Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Tuesday said the civil society movement is key to good governance in any democracy, calling on them to join hands with his administration to strengthen the delivery of his mandate.
AbdulRazaq said his recent call on various civil society organisations to monitor government’s palliatives was borne out of his belief that they were closer to the people and have better feedback mechanisms on how to make things better.
“I thank you for answering our call. Your participation has been very impactful and we are grateful for that. Going forward, I want us to work together more closely. We will always need your buy-in and inputs to reach out to the people,” AbdulRazaq told the representatives of the civil society in an open-space meeting attended by heads of at least seven prominent community based organisations in the state in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols.
“I have called you to specially thank you for the credibility you bring to the process and for working with our team (which comprises eminent personalities).”
Those at the meeting were Dr Lawal Olohungbebe of the Centre for Community Development in KWASU; Salih Salihu of the Haashim Initiative for Community Advancement; Aliyu Moshood (Osho) of the Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENETSUD); Anthonia Oshiniwe Theios Caregivers Initiative; Bola Olojoku of Mekunu Forum Agenda; Olaitan Salman Jimba of the Ilorin Emirate Youth Development; and Balogun AbdulGaniyu of the Kwara South Youths Movement.
AbdulRazaq told the activists that their understanding would be critical in the coming months as Kwara weathers the storm of global economic meltdown that comes with plummeting oil prices and the attendant scarce resources.
He said Kwara may receive as low as N1.5bn from the federal allocation from May, down from an average of N3bn in the previous months, as the NNPC might be unable to contribute anything to the national purse.
“The world is in a dire strait. There are no resources. We need to balance expectations with available resources. We are reviewing the budget. We will have to cut down on some capital projects but we do want to prioritise social investments. We have to build a new economy based on our new realities. We will need your feedback,” he said.
Responding to a suggestion on the lockdown, AbdulRazaq said the administration is constantly reviewing its strategies to curtail the spread of the virus and that nearly one million masks may be produced locally for distribution.
He said this might lead to Kwara gradually allowing people to return to work under specific safety measures.
Dr Lawal Olohungbebe, a community development expert who led the civil society groups to the meeting, commended the Governor for not “politicising palliatives and for appreciating our roles in the distribution.”
He said the government needed to look into getting accurate data for planning and to consider exploring natural resources.
He urged the Governor to weigh options on how to get the economy running without compromising safety protocols for COVID-19, adding that the administration also needs proper monitoring of projects to save cost.
Mashood, representative of ENETSUD, urged the administration to prioritise agriculture and to strengthen advocacy at the grassroots on COVID-19.
He commended the administration for involving civil society organisations in the distribution of palliatives, regretting the “unfortunate attempts to blackmail the government” through some videos which he insisted did not reflect the true situation of things.
Mashood also urged the administration to work on getting credible data to strengthen various government programmes.
Oshiniwe also called for deeper advocacy at the grassroots where she observed a dangerous trend of people calling COVID-19 a hoax.
Olojoku, Jimba and AbdulGaniyu commended the Governor for his simplicity and efforts to directly reach out to the poorest of the poor, urging him to fast track efforts in setting up neighbourhood markets and data generation for future interventions.