Our public policy promotes equality of opportunity
Remarks by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, at the signing ceremony of the 2018 Budget of Consolidation, at the Council Chambers of Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, on Tuesday, 12th December 2017.
Exactly two months ago, I had the privilege to present the 2018 draft estimates of revenues and expenditure to the honourable members of the Kaduna State House of Assembly. Our hardworking legislators have subjected the estimates to their rigorous scrutiny, and have passed the 2018 Budget.
On behalf of the Executive Branch, I wish to place on record our gratitude for the positive partnership that subsists with the Kaduna State House of Assembly. Our legislators have not only passed a record number of laws crucial to our governance agenda, they have enabled us to align the fiscal and calendar years beginning with the 2016 Budget which was passed and signed in 2015. So, for three years running, the Kaduna State Government’s financial year will begin on the first day of January.
The 2018 Budget size is N216.55bn, of which N131.1bn is Capital Expenditure. This is 60.54% of the budget, and is consistent with our agenda to spend more on the people than on running government. But the Recurrent Expenditure is also substantial, at N85.44bn, reflecting our commitment to discharge our obligations to current personnel in the public service and the new staff that are being recruited by many of our agencies
We have deliberately tagged the 2018 Budget as the Budget of Consolidation. It is the last full annual budget before the 2019 elections, and it is designed to complete the many projects we have commenced in the service of our people. As I stated during the budget presentation, we have published a record number of tenders as we try to achieve the goals outlined in our manifesto. These tenders have led to the commencement of many projects across the state. For instance, as at mid-2017, there were 443km of township roads and 16 intercity roads with a distance of 414.8km at various stages of completion. In addition, 17 rural feeder roads with distance of 172 km are being constructed. There are many schools being rebuilt, hospitals being upgraded and equipped, water works being refitted, rehabilitation centres being fixed. We are very proud to have initiated these projects in the interest of our people. And we have been clearheaded enough to take on inherited projects that we consider feasible and viable! Some of these have been completed, but others are at various stages of completion.
In 2018, this government will spend N51.4bn on the Social Sector, comprising Education, Health and Social Development. This is the largest chunk of the budget, and the emphasis we place here should not surprise anyone. The Restoration Programme, the document on which we campaigned, is premised on expanding our people’s access to Education and Health, and improving outcomes for them. These are the primary sectors for building human capital. And we have no doubt that this is what responsible leadership commands. In fact, it is the substantive essence of democracy to practice public policy in a way that empowers the people, including the poor, by providing a sustainable ladder for social mobility.
Social sector spending reflects our commitment to equality of opportunity, a determination to give the poor and their children a realistic chance to improve their life chances! In devoting more than N33bn to Education, we are signalling that we will not be deterred from our quest to provide decent education, within safe and standard school environments using qualified teachers.
This commitment to equality of opportunity is also driving investments in the health sector. We shall continue to equip our health facilities, improve the availability of medicines and prioritise routine immunisation.
All these will be supported by spending on infrastructure. The Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport has a capital budget of N28.3bn, while the Ministry of Water Resources has N11bn.
In all these, we have prioritised the interest of the many over those of the few. The radical actions in the Education sector consider the future of 2m primary school pupils as being above whatever sentiments 22,000 unqualified teachers may mobilise. Our public service reform programme similarly recognises that effective service delivery needs a dynamic, highly-skilled, IT-savvy, and youthful public service. As important as the public service is, all those who work for it represent less than 1% of the population of the state. We must take good care of the public service, but we cannot do this by neglecting the other 99% of the state that does not work for government. In a democracy, government cannot exist to serve only those who lead and work for it. Government must shed weight so that public resources can be more fully devoted to providing public goods, benefitting the generality of the populace.
This government understands the mandate it has been given as a solemn duty to do what is necessary, significant and consequential. Populism is the easy way in a universe of sentiment, where everybody desires the good but few are willing to accept the sacrifices that will entail. We will not refuse to take difficult decisions so that we can win temporary applause. We will do what is required to solve difficult problems. We will not succumb to those who have a sense of entitlement, but we will do what we must to promote equality of opportunity. And we trust that deep down, our people know that these tough choices are in their best interests.
We stand with the ordinary man and woman so that they can send their children to proper public schools, access affordable healthcare, travel on safe roads and maintain high sanitation standards through reliable water supply.
The government expects the public service to more fully embrace the significant reforms that are unfolding. The panoply of laws that we have passed, including the Public Procurement Law, place many responsibilities on our MDAs. They all have legal obligations to submit annual reports and audited accounts, as applicable. All parastatals are expected to comply and submit these audited accounts and reports before 31st December 2017.
We call on everyone who has made Kaduna home to do their duty for peace and harmony, and join us in in the collective effort of consolidating the steps we have taken to make Kaduna great again.
Thank you for listening.