OPINION: Danladi - A year of probity, service and pan-Kwaranism. By Ibrahim Sheriff
On the 11th of June, 2019, Kwara State was among four of the thirty-six states of the federation to make striking history, one that reposes confidence in the quality leadership capability of the Nigerian youth, to not only revamp our lost glory as a nation, but equally lead the socioeconomic and political development course that guarantees a greater and sustainable future for Nigeria.
Ours was part of the four states that have young legislators as State parliaments head; others include Oyo, Zamfara and Plateau States respectively.
The history made saw Kwara state being bestowed a simple, passionate, humble, intelligent, firm, disciplined, calm, versatile and pragmatic young ‘Danladi’, as he is fondly called by his constituents becoming the Speaker of the 9th Kwara state House of Assembly.
The Academia turned politician has, since his unanimous election as the Speaker of the House carried himself with stunning maturity, firmness, fairness and unwavering commitment to work. He has led the other 23 members in a purposeful, people – centric, business oriented and pan-Kwaran representation. Suffice to this is the amazement of the Assembly’s employees who continue to express astonishment at how the one time deserted Kwara state House of Assembly has returned to a busy as a beaver for public business since the inception of the 9th Assembly.
Rt. Hon. Yakubu Danladi Salihu has, within a year shifted legislative paradigm from abstraction and mere talk show to issues based, crafting niche for the Assembly as one dedicated to thoroughness in pursuing courses that have direct implications on the lives of Kwarans, having grasp what led us to our hitherto pitiable condition as a people. He has led a legislature that is characterised by sacrifice, one that dared to ensure probity, equality and better living for all.
1. Core Legislative Activities
The primary function of any legislature is law making, control over the budget as direct representative of the people the budget seeks to cater for, checks on the executive through oversight functions to ensure probity, transparency, accountability and adherence to laws made and acting as the mirror of public opinions, through whom the voice of the people is heard on matters of importance.
a. Unprecedented Thorough and Pragmatic Commissioners Screening and Budget Scrutiny
Danladi-led 9th Assembly has so far, been scored high in its discharge of core legislative activities. Emphatically, the process culminating into the approval of commissioners nominees by the Executive Governor of Kwara state and passage of the 2020 appropriation law of Kwara state has been adjudged by Kwarans as the most thorough, transparent and pragmatic in the history of parliaments in Kwara’s democratic sojourn.
While the commissioners screening left observers agitated if the constitution of the legislature and the executive arms of government is from same political party because of the stringency of the screening process, the budget scrutinization process was another rigorous exercise that sends shiver down the spine of heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government, who were hitherto accustomed to wishy-washy ‘let my people go’ kind of budget scrutiny.
b. Enabling social safety and poverty alleviation
Within its first year, the 9th legislature under Rt. Hon. Danladi did not only consider speedily, the Kwara State Social Investment law that gives legal impetus to efforts in tackling poverty, promote wealth redistribution and equitable economic growth, but also approved a whopping #1billion for kickoff of the scheme, which also seeks to engage young peoole through various vehicles enabled by the law, which includes Kwara State Conditional Cash Transfer (KWCCIT), wich supports those within the lowest poverty bracket by improving nutrition and increasing household consumption; Kwara State Poverty Reduction Programme (KWSPRP) to assist the state’s indigenes to acquire and develop lifelong skills; Kwara State Government Entrepreneur and Empowerment Programme (KWSGEEP) which will provide soft loan to petty traders, artisans, farmers, enterprising youths, men and women; and the HomeGrown School Feeding Programme (HGSF).
c. Public Institutional Reengineering
The commitment of the 9th Assembly in correcting systemic faux pas that posed as clog in the wheel of remarkable progress in our education sector and Local Government administration cannot also be overlooked, this informed the amendment of the Kwara state Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) Law, Kwara state Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education (FUBE) Law and Local Government (Miscellaneous provision) Law respectively. Abrogating office of the permanent secretary for Secretaries to the Board and Commissions for SUBEB, TESCOM and Local Government Service Commission to eliminate the bureaucratic encumbrances, ensure efficiency and drive global public sector best practice.
As a legislature, guided by grassroot orientation and appreciates the imperative of Local Governments to grassroot development, the first point of call for the 9th Kwara Assembly was considering a petition which sought to check the rationale behind the incommensurate resource allocation and utilization of resources allocated to Kwara state Local Governments.
Without being prejudicial to the Local Government Chairmen, who were suspended to allow for a thorough investigation into the allegation of financial misappropriation against them, the 9th Kwara Assembly have been able to give fair hearing to the parties involved and did not just stop at that, but also conducted oversight activities to verify claims made, while the Local Government Chairmen continue to draw salaries from their various LG purses.
It was a diligent probe that reflected objectivity and a pointer that Danladi-led Kwara Assembly is indeed a symbol of advancement in our democratic dispensation, as opposed to the nepotistic reign of impunity experienced in Kwara state during our ugly past.
