Why women commissioners were sacked in Kwara

MIXED reactions have continued to trail the scorecards of sacked women commissioners in Kwara State.

The recently dissolved cabinet was lopsided in favour of the women. Nine out of the 17 commissioners were women, representing 56.25 per cent. It surpassed the 35 per cent global women affirmative.

Curiously, the appointment of the women commissioners by Governor Abdulrahman AbdulRasaq was greeted with disdain and not many gave the women any chance to perform.

The reasons for the opposition to their appointment were not farfetched. First, the political pedigrees of some of the women were not known. A large number of them were plucked from relative obscurity; only a sprinkle of them had rich political and public service background.

However, after their principal showed them the exit route, many of them were adjudged to have performed well by observers. They all proved to be performers going by the achievements recorded in their various ministries within a short period of 12 months.

The commissioners assumed office on December 18, 2019 and got their appointment terminated December 31, 2020; a period of one year. The women commissioners are Hajia Fatima Bisola Ahmed, Hajia Fatima Arinola Lawal, Hajia Saadatu Modibbo Kawu, Mrs. Harriet Afolabi- Oshatimehin, Mrs. Joannah Kolo, Mrs. Olasumbo Florence Oyeyemi, Mrs. Oyedun Juliana Florence and Mrs. Abosede Deborah Aremu.

For instance, at the Ministry of Water Resources, Hajia Arinola Lawal who is the daughter of the late Governor Mohammed Lawal proved her worth. She was able to fix all the five moribund waterworks in the state and water now runs regularly from the hitherto dried pipes.

Also, the Ministry of Tertiary Education supervised by Hajia Modibbo Kawu has been able to return life back to all the state-owned tertiary institutions by offsetting the backlogs of salary arrears owed the staff of the institutions by the immediate past administration. Money was also released for the accreditation of the courses of the institutions under its supervision.

The erstwhile Commissioner for Communications, Mrs Afolabi-Oshatimehin also recorded landmark achievements in her ministry. For example, the government, through her ministry, was able to revitalise the state-owned newspaper, The Herald newspapers and the State Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Kwara). While The Herald had gone digital, Radio Kwara-both AM and FM stations are now heard loud and clear in far and near locations 24 hours daily.

The achievements of Hajia Bisola Ahmed, who was plucked from the classrooms, as Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development earned her and her ministry accolades from West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) and the state governor.

Before the inauguration of Governor AbdulRazaq’s administration on May 29, 2019, the state had been blacklisted for eight years by the Universal Basic Education Board (UBEC) over the failure of the past administration to pay counterpart funds, while WAEC also sanctioned the state for the large scale examination malpractices in the state’s public secondary schools during previous West African School Certificate Examinations (WASCE).

The resultant effect of the blacklisting for eight years by UBEC is the deterioration of infrastructure in the state public primary and junior secondary schools.

Under the watch of Hajia Ahmed, Kwara is now off the UBEC blacklist. It has accessed a backlog of N7.1 billion grant to gradually reposition the schools. Thirty-one schools have been renovated.

Under her leadership, the ministry was able to put a stop to examination malpractices in public examinations like WASCE and the one conducted by the National Examination Councils (NECO).

In recognition of its efforts in tackling the problem of examination malpractices headlong, WAEC wrote a letter of commendation to the state government. In the letter, the Human Resources Manager, WAEC, Adesoji Faboro said “the swapping of principals to other schools and the involvement of external monitoring teams that cut across lecturers from state Colleges of Education was a good initiative which has gone a long way in reducing examination malpractices, as well as enhance the development of the education sector in the state”.

Faboro implored the state to sustain the initiatives in the interest of the future leaders that have been brainwashed.

Governor AbdulRazaq also hailed Hajia Ahmed for her invaluable efforts in the development of the state’s human capital.

The governor, in a letter dated November 23, 2020, specifically thanked the Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development for measures she put in place which, he said, had helped in eradicating examination malpractices in last year’s WAEC examination.

