New Year message from Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State.

I felicitate with the people of Kaduna State as we welcome a new year. We invoke the blessings of the Almighty on all our people, that harmony will prevail in our land and that the apostles of violence and division will be shamed. We have high hopes for 2017; that it will be a year of peace and growth for our state, and our country, Nigeria.

For us in Kaduna State, 2016 was a year of attainments and challenges. We made tangible progress in implementing our governance agenda. Much has been done, but much more remains to accomplish. Through it all, we have confronted our difficulties with the same decisiveness that has produced results across sectors. We have imposed discipline on the finances of our state, increased IGR and ensured that we pass our budget well before a new calendar year.

We demonstrated our credentials as a state that is open for business. The quality of attendance and participation at the Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit (KADInvest), held in April 2016, testified that the private sector recognises our commitment to promoting investments and job-creation. The Olam and Vicampro investments in the agricultural sector are some of the concrete outcomes of this investment drive.

In each of our five priority areas, we made advances in the interest of our people. After the first phase of school rehabilitation, we decided that the needs of today and the medium-term require that we embark of a comprehensive reconstruction of schools, and this is captured in the 2017 Budget. Our partner, GE Healthcare, has launched the biggest ever refit of hospitals in Kaduna State. This scheme is equipping 255 primary health centres and 23 general hospitals with facilities to improve maternal and infant care, and to offer safer surgery.

Our infrastructure upgrade programme is delivering better township roads, including the dualisation of major roads. The long-delayed Zaria Water project is nearing completion. In 2016, we delivered affordable fertilizer for our farmers without entangling the government in subsidy. Our government also upheld its decision not to spend public funds on pilgrimage.

The policy and legal architecture to support a new approach to governance was completed. Legislation for a new tax code, public finance management and procurement have been passed and new agencies created to manage a new electronic land registry, and to manage all government facilities.

Amidst these successes, we have experienced security challenges in parts of southern Kaduna. We regret and condemn the loss of lives and property, and the disruption of social order that have been sadly witnessed in those areas. We welcome the assistance of the Federal Government in deploying additional security assets to the area. Through all these, we have been guided by the immensity of our oath of office, rather than the media headlines.

The human toll that our compatriots in southern Kaduna have been seized upon as an occasion for much irresponsible commentary and intense efforts to fan division. I wish to assure all the people of Kaduna State that we will continue to do our best to uphold security and to promote peace and harmony. That duty also imposes on us an obligation to vigorously uphold the rule of law, punish hate speech and incitement.

I call on all the people of Kaduna State to ensure that we march into 2017 together, upholding harmony and a common humanity and jointly pursuing those policies and programmes that can best enhance the progress and live chances of our people. Let us resist the urge to demonise the other or attribute the worst to people whose religion or language differs from ours.

Let us keep hope alive and work together to make 2017 a better year for all.

God bless Kaduna State.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

Governor of Kaduna State

31 December 2016.