Concerned about the rots in Kwara’s education sector, Speaker Danladi did not only lead advocacy for sanitizing the education sector, but led team of public officials on a statewide screening of local government, SUBEB and TESCOM employees screening, aimed at smoking out ghost workers, free up public resources and revitalize operational efficiency of the State’s education sector. The screening exercise has forced truant teachers, especially in rural areas back to work, having being made ro realize the lazy days are over and the people must get value for.their money.
d. Sports Development
The youthful and sport loving legislator has, since his emergence as the Speaker demonstrated passion and commitment for grassroots sports development, which has led to the initiation of Kwara State Sports Commission Bill, sponsored by Majority Leader of the House – Hon. Abubakar Magaji Olawoyin, which seeks to provide for the establishment of the Kwara state Sports Commission for effective sports administration and overhauling sporting activities as a way of developing human capital for the greater benefit of the State.
Apart from enhancing speedy passage of the Bill and supporting sports development in his immediate constituency, Danladi also encourages his colleagues on promotion of grassroots sport as a means of developing human capacity and promoting peace and unity in their various constituencies and today, this has manifested in various community tournaments, which gave us ample opportunity of identifying and developing Kwara-based talents in various sporting activities in earnest.
e. Legislative Oversight
As a representative, Danladi has led the 9th Assembly by example as he never left oversight responsibilities to the various standing or ad-hoc committees of the House, but also actively engaged in conducting onsite assessment of public facilities across sectors in his constituency and getting himself acquainted with firsthand information about the depth of systemic and infrastructural rots, which has so far enabled the 9th Assembly align the 2020 appropriation with prevailing reality and make adequate provisions that guarantees positive turnaround across sectors in our dear State.
f. Recovering Kwara’s Misappropriated Commonwealth
As a first time legislator with no law background, he has been able to successfully lead a parliament that checked and still checking heart-melting excesses that experienced legislators with even sound legal backgrounds could not. Isn’t that plausible?
One of the greatest misdoings of past governments in Kwara state is misappropriation of public patrimony for personal aggrandizement by few individuals to the detriment of the people, how could a sane mind fathom the fact that landed properties meant to construct hospital for public use was appropriated to individuals by ‘fiat’?
To the admiration of majority of Kwarans, the 9th Kwara Assembly have taken the lead in championing the course of recovering illegally appropriated public properties in the State and righting the wrong of the past regardless of whose ox is gored, as a path to a greater future we all desire. Prominent among these are voiding the sales of Alimi chalets, Tourist kitchen (Bubbles 001) and land meant for construction of Civil Service Clinic extension.
With these steps in the right direction, as made possible by Kwarans who tipped and furnished the 9th Assembly with useful information through petitions, one can be optimistic that with the Danladi-led Kwara Assembly, our stolen glory is not lost.
g. Constituents Engagement
As a people-centric representative who understands quality representation cannot be offered to a people without engaging them to identify their prioritized needs, yearnings and aspirations, Rt. Hon. Danladi accustomed a periodic constituents engagement, where he personally interface with his constituents across the six (6) wards of Ilesha/Gwanara State Constituency; Gwanara, Kpara/Yakira, Bwen/Kiyoru, Sinau/Tumbuya, Ilesha and Bode/Babane wards respectively, to intimate them about the progress made, government policies, projects and programs and also get feedbacks from traditional rulers, elders, party faithful and youths alike on how they can better be represented.
h. Project Facilitation
One of the banes of development in Ilesha/Gwanara Constituency where the Speaker represents and the entire Baruten Local Government is the deplorable condition of Ilesha-Gwanara road which linked not less than 50 communities of Baruten Local Government, disconnection from the national grid, poor mobile network reception among others.
Concerned about this, Hon. Danladi directed the House Committee on Works to summon the contractor to whom Ilesha-Gwanara road was awarded and other concerned stakeholders, his intervention and support of His Excellency, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq has today, took contractor back to the site with the Speaker mounting pressure to ensure speedy completion of the road for accelerated social and economic development of the area.
Hon. Danladi also invited a major network provider, who currently, has done survey for mast erection in Gwanara, which is expected to also positively affect commercial development in the area. Danladi is also making history as a son of the soil, under whose representation, the first tarred road in his hometown, Gwanara is constructed by Abdulrazaq’s government.
Communities like Ilesha, which headquartered the Constituency District had lived in darkness for over six (6) years, same fate befell Okuta, Boriya, Kosubosu, Chikanda of Okuta/Yashikira constituency, including Ningurume, Gobo – Gwanara.
In less than a year in office, Danladi has successfully facilitated reconnection of these communities to national grid. Ilesha, Gwanara among other communities of his constituency today, no longer live hopelessly in the dark and the implication of this on their socioeconomic wellbeing cannot be overstretched.
