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Dr Ahmed: Thinking New Money, New future

Kwara State Governor, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed
Last week the executive governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed had a high level stakeholders meeting with heads of ministries, departments and agencies to review and reassess the state's budget and chart the way forward towards the successful completion of his tenure and provide smooth cruising for the incoming administration. One theme that resonated throughout the meeting was the concept of "New Money" which the governor introduced to indicate the current needs of the state as well as projecting for its future demands and expectations.

By New Money the governor meant the need to push our internal revenue generation beyond the current level, not by increasing taxation but by looking at new areas with innovative perceptions. Kwara  State is not an industrial state. Revenue from pay as you earn is largely restricted to civil servants which has become increasingly inadequate to meet current challenges of payment of salaries, not to talk of employment of astronomically rising unemployed youths. But Governor Ahmed has become adapted to thinking beyond the moment. Like a grand master chess player, financial encyclopadia, Gov Ahmed thinks a thousand step ahead of today. 

I'm not surprised by his New Money concept, reason being that the governor is accustomed to thinking out of the box.  It was such out of the box innovation that has saved the state the embarrassment of owing workers months of salary arrears like some other states in our vicinity. It's not by might but His grace which endowed the Governor with uncommon financial management acumen. Or what would have happened if we were still to depend on the N600-800 million monthly IGR we used to get from the defunct Revenue Board with the great fall in federal allocation in the last four years or so? But having seen the danger ahead; anyone who followed the comments and analysis by the state after each monthly allocation from the last few months before the Jonathan administration ended would understand this; the governor initiated a reform of the IGR and by this singular act, the rate of collection jumped by over 100 percent. And so today, the state is doing some N2.4 billion more or less as IGR on monthly basis with a projection by the KWIRS that it can still go beyond that mark. 

The dwindling federal allocation also meant that capital projects would suffer as states concentrate on the social welfare of workers. And yet an administration is judged not just by the fact that it did not owe workers salaries, but also by landmark projects it initiated and completed for the benefit of the people and infrastructure development of the state. To mitigate the effect on the reduced federal allocation on capital projects in the state, Dr Ahmed's ingenuity brought about another new thinking: the IF-K; Infrastructure Fund Kwara, a model and novel way of ensuring that capital projects continue with funding from the private sector while the state pays out on quarterly basis from a fund set aside and supervised by an equity manager.

And so with IF-K, we are building an ultra modern secretariat; we are having more facilities at the state owned KWASU and two campuses springing up simultaneously in other senatorial zones of the state;  we are constructing the Diamond Underpass in Ilorin, a cynosure of all eyes; we have almost completed construction of the UITH-Sango Road, and some others across the state under construction. Two new thinkings, with their attendant benefits, not only for the now, but also for the future of our state. But Dr Ahmed has not stopped thinking. He's thinking about today; we must not only continue with the timely payment of state workers' salaries and other entitlements, but must also assist constrained local government councils to meet their statutory duties of workers' salary. Gov Ahmed is thinking about how not to leave any uncompleted project for the incoming administration. 

Dr Ahmed is also thinking about tomorrow. Only availability of New Money will ensure effectively take off of incoming administration, hence the introduction of New Money concept. This has also become imperative given the current state of affairs in the country; the economy is still struggling, cost of operation keeps increasing and yet public expectation of government has instead of dwindling gone hyper! Citizen journalism meant that every single road that is bad is captured by someone and lifted on the social media and becomes a measure of judgment on the performance of government. No sincere government will sit idle and watch without thinking of what to do to bail the citizen out. Hence the pursuit of New Money, to leverage on what we have currently in order to meet the yearnings and aspirations of our people. 

The menace of flood has meant that several roads in the state are damaged screaming for patches or outright reconstruction, several communities are in dire strait, and farming businesses are imperilled. Yet, there is no allocation increase in federal allocation  to handle these emergencies effectively. But with the innovativeness of New Money with its expectant additional N3.5b generation, every road will be touched. New Money simply means more money IGR than we have now. And having seen what the outgoing administration has done with what accrued to it under the refocused KWIRS,  there is nothing to doubt that when the New Money comes it will be devoted to its stated objectives.

One of the sources of the New Money for the state will obviously be from land, according to the governor. We may not be oil-rich, but we are not poor in terms of abundance of land. We shall need to look into possible revenue accruable from that sector in order to lift the state financially. With a properly packaged and managed land allocation and certification process, Lagos rakes in quite a lot on monthly basis. There is nothing bad if we develop our land allocation and certification process and make allocation of Cof O easier and attractive to corporate and individuals, whether for personal use or business endeavours. Individuals with C of O can easily use them as collateral for loans and increase their access to business funding as it is in other climes.

It is interesting to note that Dr Ahmed is not tired of thinking ways out to help the state. With his gospel of New Money, he has indicated a direction the next administration can also pursue to continue the business of making Kwara, our state, a model in innovative public financing not only in Nigeria, but on the African continent.

Abdulwahaab ObaChief Press Secretaryto the Kwara State

Dr Ahmed: Thinking New Money, New future Reviewed by Unknown on October 19, 2018 Rating: 5

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