Issa Mutolib Ayobami

It was a senior friend close to the Governor of Kwara state that informed me of the possible announcement of Dr. Lawal Olohungbebe as a government appointee. This friend knows my reservations about the Governor (not necessarily the APC), but he shared the news with me because he knows how much I love Dr. Olohungbebe. He was teasing me of how I will later have no choice than to join the APC due to my numerous friends and associates holding various government positions. I laughed it off and told him it wasn’t even on my list.

My wife was with me when I received the information, and immediately we were alone, she sharply told me to advice Dr. Olohungbebe to reject the appointment before it was announced, her reason was that someone like him wouldn’t survive the murky waters of politics. She feared the love and respect that people had for him might drastically diminish. True to her fears, no one goes into politics and come out as clean as they entered, but something within me told me that Dr. Olohungbebe would do well. Why? Because I know him!

It isn’t out of place if anyone calls Dr. Olohungbebe the Grand Commander of Kwara Youths, he has a firm grasp on majority of Kwara youths not because he is rich, because he obviously isn’t, but because he shows them love, respect, and always makes himself physically available whenever he is needed. I don’t think I should mention how we all drink from his river of knowledge (Contemporary and Islamic) and his unending obsession for community development.

I was watching a movie with my wife when my friend and brother, Comrade Nura Muhammad of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called my attention to a disturbing video about an unknown man who was weighing 5 bags of rice palliatives being distributed by the government and monitored by Dr. Lawal O. Olohungbebe, the SSA on Community Development in Kwara. The man weighed the rice which was supposed to be 10 kg each as announced by the government and we all saw that some weighted 6.3 kg while others weighted 5.9 kg.

I was so disturbed and pained, I went back inside the room and explained what I just saw to my wife, she was also pained and she reminded me about how she told me to advice Dr. Olohungbebe to reject the appointment, but I told her that if every good person rejects government appointments or refuses to offer themselves for elective positions, how would we get out of the quagmire we found ourselves in the nation.

I further told her that there was a glimmer of hope in the video when it was concluding and that the man called on Dr. Olohungbebe to not allow people to tarnish his name as he is someone with a good reputation. I furthered by telling her that if it were some persons in government, a lot of tales about the evils they’ve perpetrated in and out of government would have been reeled out, infact, people in government wouldn’t defend them not to talk about someone like me who is even a member of the opposition.

I didn’t sleep early until a few minutes to 2 am and I made some enquiries about the process of the palliative distribution. What I found out was that the government had a supplier who they contracted the rice supply and rebaging to, the supplier delivers the rebagged rice to the government and the duty of Dr. Olohungbebe was to ensure that the rice was shared according to the government’s beneficiary list. C’est fini.

While we await official communication from the government as to what really transpired, because Kwarans are eager to know if it is the supplier that is shortchanging people or it’s the government that gave orders as regards the varying amounts of rice. If the video wasn’t a propaganda, then the mistake Dr. Olohungbebe did was not confirming the weight of what was delivered to him, no matter how tedious it might be, yet, who is above mistakes? His good antecedents will make majority of the people to genuinely believe it was a mistake, going forward, I’m sure he would also guard against such mistakes. May Allah perfect us.

To digress a little, after the video alleging the committee, I’ve seen other videos, infact, one was from my ward in Magaji Aare I, Amule Eletu zone to be precise, where a community was allegedly given a few cups of rice. I’ve spoken to some people in government and the untenable excuse was that one 10 kg of rice was meant for one “most vulnerable” person and wasn’t meant to be shared, but what data will the government use to determine who is “most vulnerablewhen almost all Nigerians are at their breaking point?”

To better situate it, how does the government expect a school with almost 100 staffs to share 4 bags of 10 kg rice? Who should get and who shouldn’t? And that’s why they all shared it and some will get 4 cups of rice. A few will snap or make a video and upload, then the government will label them as saboteurs or enemies of the government, when it’s the government that’s bringing unwarranted embarrassment to itself.

It is clear that the rice palliative isn’t reaching the targeted audience and definitely not having the effect or result the government wants, hence, tactics must be changed! In reaching out to civil servants, the government can make good use of the Kwara agromall. They can buy grains (not only rice) and sell for civil servants at subsidized rates, this will have better effect, and be more meaningful and appreciated.

The government can also enter an agreement with farmers in the state and act as off takers of their produce. If the recent 2 billion Naira that was used to procure rice and all the other billions that have been expended in recent times have been used to subsidize food, the impact would have been positive on the Kwara populace.

No new project in the pattern of the government investing billions on projects like Kwara Hotel at 17.8 billion, Unity bridge at 8.4 billion and another 1.5 billion for Unity road, among others should be approved for the time being. It is when we have a country or state that infrastructure would be useful. We need to salvage the country and state first, but if the government knows that it has the funds to approve more of such projects without it affecting other priorities like massively investing in Agriculture, then there is no problem, but the government can’t be complaining about paucity of funds like it recently did and yet billions are spent on infrastructures that can wait at the expense of priority areas like Agriculture.

I recently saw an interview of the Niger State Governor who has now adopted “Farmer Governor” as his new title, his state took a delivery of 300 tractors and other farming tools, yet they’re still expecting another 700 tractors. Shouldn’t we learn from states like that who are our neighbours?

I commend the Governor on taking advantage of the Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme. BUA Group is reported to have started constructing a 130km road stretching Kosubosu-Kaiama-Bode Saadu, and has committed to building three (3) others which are Bacita-Shonga-Lafiagi (83km); Eiyenkorin-Afon-Offa-Odo Ottin (49km); and Okuta-Bukuro Road which connects to the Benin Republic (32km). Such huge road projects totaling 294km should be immediately accompanied with massive investments in farmers in the region and agriculture as a whole.

The current National economic downtime has presented Kwara with a golden opportunity to start its own agrarian revolution, if this Governor achieves that, then he will forever be mentioned amongst the greats in Kwara and a good example for others across the nation. If he needs help, there are countless Kwarans that can offer that, even people not on the same “boat” with him. May Allah lead him right and may Kwara get it right!

Issa Mutolib Ayobami writes from Agbarere Quarters, Popo-Igbonna, Ilorin. He is an Alumnus of the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria and the Accra Business School in Ghana. He is a published author, a business process automation consultant, and a serial entrepreneur.