KWSG, Leaders Disagree over Provision of Democratic Dividends

Date: 2013-06-06

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in Kwara State is counting its achievements in the past two years under the superintendence of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed.

The governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Dr. Muideen Akorede, listed some areas of achievement as health, water supply, small-scale enterprises, agriculture, education and road rehabilitation.

But the Dean, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, the University of Ilorin, Prof. Hassan Salihu, and the President, Afonja Descendants Union (ADU), Alhaji Abdulkarim Olola Kasum, differ with the government on this claim.

Rather, they want the government to buckle up by providing more democratic dividends to the people.

Salihu, a Professor of Political Science, viewed politics as an avenue for the citizens to make known their needs to the government, which, in turn, would respond to such needs.

But he regretted the absence of such a system in Nigeria, as the governments put in place by the people, to hold in trust for them the public funds, “always do what please them and what they consider convenient for them to do.”

Similarly, Olola Kasum, a social critics and a public affairs analyst, told The Guardian that the current democratic government was yet to improve the lots of Nigerians in all sectors of life and endeavour.

“Nigerian workers are still what they used to be: Electricity supply has gone from bad to worse. Yet, go round the government official quarters; they enjoy almost 24 hours’ supply of electricity,” he said.

However, Akorede said 13 new ambulances were supplied to the state’s Specialist and General Hospitals just as hospital equipment and drugs were supplied to 43 primary health centres across the state.

Akorede disclosed that the General Hospitals in Ilorin, Share, Kaiama, Omu-Aran and Offa were at advanced stage of remodeling and rehabilitation.

“Already, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had been sealed with the Dutch Government, through Hygeia Health Group, to extend the Community Health Insurance Scheme to all the 16 Local Government Areas of the state.

On water projects, Akorede said, “at least, 60 percent of the population is expected to benefit from the water supply scheme under the Water Reticulation Programme for Ilorin metropolis, to ensure access to water supply within 500 metres.”

“Besides, the government provided water booster station at Western Reservoir in Ilorin and built a water booster station in Anberi to boost water supply to Ajasse-Ipo and its environs just as comprehensive rehabilitation of 15 water works across the state and sinking of 300 boreholes have been carried out.”

On commerce, he said 28,000 small business owners had accessed a N250 million facility provided by the state government to promote small and medium scale entrepreneurship.

Akorede said that 150 youth entrepreneurs, in conjunction with Kwara State University (KWASU), equally benefited from the programme, while additional N45m was provided for soft loans to graduates.

Under agriculture, he noted, “the government produced the Kwara Agricultural Modernisation Master Plan in conjunction with the Cornell University, New York?

Besides, it promoted commercial agriculture through a model of 10 farmers in each of the 16 councils of the state, while compartments system of planting, such as rice, maize, soya and cassava was created “to serve as change agents.”

The state established the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, as well as the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, to promote functional education.

On the agricultural sector, Akorede noted that in September 2012, a MoU was signed with Australia-based company, Austrava, to export 500,000 tonnes of cassava chips annually.

“Another MoU was entered into with Vasolar Consortium of Spain for the cultivation, processing and packaging of rice in commercial scale in the state,” he said.

On road rehabilitation, Akorede said the government, during the years under a review, carried out rehabilitation of 800 kilometres of urban and rural roads, including federal roads in the state.

Still, Prof. Salihu noted that, “in advanced democracies, it is the people, through their representatives, who tell the governments their needs, and such needs are respected and promptly supplied.”

“But here in Nigeria, you may wake up one day and see borehole drilling equipment inside the jungle where people do not reside,” he said.

“Again, it is common in Nigeria for the government to sink boreholes where people are not in need of water. In fact, there is a community in Nigeria where there is a stream that does not dry all season.

“Rather than the concerned state government to find ways of making it pipe-borne, it moved away from the stream and sunk a manually-propelled borehole that dried up in the dry season. Tell me the wisdom in that step!”

The don, who described Nigeria as the most blessed in the world in terms of high presence of human and natural resources in it, believes that those in government should see themselves inferior to the citizens, who, under democratic setting, are empowered to put in power and to remove from power.

Thus, in his assessment, Nigerians are yet to enjoy “fully” true benefits of democracy, as what had “mainly” taken place have been imposition of government’s wish on the people.

Likewise, Olola Kasum said looking at the democratic gains from the available two segments of life, “you will agree that only political office holders and in some cases, public office holders could be talking of democratic gains.”

“If many Nigerians are sick today, the last stop gap for treatment is the teaching hospital. But how many Nigerians can afford the bill?” he said.

“But if it is those in power are invalid, they are promptly flown abroad for treatment. If they know what is good, why could they not replicate such in Nigeria?”

He observed that, “the poor man’s shoes before the advent of democracy had not changed; it is the elected officer who daily changes his pair of shoes and yet, keep the older pair of shoes away from the masses.”

“The democracy is yet to supply the basic necessity of the common man. In fact, what are the needs of a common man than shelter, food and clothes? We are yet to see any significant change in this order. Government should arise to these needs and stop propaganda on dividends of any democracy.”

The ADU leader believes that the insecurity in “almost every part of the country” could not be divorced from alleged absence of democratic gains, warning against the “Arabian nations’ type of revolution” in Nigeria towards “redistribution of wealth.”

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