The Kwara State Government has explained plans on how it intends to spend the N35 billion bond with construction and rehabilitation of roads across the state inundating the highest percentage of the loan.
This was spelled out in an article written by the Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, on Monday.
The project, according to him, would open up the state, shorten travel time, ease the business climate, attract tourists and investors, and widen the revenue base.
“Some N13bn of Kwara bond sums would go into funding 37 (ongoing and new) roads of varying sizes across the three senatorial districts. That includes but is not limited to the ongoing 33km Ilesha Baruba road and the prized Iwo-Sabaja-Owa-Onire-Owu road which empties into the phenomenal Owu Fall,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, the agricultural sector will gulp the second biggest investment as the government set to invest the sum of N7bn. Ajakaye explained that the government plans to establish ‘virtual farms’ spanning thousands of hectares of land, supported with processing and packaging factories.
“The focus, according to the plan, is on cashew, soya bean, shea, and cocoa processing. Why are ‘virtual farms’ so called? Here is why: the government would fund the founding of large farms, complete with modern ICT gadgets, security system, insurance, and appropriate land titles.
“However, anyone anywhere in the world could own and trade with them after acquiring same from the government. So, you could be living in Australia and own a farm that you can monitor online and trade with in Kwara State.
“This will lead to significant job opportunities, create a long value chain, and boost economic activities and revenue generation across the state, ” he added.
Therefore, the remaining N15 billion of the loan will be spent on the education, health, entertainment, and creative sectors.
Ajakaye said: “In education, the administration will increase human traffic and increased economic growth in other parts of the state by completing the Ilesha Baruba and Osi campuses of the Kwara State University. That will attract feeder businesses and investments to those axes of the state to serve thousands of students and workers who would be matriculated or be engaged in those campuses.
“A part of the money will also go into basic education, and to strengthen the Aviation College (which until this administration came had just five students. The tally is now over 70 enrollees, even though more funds need to go into buying simulators and putting in place other facilities to seal new partnerships with critical stakeholders). The Colleges of Education in Oro, Lafiagi, and Ilorin will get a share of the funds — same for the Kwara State Polytechnic.
“The hospital management board is appalled at the horrible situation of most of the state’s 48 secondary health facilities. Massive rehabilitation and equipment of some major general hospitals in the state with modern gadgets will be covered.
“Dozens of primary health care facilities will be upgraded and equipped – in addition to those already undergoing similar facelifts. The upgrade will include electronic medical record system for the state, significantly boosting the quality of healthcare delivery in the state.
“Kwara holds the trophy as the state with the highest prevalent of open defecation. A massive anti-open defecation campaign, or Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), worth N500m would be funded with the bond to complement some existing initiatives that recently won Kwara State a pledge of 1000 pour-flush toilets from the private sector stakeholders.
“A film factory will be built in the capital city Ilorin. A race to tap into the multimillion-dollar entertainment industry, the facility will offer production and post-production services for Nollywood and other West African movie industries. Primed to rival Lagos and Accra, the two major hubs for postproduction in the African subregion, the film factory will have capacities for sound stages, render farms, animation, green rooms, production rooms, visual editing, master dubbing, sound overlay, editing and subtitles.
“The facility would be attached to relevant department of the Kwara State University. Some funds will also go into completing the ongoing visual arts centre, with a space for gold-standard antiquities sourced from across the state, workshop studios for artists to practice, a space for exhibition of contemporary art, art shops, and a café. This will boost the creative industry, promote tourism, create job opportunities, and increase revenue generation in the state.
“Positioned just next to the expansive Kwara Hotel, the state’s Innovation Hub — an initiative targeted at young people — is already underway. It is being built by the government but would-be co-run by private sector operators who would have the common goal of growing modern technology among the youths in Kwara State.
“The hub will create 100 direct jobs and 600 indirect employments from auxiliary services and logistics, while 20,000 youths are to be trained in software engineering, artificial intelligence, machine learning, graphic design, social media and digital marketing annually. An estimated 5,000 ICT jobs are to be secured per year. The hub, which is to serve as a start-up incubator for ICT micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the state, will be completed and equipped under the bond.154