By; Bashir Ashura
As we assess the performance of various state governors since they assumed office, it’s becoming clear that not all are on the same trajectory. While some are making significant strides in improving their respective States, others are lagging behind, with Kwara state’s Governor, Mallam Abdulrahaman Abdulrazaq, being a prime example.
Before Abdulrazaq’s tenure, Kwara state boasted a healthy financial status, with its total domestic debt standing between 59.5bn and 63bn—a figure accumulated since its creation in 1967. This is a testament to the prudent financial management of the previous administrations. However, within just three years of Abdulrazaq’s administration, the state’s debt has ballooned by more than N51 billion, a figure that closes to 100% increment of entire state’s debt profile from 1967 to 2019.
This would not be as alarming if we could see the tangible results of this borrowing spree. Unfortunately, Abdulrazaq has yet to commission a single worthwhile project despite this massive financial outlay. This stands in stark contrast to his counterparts in other states. For instance, Governor Hope Uzodima of Imo State, who took office six months after Abdulrazaq, invited the former President Muhammadu Buhari to Imo state for project commissioning twice.
However, Neighbouring states like Kogi, Osun and even Kaduna States have significantly reduced their borrowing over the past four years. Kogi has reduced its domestic debt from N105.13bn in 2019 to N90.53bn today. Similarly, Kaduna has cut its borrowing from N97.26bn in 2019 to N78.19bn as well as Osun State.
Other governors have also shown their commitment to improving the lives of their citizens. For instance, Governor Sanwo-Olu recently commissioned the Ikeja Along flyover, while Governor Seyi Makinde announced that he would pay a 13th-month salary in addition to a N25,000 palliative stipend to workers.
Even with almost double increase in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) compared to his predecessor, Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazaq has not demonstrated notable progress. This raises the question: What exactly is Abdulrazaq doing differently as a governor?
One could argue that loans could be used for economic growth areas, but it is apparent that these funds are not being used in such a manner. With a large portion of Kwara’s population mired in poverty, a job-led economy is needed to uplift them—a strategy that seems far from Abdulrazaq’s approach.
The danger of continued borrowing spree without corresponding development is real. Kwara state risks bankruptcy, a fate suffered by one of its neighbouring states. There’s an urgent need for Abdulrazaq to reevaluate his economic advisers. Increasing the state’s debt profile by almost 90% based on uncertain revenue is a risky move, and it suggests a lack of critical thinking.
Kwara State boasts numerous brilliant minds who can help the government navigate its revenue challenge. It is high time Governor Abdulrazaq sought their expertise to pull the state out of its current economic quagmire. It is not too late for Abdulrazaq to change course and follow the successful strategies of his fellow governors for the betterment of Kwara State and its people.