Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Friday said the administration is not in a rush to purchase official vehicles or make the Government House overtly cozy when the state is littered with unbefitting infrastructure that has kept it down the ladder of socioeconomic development over the years.
In a live broadcast and media chat to commemorate the first year of his administration, AbdulRazaq said his conducts, prudent handling of public funds and prioritisation of people’s welfare were in agreement with the spirit of Otoge, the campaign slogan of the All Progressives Congress in the state.
“What Kwarans voted for was change. They were tired of how things were being done before. They needed a new beginning to chart a new course. That’s the task we are charged with. The question they are asking us is how we are funding our (numerous) projects? The answer is because we are prudent in the management of public resources,” he said.
He added: “I thank members of the state house of assembly. All the lawmakers are entitled to a vehicle each. So far, they have sacrificed that. That possibly runs to over a billion. Our commissioners are also entitled to vehicles. That also runs to over a billion. The Governor and the deputy Governor and their aides are also entitled to vehicles which also run to over a billion. We all have sacrificed such in order to invest in critical infrastructure for the state.”
In a strong pushback against a culture of spending public funds to shore up political standing, AbdulRazaq said the people had not voted him to lavish public funds on acolytes or entrenched interests and said his priority has been to “share projects” across the state to deepen development in the grassroots.
“We abandon the renovation of Government House which is also over N100 million. That’s not important to us now. We need to focus on the essential things. We believe that there should be a change in the way things are done,” he added.
“Let us make sure that we start delivering now with the right trajectory because our people voted for change and change has come to stay. People will continue to see the change. Yes, some (persons) will complain that we’re not sharing money. We’re not doing this, we’re not doing that. We are not here to share money; we are here to share projects and infrastructure. We expect people to stay with us and stay focused.”
He commended the people of the state for their support over the last one year, calling on them to remain steadfast as the administration commits public funds to serve them.
AbdulRazaq added: We are doing a lot of jobs. This morning I looked at the social media and I saw that Kwara is trending number one because we are doing the right things, we are taking the right steps, and taking the right decisions. The resources are scarce but the little we have we are spending prudently and judiciously.”
Commenting on the plummeting oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic that have slowed down global economy, AbdulRazaq said the government would slash the N162 billion 2020 budget by roughly N40 billion with huge emphasis placed on cutting cost of governance and some infrastructural projects that do not immediately impact on the lives of the people.
He said more money would now go into social investments to shore up the purchasing power of the masses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
AbdulRazaq said the state government had nearly finalised debates on the national minimum wage until the pandemic struck, adding however that the recent presidential order granting autonomy to local governments has justified his position that the third tier of government must be allowed to manage its own resources and take its own decisions.
He commended the workers in the state, including the leadership of the unions, for their understanding while the debate lasted, saying the government remains committed to the welfare of the workers.