With almost three years into the journey of making Kaduna state great again, it is important to look back and take stock of the successes achieved by the Mal Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai led administration in Kaduna state.
Permit me to say that there has been tremendous success achieved despite the dwindling revenue accruing to the state from the federal allocation and the economic recession which makes pundits predict that the next two years would be greater in terms of more developments. So much has changed since the inception of this administration and this article intends to look at some of these areas.
First was the massive recovery of government’s property from illegal occupiers and encroachers which had hitherto led to distortion in some of the government’s plan. This move though was greeted with alot of criticisms at first but as time passed, people praised the governor’s effort which was seen as timely.
Another area the governor has made impact is the educational sector. Kaduna state has before the El-Rufai administration faced a daunting challenge of lack of infrastructures in the state’s public schools. Learning environment was inconducive and there existed a huge dearth of teachers especially in the field of science. The governor made these challenges his first priority by embarking on massive renovation of the state owned public schools across the state.
He didn’t stop there; he further directed the revamping of the Kaduna state owned furniture company and awarded contracts for the assembling of classroom furniture for the state’s public schools. The governor also tackled the manpower challenge faced by the state owned secondary schools, with particular preference to the field of science by employing over two thousand and five hundred science teachers who have for long been deployed to their respective places of assignment. Tertiary institutions were also not left out in the educational intervention programme of the El-Rufai led administration. A visit to any of the state owned tertiary institutions would witness massive capital projects ongoing while some have been completed. The governor also increased the budgetary allocations to these institutions to boost their effectiveness and place them amongst the leading tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Applicants into the state owned tertiary institutions also benefitted from the goodwill of the present administration as sale of application form or scratch card was abolished on the directive of the governor. Students now apply to be admitted into Kaduna state tertiary institutions free.
It is also on record that governor El-Rufai has restructured governance in Kaduna state by appointing qualified and experienced individuals into his government. The state now boasts of well experienced technocrats who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields manning sensitive offices. The results of appointing competent hands is been immensely felt across the state.
The state civil service which was previously on the verge of collapse has been revamped by the El-Rufai led administration. Attitude to work has changed and corruption which used to be a major problem of the Kaduna state civil service before the coming of El-Rufai is no more in existence. The governor has also succeeded in reducing corruption in the state civil service by carrying out a rigorous verification exercise for the state civil servants which led to the extrication of over 13,000 ghost workers from the state’s payroll, thus saving the state huge sums of money. Accountability was further ensured in the state’s civil service through the adoption of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system. The adoption of the TSA system by the El-Rufai led administration has tremendously reduced corruption and diversion of government’s funds which was prominent in past administrations. The El-Rufai government has effectively catered for the welfare of the state civil servants by sustaining and ensuring prompt payment of salaries. This is a far cry to what is obtainable in most states who owe their workers for many months.
The governor has also embarked on massive road projects across the state at the lowest possible cost. Prominent among these road projects is the 5.125 kilometer Kawo to Lugard Hall Roundabout Road expansion project which was inherited from the immediate past administration. The governor not only continued with this project, he also re-negotiated the contract sum. The popular belief in Nigeria “that what goes up never comes down” was defeated with reference to this project, as the overall contract sum was trickled down from 3.685 billion to 2.50 billion thus saving the state government about 1.1 billion naira. The state government road construction/rehabilitation projects are also seen in virtually all local governments of the state, about twenty nine contracts were recently awarded covering roads in both urban and rural areas in 18 of the 23 local government areas across the state. Some of the major ongoing projects are Unguwan Doki road, Unguwan Sarki road, dualisation of Rigasa road, Aliyu Makama road in Barnawa, expansion of Kano road junction to PZ road in Zaria, construction of five kilometer road linking the airport to the Rigasa train station amongst others.
The Kaduna State Public Works Agency (KAPWA) has also woken up from its long slumber since the inception of the El-Rufai led administration. The impact of this agency was felt on major federal and state highways across the state especially since the launch of its “Operation Zero Pothole” programme. Federal roads, especially the Zaria to Sokoto road which used to be death traps due to its dangerous potholes have been maintained by the restructured KAPWA. Other roads have been maintained. Similarly, in order to tackle the flood challenge witnessed in parts of the state three years ago due to lack of drainages on the roads, the present administration has taken steps by constructing drainages in most parts of the state. With work still ongoing in some parts, it is hoped that flood would become history in virtually all parts of Kaduna state upon completion. In addition to road construction, the El-Rufai government also plans to light up Kaduna state by making provision for street lights on major roads of the state.
