you ask me which office in Kwara is next in terms of power after the Government House, I will tell you it's not the Deputy Governor's office but Harmony Holdings. Kwara is one state where we sometimes forget that there's a Deputy governor. In one of the South West states, I think Lagos during Fashola, the Deputy Governor once doubled as Commissioner of Education. That's not my focus here anyway.
When there used to be order in this state, in order to guarantee efficiency, Ministries created Parastatals to manage new projects/concepts. Before the Ministry of Agriculture's oxygen supply was cut off(it's practically dead now), there were parastatals like Kwara ADP, The KwaraFood, a Fertilizer company, and a variety of other agencies under it. Today, the AgroMall is hardly under the Ministry. Officials of the Ministry of Agriculture are mere tourists in Shonga Farms with hardly any authority in that space. Agricultural extension services which was an important activity of the Ministry was pushed to SHONGA farms - the same Shonga farm we are told is owned by private concerns- and unfortunately extension services is not even happening there and no one is asking questions.
The Ministry of Works and Transport doesn't know a thing about Kwara Express anymore. Kwara poly and KWASU would have since disappeared from the radar of the Ministry of Education but because Kwarapoly specifically is a cash cow for the government to run elections, they let it be.
Many examples abound anyway.
Harmony Holdings, a company with dubiously secretive foundation, is holding everything in Kwara including SHONGA Farms. Kwara Express is now Harmony Express; while Kwara Hotel is no longer under the Ministry of Commerce but now under Harmony Holdings. At the last count, not less than 23 parastatals which creation were handled by seasoned bona fide citizens of Kwara State in the Civil service and Commissioners are now under the watchful eyes of Harmony Holdings. And guess who is running the all-powerful Harmony Holdings? He is a certain Tope Daramola, a native of Owo, a town several kilometers away in southwestern Ondo State. Are we seeing a strategic transfer of Kwara properties to some shady 'private investors', a term now synonymous with barefaced stealing of public properties?! We may never know since asking questions in Kwara has become a misnomer.
Indeed, what exactly is the excitement for becoming a Commissioner in Kwara when you will end up seeing only what you are allowed to see and be blind to the big picture? What is the job of a Special Assistant to Governor on Investment when the investor will bypass him and talk to one Tope Daramola instead. Governance is about people and not a business venture. You can't run kwara like Donald Trump is recklessly running the lives of Americans these days.
Now tell me, as Chairman House Committee on Agriculture, what oversight function can this person perform on SHONGA farms? Can you influence the recruitment of a graduate of Agriculture from your locality into SHONGA farms? Of course, you either have to beg a foreigner from Ondo State or worse still a white man from Zimbabwe.
Kwara is such a peculiar place with peculiar problems. Foreign engineers are building our roads, foreign men are farming our fertile lands and foreign managers are managing our companies. When are we ever going to develop local capacity when we are being treated as second class citizens in our own state?
Now that Harmony is holding everything, who is holding Harmony? That is a big question begging for answer? So much is shrouded in secrecy here. Yet, we continue to suffer and smile.