OPINION] : Abdulfatah Ahmed A Pathfinder For Development In Kwara – Wahab Oba

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“There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity, and courage.” —Chan Master Fuchan Yuan

When Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki gave his support to Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed to succeed him, he had a clear vision of where he wanted the state to be. Having set the pace for a greater, better and prosperous Kwara, Saraki possibly needed a hybrid successor who understood the enormity of the task ahead. He possibly wanted someone who would not just follow where the path may lead but go for where there is seemingly no path and leave a trail.

Against all odds, he found this in the Harvard trained banker, educationist, and politician, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed whose ingenuity and acumen came to bear when the world was challenged by economic recession, and the nation faced with unprecedented security challenge which snowballed into shortfalls in federal allocations to states.

Prior to the global economic downturn and the upsurge in restiveness in the Niger Delta, Dr. Ahmed had fully leveraged resources and took advantage of the strength of the state for economic growth, human capital development and youth empowerment, strategic infrastructure and effective governance, all of which fused with the Shared Prosperity Programme of the administration.

In fulfillment of his Legacy Continues campaign mantra, Dr. Ahmed ensured completion of all inherited ongoing projects such as the Harmony Diagnostic Centre; Offa garage/Michael modu dual carriage road: Ilorin metropolis water program; Ahmadu Bello Way rehabilitation; Asa Dam road dualisation
and Akerebiata road, among others.

Governor Ahmed deepened and strengthened commercial agriculture through private sector initiatives to drive the economy of the state and, in turn, create jobs and ensure food security. He pursued his dreams of making Kwara the nation’s food basket when he signed a N70 billion large-scale farming agreement with Valsolar, a Spanish Consortium and a Memorandum of Understanding with the federal government through the then Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, on the production and cultivation of cassava on commercial scale in the state, which enabled the State to produce about 40 tonnes per hectare, far above the national average.

His efforts did not go unnoticed as he was awarded the “Outstanding Agriculture Icon of the Year 2011” for his contributions to the country’s agricultural development by the African Leadership Magazine in Washington DC, United States of America, in April 2012. Back in Nigeria, City People Magazine also selected him as the Best Governor in the North Central Geo-political Zone.

However, restiveness in the Niger Delta was a devastating blast to Nigeria’s economy. State governments were faced with huge infrastructural and recurrent expenditure deficits and delivering on electoral promises. A few sub-nationals were in defaults to their workers. Kwara State’s revenue from the federal allocation dropped to between N1.5b and N1.8b, with an internally generated revenue of about N600m. Its monthly obligations to workers were in the neighborhood of N1.6b and an infrastructural deficit of about N255b.

Rather than daunted by the enormity of the challenge, Dr. Ahmed thought outside the box and came out with what has now become a new power house of the State, the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service, KW-IRS. The philosophy behind this novel innovation of enhanced revenue collection system was to block all leakages by changing the people, the process, and the technology. KW-IRS became the golden egg that changed the development trajectory of the state. The internally generated profile of the state moved from a monthly average of N600m to N2.4b within the first three months. The target was to a yearly N100b mark without any increase in tax rate. KW-IRS moved the state from number 23 among viable states to number 5 within a period of two years. Thus, the state was ranked among the states in the country that can pay its staff salaries without waiting for monthly federal allocation.

The monumental success of the evolution of KW-IRS birthed an innovative funding approach for capital projects, Infrastructure Fund, Kwara (IF-K), which was also institutionalized to save the state from meaningless and unnecessary borrowings.

With the new financial stability and a sustainable project funding model, Dr Ahmed was able to complete such projects like the remodeling of Ilorin General Hospital after the exit of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, and four other General Hospitals in Offa, Sharę, Kaiama and Omu-Aran. Governor Ahmed initiated and completed the School of Engineering at the Kwara State University, KWASU, Malete, and also commenced the KWASU Osi and Ilesha Baruba campuses of the school.

Such legacy projects like the International Vocational and Technological Centre, Ajasse-Ipo; The Geri Alimi Diamond Underpass, the new State’s Secretariat complex; Light up Kwara to enhance security and attract investors to the state; dualisation of Zango- UITH road for easy access to kwara poly and the UITH; creation of an SME scheme for Small, Medium businesses to grow; and creation of an Asphalt plant to ease road rehabilitation by kwarma thus ensuring zero tolerance for potholes, were all made possible from enhanced revenue generation and project funding model of IF-K. Remodeling of Fate and Umaru Audi roads , among several other road projects across the sixteen local government areas, were funded from IF-K without plunging the state into a debt hole.

As a financial manager, Dr. Ahmed was frugal, prudent, and transparent in handling resources of the state, which he also demonstrated by publishing all inflows from FAAC and KW-IRS on a monthly basis, apart from periodic live phone in programs on radio and television stations in the state to give account of his stewardship to the people of the state.

Dr. Ahmed’s resolve was to make Kwara a model premised on Sustainable and Dependable revenue profile, Shared Values and Shared Prosperity, Economic Buoyancy, Robust Agricultural Pollicy, Employment Generation, and transformation of the state into the tourism home of Nigeria. Nothing could be better.

Dr. Ahmed is in deed another Pathfinder for a Sustainable growth and Development of the State.

Source: The Cradle News.

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