By Sulaiman Yunusa
Since May 29, 2015 when the administration of Rabi’u Kwankwaso handed over power to the incumbent government of Abdullahi Ganduje, the present administration was left with a huge liability to the tune of over N300 billion.
This is a huge burden owing to the fact that Nigeria was in economic crisis, occasioned by the crash in price of petroleum in the world market, which left the state governments with meagre monthly allocation from the Federal Government.
Hence, the attention of the incumbent administration shifted towards strategizing for alternative source of income to settle the debts and deliver projects to masses who voted the government into power.
Despite the dwindling oil revenue, the first feat achieved by Governor Ganduje was sustaining payment of monthly salaries, pensions and entitlements of the government workers. This came at a time when about 27 states of the federation were unable to pay salaries to their workers, despite receiving bailouts from the federal government.
In addition to payment of salary, Governor Ganduje resolved to fulfil his campaign promises by completing abandoned projects by past administration, just as he embarked on new projects sprawling across the 44 local governments of the state. From Kano Kal-Kal, Yantebura Mall down to Karkara Salamu Alaikum, Ganduje launched ambitious pet projects aimed at improving the socio-economic well-being of the people.
As part of a group editors who were guided round by the state commissioner of Information, Mohammed Garba, to see the wonderful achievements of Ganduje in less than two years, I came to terms with the real infrastructural developments taking place in the state today.
New well-paved and beautifully lit roads are being constructed around the state. Completion of projects left haphazardly such as the underpasses have either been completed or at completion stage.
The completion of Zoo Road Paediatric and Giginyu General hospitals, started by Ibrahim Shekarau and abandoned by Kwankwaso, was really commendable. We toured the hospital and saw the level of work in the important project.
As we visited the largest underpass bridge in Northern Nigeria at Madobi Road in Kumbotso Local Government area of the state, everyone was marvelled at the quality of work and rate at which the contract was executed.
In order to realise his campaign dreams, he initiated reform in the revenue sector in order to have a lasting source of revenue for the state. The commissioner told us that during his electioneering campaigns, Ganduje emphasised on Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) as paramount to funding projects.
When we asked the governor how he sourced the revenue to fund the projects we witnessed, Ganduje said, “We reformed the internally generated revenue board by removing all the civil servants from revenue collection and sent them back to the Head of Civil Service and then employed the best practices in modern revenue collection.”
“We instituted a recruitment outfit and invited almost anybody interested to work in that place. After completing the recruitment which was transparent, we made the outfit independent that we are not paying their salary. We are only giving them a percentage of whatever they collect. And a group of young men and women who have experience and knowledge pertaining to modern revenue collection. I think that was the beginning of the struggle,” he added.
There is no gain saying the fact that the revenue reform was paying off, taking in to cognisance the many projects being executed in virtually every sector.
In economic development, Ganduje has recorded successes. Projects like Kano Light Rail, Kano Economic City, Independent Power Project have far-reaching importance to the state.
At the Kano Economic Project site, the commissioner told us that the state had entered a joint venture development agreement with Brains and Hammers Ltd, a foremost real estate and infrastructure development company in Nigeria, to establish a world-class centre of trade and commerce on 117.2 hectares of land.
According to him, KEC is designed to accommodate a trade center, a wholesale and retail market comprising state-of-the-art warehousing facilities totaling over 80,000 sqm and over 10,000 wholesale and retail shops, an education institute, light factories/industries, a conference center, banks, office complex, health center, police station, a games park, fire station, international coach station, a five-star hotel, motel, passenger and goods motor parks, trailer park, ancillary buildings and ample green areas, among others.
He said upon completion, the project is expected to cost N167.5 billion and will be developed under a BOOT (Build Operate Own and Transfer) arrangement.
In agriculture, the state government has achieved a lot in introduction of several agricultural support programmes in a bid to alleviate poverty and develop the sector. In view of this commitment, the state government has achieved successes in rice and wheat production, thereby saving Nigeria from spending $5 million for importation of food monthly.
We learnt that to encourage local farmers, the Ganduje administration had created enabling environment for rice and wheat farmers by giving them soft loan to the tune of N100 million in a bid to improve local production. The state government had also provided 5,000 irrigation farms for the local rice and wheat farmers.
In the health sector, the Ganduje administration has also recorded unprecedented achievements with a period of two years. Many health programmes were put in place. Health facilities were being upgraded to the standard level. We were taken round the warehouses where the modern hospital equipment for Zoo Road paediatric and Giginyu General Hospitals are kept before installation in the new hospitals. We also visited a modern hospital built by Ganduje in Dawakin Tofa Local Government.
The administration also provided the first Computerised Tomographic Scan Machine, popularly known as CT Scan Machine, currently being installed at the Abdullahi Wase Hospital. It was the first of a kind in Northern Nigeria.
In the area of education, the governor last month launched Education Week where various education activities were held in a bid to boost education in the state. In a bid to ensure equal opportunity in education for all, Ganduje administration introduced the Education Promotion Committees in the 44 LGs of the state. The committees were given N10 million each and asked them to go for additional fund within the communities.
The Kano Basic Education Week, a brainchild of Governor Ganduje, is an initiative that aims at assessing the critical importance of basic education as the bedrock or foundation for further education. The concept also stresses the need for community participation, given the huge challenges in the sector and paucity of funds at government’s disposal.
Education is one of the sectors that take the lead in the state’s 2017 budget, with a whopping N17.5 billion set aside for the development of education.
Ganduje, we learnt, had earmarked N500 million this year for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of classrooms, N640 million for the construction of staff residences, toilets and others, while N8 billion is set for capital projects in the education sector.
The administration also set aside N1 billion for the completion of abandoned technical colleges in the state, while N2.4 billion will go for the completion of some projects in the North West University, Kano.
Another great achievement of Ganduje in the education sector was the promotion of over one thousand teachers who were stagnated without promotion for over 10 years. This was a welcome development that would motivate the teachers in a bid to provide quality education..
With what we saw and the testimonies we heard, there is no gain saying the fact that Ganguje is one silent achiever whose projects touch the lives of the people in many areas.
Taking cognisance of the meagre federal allocation of about N4 billion as against the N9 billion average the state was receiving during the immediate-past administration, the huge salary bill of the state, one cannot but salute the state governor for achieving this feat.