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$350m Budget Support Loan and the enemy within

The recent hullabaloo that greeted the $350 million World Bank loan, granted to Kaduna state, has conspicuously unmasked Senator Shehu Sani as the greatest enemy…

The recent hullabaloo that greeted the $350 million World Bank loan, granted to Kaduna state, has conspicuously unmasked Senator Shehu Sani as the greatest enemy of Kaduna state and her people. The enemy of Kaduna’s progress, whose egocentric demeanor, as the Chairman of Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debt, is putting the entire lives of Kaduna residents at risk of losing the dividends of democracy promised by Governor El-Rufai. 

However, the $350m budget support facility  granted to Kaduna State since June, that the Senator, (by virtue of just his titular title as the Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debt), is now playing the politics of obstructionism with; is to help the state to actualize its desires for bringing concrete development to the people of the state. The proposed 2018 Budget Estimates -for which reason the $350 Million loan is being sought in order to fund it, has dedicated 60.54% of the entire budget to Capital Expenditure and 39.46% Recurrent Expenditure, with more emphasis on building and construction of schools, hospitals and roads. This is in itself showcases the seriousness of Governor El-Rufai in bringing infrastructural development to state. For many years, what we’d came to know as budget rituals  have always recurrent expenditures on the higher side against the capital expenditures. But from 2015 to date El-Rufai has change the tide.  

The reason for this is thus: infrastructural development is vital to every society that wishes to be recognized as a model of development because developing infrastructure is a key to the many doors of societal progress be it Agriculture, Health or Commerce. And giving the fact that Kaduna State; as metropolitan as it is, and which is the nerve-centre of the North and one of the strategic states in the country that supposes to be the mother of other state; sadly, it is one of the backward states now in the country. This stems from (among many other factors) our deficit in infrastructure.

For the sake of analyses here, I will present both the general and specific reasons for seeking this loan. To begin with, it is worth repeating here that Kaduna State has been for many years suffering from the serious crises of development, ranging from human capital to material capital, with attendant effects of unemployment, epileptic power and water supply, decaying infrastructure, moribund industries, and most importantly the collapse of institution of governance.

There is no gainsaying that the state is now on the path of recovery, transformation and progress. This is not a mere happenstance or an unsought serendipity. It is a sum total of the collective efforts of Governor El-Rufai and his team. A sheer determination, systematic approach, planning, and sacrifice; driven by an uttermost sense of responsibility and selfless service.  Also the reflection of this commitment bore its transition from 29th of May 2015 to date. This journey of making Kaduna great again embarked upon by the APC in Kaduna is being faced with an unpredictable difficulties because, among other things the price of oil, as the major determinant of the state’s grant has crashed from the very early days of APC and what PDP bequeathed as a legacy to the incoming administration of APC was nothing but dilapidated schools, empty hospitals without drugs and machines, bad roads, insecurity and crimes. 

In fact they left to us, a nearly-collapsed state. Of course a nearly collapsed state because when El-Rufai took over the affairs of the state, what remained as the state was nothing but a portrait of grotesque and skeletal entity; hemorrhaged as a result of many years of bad of governance. 

The Restoration Master-plan of El-Rufai was set to address these maladies as encapsulated in the governor’s five-point agenda (Education & health, security, public service reform, development of infrastructure and promotion of agriculture and food security). And the governor started with a far-reaching reforms, especially structural and institutional reforms. 

Education, as an important element of human capital, was the first priority of the governor when he assumed office. This is because education is said to be the bedrock of societal development which plays a vital role in absorbing modern technology and increases the capacity for self-sustenance, but our own state of education sector was in a complete state of deterioration. The shocking revelations was that 50% of public schools in the state used floors due to absence of furniture. The 4,250 public primary schools have no doors, roofs, and windows. There were also no water and toilet facilities. Some of the schools were overfilled with more than the required number of students. There was a school in Rigasa with 29,000 pupils. This state of decadence was the immediate reason that galvanized the instinct of the Governor to quickly declared state of emergency on education. The government started with the supply of 186,000 units of school furniture, and also renovated 600 primary schools and 200 hundred secondary schools. 

The net effects of this giant stride at the short time was that, the number of school enrollment in the state increased astronomically, especially in primary schools when the government introduced free feeding program.

But the rottenness in education alone is much, and overwhelmed the reality of the condition of our revenue base, vis-à-vis external grant, coupled with ever-growing expectations of the people to see the Change they were being promised.     

It is against the backdrop of this disturbing reality of the paucity of funds, that the governor and his Executive Council, in concordance with the Honourable Minister of Finance agreed to seek loan from the world bank with a very low interest rate, as low as 0.5% and with a grace of ten years moratorium. 

According to the World Bank, Kaduna state under the amiable leadership of governor El-Rufai has taken the “economic transformation program and number of other reform actions to improve its economic performance and social outcomes and sustain this reform effort”.

It is also on the strength of the loan proposal, the repayment plan, the state debt profile and most importantly the purpose for which the loan is being sought for, that the Bank quickly approved it since 20th of June 2017, subject to the ratification of the National Assembly.

But now it is curiously strange that as finest an unambiguous the loan proposal is, Senator Shehu Sani is playing the obstructionist. He has been sponsoring fictitious groups with different bogus names to go and tender a petition against the loan. In some instances he was alleged to be writing the purported petitions himself and giving these fake groups to go and submit to him under the full glare of camera men.

This to me is not only pettiness, but the highest degree of self-centeredness. Kaduna state is one, and the general interest of its people should be at the front burner all the time. No matter the political differences, no matter what; the general interests of the citizenry must be the first consideration of each and every person that occupies the position of authority in the name of the state. It is beyond me and every good citizen of Kaduna state, that just because the Senator is begrudging the governor, and just because he bears ill-will towards Dr. Uba Sani, (the Political Adviser to the governor) we the people of the state, the ultimate beneficiaries of this loan would be at the receiving end. 

However, he has been spreading flimsy excuses trying to justify his reasons for not assenting to the loan request. One of the lame points is that the purpose for which the loan is being sought for is not too clear and that it is too heavy for the state. This to me is the dumbest excuse one can give. The fact that America is the most indebted country in the world and the same time the most developed country, has belie the lame excuses senator is busy dishing out. Down to our country home, Lagos state is also the most indebted state in Nigeria but still the most advance state in the country economically. Kaduna does not seek loan for the purpose of settling its wage bills but for capital projects and that has been very clear in the proposal. 

In view of that people need to know that the man who claims to be pro-poor is toying with their lives because of his personal politics. And also, it is not out of place to say that, by his antics Senator Shehu is the enemy of Kaduna progress, and I believe this is valid conclusion. And this should be a wakeup call for the people of zone two in Kaduna, that man who did nothing for them apart from commissioning borehole is now working hard to stop developmental projects  from reaching them. 

Maigamo is the Special Assistant to the Governor of Kaduna State on Public Affairs.

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