Our governing purpose is the equality of opportunity

 

Remarks by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, at the Town Hall Meeting on the 2018 Draft Budget Estimates, held at the Yar’Adua Hall, Murtala Muhammed Square, Kaduna on Saturday, 7th October 2017.

 

PROTOCOLS

 

Let me begin by welcoming each and every one of you to this Town Hall Meeting. For us in the Kaduna State Government, we regard citizen engagement as a cardinal feature of political responsiveness and democratic culture. That is why we utilise a range of platforms to communicate our intentions, policies, and decisions, and obtain feedback from the people. We have a state website, an email contact, regular radio programmes and the Eyes and Ears project. But a Town Hall meeting provides a unique platform for direct engagement, and we welcome it.

 

We are institutionalising an annual Town Hall meeting as a vital part of the Budget process. You will recall that in 2015, we held the first budget town hall meeting to discuss the draft 2016 Budget. Contributions at that meeting changed the Budget size as new projects were proposed and inserted. We also subjected the 2017 draft budget estimates to a debate at a town hall meeting on 8th October 2016. It is our intention that this will become a standard feature of the budget process, by God’s Grace.

 

Kaduna State began an Open Budget partnership with BudgIT in 2015. This year, we became the first Nigerian state to sign up to the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) and its ideals of transparency and accountability. This is something we have been committed to, but with OGP we are making Kaduna more open and comparable with other nations and sub-nationals in the world.

 

From our first full year in office in 2016, this government has already aligned the fiscal and calendar years, so that the annual Kaduna State Budget runs from January to December. This has been made possible because our Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) start the budget process early and because of the diligence of the honourable members of the Kaduna State House of Assembly. We expect the same for the 2018 Budget.

 

The topic of today’s gathering is the proposed Draft Budget Estimate for 2018. Over the last few weeks, our Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been defending the budget proposals they made in response to the call circular from our state Planning and Budget Commission. These have now been collated into a comprehensive document. We think that is important to obtain your views, comments and input before the final budget estimates are approved by the Kaduna State Executive Council for transmission to the State House of Assembly.

The proposed 2018 Budget is based on the priorities outlined in the Restoration Programme, the Kaduna State specific iteration of the APC manifesto on which we campaigned in 2014/2015. We committed ourselves to the following:

 

  1. Invest in education, healthcare and social welfare
  2. Foster the security of lives and property
  3. Institute a good governance system that is founded on a competent and responsive public service with zero tolerance for corruption.
  4. Maintain, rebuild and expand physical infrastructure (water supply, electricity and road networks) to accelerate economic growth that will create jobs, jobs and more jobs;
  5. Promote agriculture and food security, and the reform of land administration as a basis for wealth creation and capital formation, while preserving and enhancing environmental management.

 

These are the items that constitute our governance agenda. Our manifesto commitments are the basis for our State Development Plan, (SDP) 2016-2020 that we unveiled in April 2016 that is in full alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDP has been further detailed by our respective MDAs into Sector Implementation Plans (SIPs). It is from these that the multiyear budgets flow.

 

Each of our last two annual budgets has been based on these priorities. By September 2016, we had nearly doubled primary school enrolment from 1.1m to 2.1m. But we still allocated 35% of our capital budget for 2017 to Education because much remains to be done to revamp this primary vehicle for human capital development. We had campaigned against the poor and dilapidated conditions of our schools, and they became our problem to solve after we won the election. We are dealing with inherited legacy of over 50% of school pupils having to sit on floors because of the absence of furniture in schools that often lack doors, roofs, windows, water and sanitation facilities. We have supplied about 186,000 items of furniture in two years, rehabilitated over 400 primary schools and are we are now aggressively renovating our secondary schools.

 

In Health, the first phase of our programme to tackle maternal and infant mortality by refitting our primary health centres is nearing completion. These primary health centers will not only equipped with appropriate tools but staffed and administered in collaboration with community leaders. We are also providing cash cover so that our senior citizens from age 70 and above can enjoy free hospital treatment, for conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. We eagerly await the passage of the Contributory Health Insurance Bill into Law by the State House of Assembly to enable our state pursue the goal of Universal Health Coverage for every resident of Kaduna State by 2020 in by God’s Grace.

 

Our goals of empowering vulnerable groups particularly women and youths continue apace. We have been running various entrepreneurship and low-interest financing programmes like KADSTEP and KADAT targeting young people and creating hundreds of businesses. In 2018, our flagship KADEEEA will start to train young people in electrical installations, electronics and entrepreneurship in Kaduna State University’s city campus. WE have similar programmes in Agriculture like wheat, pulses, sorghum and beans farming on demonstration basis in Kubau and Ladugga. Our state cabinet has just approved a new Kaduna State Women Empowerment Programme (KADSWEP), which will improve financial inclusion and provide women access to low-interest loans to begin new, or expand existing businesses.

 

In infrastructure, the effort to construct township roads, install solar street lighting and improve potable water supply is clear. We commissioned the 150MLD water treatment plant in Zaria, the only portion of the Zaria Water Project that is solely financed by the Kaduna State Government. Outstanding works to connect all households via transmission and distribution pipework are due for completion by March 2018 by God’s Grace. We are also refitting and retrofitting 12 water works across the state, while planning the expansion of water supply for Kaduna Metropolis from the proposed Itisi Dam near Kujama.

 

The results of our investment attraction drive are beginning to show. Last month, we commissioned two large-scale private investments in the agriculture sector: the Olam project in Chikun and the Sunseed feedmill in Zaria. These are bringing the promise of direct and indirect jobs. We continue the pursue the closure of other projects with the Dangote Group, Vicampro and other Agricultural/Industrial investors.

 

The Kaduna State Geographic Information Service (KADGIS) is continuing its programme to digitise the land registry, recertify titles and give titles to those who have never had them through the systematic land titling and recertification process. And our programme of public service reformthat will ensure the injection of young people into government is continuing.

 

In 2016, we recorded the highest ever annual capital expenditure in the state, at N62bn. Internally Generated Revenue in the same year reached an all-time peak of N23bn. We hope to build on these achievements to reduce our dependence on monthly federation account allocations.

 

Distinguished Citizens of Kaduna State,

 

Our purpose in government is the pursuit of social justice – to promote equality of opportunity, to give every mother and child the prospect of surviving pregnancy and infancy, with sound health, to absorb decent education and develop the skills to make the best of life. It is to ensure that pregnancy is not a death sentence for our women, and that they have access better life chances. It is to secure for our young people employment opportunities in a vibrant economy, regulated by a competent public service. It is about giving everyone a fair chance in the race of life! It is about being for the people and seeking to empower them, not creating dependency and exploiting their poverty.

 

To achieve these goals, we have published a record number of tenders for capital projects in the last 30 months. We shall be prioritising completion of these projects in the coming year as resource constraints continue to slow down our ambitions and visions. We are in a time of consolidation, and the budgets of 2018 and 2019 will reflect this.

 

I will leave it to our dynamic Commissioner for Planning and Budget to present the outlines of the draft Budget, the full text of which is available online on the Kaduna State Government website. And I hope that the discussions that will follow the Commissioner’s presentation will be profound, insightful and helpful in enriching the budget in the interest of our people.

 

I am grateful to you all for sparing one of your two days of rest to be here to listen and contribute. It is through collaboration with you all that we can make Kaduna State Great Again.

 

Thank you for listening. God Bless Kaduna State. God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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