From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
On Monday, June 15, Kano state Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje hosted working journalists and media executives based in Kano, at Africa House, Government House, where he gave a capsule review of his modest achievements within the last five years in office.
In his welcome address during the Media Forum which was part of activities to mark this year’s Democracy Day, the state Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, noted that the Forum is a yearly meeting which gives journalists the opportunity to interact with Governor Ganduje, assess and appraise his achievements, as well as criticize his policies where necessary.
Garba, however, regretted that the wave of the dreaded COVID-19 which has continued to ravage the world could not avail Journalists the usual opportunity to glance at various developmental projects of the Ganduje administration. He, however, opened the floor for questions on the projects, progress and challenges of the Ganduje administration.
In his remarks, Ganduje maintained that in the last five years of democratic governance, Kano has gone from being a pictogram of urban malady to a widely alluded specimen of effective leadership and a reference point for infrastructure development in the country, pointing out that the state has flourished in multiplying its tax revenues, using part of these resources to initiate or renew basic infrastructure and encourage public services for the benefit of the common man.
Ganduje, who agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on the state economy and the wheels of governance announced that the 2020 budget has been cropped down by 30 per cent, but promised that his administration will make frantic efforts to complete ongoing projects.
He maintained that the fight against the novel COVID-19 is impacting negatively on the state approved estimated budget of N206.2billion for the 2020 fiscal year, considering that the outbreak of corona virus was reported just few weeks into the signing the annual appropriation bill into law, after it was passed by the state House of Assembly.
He said the new challenge posed by the dreaded disease is compelling spending outside the appropriation, while the economy has been shut down due to the lockdown imposed on the state with near zero revenue generation except the Federal Government allocation which has also been shrinking, due to dwindling and unstable price of crude oil at the international market.
However, while in the last five years, the Ganduje administration, faced with the numerous challenges from the onset, especially with regard to pausity of funds, occasioned by the downturn in economic fortune of the country, he managed to make significant inroads towards implementing its development agenda, through its sweeping reforms on tax administration in the state which has given rise to in an increase in the revenue generation profile within the span of the first three years he came into office. No doubt, some of the gigantic infrastructure development being undertaken by the administration are from the proceeds of the administration’s sound tax policy.
Though the Ganduje administration is not contemplating on initiating new infrastructure development projects in view of the prevailing situation, it is however committed to a deliberate policy on the completion of all ongoing projects in both urban and rural areas of the state. This include hospitals, water supply, roads, flyovers, underpasses, bridges as part of noble futuristic moves to decongest the roads to pave way for efficient traffic flow for enhanced business and economic activities, conducive ambience for local and foreign investment in the state with its teeming population and make the state a 24-hour economy.
Ganduje named some of the projects completed this year to include Aminu Alhassan Dantata flyover, the longest in northern Nigeria; Tijjani Hashim Underpass at Kofar Ruwa/Bukavu Barracks Junction; Karfi – Rano – Kibiya – Kwanar Sumaila Road and the nearly completed Dangi/Umar Bin Khattab Interchange Sheik Karibullah Sheik Nasiru Kabara Flyover.
He said projects involving the expansion and development of the state over-stretched health facilities will also continue including ongoing construction of the state-of-the-art cancer center at Muhammad Buhari Specialist Hospital, while consolidating on its strategies that engender sustainable food production by creating enabling , adequate and timely supply of fertilizer to farmers at government’s approved prize, ground for easy access to credit facility for farmers especially rice and wheat farmers, among others.
Another ground breaking achievements of the Ganduje administration in the last one year is tackling the issue of herdsmen/Fulani has been a challenge that has mitigated the efforts of our security systems. The RUGA settlement project entails settlement of cattle rearers in a single location, lessening the clashes between them and farmers, government has allocated thousands of hectares from the Falgore Forests as grazing reserves and settlements to cattle breeders to run their businesses of the cattle industry and at the same time provides a ready location for herders that stations them in one location.
Ganduje confidently stated that, “Kano state as it is today, remains one of the most peaceful state in the country. This is not by chance, but with full cooperation of security agencies, community leaders and other stakeholders,” adding that his administration built over seven dormitories for security operatives at all entry points of the state where over 60 specially trained security operatives man and monitor movement of people in and outside the state.
