Women Affairs and Social Development Minister Pauline Tallen has described the Kwara State’s gender-friendly cabinet as “a dream come true in fulfilment of the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerian women overtime.”
That came as the Kwara State House of Assembly on Tuesday commenced the screening of the state’s commissioner-nominees, with six of them appearing fielded questions from the lawmakers for at least six hours.
Those who appeared on Tuesday were Ayinla Jawondo Salman (Asa); Suleiman Rotimi Iliasu (Moro); Aliyu Mohammed Saifudeen (Kaiama); Afolabi Oshatimehin Adenike Harriet (Ifelodun); Sa’adatu Modibbo Kawu (Ilorin South); and Dr Raji Razaq (Ekiti).
In a letter to the Governor, Pauline said Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has proven to be the most gender-friendly leader so far, calling on other Governors to emulate him.
“I write to congratulate Your Excellency on this outstanding gesture extended to Nigerian women to address the low participation of women in the political landscape in Nigeria through Your Excellency’s appointment of nine women out of the 16 commissioner-nominees in Kwara State. This is by far the highest amongst states that have put in place their cabinet,” Tallen said in the congratulatory letter AbdulRazaq.
Tallen saluted AbdulRazaq’s visionary leadership in giving women the space to contribute their quota to national development, saying the ministry would partner with Kwara to address topical issues affecting women and children in the state.
“Consequently, I write to inform Your Excellency that Nigerian women through my Ministry will confer on you the ‘He-for-She’ Award of Excellence. This award is in recognition of your vision of changing the political landscape for the participation of women in Kwara State and by extension Nigeria,” she added.
Tallen said the award would be conferred on the Governor at the National Council on Women Affairs scheduled for Thursday October 31 in Ondo State. The event would be attended by all Commissioners for Women Affairs across Nigeria.
At the screening on Tuesday, the nominees fielded questions ranging from their understanding of government machineries and how they would deploy their education and professional backgrounds to build a viable state anchored on realistic policy thrust.
Jawondo, a lawyer with three decades experience, said he would engineer sweeping reforms in the judiciary if made the justice commissioner, including quick administration of justice and good working environment for the legal officers.
Jawondo said AbdulRazaq has shown commitment to the welfare of the judges and other categories of workers, revealing that the new administration has paid 80% of the arrears owed the judges by the previous regime.
The nominee said he would cause some amendments to the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of the state and ensure that legal advice is given within two weeks to guarantee prompt dispensation of justice.
Iliasu, a UK-trained engineer, said he would ensure that roads are built to last many years if made the works commissioner.
He also said that government would have to invest in infrastructure to attract private investments which he insisted would be key to drive growth, especially in the power sector and agroprocessing.
“We’ll not do roads that will last for only eight years and pack up. Every road that would be built will get the correct drainage and asphalt to last long,” he said.
Modibbo-Kawu said education is life and that proper planning would precede whatever decisions the government would take on the sector, saying it would be simplistic for anyone to make policy statement without such planning.
“We can replicate the Kaduna example here in Kwara to ensure that public schools are not only affordable but have the required standard,” she added, responding to a question about upgrading the standard of public education.
Saifudeen, an architect, said rising building collapse in the country is closely tied to Nigerians not sticking to basic standard.
“The problem begins with us. We shy away from employing real professionals. Getting professionals to work for you is key. You don’t short change your building by using substandard materials. We also have poor maintenance culture and this must change,” he said.
He also said that building strong roads and other durable infrastructure may require public private partnership to make the funds available and ensure proper maintenance.
Saifudeen called for immediate retrieval of public properties illegally sold and prosecution of all the culprits.
Harrieta, an administrator from Ifelodun, said border closure offers Nigerians the opportunity to build a stronger economy built around local produce.
“Kwara is not an oil company but we are endowed with good arable land. We must take full advantage of this now. With closure of boarder, we have to conserve foreign exchange and we now depend so much on our local produce. The hardship we experience now is temporary and so far we can see the benefits with new firms springing up,” she said.
Dr Raji Razaq, a public health expert, said he would emphasise Primary Health Care (PHC) if made the health commissioner because the PHC is the bedrock of any healthcare delivery and must never be toyed with.
Razaq said he has always been familiar with the healthcare system in the state and would make a difference there if posted to the health ministry, adding that team work and recognition of everyone would be key to achieving success.
“PHC is the most fundamental healthcare system that addresses the issue at the grassroots. It is the only health institution that belongs to the common man. If we get it right at that level, we’ll leverage on that to regulate and control the healthcare system generally,” he said.
He also said modern gadgets, drugs revolving fund and properly trained personnel are required to change the face of healthcare system in the state.