Concerned about the disconnection of Kwara North from other parts of Kwara state due to unfilled information gap, Danladi-led 9th Assembly did not only swiftly approve the establishment of Baruten FM in the 2020 budget, but equally facilitated speedy approval of funds for the execution of Baruten FM transmission station within a year of Governor Abdulrazaq’s administration.
2. Projects, Legislative Collaboration and Intervention
a. Personally Funded Projects
Nigerians are familiar only with constituency projects facilitated by Federal Lawmakers, which is funded by the Federal Government. On the contrary, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Danladi Salihu, sacrificially, is setting a new pace and breaking unprecedented jinx in State legislation with initiation of State Constituency projects which are personally funded by him across wards of his constituency.
Within a year in office, Danladi has succeeded in solving seemingly insurmountable problems of decades; from water provision to rural communities that dominates his constituency, to rehabilitation of educational and health facilities.
So far, he has to his credit, sinking of not less than sixty (60) hand pump and motorised boreholes in various communities, among which includes Tebetebere, Goro-bani, Gobo-tibu, Beteru, Sinau, Gaawera, Suuru, Tumbuya among others, all in his constituency.
Most of these communities, before now, have been sourcing water for domestic use from the streams, which exposed them to water borne diseases and health hazards but having a legislators that truly cares as Danladi has today, changed their stories for good, over 80 percent of his constituency now have access to portable and safe water. If the African saying that he who gives water gives life is anything to go by, then calling Danladi a life giver is apt!
Danladi is also responsible for provision of alternative power source for traditional rulers in communities yet to be connected to national grid within his constituency. No fewer than 8 traditional rulers have the solar powered electrification installed, while more are still in the pipeline.
b. Legislative Collaboration and Intervention
As a home grown legislator, passionate about the development of his constituency and Kwara state at large, Rt. Hon. Danladi led advocacy for a mutual working relationship among Federal Lawmakers and their counterparts in the State, which has led to Kwara State and Federal legislators decomposing into legislators forum at Northern Senatorial district levels, to enable legislators compare notes, share ideas and forge common front in the best interest of the people, understanding the peculiarities of problems confronting the different geopolitical districts in Kwara state.
For instance, Border Area security and development have topped discussions among Kwara North legislators in the meetings held in Kwara and Abuja, reason being that major parts of Kwara North are border areas and grossly underdeveloped, which have serious socioeconomic implications on the people of that area and Kwara state generally.
The hardship induced by the ban on supply of fuel to filling stations located 20kilometers from border communities, in FG’s bid to checkmate smuggling of petroleum products to neighbouring countries also attracted Hon. Danladi’s attention and swift action, which informed the Speaker’s engagement of the Nigeria Custom’s Joint Border Drill and concerned communities’ stakeholders that saw an end to the lingering fuel scarcity and ameliorated the hardship occasioned by the ban. It is also on record that Speaker Danladi galvanized political leaders from Baruten to water the burning leadership crisis of the Independent Petroleum Marketers (IPMAN) which also aggravated the artificial fuel scarcity.
Concerned about the security of lives and properties of Kwarans, the Hon. Speaker also fraternized with, and sought collaboration of all security Chiefs in the State, reassuring and offering legislative support on security matters in the State. His commitment to security course has fetched Ilesha community a police post under Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq’s administration.
In his first three (3) months in office, Danladi-led Kwara Assembly made significant interventions that changed lives and raised hopes of Kwaran who were hitherto rendered hopeless by public systemic error, worthy of mention in this regard is wading into the matter of illegal sack of four (4) staff of the Kwara state Internal Revenue Service over 2years ago. To the glory of God and efforts of man, their petitions were heard and acted upon by the 9th Assembly with relevant stakeholders, including Chairman of the Service, who was invited to make submissions. Consequently, the four (4) employees of the Service were vindicated and returned to their various grade levels.
Danladi equally played significant role in the recruitment of Baruten indigenes into the Nigeria Police Force and State Security Services by providing financial support to all shortlisted candidates and funding their trips for medicals and trainings. He does not also hesitate availing indigent candidates’ formal recommendations where necessary and those efforts earned Baruten local government no fewer than twelve police constables among the October 2019 intake, among others.
Danladi’s compassion was evident in his charitable activities to the good people of Boriya in Okuta/Yashikira Constituency, where over 100 houses were ravaged by windstorm. Despite been aware informally, Danladi rallied support to offer succour to the affected homes.
Same charitable gesture was extended to his constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown regulation. He did not only roll out cash offerings, hand sanitizers and palliatives to his constituents to cushion the effect of the pandemic but equally enjoined his colleagues to reach out to their constituents.
So far, Kwarans have been confronted with the reality that it requires will power and unwavering commitment to service of the people to offer quality representation that addresses issues affecting common man on the street. Danladi has continued to nullify the exclusive potency of “experience myth”.
Ibrahim Sheriff is the Special Assistant (Media) to Yakubu Danladi Salihu, Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly.
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