Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-rufai has said the state has steadily increased its internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from N13bn in 2015 to N44bn in 2019 without hiking tax rates as part of efforts to be less dependent on the federal allocation.
El-Rufai made the disclosure at the opening ceremony of the 25th Annual conference of the Auditors General Conference of Local governments holding in Kaduna on Tuesday.
According to the Governor, we are faced with enormous challenges and leaner resources than ever in history since the creation of Nigeria.
The governor stated that the world is facing the twin challenges of a global health pandemic and an economic slowdown, saying such a crisis has not been faced in the last one hundred years.
He noted that there cannot be a better time and a greater need for fiscal transparency and accountability than now.
According to the governor, the Kaduna State Government is working to retain its ranking as number one place for doing business in Nigeria and its position as the state that has so far attracted the highest levels of foreign direct investment this year.
“That is why we implemented the Treasury Single Account(TSA) in September 2015, and have automated our procurement process, began digitising the land registry and prohibited cash collection of government revenues.
“We are the first state to sign up to the Open Government Partnership and we have real-time monitoring of our projects all around the state.
The governor explained: “The Kaduna State government is also a keen participant in the World Bank assisted State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.
“Many state governments have also keyed into the programme by implementing fiscal sustainability plans. I am particularly proud to say that Kaduna State was adjudged the best in implementing SFTAS, having completed nine (9) out of eleven (11) key performance indicators”
This follows our steady strides to increase our capacity to collect IGR. We have raised IGR from N13bn in 2015 to N44bn in 2019 without hiking tax rates”
At this juncture, let me inform you all that in the bid to devolve our accountability and transparency, we promised and ensured that Local Government areas had full control of their funds.
Afterwards, we conducted local government elections using electronic voting to take democracy to the grassroots.
‘So, when you look at the fact that we empowered Local Government Councils to have full control of their funds and conducted elections, we can rightly say we have democratised accountability and transparency”
” For not only are the elected local government officials accountable to the laws and institutions of the land, but they are also accountable to the people, whose mandate they exercise in the first place. We believe that those elected to run affairs at the local level must be empowered to do so.”
The former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sunusi II has also lent his voice to the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai’s saga with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), where he was quoted to have said:
“If you have an opinion, people will either agree or disagree with you. But a man who has an opinion that can be agreed with or disagreed with is always better than a man who has no opinion at all.
“Nasir has always had opinions. He knows what his position is on things. He says that position very clearly. People will like it, some people will not like it. And that is what people call being controversial, being controversial is actually having an opinion. If you don’t want to be controversial, you just behave like these teflons, flexible, just flow with the wind and nobody knows where you stand…
“I think the case of the crisis in Kaduna, first of all is something that predates this government. It has been on for a long time. And the governor is doing something about it. The North as a whole suffers because we have people who profit from division. We have divided ourselves against each other, whether it is ethnicity of religion.
“And when you have someone who says I am simply going to stand for justice, for the rights of human beings and doing what is right, some people who are not used to things being done in that way are going to object. I am sure that His Excellency knows that with every single issue, there will be people who will object.
“I read the petition. I was looking for the specific allegation. You said somebody does not respect the rule of law, what is the specific instance of disrespect for the rule of law. You say somebody has mishandled a crisis. What is the specific manner in which he mishandled the crisis?
“If you going to take action on people based on allegations, the President of the NBA himself has allegations against him that have not been proven, but nobody has said anything about him because it this is a matter that is before a court of law, and people will wait for the court to decide because everybody has a right to fair hearing.
“More important for me, if you feel that the governor of Kaduna State is not doing well, you should invite him to your conference and ask him and let him explain what he is doing and tell him what you think he is doing wrong. You will learn something from him, he will learn something from him. Disinviting him is not the path of people who actually want progress. Because if you disagree with someone , having him in your hall where you can tell him your view is the best way and he can defend himself. And if there are things he needs to improve he will take them on board. And if there are things that you don’t know that he is doing, you can be better informed. That is the best way to handle issues like this.
“I hope that this matter will not be turned into a religious and ethnic matter. It should be a matter of principle. I think it is their loss because if he was there he would add value to the conference and they would learn something about what he is doing.
“It is sad for the NBA itself and it is sad for freedom of speech, and also fair hearing.
“I have known Nasir since we were 16/17. He is a nationalist. He has never been associated with any ethnic or religious bigotry. All our friends are Nigerians. People don’t even think of us as northerners because really we are just Nigerians.
“Anybody who knows him will tell you that he is just a Nigerian. Look at the people that he works with, look at the people around him, look at his friends. He has not surrounded himself with people from a particular ethnic group or a particular religious persuasion. He has friends all over, pastors, reverends, imams. It is is sad that anybody can accuse him in any way of being partisan in the matter.
One of the lawyers made a comment and I think it is something that we should bear in mind. He is a governor in charge of lives and property in the state. He is the number one person concerned with peace in Kaduna because if there is no peace, he is responsible. You can’t have people crying more than the bereaved. If we do not assist him, the least we can do is pray for him, and give him a chance and advice him.”
“Needless to say, this is a sad thing. I am his friend, but His Excellency is wrong, I will say it. If I am wrong, he will say it and we would still be friends. But on this matter, it does more to the discredit of the NBA. This is one less speaking engagement.
The most important thing that Kaduna State should have peace. We should not complicate efforts at peace-building. I read today that the groups are meeting and I hope and pray that they will reach a compromise and we will see peace in the state. That is the most important thing, not speaking at NBA or what NBA says, but that there should be peace in Kaduna State and in this country.” He concluded.
This is an attempt to rate or rank all the 36 states governors in Nigeria considering only the top 5 and bottom 5 as ranked by Ripples Nigeria best on random indixes or yardsticks.
