By Saheed Abdullahi
Immediate past Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development, Architect Aliyu Muhammad Saifuddeen now redeployed to Ministry of Housing and Urban Development is indeed a Starboy and one of the best brains in the Cabinet of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State.
Saifuddeen’s oratory, analytically, is housed with wisdom and apt response to issues. He is just too good! It is a mystery how Governor AbdulRazaq discovered him but his brilliance made one believe that Kwara State is really blessed with human resources that can compete favourably with their counterparts globally.
My first encounter with Architect Saifuddeen was in 2019 when his name appeared on the second batch of Commissioner-Nominees submitted to the Kwara State House of Assembly for screening and confirmation. He was then a nominee from Kaiama Local Government alongside Fatima Bisola Ahmed (Ilorin West), Florence Olasunbo Oyeyemi (Oke-Ero), Abosede Aremu (Irepodun), Arinola Fatima Lawal (Ilorin East), Johanna Inazua Kolo (Edu), Raji Razaq (Ekiti), Aliyu Kora Sabi (Baruten), Sa’adatu Modibbo-Kawu (Ilorin South), Ayinla Salman Jawondo (Asa), Wahab Femi Agbaje (Offa), Murtala Olanrewaju (Oyun), Rotimi Iliasu (Moro), Aisha Ahman-Pategi (Patigi), Adenike Afolabi-Oshatimehin (Ifelodun) and Oyedun Funke (Isin).
While the screening lasted, Saifuddeen stood tall among his peers. He mesmerized Kwara State lawmakers with his response when he was asked on the Ministry he would make impact. “I can work in any Ministry. There is no Ministry I find myself that I will not perform”, he said.
His confidence in responding to questions from lawmakers first fascinated me to him. I want to say categorically that the two times he appeared at the hallowed chambers of the Kwara State House of Assembly for screening and confirmation were superlative.
Immediately he was inaugurated into the State Executive Council shortly after lawmakers’ confirmation of him and others, I started observing and following him closely. Saifuddeen was first deployed to Kwara State Ministry of Environment and Forestry where he championed Kwara Must Clean by moving around Ilorin Metropolis and other parts of the state to clear refuse. He was up and doing towards making Kwara clean for healthy living.
The University of Jos trained-architect was thereafter redeployed to his present Ministry of Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development where he is currently making impact too. This was sequel to the redeployment of the former Commissioner in the ministry, Aisha Ahman-Pategi. Ms. Ahman-Pategi also needs to be applauded for laying a solid foundation for Saifuddeen.
She is woman in manliness as she demonstrated spirit of motherhood in the coordination of the Local Governments in line with Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s policy thrust.
Knowing that the new assignment is not a tea-party, Saifuddeen ensured that Local Governments staff were carried along in the implementation of the Thirty Thousand Naira new Minimum Wage, which was unprecedented in the history of the state. Despite meagre resources available to the state, Local Government workers are now enjoying upward review of their monthly take-home in accordance with the letter and spirit of the new wage.
My second encounter with the Commissioner for Local Government was when he honoured our invitation at Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Radio Kwara Chapel in-house Programme, “Viewpoint”. His appearance and brilliance to issues raised at the event affirmed the fact he is too good while my third engagement with him was his recent featuring as a Guest Speaker on “Media Parliament” at the Kwara State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre, Ilorin.
His submissions on that day further reaffirmed that Governor AbdulRazaq could never be brought to disrepute in his presence. He thoroughly dealt with questions with concise and apt responses devoid of insult but issue based.
The Commissioner is endowed with responses to questions posed to him whether positive or negative, exuding confidence that he is up to the task. He is not the type of individual that will say I will reply you later. Apparently, Saifuddeen is a proverbial combatant, who is always battle-ready. He responds to negative questions with maturity and without sensationalism, deliberate falsehood or temperament.
The Commissioner, no doubt, has now shouldered the responsibility of being the image launderer of our Local Governments via his dogged efforts of promoting transparency and accountability in our Local Governments by briefing Kwarans on the running of Local Government administration ranging from monthly allocations, Internally Generated Revenue and expenditure of the Local Governments.
He has, indeed, illuminated the minds of the state citizens that Governor AbdulRazaq is not touching a Kobo from Local Government Funds as an independent tier of government.That is why it is not surprising that Local Government workers are steadily paid their monthly salaries, which eluded them in the immediate past administration where Local Governments workers were owed several months of salaries.This brilliant Commissioner also spoke in defence of Governor AbdulRazaq in all sectors such as Education, Health, Agriculture, Works, Housing, Communications, Economy and Security with relevant and accurate data.
Saifuddeen’s boldness to respond to any deliberate negative attack and character assassination against Governor AbdulRazaq with a view to setting record straight is another feature of his uniqueness. He is, indeed, complementing the job of the Spokespersons and Publicists of the Governor through unhindered interface with the media. He is media friendly and approachable whenever the need arises.
The intellectual prowess of Saifuddeen is discernible when engaged; but looking at him from afar, you may not be aware of the stuff he is made of until you move closer him. He has distinguished himself as a goal getter.
Without mincing words, Saifuddeen is an asset to Kwara State. If I’m privileged to meet Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, I will ask him how he discovered the Kaiama-born talented orator.
The coming of Saifudeen into the limelight is a pointer that Kwara is endowed with an avalanche of hidden talents to be harvested for their home state and even globally. I want say a big thank you to Governor AbdulRazaq for discovering Architect Saifuddeen and making him to be part of his narration in rewriting the stories of the State positively.