The celebration of the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of Kwara State will gulp just a little less than N100million, National Pilot can exclusively report.
This development, it was gathered, is coming on the heels of the decision of the government to have a low-key celebration in line with the economic recession being experienced in the state and other parts of the country.
Though committee members for the celebration kept mum on the budget during the press briefing but a top government source who confided in this medium last night, said the 10 days event which was heralded with a World Press Conference in Ilorin, yesterday will gulp about N85 million.
There had been widespread speculations from high quarters in the state that the government budgeted close to two billion naira to fund the programme.
The Kwara State House of Assembly had earlier approved a budget of N180 million to fund the anniversary.
A source who spoke on the issue told this medium that the government is very sensitive to the financial and political environment being experienced in the state hence the need to cut cost.
“The Kwara State House of Assembly approved N180 million for the event but the Governor later approved about N85 million. This is in line with the economic realities in the country and the need to cut cost which this government had championed since the beginning of the economic crunch.
"The good thing is that the money that was finally released was not up to the budget that the lawmakers had approved. This would not have been the case few years back," the source added.
Another source who also corroborated the amount last night said launching of the free eye glasses (Jigi Maigida) has the highest budget from the schedule of event lined up for the programme running "into several millions of naira.
Another top government official who also spoke on the issue last night however said the budget was about N83 million.
Speaking at the press conference, the Chairman of the Kwara at 50 Committee, who is also the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Isiaka Sola Gold, said Kwara has the lowest key celebration among all the states that turned fifty in the country.
He said the 31-man committee was constituted by Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed because the event deserves a significant mark for the present generation and those unborn, adding that Kwara is the most united and peaceful state in the country.
According to him, the committee held various meetings and “brainstormed with wide consultation" to arrive at the programmes mapped out for the event which will kick-start with a special Juma'at prayer and church services beginning on Friday (today).
He said unity, peace and development remain the greatest achievements of the state as it turns 50, which has been responsible for the peaceful co-existence and prosperity enjoyed in the state despite its cultural diversity.Other programmes to be featured include commissioning of completed projects and commencement of new ones which include the Light Up Kwara (LUK) and awards of excellence to prominent Kwarans.
Meanwhile, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Sarah Alade, and ambassador designate, Prof. Issa Gana, and an official of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Prof. Kamil Kamaldeen are among high profile individuals to deliver lectures at the event.
The lecture series is part of activities lined up to mark the Golden Jubilee celebration of the state.
According to a statement by the Kwara@50 Planning Committee, Prof. Gana will on Thursday, 18 May, speak on the topic "Grassroots and Community Development Issues in Kwara State: Its evolution and prognosis."
Discussants for the event include Prof. Saka Mahmud, Prof. Hassan Salihu and Kwara Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) Chairman, Dr. Muritala Awodun, among others.