The Mini Buses that were given out by the Kwara state government under the Community Transport Intervention project, to the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW have turned out to be a profiteering scam, according to Hakeem Aweda, Chairman of the union in Share, Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state.
The buses were given out in August under the intervention which was claimed to worth N125 million as provided by Self Employment Assistance Program (SEAP).They drivers were expected to repay N3.7 million on each of the vehicles within 18 months.
Aweda who was speaking during the stakeholders’ interactive session organised by the Social Democratic Party, SDP gubernatorial candidate, Alhaji Hakeem Lawal in Share on Monday, explained that members are actually returning the buses because the scheme has become unprofitable.
The Chairman disclosed that the government actually gave the seven passenger-buses to them at a unit price of N3.7 million in August this year, at a time the market price was around N2.150 million. He added that the arrangement was for them to pay N30, 000 per week which translates into N120, 000 per month. This he said, has forced many of the beneficiaries to return the buses because of the unprofitable nature of the scheme.
Meanwhile,Alhaji Hakeem Lawal, the SDP gubernatorial candidate assured them that his empowerment programme will be different as the scheme will not be driven by a profiteering agenda, but designed to empower the beneficiaries directly and boost small scale enterprises.
According to Alhaji Lawal, his own empowerment programme will be tailored towards assisting the Small Scale Enterprises, SMEs and by so doing, powers the economy and put money into the hands/pocket of the people. “Empowerment program will be my priority, but we will not scam the people. We will encourage people to form co-operatives and government will guarantee them,” he said.
The gubernatorial candidate also restated his reform agenda in the areas of education, agriculture, housing and healthcare to put the State back on the path of progress and restore its glory.
On education, Alhaji Lawal promised to revive the sector beyond the current mere painting of walls and provide a solution for Kwarans on the basis of education. “It means we must revive our Technical Schools and Colleges. As of today, our people can hardly compete when it comes to technical know-how. If you look at the Building Industry for instance, many of the professionals competing there are from places like Republic of Benin, Togo Ghana, etc.
He also promised a Local Government Council reforms that will grant some level of financial autonomy to the Local Government administrations and foster a mutually beneficial relationship between the Councils and the State government.
“The emasculation of the Local Government administration has stifled development at the grassroots. Apart from the election, we will release their money to them and equally give them some level of independence to utilize their resource for development of the people. We will also try bridge the disparity between the salary of workers on the same level in the State and the Local Government Councils,” he said.
On the Agriculture, Lawal maintained that the “State boasts of many Agriculture Belts, adding that “for instance, we had Rice and Sugar Belts in Patigi, Cotton Belt in Baruten and Cocoa Belt in Irepodun Ekiti, Oke Ero in Kwara South.
On the basis of this, we also had forestry in Jebba and Erinle. This was the reason why we had Sugar Company in Bacita, Paper Mill in Jebba and a Paper Converter Company in Erinle.”
He equally promised the sector will be modernized to maximize the full potentials of the sector for greater returns to the farmer in order to make farming attractive to both the old and the young. We will encourage the farmers to form co-operatives and form Enterprises to work on large farms. Government he said, will also form marketing Company like in the days of Late Sadauna in Northern Nigeria, to maximize profit to our farmers.
The meeting saw him engaging many groups like the League of Imams, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, the Artisans Congress of Nigeria, youth groups, market women and traditional rulers.
“Our discussion today is a covenant between us. The two parties must do their part. When you vote for us, it becomes a debt for us to do our part too. I can assure you that we will deploy Kwara resources for Kwarans and strive to restore the glory of the State,” he said.