Dr. Ganduje: For You Sir, It Is Continuity! By Muhammad Kabir Balarabe
Let me use this opportunity to congratulate you, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, on your victory during the just concluded Governorship elections. Having put your CV to public scrutiny, the people of Kano have clearly expressed their wishes at the polling booth and have decided to hire you. The mantle of leadership will be handed over to you on the 29th of May, 2015 and from then, you will have no less than 12 million bosses to report to.
For you to appreciate the task ahead, a few things have to be put into perspective. You will be succeeding what is considered a very popular government which you have been a part of and there for, no time will be afforded to you to hit the ground running in implementing your policies. This is due to you and your party’s massage of continuity.
Kano being a commercial city with majority of the populace engaged in retailing, small scale manufacturing, food and beverage business, hospitality etc, the economy is what the people will be watching closely and the economic performance will be the major determinant of the success of the incoming government. The focus should be on how to increase the purchasing power of the residents. Huge sums of money should be devoted to support SMEs (Small and Medium Scale enterprises) which happen to be the largest employer of labor in the state.
A lot of businesses operating outside the formal economy should be incentivized to join the formal economy. Their potentials to grow and employ more people must be pointed out to them and the benefits they stand to gain as against staying in the shadows. Such a move will increase the IGR (Internal Generated Revenue) of the state and a source of funds to fulfill its commitment to the people.
Second, but by no means in order of priority is the environment. This is crucial to our continued sustained living. A large number of diseases are a function of our environmental conditions; malaria, nasal congestion related diseases and cholera, just to name a few. These diseases have a devastating effect on our economy. Resources which would have been well spent in educating the younger generation, invested in the power generation that will have a multiplier effect in the society or put in social welfare for those who have been rigged out of the system is unnecessarily spent on diseases that could be eradicated with a simple crackdown of environmental polluters. Trash burning which has been illegal could easily be curtailed and eradicated if trash is to be collected at local level.
The local government should be made through legislative action, responsible for environmental sanitation within the society. They are the ones who are always in direct contact and easily accessible to the people. This will make it easy for the system to be checkmated by the locals.
Finally on housing- the single largest investment an average Kano citizen will make in his/her lifetime. In 2012, the state government released a development plan document for year 2013 through 2015 in which the housing deficit was put at around 500,000 houses. The target should be to decongest the city’s metropolis, expanding outwards. The out-going government was able to provide a total of 5221 units. With the demand increasing by 3.7% per annum, it will take the state government 383years to supply the current deficits. What largely is of great distress and disquieting to the public is the price tag. A unit costs between N10-50 million naira, an average civil servant will have to keep paying mortgage for the rest of his/her career. This surely is not a realistic plan.
A bolder and more strategic plan should be embarked upon. With land reform (making land accessible to developers) local contractors/developers could have a major role to play in reducing the housing deficit. Institutions such as the Dala Building Society, should be strengthened so that more people will have alternative access to finance when buying homes.
These are but a few challenges the incoming government is about to face. Whether it decides to be loyal to the general public by taking the sometimes harsh and unpopular decisions and provide the necessary conditions for a good and prosperous society to develop, or align itself with a few vested interests and return political favors is entirely in the hands of “the new captain”. It is left for you to navigate the waters to 2019 (which is just around the corner).
I hope and pray you choose the former if you wish to save yourself and your party from the more enlightened electorate.
God Bless the Centre of Commerce.
Muhammad Kabir Balarabe