We'll partner EFCC to recover looted funds in Kwara, says governor

•Laments diversion of N2b SME funds
•Understudies Trader-Moni to fight poverty

By Valentine Amanze

The Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has said that his administration would partner the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to combat graft, including recovering funds looted from the state treasury.
AbdulRazaq lamented that corruption had almost crippled the state when he took over on May 29.
He also disclosed that the N2 billion the state accessed to boost small scale businesses (SMEs) was diverted and shared by some persons.
As a result, he said, the state government would now have N35 million deducted from its account every month.
His words: “I got a letter (last week) from the Federal Ministry of Finance saying they will now deduct N35 million every month from our account because the state government, a few years ago, took N2 billion for small and medium scale businesses.”
AbdulRazaq spoke at a stakeholders’ forum in Ilorin, the state capital, on “Value reorientation and the fight against corruption.”
The event was organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency.
The governor said that he contemplated asking the ministry to compile the names of individuals who siphoned the money so they could be made to refund it, adding however that he was glad at the proactive steps the EFCC has taken to recover the money.
AbdulRazaq however warned that he would not tolerate diversion of public funds under his watch, recalling how corruption had led to the collapse of basic amenities in the hospitals, schools, and other sectors of the economy.
The governor lamented that the state has missed out on several development initiatives because of corruption, citing the example of the diversion of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) funds, the resultant blacklisting of the state on account of that, and the effect on the state of basic education in Kwara.
He added that the state under him has normalised relations with UBEC and would soon, on paying its own counterpart funds, access money that would help reposition the sector.
Besides, the EFCC Zonal Head in Kwara State, Isyaku Sharu, had earlier called for reorientation of the populace on the menace of corruption.
“Can we overemphasise the role of our parents /guardians in these regards? I state no. In fact, a critical aspect of the need for value reorientation rests heavily on parental/ guardian roles. The home, being the first point of contact of a child, is the factory house for building positive values in a child.
“Sadly, however, most parents/guardians are now being found wanting in this all-important responsibility wherein they usually concentrate more efforts on their jobs or businesses or the struggle to make ends meet,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Kwara State government is understudying the TraderMoni programme of the Federal Government to extend soft loans to traders and reduce mass poverty in the state.
"On Friday, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq visited the Abuja headquarters of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), the implementers of the TraderMoni initiative, with a view to replicate same in Kwara," spokesman, Rafiu Ajakaye, said in a statement.
GEEP, which is supervised by the Bank of Industry, is one of the four sub-programmes of the National Social Investment Office (NSIO).
The statement said the visit was for AbdulRazaq to discuss partnership with GEEP handlers on how Kwarans can further access the micro loans and lift thousands of people out of poverty.
Accompanied by Mrs Uwais, former Special Adviser to the president on Social Investments, the governor listened to details of the initiative, including the challenge of implementing it in Kwara and how it could help fight poverty, the statement added.

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