The letter reads in part: “I write to express my profound commendation to you for your invaluable efforts in the development of human capital in Kwara State. Most notably, your initiatives of swapping secondary school principals around and the involvement of external monitoring teams in this year’s WAEC examination have significantly contributed to the effective supervision of pupils; thereby reducing examination malpractices which had been labelled as an incurable sore in most educational systems in Nigeria.

“I encourage you to keep ensuring morality and positive values are promoted in our schools and that our commitment to providing quality and affordable education to our citizens remains unwaivered.”

Under her watch, the state has commenced the process of employing a total of 4,107 teachers who will be deployed to the basic and secondary schools across the state. The recruitment process is digital-proven to ensure that only qualified candidates are employed.

But, the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have divergent assessments of the sacked commissioners.

PDP Chairman, Kola Shittu described the dissolved cabinet as inexperienced and incompetent. He said that the governor should have sought help and got competent hands to manage the state.

Shittu said that “the governor should seek help and competent hands that will help him manage the state, the last set of the cabinet he paraded, which took him more than 100 days to constitute, had demonstrated that they were largely inexperienced and incompetent.”

Shittu also described the administration as utterly disappointing, uninspiring and a colossal waste, saying that “the euphoria that greeted the coming of the present administration has waned significantly.

He noted that no tangible achievement or accomplishment in any sector could be attributed to Governor AbdulRazaq since he assumed office on May 29, 2019, stressing that the governor and his spin doctors had always churned out lies and false performance indicators to deceive the people of Kwara.

A chieftain of the APC, Kunle Sulaiman countered the PDP chairman’s assessment of the performance of the dissolved cabinet members, saying the governor and members of his cabinet have redefined the story of Kwara State in many positive ways.

“These commissioners, who served in various ministries performed well to the admiration of many in the state,” Suleiman, a lawyer argued.

Said he: “Whether in health, education, road, or water, the government has touched lives in many ways never seen before. The present administration has strategically taken governance to the people such that there is no electoral ward in the state that cannot point to one or two things that they have benefited in just 18 months.

“The health sector has received about the highest priority even before the advent of Covid-19 pandemic and the result is there for everyone to see. The administration has started rehabilitation works across dozens of decrepit primary healthcare facilities. Long-abandoned routine immunisation and vaccination of newborn babies is back. For the first time, Kwara now has isolation centres equipped with modern gadgets like ventilators, defibrillators, patient monitors, and others. Its oxygen plant has been revived. For the first time, the state now has ambulances with capacities to manage patients in critical conditions on the go. Indeed, Kwara is now listed as A-list state in the healthcare sector.

“The education sector is changing. More than seven years after it came under the hammer, Kwara State is now off the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) blacklist. It has accessed a backlog of N7.1 billion UBEC counterpart funds with a matching grant of N7.1 billion to gradually reposition the schools. Aside from the upcoming UBEC intervention, the state on its own is carrying out renovation works in at least 43 basic schools. With the UBEC funds in the kitty, no less than 600 basic schools are to get facelifts, while teachers are also to be trained. The transparent process to recruit 4,701 qualified and competent teachers into our public primary, junior and senior secondary schools is ongoing and should be commended by all.

“In May 2019, water tanker was the source of potable water in most parts of the capital city, even in the Government House. Pipe-borne water is back and stable in Ilorin metropolis, while nearly 500 boreholes have either been dug or rehabilitated across the state. No fewer than nine waterworks have been fixed since this governor came on board, while contracts for more have been awarded. With water situation being tackled, Kwara is keying into the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), a key component of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 to promote hygiene and end open defecation. Under this scheme, many schools and hospitals across the state would now for the first time get tap water and pour-flush toilets.

“The administration is ending the helicopter money politics that had plagued Kwara’s past. Within the past 18 months, the administration has fixed over 100 rural and urban roads/culverts/bridges. Many agrarian communities are now getting standard roads, while those hitherto cut off from civilisation are also being linked. At least, 500 rural roads are to be fixed under the World Bank-enabled Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) arrangement for which the administration had earlier paid counterpart funds. These road projects are spread across the senatorial districts, deliberately linking agrarian areas to the urban centres.

“My view is that if not all, many of them are coming back to help the governor achieve success and a second term in office.”

Culled from: THE NATION

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