Kaduna And Its Quest To Go Lean By Adejoh Idoko Momoh
Things are different for Kaduna this year and it most certainly must implement cost cutting measures to ensure its continued survival. Luckily the Governor and his Deputy have started with themselves by taking a 50% pay cut. This cut sends a bold message, it says ‘we all must make sacrifices’ and the Governor and his deputy are committed to leading the process.
Cutting cost is most often associated with painful structural adjustment programs that seek to drain citizens of funds so the economy can survive and this view is not wholly wrong. After all, I lived through the years of I.B.B’s Structural Adjustment Program (S.A.P) and saw dessert disappear from food time tables, later butter disappeared from breakfast trays and then milk slowly followed. Those were not easy years.
However, a prudent and efficient economy must not come at such a price. It must come with bold ideas, measures that cut wasteful expense in the interest of the greater good.
As example, the Kaduna State government recently cut its annual Ramadan largesse to civil servants. The measure was perceived by most people as needless and insensitive until reports indicated that the government saved N150 million from that cut alone. Imagine how much the state government will save after it cuts all state sponsored pilgrimage, religious festivities and associated costs. These are the kind of sacrifices that must be made; painful, necessary and above all beneficial cuts.
We must look at lean economies as enablers for frugal innovation which ultimately lead to slimmer, more efficient governance.
Kaduna has industries in abundance and this is probably where the impact of frugal innovation will be most felt. Leaner economies force us to make fundamental changes to the way we view the distribution chain, think of service delivery and goods provision. From textiles to power and agriculture, automobiles and refining, the State is in no short supply of marketable products.
Sadly, these industries are mostly defunct but the Governor has committed to revive them. This is commendable and we must start to think of ways to ensure that the circumstances that led to their closure do not recur.
We must ensure the viability of these industries by ensuring that they produce economical goods and services. The sense in this is that even as there are very limited resources and more Kaduna residents achieve modest economic progress, these people have more purchasing power but are not yet able to purchase expensive goods so they must resort to functional but affordable options.
If the revived industries are built from the outset to provide such options, imagine how much of a market will be available to them once they start production.
These industries must also be multi- local. The ‘one size fits all’ rhetoric makes little sense in a diverse economy like Nigeria; the needs of markets differ and if our industries desire to sell products to them, our industries must take note. Our textile industries must know that the light fabrics that sell in markets like Abuja with its warm weather will not sell in colder climates like Jos. The automobile industry must know that cars that drive on the mostly tarred roads in Abuja will hardly sell in areas with untarred roads.
Products and services must be tailored to meet specific markets or communities along the lines of needs and purchasing power.
The Kaduna State Government must also make research a front line item that is inclusive of citizens input. Product surveys and opinion polling must be regularly carried out, as the best ideas for products mostly come from consumers who are actual product users. After all, it is them who engage in the practicality of product usage and therefore know what features can be improved upon.
These industries must be equipped with quick input and output machines. They must deliver superior quality products fast. Markets currently move at a much faster pace where companies compete actively to produce efficient products that go on sale swiftly, and our industries must compete as well.
The good news is as the State adopts cuts and becomes thriftier, it is expected that more funds will be freed up and distributed equitably, this not only translates as economically empowered citizens, but as a more vibrant, robust economy.
The major good of lean economies is not only their ability to ensure that wealth is redistributed, but the fact that as more families have a disposable income they have more purchasing power and can partake in improving the economy. Imagine how big of an economy Kaduna will become if its 6 or 7 million residents contribute to building it.
When this happens, the Kaduna State Government, its industries and citizens will know that lean economies today will emerge power economies tomorrow.