Kwara United: the grass is getting greener

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While I was already aware of my state of mind, I didn’t know it would almost cost me the column this week. But like a nine-live cat, I shook off the exhaustion and would be reporting my interaction with Attahiru Ibrahim, Special Adviser to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Sports and Youths development earlier today.

Not being very much in the news, but Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is doing a lot for Kwara United differently.

When the government came on board, they inherited an unmotivated football team and rudderless management owed a backlog of unpaid salaries. Upon realising the mess, according to Mr Ibrahim, the sports-loving AbdulRazaq promised to look into the issues, clearly articulating plans to revitalise the moribund United to the highest sporting level in the country.

Just 18 months into the tenure, Kwara United is experiencing a turnaround. The present administration does not interfere with the day- to- day running of the affairs, riding it of bureaucracy. It has also gone a long way in address the issue of welfare of both the management staff and the players itself, paying salaries as and when due as it also gives steady subvention that enables the club to execute both home and away matches successfully during the last season.

The present administration bought for the club a brand new bus for easy and convenient movement. The administration has also successfully hired the best manpower with the right knowledge of football administration and management, as Attahiru Ibrahim S.A Sports himself exemplified, to oversee the affairs of the club in recent time.

On May 20, 2019, players and officials of Kwara United protested against non-payment of backlog from 2013 – 2019 owed by Ex-Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed- led government. They alleged that some of them met untimely death because they were denied of their salaries. While it is tempting to gloat, I’d rather solidarize with the management, while rejoicing with them over the good turn of events.

Governor AbdulRazaq took a giant leap recently paying off the outstanding money owed by the former government.

In his wisdom and uncommon patriotism, he has also successfully lifted Kwara United from pro- league to premier league, granting them the status of one of the best teams in Nigeria presently. That is vintage AA the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has constantly venerated for his contributions to sports development even as a private citizen.

While conversing with Mr Ibrahim, I noticed he shared the can-do spirit of his leader. The expertise also didn’t escape me as he ended the conversation with a really reassuring statement; “Our team is playing in the premier league, we shall be developmental and innovative in the approaches of management and administration. We are assembling the best players in the continent to play for our own Kwara United in the next season. And we are not just assembling players to play, but to win against all the clubs playing in that category.” This is an indication of the prospects and emerging success in New Kwara under the “grass- cutter.”

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020.

As soon as the picture of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq surfaced on the social media leading other government officials in cutting the grasses at Mount Carmel College on Saturday in Ilorin, the state capital, so many platforms on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter caught fire. It was a symbolic gesture and one unique enough to make people talk. So some did talk, wisely, and otherwise, behind their keypads.

The Governor while addressing the journalists after the exercise said he took such a unique step to encourage the culture of community service among the citizens. He wants people to see government properties as their own and begin to take care of them without prompting. He felt leading by example, as has become characteristic of him, would drive the message home. AbdulRazaq with all the might of office wore gloves, laced his shoes, and began cutting the grasses with a cutlass. It was, as some of them pontificated blindly online, the breaking point.

The trolls parodied his action with the venom of a wounded snake; ”Shame. Ramoni doesn’t have work again”. “Somebody tell this one to face governance”. “is this the change he promised us?” “He should get a mover. This is 21st- century,” amidst a plethora of incentives led by Aisha Yesufu and Farouq Kperoogi PhD. The government has learned to ignore them all. They rather let their successes do the talking.

And that has even started earnestly. The Principal of St. Anthony Secondary School upon resumption on Monday from a long break occasioned by COVID-19 joined staff and students in cleaning the school environment. She must have also missed the hues and cry of some of these social media oloyinbos, as most of our people at home, making cases for them. They said the Governor doesn’t care for the safety of the students. Perhaps the woman does not care for herself too. If she did, she was not afraid of the snakes they said are now as big as a human being. Aisha Yesufu, or another Nigerian Micheal Scoffield on WhatsApp, must really reach out to teach her the job of management.

In the same vein, former House of Representatives aspirant for Ilorin West/ Asa Constituency Ibrahim Akaje joined the students of Government Day Secondary School, Alore, today, in their weekly sanitation exercise in the replication of the Governor’s symbolic action.

Just five days after the incident, Governor AbdulRazaq is getting vindicated. The schools have begun doing the clearing themselves and well-meaning citizens are joining efforts in their individual communities to help the schools resume safely. What that means is the resuscitation of the dying culture of community development and saving the government of millions that could have been expended on grass- cutting contracts.

I won’t demand an apology from those who said the Governor was showy. History reveals many of them don’t have good minds. I will just beg them to be mindful in future, as these are not signs of erudition, they labour hard to make of themselves.

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