I RETURNED to Abuja on Monday from my two-week stay in Ilorin. I explained the spiritual and cultural significance of my return home annually during Ramadhan, two weeks ago. And because I arrived home during the last week of the Holy month, it was easy to see the absence of governance and leadership in the city. Those charged with leadership had travelled out for the Umrah, the lesser hajj.
That period has been converted into a period and location for the intrigues associated with the politics that has severely stunted development and has delivered some of the worst indices of underdevelopment in the past twelve years in our state.
The tell tale signs of leadership absence were the mountains upon mountains of waste in practically every quarter of the city of Ilorin. There was a surreal feel to the lives of people as they were being consumed by waste. Clearly, there was nothing resembling municipal governance in the days leading to the Eid el Fitr.
In the midst of it all, it occurred to me that I have not seen a drop of water come out of taps in the past four months and my residences are located right in the heart of the GRA. A friend corrected me that it was actually the fifth month! And to imagine that water supply has always been at the heart of the elaborate scam that governance is in Kwara, since 2003.
We have seen contracts running into billions of naira that have just refused to deliver potable water in our homes. Those who sell water in tankers or jerry cans make very good business since we cannot do without water. In many instances, those able to, just dig boreholes and in Kwara, the borehole business has boomed so much that Indian rigs have now entered the field, with Indian workers in tow.
Yet the government carries the absurd advertisement in the media, including on online outfits, claiming that “It’s good here” in Kwara. It must be good for those latched to the Bukola Saraki gravy train that has been running amock since 2003.
If there is any indictment of the Bukola Saraki hegemony, it must be located squarely in the neglect of the educational system, especially in terms of the infrastructure in schools. It was to his eternal discredit that in eight years, Bukola Saraki, perfunctorily “rehabilitated” just four schools in our community. Well, the pioneer secondary school is Government Secondary School (GSS) Ilorin, which graduated thousands of students from our grandfathers’ generation.
That school is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. And because it is also my alma mater, I have returned there to behold the tragic rot of what used to be one of the great schools of Northern Nigeria. In my time, as I had written here a couple of months ago, there was an incredible infrastructure for sports: football; table and lawn tennis; volleyball; basketball; badminton; squash racket and fives; hockey; track and field as well as cricket.
The entire structure has collapsed! The school had physics; chemistry; biology and geography laboratories; we were taught trades: woodwork; metalwork; technical drawing. The education was comprehensive! Not anymore.
The public school system has been neglected to the point of a criminal indictment of those responsible for leadership. And to make things worse, such public primary schools like United School or Saint Barnabas have become anything but genuine primary schools today.
I keep wondering how children learn where schools don’t even have play grounds; yet the United School Ilorin’s football field was used to train members of the Kwara State Academicals in the past. And but for the assistance of the ETF in 2010, the oldest primary school, the Okesuna School which started in 1915, would have just collapsed on the heads of children! So while those in power sloganeer, the reality on ground is that life has continued to worsen for the mass of our people. And sitting on top of this rotten pile is the deluded Bukola Saraki, the one that his sidekicks and hangers on call their leader.
They are desperate to keep power, because Kwara is the main “industry” they have to hold on to; the ultimate gravy train!
And of course, the season of politics has raised the temperature, including the peddling of all kinds of rumour. We have an old tradition of late night “assemblies” in our community, where people meet over cups of tea and bread and pepper soup, to exchange banters and talk about burning issues in our society.
The appointment of Dr. Abubakar Olanrewaju Suleiman as minister represents an interesting departure; the first minister that was not nominated by Bukola Saraki, in the past twelve years!
Freedom is spreading its wings like a bird and the message it carries, is got to be heard, as Gil Scott Heron once sang! The last issue as I stepped out of Ilorin, was the renewal of the poster/billboards war. Bukola Saraki and his henchmen had defaced the city with billboards and posters, as if the chap is still governor. When other politicians paste their own, thugs are sent to remove them. Now, there is a trend of a fight back. Bukola Saraki’s posters and billboards are also being torn!
His sidekicks are crying foul, because they are getting a serving of their own medicine! There are interesting days ahead in Kwara. I think people have seen through the hoax, deceit, lies and monumental heists since 2003; and the worsening indices of their lived experiences, make them anger more and more! Kwara State seems poised at the edge of major changes as we approach the 2015 elections.