Gan­duje and Kano mod­ern­iza­tion

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

Gov­er­nor Ab­dul­lahi Umar Gan­duje’s pedi­gree put him far ahead of other con­tes­tants who wanted to gov­ern Kano, Nige­ria’s cen­tre of com­merce, in 2015. Firstly, he was a deputy gov­er­nor in the pre­ced­ing govern­ment. His ac­quain­tance with the govern­ment in­sti­tu­tions and peo­ple in the state gave him that rare priv­i­lege of un­der­stand­ing the ma­jor chal­lenges of Kano state econ­omy, and spe­cific con­straints be­ing faced by play­ers in dif­fer­ent eco­nomic sec­tors, pri­vate and pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions, re­gions and pro­fes­sional bod­ies.

Se­condly, Gov­er­nor Gan­duje is well read. He has NCE, B.Sc, M.Sc, MPA and PhD de­grees to his credit from the pres­ti­gious Bayero Uni­ver­sity Kano, Ah­madu Bello Uni­ver­sity Zaria, and Nige­ria’s pre­mier uni­ver­sity, the Uni­ver­sity of Ibadan. The ver­sa­til­ity demon­strated in the pur­suit of these cer­tifi­cates, con­sid­er­ing that it is not an easy task to ob­tain a de­gree in Nige­ria, shows his dogged­ness and tes­ti­fies to his met­tle.

Gov­er­nor Gan­duje also has a very rich pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence span­ning pri­vate busi­ness and pub­lic ser­vice, be­fore join­ing pol­i­tics. He was a per­son­nel man­ager with Nor­nit Lim­ited Kano for two years. In the pub­lic sec­tor, he served as an ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer; a lec­turer and later as an ad­min of­fi­cer with the Fed­eral Cap­i­tal De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (FCDA), where he rose to be­come the direc­tor of plan­ning, re­search and sta­tis­tics. He was at a time a mem­ber of the Nige­rian Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity (NCAA); chair­man, Fed­eral Polytech­nic; and the Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Lake Chad Basin Com­mis­sion at Nd­ja­mena, Chad Re­pub­lic.

With his wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence, he an­chored his man­i­festoes on twelve dif­fer­ent pro­grammes, in­clud­ing: com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion; es­tab­lish­ment of due process bu­reau; hous­ing; re­gional water scheme; agri­cul­ture; health ser­vice and war against drug abuse; se­cu­rity; boost­ing in­ter­nally gen­er­ated rev­enue (IGR) and rein­vig­o­rat­ing the Kano mas­ter plan, among oth­ers.

No mat­ter how bril­liant the ideals of any ad­min­is­tra­tion, they will only fly on the wings of reg­u­lar and sus­tain­able rev­enues. This means the is­sue of fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity must be ad­dressed as a mat­ter of pri­or­ity. He, there­fore, re­formed the State Board of In­ter­nal Rev­enue into a more pro­fes­sional agency to en­hance rev­enue gen­er­a­tion.

In ad­di­tion, his ap­proaches were quite sim­ple and straight­for­ward. He brought in pro­fes­sional ac­coun­tants, tax ad­min­is­tra­tors, prac­ti­tion­ers well versed with the tech­ni­cal­i­ties of tax­a­tion for both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors.

These in­no­va­tions have started to pay off. In the last fis­cal year, the state’s IGR rose a record 127 per­cent to N31 bil­lion in 2016 up from N13.61 bil­lion in 2015. This feat was unique in the sense that be­tween 2012 and 2014, Kano’s an­nual IGR stood at N13.95 bil­lion on the av­er­age.

An idle mind is the devil’s work­shop, so says the sage. If past find­ings have linked poverty with in­sur­gency and other vices, then, any ad­min­is­tra­tion not fo­cus­ing on job cre­ation must have its pro­grammes re-eval­u­ated. So far, 1,857 teach­ers have been em­ployed by the state’s min­istry of ed­u­ca­tion; 874 prac­ti­tion­ers re­cruited into dif­fer­ent units within the health min­istry while 1,036 in­di­vid­u­als em­ployed into the state’s se­cu­rity out­fits, Cor­po­rate Se­cu­rity Guards. Above all, 1,715 tem­po­rary em­ploy­ees un­der the min­istry of ed­u­ca­tion have been con­verted into per­ma­nent and pen­sion­able sta­tus.

As an aca­demic and a for­mer ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer, Gov­er­nor Gan­duje was well equipped with the pas­sion and knowhow to ad­dress the chal­lenges of the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor. He chose his projects in this sec­tor very care­fully. The teach­ing staff were the first port of call. Since the qual­ity of stu­dents is linked to the level of ed­u­ca­tion of the in­struc­tors, Gov­er­nor Gan­duje’s ad­min­is­tra­tion started by train­ing and re­train­ing the ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion teach­ing staff. This was sup­ported with the re­lease of match­ing grant to the Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic Pro­ject (UBE) and coun­ter­part fund­ing for the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) as well as the ren­o­va­tion of schools while teach­ing ma­te­ri­als are pro­vided to schools across the 44 lo­cal gov­ern­ments in the state. The ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions in the state es­pe­cially the Northwest Uni­ver­sity and Kano Uni­ver­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Wudil have wit­nessed the com­ple­tion of no­table cap­i­tal projects such as halls, lec­ture the­atres and lab­o­ra­to­ries.

