From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Knowing fully well that he was going to step on many toes in making Kaduna great again through urban renewal and curbing of financial recklessness in the State ministries, governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State sought for forgiveness from the people in advance.
El-rufai knew that without stepping on toes he would not achieve anything worth commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari.
So when Buhari commissioned roads and other Infrastructural projects in the State penultimate Thursday and Friday, everybody was happy for it.
That was the resultant effect of the tough decisions El-rufai took on May 29, 2019.
Recalled that the Governor had emphatically told the people of the State during his second term inauguration speech delivered at Murtala Mohammed Square, Kaduna, on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, that he was going to take hard decisions to make the crocodile city great again.
So when the Bulldozers began to demolish both legal and illegal structures to give ways to urban renewal, the people lacked words with which to accuse him of any wrongdoings because he had earlier asked for forgiveness.
Interestingly, owners of the affected legal structures were compensated accordingly, while those with illegal structures had to lick their wounds.
Even as they licked their wounds, it became a lesson to others who were still enjoying occupation of illegal structures as they rushed to obtain the necessary documents for such property to have a legal status.
Also, many unqualified heads had to roll in all the ministries and parastatals in the State, giving ways to qualified hands. Thousands of unqualified primary and secondary schools teachers, for instance, were shown the way out.
Today, many Kaduna residents have dropped the emotions of cursing and resorted to praying for El-rufai for the infrastructural transformation of Kaduna.
Of course, those who appear on the cursing lines were the perpetrators of illegality whom were even among those El-rufai had sought for their forgiveness, just for peace to reign.
Therefore, such curses are of no effect and are capable of rebounding to the originators. In this circumstances, governor El-rufai enjoyed more prayers of long life, strength and political Will to continue to step on toes for the common good of the State.
“The challenges confronting us are numerous and they are hard. But if we do our job well we will solve them, with your help, support and prayers. We will continue to take very difficult, and sometime painful decisions. We ask your understanding and forgiveness in advance.
“With your support and prayers, we will not waiver in supporting ordinary people to attain their aspirations. We will continue our tradition of cooperation with the other arms of government in the service of our people. We will devote every energy and talent in Putting People First and making Kaduna great again!”. El-rufai said.
Speaking on insecurity in the State, governor El-rufai noted, “This government has spent much on internal security operations, supporting the security agencies with equipment, vehicles and other logistics and funding. The huge resources that are expended on these internal security operations and containing conflict can be better directed towards improving lives in peaceful communities.
“We have also established the Kaduna State Peace Commission, chaired by Reverend Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion Worldwide and former arch-bishop of Kaduna. Beyond boots on the ground, the most sustainable guarantee of peace is the willingness of communities to live in harmony.
“let us unite in a common endeavour to make ours a state of peace and concord, working to promote equality of opportunity for every resident. Let us cherish our diversity while embracing equal citizenship, the rule of law, and respect for the lives and livelihoods of all who call Kaduna State home.
“As stated in our acceptance speech after the election, we will continue to do our utmost to unite our state and rid our communities of strife. The pain of loss is unbearable, and it has been felt too frequently by too many of our fellow citizens. We must replace the legacy of division and violence with one of peaceful, collective endeavour in progressive undertakings.
“We should not maroon ourselves on the desert islands of identity politics, or neglect the obligations of our common humanity. Strife is not our destiny, and neither is division preordained. Let us come together in the ever more urgent task of human progress. To educate every child. To create jobs. To care for the sick. To protect life and property. To comfort the afflicted. To strive for peace in our time”
On what he had achieved in the first tenure, and what he intended to achieve and improve upon in the second term, he had said, “We pledge to continue the vigorous implementation of our governance agenda of Putting People First. During our first term, we signalled and then demonstrated that we stand firmly with ordinary people. We put the needs of ordinary people at the centre of governance. In education and health, we have shown a commitment with investments to expand the access of ordinary people to these public goods.
“We began to reverse the legacy of neglect we inherited in education, starting the onerous task of upgrading the over 4200 public primary schools in the state. We are supplying school furniture to end the inherited embarrassment of pupils sitting on bare floors.
“Aside from fixing the learning environment, we took bold steps to improve teaching standards. We made basic education truly free and have made education free and compulsory for girls up to the end of senior secondary school. We will continue to fix existing schools and build new classrooms where necessary, and support our teachers to deliver decent public education.
