By Ibraheem Abdullateef
Have you heard the news? You must have. But just in case you haven’t, AbdulRazaq became the first Governor in history to come up with an institutionalised relief programme for the old people in Kwara.
Owo-Arugbo, Kwara Conditional Cash Transfer (KWCCT) for the indigent adults, came to life on Monday November 30 with disbursement in Patigi, Patigi LG.
Anchor Kwara State Social Investment Programmes (KWASSIP), Mohammed Brimah, had announced last weekend thus; “Elders everywhere deserve care and attention. Many become destitute and lose their lives to hunger, avoidable sickness and depression as a result of neglect. This administration seeks to guide against this within available resources,” when talking about Governor AbdulRazaq’s resolve to begin support for old people.
It came as no surprise that men and women above 60 years swam the Patigi’s palace in joy to receive the maiden stipend starting with the Nov/Dec cycle. The sum of N6,000 (for two months) given to each beneficiary is free. Not a loan. And it would be spread across from the North to the other districts in the state to cover at least 10,000 persons.
Coming a few days shy of his 18th month in office, it is a tremendous gift to the state. Here is one project conceived less than one year ago and has been initiated, and put to use by the caring Governor. Oh, I am Davido right now, my heart sees ‘a better time.’
Revolution. That is what His Excellency has started in Kwara. He initiated and got up and running an encompassing social investment capturing the aged, petty traders, and the youths in less than two years. That is KWASSIP. With Owo Isowo and Digital Kwara already making a great wave, Ounje Ofe, a scheme for pupils in the primary schools is waiting in the wings for unveiling soonest.
If my grandma was around, he’d have said to him “Gudu of yuu.” The woman who raised me was not educated but she had a great sense of duty and appreciable knowledge of leadership. Whenever I joined her in peeling cassava at the village, the words she said to appreciate me were those above. She believed the appreciation would get to me more as a child, and she did always get my cheeks flushed, if they were uttered in English as we both knew she pronounced ‘good of you’ in a funny way.
Yes, that’s good of you, AA, these gracious old people say so. A fifty three-year- the old state now has an institutionalised scheme for everyone. Under no one else but AbdulRazaq, the “stingy” and “wicked” man from Idi-igba, did elderly care become a state interest. Didn’t some people say he is a capitalist?
The Governor said this is just the first phase. Support for the aged is vital to achieving a greater life expectancy for them. For the next three years, it is almost as certain as death that no one family will not benefit from either of his social investment programmes.
“Kubetun Gwamnati talaka e,” ten-year-old Aisha, a potential beneficiary of Ounje Ofe who brought her aged grandma to collect Owo Arugbo appreciated.
Mother and daughter corroborated how badly they need support sometimes for foods, or drugs, or other basic things despite having to peel cassava as a means of livelihood!
We have so many of these good witches and wizards having to bear the brunt of neglect.
The seventy- three-year-old grandma recounted how badly she hurt badly whenever she returns from the field. If she were in a society where premium is placed on elders care, she should no longer be working. And yes, she might not have to do so in Kwara, too, if we had not had the Abachas manning the vault for years! Remember that, the funding for KWASSIP now benefiting the common people, is mainly from the looted funds recovered by AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq from the corruption – infested past administration.
Yet, some analysts want you to believe that things have not changed in Kwara. Say, yes. They definitely have not changed their mindset.
They do not see roads like Ilesha-Baruba – Gwanara road, one of the hundreds getting fixed, will boost trade, generate wealth, and create employment. No improvement in educational standard but the state got out of WAEC fine and commanded praises from the body in the just-concluded examinations as several basic schools are being given a facelift. Did I hear you call UBEEEEC fund!? Put almighty before it. It has become a former Governor’s party to rock on the street of Kwara.
It was no miracle combating COVID-19. We have a better healthcare system. The purchase of several high-end equipment by this government is decisive. Several health centres either in shambles, or cruelly remodelled into party joints, by you know who, are being fixed across the state. AbdulRazaq has brought to life a cheap healthcare system for all, with at least 10,000 persons captured in the first phase a few months ago now enjoying ‘a better life.’
Let me not digress from the lessons from Patigi. One can only laugh at how unfair some critics can be when exercising free speech. But the times are coming to address issues enough to make them see their reflections in the others’ mirrors.
One of such many lessons to learn from the implementation of Owo Arugbo scheme is that progress is not a mirage if we have the right leadership. The other is that we were right about entrusting a caring Governor AbdulRazaq with paddling the state since last year.
Between May 29 and now, this administration has completed many projects it inherited. Roads, bridges, water, and upscaled on many others. This is not about politics, it is about serving the state, and giving her the best.
Odd in this state, you hear some people wail, AbdulRazaq is only copying and replicating the projects. And I say; okay, where is that one scheme being sincerely established to copy? Owo Arugbo!? No, we can do better. Think, brothers, think.
We never had Owo Arugbo here. What we had was Ile Arugbo- an old people gathering where a certain politician gave out a N500 note to one person once a week for years. It was neither institutionalised, nor for philanthropy. Can we say it truly was!? It was a pure family heritage which the children preserved for political reasons (pardon me).
Aside from the classical issues of a mishap (I mourn again our departed mothers), there was perhaps nowhere elders were more open to abuse. Elders abuse, like I once wrote about on a national daily mid-year ( read here:https://thenationonlineng.net/nigerian-elders-deserve-attention/) could be financial, physical, and psychological, but give nonetheless a great hardship and depression to the victims. Although elders may get attention from any means public and private, it doesn’t include being put at health and psychological risks.
Another lesson. Determination will take you there. If you desire change and has plans for it, start now. If Governor AbdulRazaq had been bothered by the noise from the market when he had to end that degrading arrangement, two things are almost certain: we might have had another stampede especially in a haze of politics last month, and, also, people wouldn’t have been able to see that they deserved better and could get much from a sincere and compassionate leader without #NoStress.
Now, lives are possibly being protected from abuse and many are being preserved across the state with the same public funds but in a fair, dignifying way. Change your parole, dear critics. Ile Arugbo didn’t have a bill, database, and never did transcend the borders. No sane comparison in class and impacts.
One other lesson Governor AbdulRazaq is teaching us is the art of managing distractions to achieve goals. He seems to be silently poking a stick in the eyes of the detractors. If he was a man prone to distractions, some would ensure that he got nothing done in four years in office, trapped in mindless politics. And they would be waiting to ask; did we not tell you!? What has he done for us in four years? But he keeps his focus. He closes his lip, stares at the detractors, as he sets about serious business of governance. E shock me.
It may tarry for a while. But no matter how long it delays, our people will send many ‘gudu of yuu’ to my Governor, as we stay the course. After several years, Kwara Pension bill is set to be repealed. Kwarans endured that injustice for 10 years. But that salvation has come. After 57 years, we finally have a scheme for old people. Salvation will come all through. And when it does, people who cannot see an idea in these simple things you did initially will celebrate you in a big way. Say big.
While one can only keep urging those who have resolved to see nothing good in this administration to have a change of minds, the state is progressing and the latest testament is from the witches and wizards. Gather here let’s take a toast for the good of our state, and for the greater majority, as we deliver this ‘gudu of you’ to His Excellency.