Nowa­days, any state govern­ment that ig­nores the agri­cul­ture sec­tor does so at its own peril. This is be­cause, apart from be­ing the largest em­ployer of labour in the coun­try, the sec­tor has re­mained re­silient to the forces of re­ces­sion, while other sec­tors wit­nessed lower eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties since 2016.

The re­newed in­ter­est in lo­cally grown pro­duce such as rice, maize and sorghum, opened vast op­por­tu­ni­ties to small hold­ers and com­mer­cial farm­ers.

To­wards this end, ma­jor agri­cul­tural pro­grams have fo­cused on the re­sus­ci­ta­tion of Kano State Agri­cul­tural Sup­ply Com­pany (KASCO) and Kano State Agri­cul­tural and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (KNARDA) for the sup­ply of in­sec­ti­cides, qual­ity seeds, adapt­able farm im­ple­ments and pro­vi­sion of ex­ten­sion ser­vices. His ad­min­is­tra­tion has also tapped into the Cen­tral Bank of Nige­ria’s (CBN) loans to farm­ers. A to­tal of N2 bil­lion is be­ing sourced for farm­ing re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties in the state through the CBN scheme. This was also sup­ported by the distri­bu­tion of 5,000 water pump to all farm­ers, com­pact seal­ing ma­chines, com­bined har­vesters, N100 mil­lion loans to wheat farm­ers, while some 60 lo­cal Fu­lani herds­men were trained abroad on ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion.

Gov­er­nor Gan­duje’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has recorded some of the suc­cesses high­lighted above through the cor­dial re­la­tion­ship it en­joys with the leg­isla­tive arm while the state’s civil ser­vice is in com­plete har­mony with his pro­grams. Since its in­au­gu­ra­tion on June 8, 2015, Kano State House of As­sem­bly has passed 15 bills, thereby fur­ther en­hanc­ing the ca­pac­ity of the state govern­ment to de­liver at the pace wit­nessed in the last two years.

Some of the bills passed in­clude the Land Use Charge Bill; Tax and Levy Bill; Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Bill; Lo­cal Govern­ment Amend­ment Bill and Pen­sion and Gra­tu­ity Amend­ment Bill; Kano State Con­trib­u­tory Health Care Scheme; Kid­nap­ping, Ab­duc­tion and Forced Labour Amend­ment Bill, and the Metropoli­tan Trans­port Au­thor­ity Bill.

Fur­ther­more, Gov­er­nor Gan­duje con­sid­ers prompt pay­ment of work­ers’ salaries a pre­req­ui­site for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. There­fore, while some state gov­ern­ments owe the civil ser­vice back­logs of salaries due to re­ces­sion, Kano State Govern­ment un­der Gov­er­nor Gan­duje has ef­fec­tively em­ployed his fi­nan­cial en­gi­neer­ing skills gar­nered over the years from both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor to promptly pay work­ers’ salaries and re­mit monthly pen­sion deductions timely and even pay pen­sion ar­rears by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments on monthly ba­sis, even when the monthly fed­eral rev­enue al­lo­ca­tion has nose­dived.

What’s more, in­vestors are mon­i­tor­ing the re­forms and progress be­ing made in the state. At present, a num­ber of them have in­vested in Kano State ahead of other states in the coun­try. The ris­ing con­fi­dence among the in­vest­ing com­mu­nity within and out­side the state ex­plains why the govern­ment re­cently signed 10 mem­o­ran­dums of un­der­stand­ing (MoUs) with dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies dur­ing 50th an­niver­sary since the cre­ation of the State. These com­pa­nies will in­vest N146 bil­lion in the state. This is aside the di­rect and in­di­rect job op­por­tu­ni­ties they will cre­ate, and their im­pact on the tax base of the state.

Amongst the new in­vestors in Kano State are Black Rhino/ Dan­gote Group which are to con­struct a 100-megawatt so­lar pro­ject es­ti­mated at $150 mil­lion. In a sim­i­lar vein, St. Meer In­ter­na­tional In­vest­ment and Man­age­ment Com­pany will in­vest $120 mil­lion in a sim­i­lar pro­ject. In ad­di­tion, just re­cently, Shan­dong Ruyi Tech­nol­ogy Group, a multi­na­tional Chi­nese com­pany, com­mit­ted to in­vest­ing $600 mil­lion into the tex­tile and gar­ment sec­tor of Kano State. The dis­clo­sure was made by the Chair­man, Kano State In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Agency, Isyaku Umar Tofa.

The first two years have con­firmed that Gov­er­nor Gan­duje has walked the talk as his lega­cies are vis­i­bly ev­ery­where in the state. The next two years prom­ise to be more ful­fill­ing. “We want to make Kano state a func­tional and self-sustaining one through im­proved so­cial ser­vices, boost­ing of agri­cul­ture, ad­e­quate water sup­ply, pro­vi­sion of qual­i­ta­tive ed­u­ca­tion, health­care and In­ter­nally Gen­er­ated Rev­enue (IGR). We have suc­ceeded in chan­nelling most of our en­er­gies to de­vel­op­ment mat­ters of the State. I be­lieve that this at­ti­tude will con­tinue to pre­vail as we now move into more ag­gres­sively im­ple­ment­ing our de­vel­op­ment plan,” said Gov­er­nor Gan­duje.

Mrs. Bello wrote this piece from Kano.

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