By Agaju Madugba
For the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufa’i, the past 100 days since he assumed office may have proved to be a mixed grill of activities with controversy trailing virtually all his actions so far.
Apparently bracing the odds to implement his avowed project of rebuilding Kaduna, the Governor had within a few days into his administration sacked a number of permanent secretaries after reducing the number of ministries to 13, from the previous 24. During his inauguration on May 29, 2015, El-Rufa’i made it clear that he was going to embark on certain reforms some of which he noted may not be pleasant but would be necessary in order to move the state forward.
“Kaduna State is in a difficult situation,” El-Rufa’i lamented, adding that “as soon as we have all the facts in the coming weeks, we shall lay bare to you just how deep a hole we have dug ourselves in the past several years”
Apart from downsizing the number of ministries and the sack of a number of permanent secretaries, the Governor has since embarked on biometric verification of civil servants in the state, a development which the state government says led to the unmasking of several ghost workers on its payroll. According to the government’s explanations, reduction in the number of ministries “is intended to cut costs, spur efficiency and improve service delivery.” Some of the initiatives may have begun to yield the desired results, for, according to the Governor, the decision to cut overheads spending by 60 per cent has put more money in government coffers. And, in more specific terms, in the months ahead, government is likely to save as much as N1.5 billion annually as a result of stopping government sponsorship of both Muslim and Christian pilgrimages.
Moreover, according to him, the biometric verification of government workers reduced the number of ghost workers, saving additional N120 million.
Demolition of illegal structures
El-Rufa’i’s decision to embark on the demolition of “illegal structures” has remained perhaps the most vexed topic of discussion across the state since the beginning of the administration. Speaking during his second town hall meeting, the Governor explained his decision as he argued that, “illegal structures built on Zaria Library, Alhudahuda College, Rimi College, Sardauna Memorial College and other schools will be demolished. Those who built such illegal structures are knowledgeable enough to know that encroaching on schools is prohibited. There is no going back in pulling down such illegal structures, especially in our schools and hospitals.”
The Governor has also within the period taken steps to check the level of insecurity in the state, especially in Southern Kaduna where unidentified gunmen regularly launch attacks on some of the communities there. A former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Martin Luther Agwai (rtd), heads a committee to probe the incessant killings.The Governor described the committee as part of government’s multi-dimensional approach in finding lasting solution to the killings in the area, dating as far back as 2011.
The Governor’s decision to ban street begging also equally attracted protests from beggars and other destitute, especially in Kaduna metropolis. The ban was imposed at the wake of the suicide attack on civil servants in Zaria during the biometric registration exercise.
APC government is on track, says PDP
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state says the APC government is on track, especially in terms of certain economic initiatives already put in place. According to the Kaduna State PDP Public Relations Officer (PRO), Ibrahim Mansur, “the APC government has within about 100 days taken commendable measures to improve on the economy of the state. But the PDP condemns the decision to demolish what the government calls illegal structures. It is improper because you cannot just wake up overnight and start demolishing people’s property. The Governor should have put the blame on previous administrations that gave the people the permission to build on the affected sites.”
El-Rufa’i’s critics ignorant, says Special Adviser
A Special Adviser (Politics) to the Governor, Malam Uba Sani, believes that some of the people who are opposed to El-Rufa’i’s programmes are not conversant with the level of achievement of government within its first 100 days in office. According to him, “I think the issue of recovering some lands that belong to schools and hospitals in the state is a very straight forward one.
You will recall that during the campaign, Malam Nasiru El-Rufa’i promised he was going to make six things his priority, namely education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, security, youth and women empowerment. These sectors are the most important issues for this government. We believe education which is the bedrock of any society, should be given full attention. So, he decided to first of all create an enabling environment for our secondary school students in the state.
“Though the government has started making positive impact in many other areas, nobody is talking about them. People are busy making a lot of noise on the demolition. I expected people to commend the government on some of the things we have started doing, that are positive when it comes to educational development in the state. Nobody is talking about the move by the government to provide all the junior and senior secondary school children in the state with free and customized computers and tablets.
“Nobody is also talking about the free uniforms. They are not talking about the free education that this government has introduced from primary to junior secondary school. They are not talking about the free feeding for primary schools that we are about to start. We realized that the state also needs quality teachers; so after providing them with these things, they need to have quality teachers and in doing that, the government has decided to send the teachers for training and increase their salaries, which will be one of the best in the country.”