The El-Rufai led administration has also recorded tremendous increase in the state’s Internally Generated Revenue. Figures released by the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service (KDRIS) showed that the state generated more than 17 billion naira in 2016, as against the 11.5 billion naira generated in 2015. The state government was able to increase the states IGR by blocking leakages and ensuring that tax payers pay directly to the bank. The massive projects going on in the state would also motivate tax payers to pay their taxes promptly.
The El-Rufai led administration has also made concerted efforts in attracting investments to the state. Notably is the Kaduna/Chinese partnership which gave birth to the signing of a pact with a Chinese firm to build a new 50,000 barrels per day refinery in the state. The project includes laying an associated 400km pipeline from the border with Niger Republic to Kaduna to transfer crude oil to the proposed refinery. “Project goals also include the construction of an 80 – 100 megawatts power plant adjacent to the refinery.” In addition to this, a tripartite memorandum with the government of Hebei province and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation was signed with the Kaduna state team led by Governor El-Rufai. According to report, the agreement was based on the “sister province , central enterprises cooperation” model , and commits the three parties to facilitate exchanges and cooperation in the areas of economy, trade, energy, infrastructure, technology, culture, education, tourism and health. The recently organized Kaduna investment summit is also yielding results as various firms have signified interest to invest in state. Vicampro already operates a large potato farm in the southern part of the state. The Olam group of company also set up its company in the state. A Malaysian firm Biomas is on the process of establishing a Bio-fuel plant for Aviation fuel in the state. Notably is the signification of interest from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Tony Blair foundation and Dangote group of companies who at various times visited Kaduna state to liaise with the Governor El-Rufai to develop the state. The SUNSEED group of companies also established a feed mill in Zaria. The positive impact of all these is enhancing the state’s economy and provision of job opportunities for the youths of the state.
To enhance the transport system, the El-Rufai led administration distributed vehicles to unemployed people with payments made in installment. The government has also employed competent hands to run the state owned Transport Authority. This is in addition of its introduction of the Kaduna State Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system in Kaduna metropolis. Provisions for easy transit of these buses has already been made as the road in Kaduna is currently been expanded to three lanes, thus leaving the BRT buses with its dedicated lane.
To address the states traffic and environmental challenge, the governor implemented the law establishing the Kaduna State Traffic and Environmental Law Agency, KASTELA which was jettisoned by the previous administration. Establishment of this agency led to engagement of the services of over two thousand and five hundred traffic marshals to perform traffic and environmental enforcement duties. The establishment of this organization has led to increase in the states revenue generation as vehicle and motorcycle owners were forced to update their licenses and other documents to avoid stiffer penalties. Establishment of KASTELA has created employment opportunity for people of the state.
The health sector was not left out of the El-Rufai developmental strides as renovation work was done on many health centers across the state with most of them equipped with state of the art facilities and skilled manpower. Most of these health centers now take delivery.
The governor also engaged the services of over six thousand youths as refuse collectors on major streets across the state. The impact of this has been felt in terms of reduction of diseases and ensuring a clean environment.
Similarly, the El-Rufai led administration has also showed commitment towards providing water to the people of Zaria and its surrounding local governments. The water project was started by the Makarfi led regime, but successive governments have shown less commitment towards completion of the project. Since the inception of the present administration, progress has been made on the Zaria water project, with laying of standard piped witnessed in virtually all communities in Zaria. The rehabilitated water treatment plant was also put to test late last year, thus signalling that the project would be completed this year as promised by the Governor.
The governor has also maintained a cordial working relationship with the legislative arm. Several bills have been passed and unlike other states, there has been friction between the executive and the legislative arm. This has led to most of the successes recorded so far.
However, cases of insecurity in some parts of the state remains a challenge of the present administration, measures have been taken and it is hoped that these measures would bring about lasting peace in the affected areas.
Halilu Hassan writes from Zaria, Kaduna state.