Noah Ebije, Kaduna.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-rufai, has said he sees himself as the chief servant of the people while they are his master.
El-Rufai, who said this in a state broadcast, to mark this year’s Democracy Day and his three years in office, yesterday, described the people of the state as heroes of democracy.
He said without the people, who voted him into power, he wouldn’t have become the governor of the state.
The governor also paid tribute to Nigerians who, he said, have sustained the country and its governance; by their elected representatives since 1999.
El-Rufai said: “In democracy, the people are the masters and no one in Nigeria can doubt that.
“Citizens have taken active control of choosing who their leaders should be. From those they have chosen, the people expect service and leadership, not the sort of cowardice, policy vacuum, absence of values and intellectual bankruptcy which masquerade as populism.
“People choose leaders to lead them to a better place, not maroon them in complacent backwardness.
“In Kaduna state, our people have, this month, provided a ringing endorsement of the programmes of our All Progressives Congress (APC) government.
“The local government elections of May 2018 showed that the people of Kaduna state are far ahead of the legion of political contractors who have, for so long, placed their own interests ahead of the people. Their attempt to manipulate the levers of religion and ethnicity keep failing.
“Their concerted effort to instigate crises around necessary reforms undertaken by the government have got no traction. The politician, as middleman, is now an endangered specie!
“The people of Kaduna have said, loudly, that they did not give a mandate for inaction or the preservation of the structures, policies and programmes which have hobbled the state. The people have reaffirmed what they said in 2015, when they gave us a mandate for change. They want their needs to be the priority of government, for public resources to be devoted to sustainable empowerment and human development. They want their children to obtain decent education, their communities to have better hospitals, safe drinking water and roads. They want us to make an effort to create jobs for youths. And they expect us to spend their resources on making life better for them, not pampering the egos of politicians frustrated by our refusal to worship them. The people are the masters and we believe they must always be allowed to express their electoral preferences, freely and fairly.
“With all humility I say, today (yesterday) that our APC Kaduna team will continue to work hard to justify the people’s confidence. Despite the constraints of tight finances, we will continue to do our utmost, to complete our projects.”
Our commitment to promote equality of opportunity will not waver. As diligent custodians of a popular mandate, we have been inspired to do what is necessary, significant and consequential, in the interest of our people.” El-Rufai said in the last three years, his administration has reduced the cost of running government and placed the interest of the people at the heart of its agenda.
“We introduced the Treasury Single Account (TSA), commenced zero-based budgeting and aligned the fiscal and calendar years. Our budgets consistently allocate, at least, 60 percent of revenues for capital projects, and we have, in each of our two full budgets, attained unprecedented levels of capital spending.
“We introduced a new contributory pension scheme on January 1, 2017, and recently announced that pensioners on the defined benefits scheme will no longer have to face arduous physical verification. Rather, from June 2018, all they need to do to verify their status is to visit a bank once every 90 days and submit a thumbprint.
“We’ve completed the 150 million litres per day water treatment plant of the Zaria Water Project and launched the Kaduna State Water Corporation on a significant reform programme. By the grace of God, the reservoirs, transmission and distribution pipework will be completed this year, to provide water to all nooks and crannies of Zaria metropolis.
“We’ll advance the project to upgrade the 255 Primary Health Centres, 23 rural hospitals and various general hospitals. We intend to renovate more schools, complete township roads and continue the programme to retrofit waterworks across the state and improve water supply. The cash cover programme for our senior citizens is already operational, enabling them to settle the cost of being treated for diabetes and hypertension.
“Dialysis continues to be subsidised, for the benefit of our citizens dealing with renal challenges. Routine immunisation of our infants remains an overarching priority. Ante-natal and post-natal treatment for pregnant women and children below five years of age is free in our public hospitals.
“We’ve recruited about 13,000 new primary school teachers. On Saturday, May 19, 2018, another 65,000 applicants for teaching positions wrote aptitude tests in 139 centres across the state. With the response rate, we are confident that we shall soon achieve our target of hiring 25,000 new primary school teachers.
“Most of our people came together to insist on the right of everyone to decent public education. Across the lines of partisan affiliation, people rallied to the message of equal opportunity for all our children through the foundation that decent public schools can help lay.
“This government is, also, strengthening the public healthcare system. We have recruited over 500 midwives to improve our institutional capacity to ensure safer pregnancies and to reduce maternal mortality. We are hiring young people to work in KADIRS, KSMC, the Water Corporation and other establishments. We are recruiting professionals like lawyers, engineers and architects to strengthen governance at the local level.
“At this point, it is important to commend our people, for largely keeping the peace in our communities. We have recently witnessed sad episodes in parts of the state, particularly, in Birnin Gwari and the menace of misguided urban gangs. While we are working to address these challenges, I wish to urge every resident of this state to take seriously their obligation to uphold peace and harmony. Let us all do our utmost to project and defend our common humanity. Let us reject the machinations of those whose viability depends on their ability to divide us.
“Permit me to conclude this address by paying tribute to the resilience of our people. We do not take this for granted. Rather our team is constantly applying itself to achieve substantive results for the people. As we look forward, we ask for your continued trust and support as we do our best to implement the mandate you have given us,” El-rufai said.