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“We’re delivering on our promises”: El-Rufai shows Buhari how a Democracy Day speech should be done

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“We’re delivering on our promises”: El-Rufai shows Buhari how a Democracy Day speech should be done

Whereas President Muhammadu Buhari chose a Sunday morning by 7am to deliver his Democracy Day speech to Nigerians, the governor of Kaduna chose primetime (8pm) on Monday to deliver his. In Nigeria, data on viewership is never collated, but it is unlikely that many Nigerians would have tuned in to watch Pres. Buhari’s speech yesterday. Not like they missed much though. It was a very poor speech.

The main challenge with Buhari’s speech was not the timing though. It was the lack of clarity on the theme. The president did not seem sure on what he wanted Nigerians to take away. It was not uplifting, it was not particularly informative, it was not revelatory, it was not forward looking, it was not chest beating. It was both amoeboid and shapeless; a potpourri of banality and omissions.

Buhari’s speech isn’t the subject of this piece. We’ve already said ten things about that speech. This piece is about El-Rufai’s speech.

From the title, there was no mistake about what the governor aimed to achieve. “We are delivering on our promises,” he titled it and the speech was a celebration of achievements and a promise to do more.

It was not about bashing the previous government or complaining about reduced revenues or making excuses or even enumerating challenges. It was about work done so far – simple and short. And it worked.

“In the last 12 months, we have kept faith with the commitments detailed in the Restoration Programme, the document in which we outlined our governance agenda. We promised to reform the very way in which governance is practiced and delivered. This would lay the basis for acquiring and deploying state revenues to delivering sustainable services for the people… your government has been active, doing its best to make our state better,” the governor told his people.

Check out more excerpts from the speech below:

“Your government has done a lot in this first year. We have set a new tone and style for governance. Not for us ostentation or flamboyance. From little steps such as our short convoys obeying traffic lights, and the Deputy-Governor and I donating 50% of our salary and allowances to the state, we have taken bigger steps to cut costs, shrink the size of government and began to position the government machinery to deliver real service as befits the substantive meaning of public service. We have stopped distributing state resources to a vocal minority and have chosen to redirect them to social spending that will benefit the silent majority – our youths, women, small business persons and the ordinary talakawa that had lost faith in government.

“We acted quickly to reduce our ministries to 13, from 19, and we have appointed only 13 commissioners. The government is battling to remove ghost workers and pensioners so that legitimate workers and the treasury are saved from these cheats. The imperative of sacrifice stems from the urgent need to devote revenues to making schools better, modernizing our hospitals, supporting farmers, building roads and creating jobs.

“That is the thrust of our N172bn 2016 Budget that we designed to provide the services that our mainly poor citizens need. At least 62% of this budget is capital, meant for Education, Health, Infrastructure, Agriculture, and Jobs. Those are things we pledged to do. And these are the things we are doing.

“As you are aware, your government is feeding 1.5m primary school pupils every school day. We are repairing their classrooms, building more where necessary and providing water and toilets. Basic education is now truly free. Our children can get the first nine years of schooling without parents paying any charges to the schools. Furniture is being provided to reverse the sorry legacy of neglect that left at least 50% of school children without furniture. We are feeding our boarders better, having raised their daily meal allowance from N33 to N180 per student daily. We have recruited over 2,200 secondary school teachers, and will support those in service to improve their skills.

“The health care system is being rejuvenated. Our health workers have admirably won prizes and donor support for this state. This augurs well for our programme to modernize 255 Primary Health Centres, one in each ward, and 23 secondary health centres, one in each local government. GE, our partner in this project, are importing the required equipment while the hospitals to be equipped are being readied, some with the solar power on which they will run. We need more doctors, nurses and midwives in our state. Therefore, we have sent 30 young girls to study medicine in Uganda. Our state university has now received accreditation in Human Medicine, so we will train even more doctors here. Our two nursing and midwifery colleges are being equipped to graduate more of our young men and women to work for a better healthcare system in our state.

“Your government is accelerating the completion of the Zaria Water project. We have cleared the payment arrears in excess of N3billion that we inherited from the former administration, and all the components being financed by Islamic Development Bank and Africa Development Bank are on course for completion within two years in sha Allah. We are also rehabilitating 12 water works across the state to improve water supply. Residents of Kaduna are already enjoying solar street lights installed on some roads, while the repair of township roads has started. Our mass housing scheme has taken off, with the first 2000 units now under construction in Kaduna. We are now going to replicate these initiatives in our other urban centers and rural communities in the coming months and years by God’s Grace.

