Kwara On Express By Abdulrazaq Hamzat

Kwara Express is taking a new look. It is about to become the most efficient, visionary and service oriented transport company in Kwara state.

However, before the present administration came on board 2 years ago, the company was already dead. It actually died in 2012, when those managing it at the time not only consume the surplus of the company, but also drained the capital, thereby turning the company into *pangolo* and accumulating huge debt via unpaid salaries and default in contractual obligations.

Despite the injection of over N600million by the company that inherited the corpse of Kwara Transport Corporation otherwise known as Kwara Express, Harmony Holdings Limited, the transport company didn’t come back to life till it was eventually buried in 2015.

In 2015, Harmony Holdings Limited started a new company, Harmony Transport Services Limited (HTSL), which inherited the remaining assets and liabilities of Kwara Express, but unfortunately, they were unable to outgrow the debt and burden of the defunct Kwara Transport Corporation. That is the situation of the company until the current administration came onboard in 2019.

However, sometime in November 2020, shortly after lifting the covid 19 imposed lock down, Harmony Holdings Limited (HHL), a private company, managing the business interest of Kwara State government invited me to head a Business Review and Investigation Committee (BRIC) of one of its subsidiary company, Harmony Transport Services Limited (HTSL) which retained the brand name of Kwara Express.

The mandate of our team, which comprises of seasoned professionals in transport management, business development and other relevant discipline is to review the business model, mode of operations, administrative structure and profitability index of Kwara Express, with the aim of recommending to the management, how best to reposition the company for sustainability.

After painstaking engagement, investigation and thorough analysis, our team delivered on its mandate and the implementation is birthing a modern transport company worthy of its brand name, Kwara Express.

If you pass through Kwara Express premises today, you can’t but notice the ongoing reform. That’s what the current government has been about in the past 2 years. Reforms from sector to sector.

You can disagree on some areas needing improvement, you may even prefer a better approach on some issues, but in all, if improving governance approach is the question, the administration of Governor Abdulrahman has been the answer.

I make bold to say that, nobody in their right frame of mind will oppose the current administration in the state on the basis of its focus on good governance and sustainable democratic practice.

Except for those with narrow political consideration, nobody can claim that the administration is not working.

We all saw it during ENDSARS protest, when the Kwara State Government took ownership of the agitators complaints and managed the situation responsibly, transparently collated, thoroughly evaluated, and generously compensated business owners, who were victims of the endsars crisis, making Kwara one of the first state to do so in the country.

We also saw the transparent recruitment process in TESCOM and SUBEB to add value to our education sector, in which Kwarans are now being employed strictly based on the strength of their own capability, and not on the connection of who they know.

We saw how Kwara, a state blacklisted by Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) since 2013 has metamorphosed into a state paying counterpart funding and accessing billions of naira and preparing to build over 600 schools.

We als saw how the state responded to the COVID 19 global pandemic, fixing over a decade abandoned oxygen plant, rebuilding dilapidated hospitals and equiping them to meet patient needs, and modern standards.

We saw how over 150 road projects are being constructed, rehabilitated or upgraded across the 16 local government areas, 120 of which are already completed.

We also saw how social investment programs in which thousands of people are benefiting are institutionalized through the Kwara State House of Assembly to serve the elderly, artisans and women.

We saw how youths are being equiped and empowered through technical skills acquisition and support for enterprises. We also saw how agricultural development is gaining the best of attention, not only on cultivation, but also in the value chain addition.

Check the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) index and Human Capital Development rating of Kwara State, they have risen significantly, compared to what was obtainable 2 years ago.

All of these development took place before our very eyes and we cannot claim they are less seminal.

Ofcourse, there are areas needing improvement. There is an urgent need for civil service reform, which is inevitable. There’s need to grow internal capacity for efficient service delivery. There’s also need to improve internally generated revenue, all of which are works in progress. The security situation also needs to be improved upon, despite the proactive response of the state, especially the active support for local and community policing

However, even if all these were done, there will still be people not happy with the government, as it is typical with politics. This is not unexpected, as it is part of who we are. But, it is clear that, more than 90% of people that are opposed to the administration inherited the opposition from their bosses, mentors or political leaders.

As individuals, many have nothing concrete against the government in terms of governance. Actually, most of them can see the work the government is doing, but they have to oppose it to demonstrate loyalty to the cause of their leaders, largely those within the ruling party.

If their bosses, mentors or political leaders reunite with Abdulrahman today, they will turn 360 degree within 24 hours and start singing a different song.

Some, however, will have un-met personal expectations, which is not unexpected. Personal expectations are usually difficult to meet, world over.

But for those interested in governance, they are happy that Abdulrahman is building a new generation of workers in Kwara State, who can confidently beat their chest and say that, i am here because I am qualified to be here, and I am here because I am the best. They are equally happy that education, health and infrastructure are getting the much needed attention. Those concerned about the growing youth restiveness are also happy that the government is creating enterprising opportunities for the youths, ranging from Kwara tech and skills acquisition, to Kwara fair to pitch ideas for grant opportunity, to Kwaraprenure to access loan for growth and development and the many other loudable initiatives.

While the state still has a very long journey ahead of her, it is also clear that the one thousand miles journey to Kwara development has actually started with some steps.

To say it differently, Kwara is on Express to her destination.

Although, the place it is going is still far, very far away, but definitely it is on the way that leads to that destination.

Abdulrazaq Hamzat writes from Abuja, Nigeria

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