He further stated that his administration provided security agencies with sophisticated gadgets which has helped in tracking down bandits, terrorists and kidnappers from neighbouring states, just as it recently built a multi-million Naira Military Training Facility at Falgore Forest.
On agriculture, Ganduje said his government has invested hugely in commercial production of rice, wheat and tomatoes, adding that farmers in Kano have been enjoying subsidy on fertilizer as the state now boasts of the biggest fertilizer blending plant in Nigeria, which supplies fertilizer to other states across the country.
He added that the state government has also secured a facility of 64.5 million Euros from a French Development Agency which has already take off this year. Approval has been given under the Integrated Water and Agriculture Development Project for the Islamic Development Bank’s water component facility of $200 million for water supply project in the state.
While all schools remain closed due the pandemic, the Ganduje administration introduces Radio and Television lesson programmes for pupils and students especially those who are going to sit for WAEC/SSCE examinations. It is also delivering its promise of providing free and compulsory education for primary and secondary school pupils and students, while it has recruited of 1,536 female teachers for primary schools across the state; 3,000 teachers to teach in Primary Schools across the 44 Local Government Areas of the State.
The Almajiri system of education, which to some extent has been politicized, is now formally abolished in the state as arrangements have been completed to enroll all repatriated almajirai to Kano from other states into conventional educational system designed to take the Almajiris off the street as beggars and also give them sound and adequate education that can equal them to other school children in terms of access to qualitative education.
Other feats recorded include establishment of College of Medical Science at Yusuf Maitama Sule University (YUMSUK); introduction of 16 new faculties at Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil (KUST); accreditation of over 51 new causes at Kano State Polytechnic and other Colleges of education; construction of 300 capacity theatre hall and students Common Room at Aminu Kano College of Legal and Islamic Studies (AKCILS); establishment of ICT Centre and renovation of Annex at Kano state College of Education and Preliminary Studies (KASCEPS).
Ganduje said his administration has ensured that major markets in the state are expanded with major infrastructure and needed amenities, including installation of solar system to avoid incessant fire outbreak caused by electrical installations. According to him, the multi-million Naira Kano Economic City which was abandoned by previous administration will soon be completed as work is going on there in earnest.
Moreso, Ganduje maintained that one of his major achievements remained the creation of four additional Emirates in the state which has directly impacted on the lives of the people and development of the state.He insisted that he has no regret to have engaged in the reforms of Kano Traditional System which gave birth to the creation of the four new Emirate Councils, even though it led to the deposition of former Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi 11.
According to him, Sanusi, the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) lost his position as the Emir of Kano because he refused to be part of the reforms in the traditional system, which was conceived for the best interest of Kano and the people of the state, adding that, “the former Emir of Kano who refused to be part of the reforms has to find his way out so that the reforms can be completed and the new Emirates have come to stay.”
He also agreed that some legal issues instituted by deposed Emir Sanusi and some Kano Elders loyal to him actually slowed down the speed at which the traditional reforms would have been concluded. But Ganduje added that, “today, there is no legal issues before the Court of Law as regards to the reforms of the traditional system,” insisting that, “we created four additional Emirates because we intended to decentralize development. We intended to create more cities outside the major metropolitan cities of Kano. All these we can not do by chance. We also created these new Emirates because we want to increase participation of traditional rulers in governance.”
Commenting on the alleged N2.2 billion land scam involving the deposed Emir Sanusi, Ganduje said since the Court has cleared the way for his investigation, “the state anti-corruption agency will continue probing and investigating the former Emir according to the Law.” Ganduje also stated that as a result of the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic, his administration has decided to reduce the 2020 budget by 30 per cent, adding that there will be a show of determination to complete ongoing projects in the state.
Ganduje’s scorecard, however, received commendation from the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) as the Kano state chapter chairman, Comrade Abbas Ibrahim, urged him to put more efforts in dispensing democratic dividends to the people, while commending him for respecting the principles of Freedom of the Press and giving journalists in the state the needed support to perform their constitutional responsibilities without intimidation or molestation, even in times when their stories and news reports are not favourable to government policies and expectations.