Governor Abdulrazaq’s palliatives for Kwarans

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq

During his inauguration on May 29, 2023, President Bola Tinubu declared that fuel subsidy is gone.

Fuel subsidy removal was part of the economic reforms the President promised to implement during his campaigns to place Nigeria on a path of prosperity.

The President has also sought to unify both the official and parallel market rates by floating the naira. These two major policies have had biting effects on Nigerians of various categories. Fuel prices have gone up, affecting the cost of transportation and production. Consequently, the prices of commodities have also soared in the market.

The Federal Government has lined up different strategies and measures to lessen the impact of the policies on people.

At a National Economic Council meeting convened by Vice President Kashim Shettima and attended by the governors and select ministers and other government officials, the subnational governments were also urged to introduce measures to complement the Federal Government’s in facilitating relief for the people.

Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, notably led the charge when on July 24, 2023, he announced multi-billion naira palliatives cutting across different sectors and segments of the state.

On top of the palliatives AbdulRazaq announced was a cash support of N10, 000 for public sector workers which commenced the same month (July) and has been in place till the moment. The governor said the cash support is to enable workers to cope with the economic shocks created by subsidy removal and will last until a new minimum wage is introduced.

In the 2024 budget he has assented to, there is a consideration for the new minimum wage. What this shows is that Kwara is fully prepared and will be a forerunner in implementing the new minimum wage.

“For the student constituency, the governor directed the payment of N10, 000 each to all of them in public-owned tertiary institutions across the country”

Another important measure the governor announced to bring succour to the people was his approval of the payment of new hazard and skipping allowances, and 100% CONMESS and CONHESS for medical doctors and health workers under the state government’s payroll. A major implication of this incentive is that it will check the attrition rate in the state’s health sector.

Kwara State similarly charted a template which is now being adopted by other states, including Lagos of recent. The governor directed the leadership of the civil service to implement a staggered work schedule — not exceeding three days a week — to reduce transport expenses on workers. The policy is still being implemented as designed by the civil service bureaucrats.

It is also recalled that AbdulRazaq inaugurated a task force headed by Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi, to check the hoarding of fuel among petrol stations.

Various stations had hoarded fuel waiting to sell at a higher price when President Tinubu declared scrapping of fuel subsidy. With the efforts and activities of the task force however, the fuel stations were forced to sell to people, thereby ending the painful long queues in the state capital and other parts of the state.

Governor AbdulRazaq promptly opened a floodgate of support to vulnerable households, including communities and MSMEs through the Kwara State Social Investment Programmes as a form of relief to pull through this phase, while also supporting the growth of the informal economy with grants during these difficult times. At least 124, 107 households have been reached.

This included N20,000 for 20,000 petty traders; N25,000 for 8,000 unemployed youths; N30,000 for vulnerable households; N50,000 for skilled and unskilled workers; N10,000 for 60,000 beneficiaries; and N1,000,000 each for 150 farmers to boost food security in the state. Remarkably, it was in the heat of the fuel subsidy removal that the fourth edition of Kwapreneur was held, where no less than 368 SMEs benefited from non-interest loans between N200, 000 and N2, 000,000 from the state government.

For the student constituency, the governor directed the payment of N10, 000 each to all of them in public-owned tertiary institutions across the country. It was a one-off payment that was delivered transparently. In addition to that was a free bus ride for students of tertiary institutions in the state.

Abdullateef is a Senior Special Assistant to Kwara Governor on Communications.