“In the health sector, the focus on strengthening and expanding primary care will continue. It is the best way to reduce maternal and infant mortality, and bring basic care closer to the people. Our commitment to universal health coverage will continue. Therefore, we shall accelerate the implementation of the Contributory Health Insurance Scheme as a priority programme. We will complete the supply chain transformation programme in the health sector that has improved the availability and reduced prices of drugs in our health facilities, we will also emphasize routine immunisation to reduce the impact of vaccine-preventable diseases on our children.
“I am pleased to announce that just yesterday ( Tuesday, May 28) our State Executive Council approved six months maternity leave for our female public servants. This encourages the healthy development of infants through prolonged breastfeeding, among other benefits. Mothers in our state are also reminded that children up to the age of five get free, regular medical check-ups in public hospitals. Please take advantage of this.
“During our first term, we successfully completed the long-delayed Zaria Water project. We shall continue to build, expand and maintain infrastructure to promote the well-being of our people, enhance commercial activities and attract investors. While we have done well to attract over $400m of investments, we need to bring more businesses to create jobs and expand our revenue base. Our endowments in agriculture can benefit from locating more processing activity and agribusiness in our state.
“In 2018, the World Bank ranked Kaduna State as NUMBER ONE state in Nigeria in its of Ease of Doing Business rankings. We shall continue to uphold a positive climate for investors. Investment creates jobs. Jobs put food on every table. We will continue to focus on creating an environment in which people can take care of themselves and their families.
“We did our utmost in the first-term to leave no one behind, designing programmes for children, young adults and senior citizens. These programmes will be strengthened to provide skills for the young, and support for the vulnerable. We have demonstrated that we believe that the answer to poverty is to enable people to achieve economic independence. Our approach has been to empower people with the tools to make the most of themselves.
“This government considers it vital to create a social safety net to ensure that the poorest are not left behind. We will also embark on social housing projects as a means of achieving mass home ownership and promoting social integration. The provision of recreational and leisure facilities across the state will also receive our sustained attention.
“We would continue to reduce waste, combat fraud and cut costs in government. Our first inaugural address committed us to shrinking the size of government. We achieved this by reducing the ministries by more than a quarter, from 19 we inherited to 14, appointing fewer commissioners and significantly reducing the number of permanent secretaries. We shall be announcing further changes in the structure of government to improve efficiency and better serve you.
“The fruits of our efforts to reform grassroots administration, by strengthening the local government system, has become manifest with better project delivery by the local councils. We have rescued the local government councils from bankruptcy and bloated payrolls. The elected chairmen of these now financially-healthier councils are now better equipped to deliver public goods at the grassroots.
“I wish to thank all the people who worked with us in the first-term. Not all of them will be around for the second-term, but we are grateful for their contributions, and for their dedication and many sacrifices on behalf of our state.
“Ours is the government of everyone who lives in Kaduna State. I call on every resident of Kaduna State to join hands with us in the hard tasks that lie ahead. Back in March 2019, we all made our democratic choices, and freely expressed our preferences. Whatever our partisan affiliations and however we might have voted, we are all compatriots and fellow citizens. It is time to put politics aside and work together in the urgent task of improving the lives of all our people, and keeping them safe. Amidst so much poverty, division is an unaffordable luxury”.
And when President Buhari was done with the commissioning, he expressed excitement, and commended El-Rufai for committing himself to changing Kaduna, noting that the Kaduna State Governor has been successful in that quest.
While noting the impact of the urban renewal programme, President Buhari said that he couldn no longer find his way around Kaduna, even as someone who had lived in the city for long.
Commending El-Rufai, the president said, “you have committed yourself to changing Kaduna and you have been very successful and people throughout the country are appreciating it. You are writing your history in letters of gold. I congratulate you for your achievements so far.”
The president commissioned some of the 19 completed urban renewal road projects, including the reconstructed Kawo Flyover, an almost one kilometre long dual carriageway with three ground rotaries, the 5.6km Aliyu Makama Road, the multi-storey Basic Education Mega-School in Lokoja Road in Rigasa, and the dualised Yakubu Gowon Way and Leventis Underpass.
President Buhari also commissioned the Infectious Disease Hospital in Mando, after Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, explained the thinking behind the project. He also commissioned the fertiliser blending plant of Barbedos Group.
Malam Nasir El-Rufai launched the Kaduna State Urban Renewal Programme in June 2019, shortly after which the projects commenced in Kaduna before those of Kafanchan and Zaria started. “The goal of the urban renewal programme is to regenerate Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria, the three major cities in the state.”
According to Malam El-Rufai, “these unprecedented investments in urban infrastructure is to consolidate the state’s position as an investment destination, improve its economic competitiveness and promote the welfare of the residents of the state.”