05:39 GMT 8th November 2011
How has the start of the new administration been going?
The Governor has been very proactive. Of particular note, he has commissioned the KWABES (Kwara State Bridge Empowerment Scheme), which 2,000 youths have [joined up].
What is the target number of youths you want to engage?
There is nothing like a target. It is a continuous scheme and we aim to keep increasing the number as we progress.
What are the cardinal objectives of this government?
One of our policy thrusts is the provision of potable water - our first target is that people should not be more than 500m from a potable water source. The Governor also wants a situation where, at a distance of 500m, there is a primary healthcare delivery system for all Kwara State indigenes.
This is a challenging task but we have to start from somewhere. What I want you to understand is that we are coming from somewhere you cannot measure. That also goes for the youths - that is why we are taking the trouble to register the number of un employed youths so we know how to approach the problem.
One of your main aims is to attract investors and make the state a tourist destination. How are you doing this?
In tenns of investment, we are looking to install a very robust security system. We have also empowered the police in the state by providing them with patrol vehicles, flak jackets. Closed circuit TV cameras have also been installed in strategic areas in the state.
We are looking at tax holidays as a way of encouraging investors into the state. We want to create enabling environments and when investors decide to set up here we will help them to settle down and enjoy our hospitality. It is going to be one-stop shop where they can get all the necessary things they need. We are planning to increase the electricity supply in the state by providing more transfonners, which was one of the projects we commissioned to improve electricity in the state.
For the tourist destinations, we have concluded plans on bringing in public private partnerships to develop some of the sites like Owu Water Fall. Because of the revenue profile of the state it is not something that we can do ourselves; that is why we are looking at bringing in investors. We are already talking with some of them.
Which of your mineral resources are you availing to foreign miners?
Basically, gold and limestone. We are setting up a special purpose vehicle called Mid Way Investment Company, which is going to oversee all the private public partnerships linked with the mining sector generally.
What kind of industries would you like to see developed in the state?
We have done very well in terms of agriculture and Shonga Farm is a clear achievement that everybody can emulate [Shonga is made up of 13 white Zimbabwean commercial farmers who were invited by the Saraki administration to revolutionise agriculture in the state after they had lost their farms in Zimbabwe's controversial land reform programme]. What we are looking at is taking agriculture to another level to help tum Kwara into not only Nigeria's agricultural hub but the whole of sub-Sahara Afiica's too. We have land that is rich enough to grow high quality crops and livestock.
The Aviation Collage is taking off as well, and we are looking to tum Kwara into a business hub in place of Lagos and Kano, from where we can export agricultural products directly. We are expecting to comer all the markets within the sub-region, so that everybody will be exporting from Kwara State.
What will you say has been the major achievement of the first 100 days?
I can't say anyone thing has been a major achievement because we have done so much. Basically [our various projects] are the foundation on [our] the policy thrust.
How do you intend to prevent youth restiveness?
We have already supported and revamped all our technical colleges. We also have pretechnical schools, one for each senatorial zone. We have found that many school leavers don't have the necessary skills [for work]. So we are looking at creating more skills by creating youth acquisition centres supported by the Federal Government, which already have structures in place. And the advantage we have is that the Federal Minister for Youths is from Kwara. We hope to leverage on this to develop this state.
If you look at our revenue profile we are very, very low in ranking of what comes from the Federal purse - we are between 32nd and 34th in the 36-state set up. So, we have to leverage on every advantage we have to make progress.
That's why everyone is so excited about the Aviation College. It is not only going to [train pilots] but will be used for aircraft maintenance and airline management.
Some critics say that this government is more or less continuing the programmes of its predecessor
I agree with what you say but one thing we have learnt is that in Nigeria there has generally been a lack of continuity, and this has caused a lot of problems. A programme can start well but a new government comes in and scraps it in order to start something else, which they also are unlikely to conclude. So it is better to continue than to start all over again. Imagine us scrapping Shonga Farm. Right now we are working on replicating Shonga Farm in the three senatorial districts. There is also the Molette Youth Farm project, which is empowering youths in terms of teaching them agricultural skills. The foreign owners of these farms are here to acquire wealth and make money and I can tell you their farming skills are unrivalled.