Opinion: Kwara after o to ge: APC, Abdulrazaq and burdens of change - Part 2. By Omotayo Ken Suleiman
When the last professional congratulator has departed, having excitedly pumped the new gubernatorial hands amidst leering winks that say ‘Forget me not, Excellency', how should a governor who was carried shoulder high to Government house on mass hysteria and contagious adulation contend with an often misguided web of expectations?
In a regime that must be significantly differentiated from its sleazy predecessor, how will the new leadership grapple with the all-together justified patronage demands of a huge army of volunteers and an endless sea of political jobbers, without whose irrepressible energies and unquantifiable personal and financial sacrifices, the “O TO GE” train might not have become so turbo charged? And, while meeting these legitimate yearnings of political operatives for appointive ‘dividends of democracy’ how does a governor with desperately urgent transformation accountabilities yet find the discernment, the leadership fortitude and the single minded strategic focus to defy the often ignorant clamour of political debt collectors? Mustering clarity of thinking above the fray of political horse trading, the new governor while deploying tact, diplomacy and empathy, must yet employ rigorous science in putting the human capital asset base of the imminent transformation together.
While finding the administrative genius to not only keep but deepen the still fragile collaborations and goodwill of the disparate tendencies that propelled to victory, he must yet deftly confine populist decision making to a harmless periphery of his governing matrix while he focuses on optimally resourcing the incredibly complex task ahead with requisite talent.
Post saraki, the task of turning Kwara around from the ashes of its hopefully now twilighting pre history to a new model of administrative excellence will require far more than dexterity in political court jesting.
A rigorously thought through strategic and governance architecture, therefore, is imperative. Now, rigor does not necessarily mean tedium or inaccessibility.
An actionable policy framework will be as accessible in thought and articulation, as it is holistic, as relatable as it's integrative and cross cutting, as cognizant of long term imperatives as it is pragmatic in terms of clarity on short term, mass level exigencies.
Such multi dimensional thinking is hopefully well suited to the leadership propensities of a man who has distinguished himself in the fiery furnace of Nigerian entrepreneurship.
A compassion driven regime of rigor will ensure that ‘high faluting’ policies (as we say in Nigeria), elaborately documented white elephant ideas that are not rooted in any pragmatic interrogation of Kwara’s extreme urgencies are focusedly eschewed.
With a heart for our state’s legions of hurting poor, only truly actionable programmes, thoughtfully articulated and possessing in their core a practicality that at once shifts paradigm and yet delivers tangible, palpable and scalable outcomes in a time frame that speaks to the dire urgencies are required. These must immediately impact, especially, our intimidating mass of impoverished and utterly disillusioned youth.
Ditto for fiscal sustainability. In an emergent regime of shrinking federal allocation, the vagaries of our tragically mono cultural fixation on hydro carbons being the least causative index, the challenge of revenue sustainability vis-à-vis the urgent imperative of redressing an appalling level of infrastructural and human development deficit will sit bang in the center of hard fiscal decisions this governor will have to contend with. Jaded analog solutioning will not cut it.
The IGR architecture has got to resist the seduction of old, shop worn paradigms in which a severely impoverished population is hard tasked to swell the purse of a government in which they only have tenuous faith.
An 85% poverty level and near bottom of the pyramid GDP profile does not remotely appear to augur well for the enforcement of a task master tax regime.
If the venerable Asiwaju Tinubu and his equally respected mentees and successors in the Lagos governor's mansion have succeeded outstandingly in IGR, it is perhaps only because Asiwaju's strategic acumen succeeded in waking the latent potentials of a long under exploited but nonetheless historically rooted commercial/industrial hub, an especially vantaged arrow head of Nigeria’s flirtation with neo liberal market economy.
But in contrast, a basically subsistent Kwara economy, steeped in pre historic agronomic practices and other increasingly derogatory socio economic determinants that have engendered vicious poverty is hardly the candidate for inspiring IGR projections, in the short to medium term.
Yet, rigorous focus must be on enthroning market economy management dynamics. This in itself is not at all an advocacy for hard ball Bretton Woods kind of policy prescriptions that treat urgent need for social protection with disdain. Run with integrity, social interventions in themselves are not necessarily inimical to self empowerment sustainability among the masses.
Agriculture, which one is happy to note, was constantly on the lips of candidate Abdulrazaq, remains singularly the actionable lever for mass lifting of our perennially unemployed youth. While Shonga scale behemoths should be avoided, government owned agro enterprises cannot also be the way.
A youth population that is tragically consumed in an opiods epidemic is not nearly sufficiently conscientized into the national project as to be accountable in a public enterprise context.
The administration must divine an out of the box scheme that will not be smothered with an entitlement albatross.
A well thought out private ownership led agrarian revolution is feasible that can yet unleash the youth’s entrepreneurial energies while combating the anti farming mentality of a lais·sez-faire generation that has been completely swallowed up in the deceptive city centric vanities of the face book age.
While the governance exigencies to confront this new governor are a legion, one should perhaps also caution on key geo strategic issues within the larger Kwara construct. Having gone around campaigning, perhaps no one is more acutely aware than the incoming governor of how several key geographies within the state have revealed yawning needs for infrastructural upscaling.
The leadership call will be how does an administration with limited resources significantly impact those areas that are far removed from the state capital while remaining mindful of the continued strategic salience of the Ilorin metropolis itself.
Ilorin must not, and cannot be abandoned while the administration grapples with impacting other key areas that have long suffered neglect over these many years. All geo political entities within the Kwara common wealth have organic links to Ilorin.
Indigenes of all local governments live in Ilorin. A robust deepening of Ilorin's transformation into a sustainable modern city conducive to healthy and accelerated growth of a modern economy is thus to the benefit of all.
Altogether, for "O TO GE" leaders, the victory party cannot be a never ending street dance. There is an enormous amount of work to be done
• Suleiman, a political economist and policy analyst wrote from Lagos