By Abdulsodik Zuruk
When I read the story in the Guardian on Sunday titled: “Farms Where Imprints of White Zimbabwe Farmers Rarely Exist”, I became very sad as an indigene of Kwara State, particularly somebody from the northern senatorial district.
The aspect of the story that particularly irked me most is when the writers stated that “Sadly, the much prized Shonga Farms that was once the pride of Kwarans and their boisterous 13,000 hectares plantations have now become a shadow of itself and a sorry sight to behold, as it has nearly been abandoned and overgrown with weeds”. The newspaper made it clear that the commercial agriculture venture fell into bad times because “the current government in Kwara State perceived it as financial drainpipe, useless and undesired”.
The last set of farmers were said to have left in 2019 after the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq administration assumed office. The farms which were already employing between 4,500 to 6000 people with the potential to raise the staff list to 10000 people became a ghost project due to the withdrawal of government patronage, poor infrastructure, high interest on commercial loans, and official instigation of local hostility against the project. What a way to kill a legacy project of one’s predecessors by the Kwara State Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.
The Shonga farm is perhaps just one incident of how the present government in our state is coldly, callously and dubiously implementing a complex, revisionist plot to eliminate all legacy projects of the last two administrations before its own.
In a very sorry and sore manner, the governor began this revisionist agenda in 2019 by commissioning the wiping of the Kwara State website such that the records of achievements of the Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed governments were erased. Without people noticing, there are not many pictures, stories, and accounts of the achievements of the past administrations on the Kwara State website. Much of the records have been stealthily erased. This plan is said to be part of a comprehensive disinformation and misinformation strategy.
The governor also ensured that the pending projects to establish the campuses of the Kwara State University in Osi (Kwara South) and Ilesha Baruba (Kwara North) have been abandoned despite the initial claim over two years ago that his administration had sourced funds to complete the construction of the campuses. Now, the governor has shifted attention to starting a University of Education in Lafiagi, an indication that the Osi and Ilesha Baruba projects have become a ‘No priority’ plan.
In the same manner, he converted the Cargo Terminal constructed by the Saraki administration in 2007 to a tailoring workshop under the name of Kwara Garment Hub. The Cargo Terminal had been established to position Kwara State prominently in national aviation and agricultural economy alongside the new international airport and aviation school. Abdulrahman did the conversion at a time when other state governments are investing in the construction of similar agro-cargo terminals.
Also, the Project Light-up Kwara which was initiated by the Ahmed administration to illuminate the streets of Ilorin and other major towns in the state as a way of eliminating darkness and preventing crimes was summarily discontinued. The street lights were to be powered by solar energy. The project is also a way of popularising the solar system as a cheaper source of energy for the populace. The present government has discontinued the project and the people have been deprived of the immediate and remote benefits.
The Harmony Diagnostic Centre established by the Saraki administration used to be the pride of the state in the area of medical and laboratory service delivery. It was serving patients from as far as Oyo and Plateau States in South West and North Central zones. The facilities were modern and the services top-notch. Over the years, the current Kwara State government has deliberately abandoned the Centre and made it become a ghost of its old self. The Diagnostic Centre no longer attracts people who need services from far and wide.
A progressive government would have sustained the top-grade facilities and personnel in the Centre. That facility used to earn so much money for the state. It is a real revenue-yielding venture and it ought to have been sustained. No, the Abdulrahman government has supervised its deterioration.
Again, in his fifth year in office, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq has refused to move into the Government House which was used by his two predecessors despite the top facilities provided in the place after the reconstruction by the Saraki administration. The governor is leaving the facilities to deteriorate. Rather, he is using government money to service the private house in Ilorin GRA where he resides.
In a similar development, the Kwara State Governor has neglected the maintenance of the Geri Alimi Diamond Underpass in the state capital. The road project is a legacy monument of the Ahmed administration as an urban development project in the state capital. Now, it looks like the plan is to make the underpass fall into disrepair as a way of making the immediate past government look bad.
Harmony Holdings is an investment company owned by the state government and created by the Ahmed government. The company has been reeling from one controversy to the other because the Abdulrahman administration is not interested in its viability and progress.
There are many other instances of Abdulrahman’s subterranean moves to revise Kwara’s history. It is the government’s “wrong or dishonest” means of presenting a false narrative that it is the “inheritor of the age of waste”.
However, the bad thing about revisionism is that it will turn around to haunt its perpetrator. If Abdulrahman makes it a focus to deny the past governments of their achievements, nemesis will catch up with him. The succeeding administrations after his own will also employ this revisionist trick against him. We hope the vicious cycle will not continue.
Zuruk writes from Kaima.