With enormous power and resources at their disposal, governors have so much expectations placed on their shoulders. These range from policy formulations to execution of sustainable projects targeted at improving the lives of citizens.
The July, 2020 report features the traditional scan of the political space and focuses, this time, on the select few on either side of the performance divide, judging by policy initiatives and execution.
1. Babajide Sanwo-Olu —Lagos
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu makes the Top 5 for the month of July, 2020 on account of his commitment to the vision of building a Smart City, principally through urban renewal and rural development.
We acknowledge his pursuit of this vision, despite the COVID-19 pandemic which has preoccupied governments across the world.
We note the progressive work being done on the Ojota, Mile 12, Agege and Lekki-Epe axis of the city.
Though the urban renewal projects have come with attendant hardship, we are, however, convinced that they are necessary sacrifices to ensure better service delivery.
2. Seyi Makinde —Oyo
Governor Seyi Makinde earns a Top 5 mention having shown a steady commitment to education, with several remarkable interventions in that sector. These include schools upgrade, and access to free education.
In dealing with the COVID-19 challenge, we admit the clarity of purpose in his efforts to ensure that schools are not just re-opened but that these were done with a clear cut direction, as exemplified in the full year school timetable released for the state.
The responsiveness of the Makinde administration to the challenges faced by some female citizens of the state who were reportedly trafficked to Lebanon caught our attention in July. We note that the timely rescue is exemplary and capable of restoring the confidence of citizens in government.
3. Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman —Kwara
The Kwara State Governor, Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman, makes the top 5 for initiating an intervention programme to lift some of the burdens confronting stakeholders in the educational sector, especially proprietors and teachers in private schools
We acknowledge that his plan to extend grants and interest free loans to private schools is capable of preventing job losses and reviving a sector badly hit by COVID-19. We encourage the governor to fully discharge this plan as the Board shall track and review his performance in that regard.
4. Dapo Abiodun —Ogun
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State scores highly for his commitment to lifting the quality of life in the border towns through road infrastructures which had suffered neglect over the years.
We note the current remedial works in communities bordering Lagos, especially in the Sango, Agbado, Akute, Denro-Ishasi- Ojodu Abidoun axis. It is our belief that the attention given to roads in these and other communities will impact the economy positively as gains are made in man-hour originally lost to traffic, and low productivity.
5. Babagana Zulum —Borno
Governor Babagana Zulum makes a return to top 5 on account of his continuous sacrifice, sometimes at personal risk, to see to the restoration of peace in the insurgency-ravaged state.
We note his courage in undertaking obvious life-threatening trips across the state as he identifies with troubled communities, commissioning projects and leading from the front in efforts to impact the lives of citizens stranded in Internally Displaced Persons camps. We also acknowledge Zulum’s daring attempts at speaking truth to power, and aiming to decisively deal with alleged sabotage and failings of the military in the prosecution of the war against terrorism in the Northeast.
1. Nasir el-Rufai —Kaduna
Governor Nasir el-Rufai gets a mention in the Bottom 5 due largely to the unabated security challenges in the state.
We are disturbed by the continued killings and destruction of property in the Southern part of the state, allegedly by bandits and militias who have proven either too tough or slippery for the government and security agencies to contain.
While we acknowledge that El-Rufai is largely a Chief Security Officer without powers of coercion, the governor gets our knock for his repeated commentaries that tend to further stoke the crisis and diminish hope, confidence and faith in his administration to effectively deal with the challenge of Southern Kaduna.
2. Udom Emmanuel —Akwa Ibom
Governor Udom Emmanuel gets a Bottom 5 mention over the decision of the Akwa Ibom State Government to breach the accountability process by locking out media men out of state functions on the pretext that some of them had contracted the COVID-19 disease.
While we note the frosty atmosphere existing in the state between the government and media practitioners over claims of lack of transparency in the reportage of COVID-19, it is regrettable that the governor will allow his action to be tainted by unwholesome intentions that query his patriotism and commitment to transparency.
3. Aminu Masari —Katsina
Katsina is, no doubt, a State in turmoil. Reports of killings and abductions have become very rampant, leading the populace to embark on protests over the lack of appropriate action by government and security agencies.
The near free reign of bandits and Governor Aminu Masari’s lack of grip of the challenge earns him several minuses.
We are amazed that despite the presence of various arms of the nation’s security forces in the state, the governor has been unable to manage the situation.
We hold that the prevailing banditry in the state is a reflection of years of mis-governance and the failure of government to consciously connect with its citizens, especially the youth population.
4. Bello Matawalle —Zamfara
Governor Bello Matawalle gets a mention in the Bottom 5 for his prodigal spending of N100 million on a private university in the state, an action we consider not well thought out.
A private university, in our reckoning, is a private business, an investment that should be borne by its promoters. Though the state had argued that it was done to promote education in the state, we reckon that such a gesture could have lifted the sector better if it had been channelled to the many public institutions requiring urgent intervention in upgrade of facilities and faculties.
We are appalled that Governor Matawalle might not have considered that his action could open the floodgates to several other requests from private and religious institutions who maybe tempted to see him as a profligate father Christmas.
5. Okezie Ikpeazu —Abia
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State gets a mention in the Bottom 5 ranking for July 2020 for his unilateral sacking and suspension of three local government council chiefs in the state.
We condemn the sacking of the Chairman of Umenneochi Council, Mathew One, and the indefinite suspension of Aba South and Aba North chairmen, Cherechi Nwogu and Victor Ubani, as tantamount to trampling on the principles of the rule of law, due process and fair hearing in a constitutional democracy.
We are concerned that with such actions, as taken by Governor Ikpeazu, our democracy faces stunted growth, especially as state govenors see local government administrations as mere apendages of their offices.