Ganduje and Kano’s many burdens
SOON after his May 29, 2015 inauguration, Dr. Abdullahi Uma Ganduje, who is not new to governance in Kano State having served as Deputy to former governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso for eight years, unveiled his strategic road map to effectively turn around the fortune of the state.
Being a person with tremendous goodwill, the decision by stakeholders in his All Progressive Congress (APC) to pick him as a worthy successor of Kwankwaso was welcome by well meaning citizens of the state.
On assumption of office, he promised to sustain the human capital and developmental agenda of the kwankwasiya philosophy, introduced by the former governor which cardinal objective is anchored on the improvement of the social and economic wellbeing of the teeming population of Kano State.
Barely two weeks on the saddle, Ganduje hit the ground running by ascertaining the level of work on projects initiated by Kwankwaso and the state of indebtedness of the state. His decision to present his nominees into his cabinet at the inauguration of the State House of Assembly attests to his readiness to live up to the challenges of administering the state.
But with shortfall in allocations from the federation account, there are concerns as to whether the Ganduje administration could cope with the debt burden, payment of workers’ salaries as at when due and sustaining on-going projects inherited from his predecessor.
The fear was more pronounced when the Chairman of Transition Committee and the Deputy Governor, Professor Hafiz Abubakar revealed that the new government inherited cash liabilities of N175.5bn, besides almost next to zero naira in the treasury.
According to the committee, the Kwankwaso administration in four years received over N419.5 billion from federal allocation of which about N418.5 billion was expended. Similarly, the committee hinted that N346.5 billion were collected for local government councils out of which N329 billion was spent. Besides, more than ten thousand newly recruited civil service employees were yet to be put pace on the payroll in the last six months.
Few weeks before the end of the Kwankwaso administration, the association of indigenous contractors protested non-payment of over N60 billion debt by the state government, a development that had forced the contractors to abandoned their various sites.
Ganduje who is aware of the huge burden before him has however gave assurance that he would leave no stone unturned to ensure that there are no cases of abandoned projects in the state. According to the abridged report of the transition committee, 4,019 capital projects were completed while 2,715 are on-going. Out of the completed works, an outstanding debt of N4.5 billion is still hanging. For the abandon projects government is indebted to the tune of N105 billion.
The abandoned capital projects that spanned across the state include road network within the metropolis, flyovers, the 5-kilometer road in almost all the 44 local councils, schools, water projects and many others. Away from the debt profile, the yet-uncompleted Independent Power Project (IPP) is another heavy task staring the administration in the face.
Worse still is the fact that these mounting tasks are coming at a point when the state battles with a financial crisis, arising from declining allocation from the Federal Government and poor volume of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Not disturbed by the challenges ahead of him Ganduje had swung to action with all energy within the limited resources. For anyone who is familiar with the terrain and statutory duties of governance would be confidence that Ganduje no doubt would bring to fore his administrative prowess to achieve the targeted goals.
To prove this, Ganduje flagged off seven days emergency sanitation to rid the state of heaps of refuse littering the city centre, a bold step to further prevent possible spread of epidemic. His resolve to downsize the ministries and agencies in the state within few days of resumption of duty indicated that he meant business over his decision to cut down cost of governance.
According to the new governor, the former 19 ministries have now been reduced to 14 and the measure become pertinent not to only cut cost but also to get hitherto docile workers prepared for effective service delivery.
Available information indicated about 99 ministries, departments and agencies in Kano with total number of 143,380 civil servants on the state government payroll. Ganduje who spoke immediately after supervising the swearing-in ceremony of the new Head of Service and Secretary to the State Government, said he is poised to build a vibrant and effective public service to execute government policies. Although the governor declined to unveil the affected ministries, he however allayed fear of retrenchment of workers in the public service.
According to him, “the time has come for public servants to sit up and get it right this time. We are ready to work with responsible and responsive public service and not the dormant. It is time the civil servants start working and organize in line with government reform policies.”
The governor stressed that “the scaling down of government ministries cannot be compromised at this point of our economy. Our allocation from the Federal Government has drastically reduced and we must learn to operate within the limit. Government would make do with every opportunity to cut wastage and unnecessary spending”.
Whoever knows the competence and level of commitment of Ganduje would testify he is a go-getter. His diligence and doggedness when he chaired Kano State Polio eradication brought the deadly virus under maximum control. Today, the level of polio immunisation acceptance particularly within the rural communities in the state has largely improved.
With a clear sight and sincerity of purpose Ganduje was able to effectively manage the cultural and religion sentiments linked with the polio immunization, which eventually secured the supports of locals and community leaders who initially rejected the intervention. As at last check, available record indicated 80 per cent success in the fight against poliovirus in Kano.