Now that the much awaited transition programme of handing over power has takn place in Kaduna State, the people if the states are now wauting for the promised ‘change’ by Governor Ahmed El-rufai, writes BASHI BELLO
Last Saturday, Ahmed Nasir El-Rufai, assumed office as the governor of Kaduna State with a promise that his government would take critical steps towards addressing the infrastructural deficiencies in the state. He equally hinted that his administration would embark on bold steps towards reforming some critical sectors of the state’s economy.
The event which took place at the Muhammed Murtala Square was attended by important dignitaries in the state and beyond. Mammoth crowd of party supporters trooped out to welcome the new administration with high expectations that the new government under the All Progressive Congress, APC, would give them purposeful governance in the state.
The people of kaduna state are eagerly waiting to witness the change in terms of socio-economic development after a successful handing over ceremony from PDP government to APC-led government if Governor Ahmed el-Rufai. About two days to the event, residents of Kaduna were fully prepared and all stakeholders involved ensured that the last Saturday event was successful.
Major streets in Kaduna were flooded with the picture of the new governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai and his frame were being sold along the major roads. Other preparations such as giving a touch to some of the govt buildings and Legislative quarters where the legislators reside are in progress. Activities of the transition process commenced in ernest with a Juma’at prayer attended by both the outgone Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and the then governor-elect, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai while that of the Church service were attended by their deputies. The firmer governor of Kaduna state, Yero and El-Rufai at the weekend prayed together to kick start the inauguration.
The duo attended Friday prayers at the 44 Comilla Barracks Mosque, Kaduna, organized by Kaduna State Government Transition Committee. According to el-Rufai during the prayer session, “We are grateful to Almighty God for his kindness and benevolence. We pray for a successful transition in our state, for peace, development and harmony among our people.
We are appealing to all citizens of Kaduna state to join us in prayers and work together for progress. We pray Allah to bless our state and uphold us as we strive to provide purposeful leadership for our state.”
Similarly, the immediate past deputy governor of the state, Ambassador Nuhu Audu Bajoga and the then deputy governor-elect, Arc. Bala Barnabas Bantex attended service held at the ECWA Church, Prison Barracks, Kaduna. Speaking at the church service, the chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN in the state, Bishop George Dodo urged politicians to be God-fearing and to focus on service delivery.
Now that a new government is in place, what are the expectations if the people if the state? “We thank God for the new government. We are eager to see development on every side at all segments of the state under this government. That us why we voted it into power”, Abdul Sule, a factory worker, told our correspondent.
For Illiya Shuaibu, a yam seller at Kawo Kaduna, he wants the government to revive dead textile companies in the state.”I went into yam selling business long after Kaduna Textile company folded up. “The people of the state will be eternally grateful to El-Rufai, our new governor if he brings back the textile companies. We are tired of promise and fail of the federal government under the PDP. Let him also build industries, empower our youths, give them employment, and pay workers’ salaries”, he said.
But there is a thorny issue that came up when the two transition committees were working together towards a successful handing over event that took place last Saturday. It is the up issue of how SURE-P funds was distributed by the outgone state government. The State APC Transition Committee had dragged the Yero-led government before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over alleged diversion of N2.7billion SURE-P funds in the state.
The transition committee was asking the anti-graft agency to stop the Yero-led outgoing government from what it described as last minute looting of public assets. It accused that, the outgoing Kaduna State Government was taking elaborate steps to legitimise the misappropriation of N2.744 billion Local Government Sure-P funds.
According to a letter addressed to the EFCC chairman by the transition committee and titled ‘The attempt to misappropriate SURE-P Funds in Kaduna State’, “Yero has been putting the legislature under tremendous pressure to approve his utilisation of 50% of the Sure-P funds for a road project, while the 23 local government councils would share the balance”.
The letter signed by the chairman of the committee, Balarabe Abbas Lawalread that, “I write to bring to your attention the elaborate steps being taken by the outgoing Kaduna State Government to legitimise the misappropriation of N2.744 billion Local Government Sure-P funds, and to request that you exercise your responsibility of deterring crime by preventing this last-minute looting of public assets.
“The Kaduna State House of Assembly declined to appropriate the Sure-P funds in the 2015 budget, and promptly removed them from the budgets submitted by the 23 local government councils. The state legislators further resolved that the fate of the funds be left to the incoming administration.
“The outgoing governor, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, however has been putting the legislature under tremendous pressure to approve his utilisation of 50% of the Sure-P funds for a road project, while the 23 local government councils would share the balance. Coming from a government whose tenure expires in less than two weeks, the intensity of the lobby for the money indicates a certain desperation that is clearly not in the public interest.
“I wish to therefore request that you urgently investigate whether the Sure-P funds are still intact, or if they have been spent without appropriation thus necessitating a belated approval from the House of Assembly to provide a ‘legal’ means of retiring the funds. If, as it is widely believed in the state, the monies have already been spent, it is crucial to determine the projects, the contractors and the procurement processes that facilitated such a deliberate hemorrhaging of public funds.” it read.
Meanwhile, El-Rufai has been talking tough that his administration will not spare his predecessor and anyone found guilty of corrupt practices in the state saying all those who stole public money in the Yero led government will be probed and made to face the consequence. This was even as he said that, those ready to work with him must be ready to sacrifice part of their salaries and allowances as panacea for the development of the state.
Speaking while receiving the report of APC Transition Committee in Kaduna, El-Rufai vowed that there would be full accountability of every penny that accrued to the state and any one that has taken the money meant for the state will be asked politely to return it. According to El-Rufai, “I have said this and I will say it again, no one will take away the resources of this state without consequences; we are not going to let it happen. There would be full accountability for every penny that accrued to this state and any one that has taken the money for this state will be asked politely to return it and if he doesn’t, we will take actions that are not necessarily polite.
“I am determine to do this, this state has gone through trauma, development has suffered, resources have not been applied efficiently and effectively and we are not going to draw a line and say the past is the past, the past will be the future. We will also try to reduce the size of
government, and our salaries and allowances will also be reduced in order to give room for development, this is because we know how enormous the expectations of Kaduna people on us are,” he said.
According to him, his administration under his watch will do everything within its capacity to put hope in the people and also lead by example, adding that, he intends to address the people of the state on the condition of the state and what is left for him from the outgone government.
The next battle is who becomes the next speaker of the State House of Assembly. Frm all indications, the race is strictly between the four APC law makers with Shagali most likely to be favoured based on experience and zoning even though El-Rufai has said he is not working with the zoning arrangement but credibility and competence.
Meanwhile, observation by our correspondent indicated that people have been pulling down bill boards carrying the picture of the former governor Yero in some parts of the state. Whether the new government will meet viters’ expectations, the tumultuous welcome by the people, as well as fulfill what it promised voters will be determined in a matter of time.