By Abdullateef Ishowo
AS promised in the first part of this tripartite, this second part shall attempt to explain how GAA has dealt severely with transparency and traumatised it completely in different sectors of Kwara economy. He has so bastardised the whole system that should he spend another week after May 29, 2023, the mess will be exacerbated.
In the eight most common elements of good governance, transparency occupies a vantage position. Put differently, a governance environment that is devoid of transparency can’t be good.
When the Generalissimo of Kwara assumed office on May 29, 2019, the first indication he gave Kwarans on how (dis) transparent his government would be was to boot out the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill the 8th Kwara House of Assembly, (KWHA), under Hon. Ali Ahmad as speaker, passed to become law before the expiration of that administration. Up till this moment, the bill is still languishing in the rubber-stamp characterised house under GAA. All pleas of a Kwara based civil society organisations, Elite Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD) to him, to reconsider his decision in stamping out transparency in Kwara governance environment proved abortive.
This explains why it remains a herculean task to trace all Kwara dough that have taken flights from the state since June 2019. Little wonder, in spite of the huge funds realised by the state since June 2019 (as shown in the first part of this piece), nothing to show for it. The Generalissimo couldn’t convince even his party to bring PMB to visit Kwara for a single project commissioning.
The Generalissimo has, since assumption of office, unrepentantly refused to declare how much the state uses on monthly basis to pay salaries of workers, how much we spend on pensions and gratuities, how much we have left from FAAC after payment of salaries and what we used IGR for, as different from the borrowed fund. No one knows. Not even government officials can confidently state the wage bill of the state workers, LGs workers and SUBEB teachers, as against what was obtainable in the past.
The Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) created by the Maigida administration has suddenly become the conduit pipe through which state funds are being laundered.
The Executive Chairperson of the revenue service is another generalissimo in the making. No staff dares ask questions on the running of the service and the hired firm that collects the revenue on behalf of the state takes 15% on monthly bases. So if for instance the revenue house realises N3bn (as the case was in December 2022), N450m goes to the firm. More interestingly, the firm belongs to her husband, who’s indirectly accountable to the generalissimo. It shocks you? It shocked me too. It may equally interest you to note that the staff of this firm (Project Phonics) are not even up to 25. And they take this huge?
She stopped local and international trainings staff used to embark on and funds allocated to the cancelled monthly feed-feed back exercise aren’t accounted for. Have a check on her, she’s a potent instrument in the hands of the main generalissimo.
The situation in the ministry of education is more worrisome as the Permanent Secretary of the ministry and its Honourable Commissioner engage in cat and mouse relationship; interpreting the divide and rule script of the generalissimo to cover the shady deals in the ministry. Since the appointment of the Commissioner, it has been pretty difficult exchanging files and ideas that could improve standard of education in the state. All efforts of the HOS to settle the administrative rifts was to no avail. It has become so bad that the duo use such foul languages as: ‘ashewo’, ‘Ole’, ‘araoko’, etc on each other. Isn’t it interesting that while the Permanent Secretary that wields power over two ministries enjoys her loyalty to Baba Fagbemi, the party chairman, the other is covered by the generalissimo himself. He enjoys this movie because it covers many financial shenanigans in the ministry. It is so bad that the commissioner doesn’t even have authority to award contracts worth a million. Contracts are (in) directly awarded by the generalissimo himself; using surrogates outside the state. Her counterpart in the finance ministry is in no way better. Do as the generalissimo says. She can sign any check, as long as the cut is fat enough to buy pancake.
In another ministry of the government, a contractor failed to deliver 35 transformers since mid – 2021 when he received N138 million from the government of GAA. This huge financial atrocity as alleged by ENetSuD is yet to be refuted by the government several months after the allegation. Isn’t this stunning?
In continuation of his bid to imprison transparency, the House under the instruction of the generalissimo illegally extended service of the clerk by six months without due process to cover certain shady deals in the house. When the government was taken to court by ENetSuD, the then Attorney-General of the state lied that the government wasn’t aware of the illegal contract appointment. The iron lady of the house is still holding-sway at the moment.
On 9th May 2022, ENetSuD accused Kwara State Ministry of Education of padding Ilorin Grammar School’s (IGS) project with a total sum of ₦29,046,836.43. In the release, the anti-corruption civil society organisation based in Kwara advised the Ministry of Education to do the needful as soon as possible. The needful is however yet to be done nine months after the release.
On 27th January 2022, GAA wrote KWHA, seeking its approval to remove Auditor-General (AG) of the state. His offence was his revelation of how the government of GAA was spending billions of naira without receipts. A total of five hundred and ninety-two (592) audit queries amounting to N6,265,010,819.98 were raised by the state’s Auditor General in the 2020 Financial year.
In the 2020 Citizens’ Accountability Report published by the Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Finance, Folorunsho Abdulrazaq, ten (10) Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) were listed as the top queried public fund spenders with no expenditure receipts. Again, ENetSuD frowned at it but GAA wasn’t perturbed. After removing the AG, he appointed an acting who does his biddings and ever since, he has kept renewing his ‘actingship’ for his selfish interest.
Consequently, Coordinator of the CSO, Dr. Abdullateef Alagbonsi, expressed shock that the office of GAA was the top culprit having spent N2,054,211,929.13 without having relevant expenditure receipts.
If the 2021 ranking of the Transparency International (TI) positions Nigeria as the second most corrupt country in West Africa, Kwara since 2019 has become the first of the 37 legs of the corruption table of the federation.
In the third and final part of this tripartite, I shall reveal the real Bashorun Gaa in the GAA.
Abdullateef Ishowo* is the Director Media and Communications, PDP Presidential Campaign Management Council, Kwara state.