How Kwara Was Ranked Second in Nigeria by Africa Report
Written by Uthy on August 3, 2018
The giant strides of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed in Kwara State have continued to receive global attention. The latest is the ranking of Kwara as second after Lagos by Africa Report in its latest Progress Report, titled ‘The State of states’ that was published in its July/August, 2018 issue.
Recall that in December 2017, Nigeria’s budget-monitoring tech organisation and civic advocacy platform, BudgIT ranked Kwara as one of the few financially sustainable and economically viable states in the country.
These feats are no doubt, a manifestation of the reforms and programmes initiated by Governor Ahmed since he assumed office in 2011. When he came on board, Alhaji Ahmed committed to work towards the development of the State and leave it much better than he met it.
True to his pledge, Governor Ahmed has, despite limited resources, continued to initiate projects and programmes targeted at ensuring even development in all sectors.
Comparable achievements can be observed in various sectors of the state. From roads, water, to agriculture, health, housing, entrepreneurship, education and aviation, Kwara has over the years recorded remarkable growth and development. Governor Ahmed has also introduced different reforms that have placed the State on a sustainable pathway.
The Africa Report ranked Nigeria’s 36 states in terms of progress and performance, using fighting poverty, providing access to electricity, facilitating business and raising local revenue as indices.
The Africa Report is an international publication of reference dedicated to African affairs, and is the guide used by decision makers to anticipate economic and political changes in Africa. The publication is relied upon for the expertise of an independent editorial team in its surveys, sector reports and country focus published in each issue.
In terms of Internally Generated Revenue per capita, Kwara ranks seventh out of the 36 states of the federation while it ranks tenth in the ease of doing business. The State also ranked tenth on the poverty index. For access to electricity, Kwara was ranked third and sixth in number of internet users in the country.
The summation of the indices put Lagos at top and Yobe at the bottom, with Kwara coming second. Kwara’s rating reflects the efforts of the administration of Governor Ahmed in almost every sector of the State.
In the area of revenue generation, Kwara has recorded significant improvement within the last three years, which is as a result of the IGR reforms initiated by Governor Ahmed through a change in the people, process and technology initially involved in revenue collection, following the establishment of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS).
According to figures released by the Joint Tax Board and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Kwara moved from the least (negative, depressed) posting of -43% in 2014/2015 to 2nd (posting of +139% change ) during the change from 2015/2016 bringing the overall change in IGR to about 173%. No state in the country recorded such changes.
In 2016, KWIRS generated a total of N17.4 billion IGR for the State, which is more than double of what the State realised in 2015 – N7.2 billion, while it generated about N19.94billion in 2017. Since 2016, Kwara annual change in IGR hovers around 14-16%. Even Lagos State IGR annual change hovers around 7-8%. In terms of recovery from recession on count of IGR change, Kwara maintain the least from 2015-2016.
The increase in IGR boosted the capacity of the State government to meet recurrent expenditure commitments and also carryout developmental projects.
In line with his commitment to poverty eradication, Governor Ahmed launched the Kwara micro-credit intervention scheme to provide financial support for Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the State, and this has boosted the informal sector and equally promoted inclusive banking.
A total of N1.89 billion has been injected into the scheme, leading to a turnover of over N3.2 billion. Over 1,848 cooperative societies and more than 60, 000 businesses have benefitted from the scheme so far. In Addition, Governor Ahmed in 2016 launched a-N41million Micro Credit Intervention Scheme for women in the State. The empowerment scheme was aimed at enhancing the livelihoods of women by supporting them to expand their existing businesses and create new ones.
Part of the poverty eradication programmes introduced in the early days of Governor Ahmed’s administration was the Kwara Bridge Empowerment Scheme (KWABES). No fewer than 2000 unemployed youths in the State were engaged under the scheme, and more than 1000 of them transited to permanent positions in the State civil service. The scheme was suspended in 2016 to allow for a review and overhaul. The State government has however, resuscitated the scheme and called on participating youth to re-register.
Furthermore, Governor Ahmed established the International Vocational, Training and Entrepreneurship College (IVTEC), Ajase-Ipo. Commissioned by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in November, 2017, IVTEC is designed to create a generation of highly employable artisans and youth entrepreneurs through the provision of market relevant skills.
Academic activities have since commenced at the College. While the State government is sponsoring no fewer than 195 indigent students to receive training at the school, Governor Ahmed also approved a 75% scholarship for indigenes of the State to study at the college.
The intervention of Governor Ahmed in the State’s agricultural sector through the ODDA scheme, provides support to farmers in the State and ensure they have ready markets for their farm produce, thereby reducing cost of storage and preventing post-harvest losses.
In the health sector, Governor Ahmed during his first term in office renovated five general hospitals in Share, Omu-Aran, Offa and Kaiama, and equipped them with state-of-the-art-facilities. His administration also expanded the inherited Community Health Insurance Scheme from five local government to eleven.
Without doubt, the CHIS while in operation, improved the heath of many rural dwellers in different parts of the state and delivered high impact interventions at a low cost. No wonder, the scheme received the 2016 Financial Times/IFC Transformational Business Award, finalist prize at OECD Development Assistance Committee awards in 2014, the United Nations and Bill Gates Foundation recognition for its creative approach to pro-poor healthcare.
To sustain the successes of the community health insurance scheme and more importantly, to ensure that all Kwarans enjoy access to quality and affordable healthcare, Governor Ahmed on 12 July, 2018, launched the Kwara Health Insurance Scheme.
From all indications, the various reforms and programmes initiated by the administration of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed have contributed to the socio-economic development of Kwara State.