OPINION

Three Years Of Delivering Change In Kaduna State: The Journey So Far, By Halilu Zaria

The Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai led government in Kaduna State has spent the last three years delivering its campaign promises to the people of the state. The past three years witnessed the implementation of statewide reforms, ensuring accountability in the state’s finances through the Treasury Single Account (TSA) that yielded almost 25 billion Naira of funds kept at 470 accounts at various commercial banks.
The administration also introduced zero-based budgeting as a result of which an unprecedented level of capital spending was achieved. The government spent more than 60 Billion Naira in the 2016 and 2017 budgets on roads, schools, water and hospital projects.
Having spent 16 years in power, the PDP left the state’s public schools (4250 primary schools) in bad shape. Children sat on the floor, as the then government failed to provide classroom furniture to address this despite the huge sums of money that accrued to the state. Also, there were cases of overcrowding in public schools in Rigasa, it was revealed that about 400 students were crammed into a 14 feet by 16 feet primary school classroom at Shawai Primary School, and this same school and similar others had about 20,000 to 30,000 pupils. Aside overcrowding, most of these schools had two or three toilets serving thousands of students. These were amongst the rot the El-Rufai led administration inherited from previous PDP led government.
Upon assumption, Governor El-Rufai declared a state of emergency in the education sector. Despite the decline in oil price which fell to as low as 28 Dollars per barrel, renovation of schools and supply of equipment and furniture were actualized in public schools across the state. The state government is also constructing new blocks of 50 classrooms in overcrowded schools in Rigasa and other parts of the state and the project would be completed in June.
Manpower challenge is also being tackled with the recent laying off of unqualified teachers whose deficiencies led to the decline in education standard in the state. Qualified hands have been employed to tackle this problem. Additional 2280 science teachers were employed to tackle the dearth of such teachers in the state-owned secondary schools.
The government awarded more than 1293 contracts across the state to develop human capital through investments in Schools and Hospitals, to strengthen infrastructure through more township and feeder roads, rural electrification and improved access to water amongst others. In Zone I comprising of 8 Local Government Areas, about 396 projects are ongoing with some already completed. Zone 2 which has 7 Local Government Areas has 559 ongoing projects, while Zone 3 with 8 Local Governments has 228 ongoing projects. The government has touched virtually all nooks and crannies of the state and has effectively utilized public funds towards providing dividends of democracy to many rather than empowering a few.
The administration also inherited an over-bloated Local Government system as a result of which less than 8 of the 23 Local Government Areas could pay salaries without the State Government’s support. The situation was so bad to the extent that funds had to be sourced from financially-stable Local Governments to pay salaries of insolvent ones. The Government tackled this challenge by reducing the excess personnel burden of the Local Governments Councils as a result of which they are now financially stable to meet their personnel needs. The Local Governments are now able to pay their personnel monthly salaries and still have more funds left to run the Councils and embark on projects. Local Governments in Kaduna State are now free from many years of distress courtesy of the bold step taken by the El-Rufai led administration.
The administration also took over a state where private companies that had potentials of creating employment opportunities had folded up. To address this, the Kaduna Investment Promotion Authority (KADIPA) was set up with the mandate of attracting investments into the state. The impact of the agency is already being felt as various companies have already set up their investments in the state thus enhancing its economy and reducing unemployment.
The government has also ensured a level playing ground for all political parties in the state. This was demonstrated in the recently concluded Local Government Elections which was adjudged to be the freest and fairest Local Government Election conducted from 1999 to Date. The Electronic Voting Machine was used and this is first in its kind. The results were accepted by all political parties that participated in the non-violent and most peaceful election.
The new face of administration in Kaduna state has also given room for citizens to participate in governance. This is made possible through regular Town Hall Meetings and open governance. The present administration also holds yearly Budget Town Hall Meetings to avail citizens the opportunity to make their input on the yearly budgets before it is presented to the State House of Assembly for consideration and passage.
Indeed, so much has changed in the last three years and it is hoped that Kaduna State would join the league of developed states if Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai is given another mandate to govern the state.
Halilu Hassan wrote from Zaria E. MAIL haliluhassan@yahoo.com
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