Remarks by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, at the 8th Annual Conference of the National Assembly and State Legislative Service Commissions, held at the Umaru Yar’Adua Hall, Kaduna, on 14th September 2021
1. It is my pleasure to welcome you all to Kaduna for the annual conference of the National Assembly and State Legislative Service Commissions.
2. The theme of your annual conference,Repositioning Assembly Service Commissions for Optimal Service Delivery, speaks to an important issue about the substantive purpose of the public service. No country can rise much above the quality of its public service, the men and women on whose shoulders rest the duty to deliver public goods, regulate markets and institutions and enforce law and order. This goal of service requires dedication and zeal, but also the skill, knowledge and human qualities to make the best choices in developing policies and in implementing programmes.
3. Therefore, constant attention to public service reform is a non-negotiable requirement for the progress of any country.The public service requires investments in the skills, training, work tools and welfare of its personnel, along with careful attention to its size and its efficient adoption of technology. Nigeria does not need an endless profusion of new agencies in the public sector, but a more efficient deployment of what already exists, strengthening those are actually needed as part of the effective deployment of public resources.
4. In Kaduna State, we have created new agencies where needed and restructured ministries, departments and agencies. We inherited 19 ministries in 2015, and we reduced them to 14. We have fewer commissioners than previous governments. Where our immediate predecessors had 24 commissioners, we are operating with only 14, six of whom are women.
5. The Kaduna State Legislative Service Commission is responsible for the appointment, promotion and discipline of the public servants that support the work of the elected legislators in the Kaduna State House of Assembly. As you are aware, public servants in the legislative and judicial branches have been agitating for autonomy. I am pleased to inform you that just yesterday, after weeks of deliberation, the Kaduna State Executive Council approved three draft bills for transmission to the State House of Assembly to enact laws for the autonomy of the legislature and judiciary. These are:
1. State Account Allocation Committee Law
2. Funds Management (Judiciary) Law, 2021
3. Funds Management (Legislature) Law, 2021
6. I wish to put on record the fact that the executive branch of the Kaduna State Government has enjoyed a smooth partnership for progress with our State House of Assembly since 2015, working together to enact laws to advance public welfare and development in the state. In six years, I have had the privilege of signing more than 100 new laws to improve governance and promote public welfare in our state. I therefore pay tribute to the honorable members for this feat of cooperation in the service of our people.
7. It is this spirit of partnership in the public interest that has enabled us to pursue the necessary reforms in governance. We have drafted many executive bills which the Kaduna State House of Assembly has enacted, including laws to introduce electronic voting, modernise tax administration, create a digital land registry, establish contributory health insurance scheme, promote a contributory pension scheme, engage in investment promotion,reform local government administration and fund various initiatives to advance social protection and human capital development.From 2015, the annual state budget has been passed and signed in the previous year, ensuring alignment between the fiscal year and the calendar year.
8. The concrete results of this cooperation include the unprecedented urban renewal programmes we are implementing in the three main cities of the state: Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria. Unrelenting tax reforms have helped quadruple our internally generated revenue to N50.7bn in 2020, from N13bn in 2015.
9. In six years, Kaduna State has attracted over $2.8bn in new business and investment pledges. These investments have been in sectors as diverse as iron mining and steel production, chicken hatchery and feed mills, tomato farming and processing, ranching, vehicle assembly, fertiliser production, housing, renewable energy and retail. Investors have validated our determined implementation of our Ease of Doing Business Charter, helping us emerge as the number one state for doing business in the World Bank’s Doing Business in Nigeria report for 2018.
10. We have taken decisive steps to translate Kaduna’s potentials into economic opportunity. We have anchored our drive for economic growth and development on attracting private sector investments. We have invested considerable efforts in establishing our credentials as a friendly state for business. We have established a digital land registry and automated land administration, made it easier to acquire land and secure title, automated business licensing and issuance of permits. We passed a new tax law, removed multiple taxation and appointed only one collector of all government revenues. With good governance, policy clarity and enabling laws, the Kaduna State Government is a champion of business.
11. Our industrial parks offer investors dedicated spaces and facilities to ease set up costs. The Green Economic Zone (GEZ) is being developed to house businesses engaged in light manufacturing. The Green Agro Allied Industrial Zone (GAAIZ) is already hosting businesses like Olam and OCP Fertiliser, and has been selected as one of the locations for the AfdB-financed Special Agro-Processing Zones.
12. All these initiatives are being undertaken while paying attention to the welfare of public servants. In September 2019, Kaduna State became the first to pay the new minimum wage, with consequential adjustment of up to 66% for most workers. We raised minimum pension to N30,000 for retirees on the old defined benefits system.We have been robustly implementing and religiously funding the contributory pension scheme since 1st January 2017. Civil servants bought more than 80% of the government residential houses sold from 2017, with the state government working with a bank to support them with mortgages at single-digit interest rates.
13. We appreciate you all for choosing to hold this conference in Kaduna. It is important not only for the state economy, but is also a validation of the safety and security of our urban areas. We hope you will utilise the opportunity to reconnect with a city many of you have known, and see the efforts we are making to make our state a haven for business, a safe space for every Nigerian citizen and a hub for young entrepreneurs to grow and prosper. We trust that you will return here again and again.
14. I wish you successful deliberations. I invite you to please find time to enjoy Kaduna.