“In agriculture, we have eliminated the fraud that fertilizer subsidy encouraged. We have replaced that with a system that gives our farmers affordable fertilizer, without subsidy or even a kobo of government money. What we have done is to pull the weight of the government to negotiate a fair price on behalf of our farmers. We have attracted big companies to invest in the farming sector here. From tomatoes to maize, rice, wheat and soyabeans, commercial farming projects, with outgrowers’ schemes for our farmers, are being launched. The first of this is the Olam poultry and feed mill project. Many more will be actualized in the next few months.

“We are tackling the question of jobs on many fronts. The government is creating direct jobs where it can. We have hired 2,500 young people to bring order and sanity to our roads and environment under KASTELEA. Our youths, 6,500 of them are engaged in waste collection; 85,000 women make school feeding happen. Thousands more have gotten jobs sewing uniforms for secondary school students or working on the road projects or school rehabilitation contracts.

“But we need more than these direct jobs. That is why we are working with the federal and other state governments to revive cotton production, textiles and garmenting that Kaduna used to be famous for. We travelled to France to persuade Peugeot PSA to come back strongly to Kaduna, and have submitted a joint bid with other public and private partners to acquire majority shares in Peugeot Automobile Nigeria. We are also concentrating on bringing more investors to establish businesses in Kaduna and employ more of our young people. May I at this point thank you all for the excellent support you provided for the maiden Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit (KADInvest). Our guests were impressed with Kaduna, and your conduct disproved all the negative headlines. The fruits of that summit will show in the many investments in the pipeline, mainly in agriculture, solid minerals and retail.

“We are supporting our young entrepreneurs through KADSTEP, so that they can sharpen their business skills and get funding from investors, including our intervention funds with the Bank of Industry. Every effort to create jobs will be made; every step required to persuade a business to set up shop in Kaduna will be taken. We have similar funds with the Bank of Agriculture, and are active participants of the CBN and NIRSAL anchor borrowers’ programme for the benefit of our farmers.

“We have created the policy and legal environment to support business. Our new Tax Code creates certainty and removes multiple taxation. With KADGIS, we are computerizing the land registry and making it easier to acquire title and to check the validity of titles to land. With KADIPA, we have set up a one-stop shop to champion investments and help every investor to settle down in Kaduna. With our new Contributory Pension Law, we have removed the fiscal peril that unfunded pensions represent, while providing greater certainty for pensioners.

“I wish to commend our communities for keeping the peace. We have been pleased with the seriousness with which you have treated security alerts. Security has improved across the state, but we cannot relax. Incidents of kidnapping, cattle rustling, car snatching and robbery still afflict us like many other states in Nigeria. We will continue to support the security agencies with logistics and tools to apprehend criminals. We will continue to count on your support. Let us all remain vigilant.

“Fellow citizens, it is important to acknowledge the partnership between the three branches of government in Kaduna State. Without this spirit of cooperation between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms of the government to advance the interest of our people, our progress would have been stymied.

“Our courts have been rated highly for enforcing contracts. The Judiciary is helping to strengthen this capacity by creating an Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre for expeditious resolution of commercial disputes, and shortening the time it takes to decide cases by digitalizing court recording systems. Our Chief Judge and his colleagues have also been active in reducing prison congestion in our state.

“The honorable members of the Kaduna State House of Assembly have in 12 months passed 17 bills, helping us to establish a legislative framework that will change Kaduna for the better. Five other bills are in various stages of passage. Members of the KDHA have also tabled 46 motions, and passed six resolutions. The House has been diligent in its oversight functions, with our legislators visiting all our 13 ministries and their parastatals to monitor budget implementation. We thank our Judges and Lawmakers for their hard work, and the vigilance they are exercising on behalf of the public through the timely discharge of their constitutional duties.

“In the remaining three years of the mandate that you gave us, we will certainly make Kaduna Great Again. We intend to transform government into a public service machinery that is efficient and understands that government resources must be spent on the people. Each of the sectors outlined in the Restoration Programme are being improved. We will make better the schools and hospitals, build better roads, deliver potable water and revive agriculture.

“I wish to urge every resident of Kaduna State never to let the fire of hope die. Our country is facing serious revenue challenges, and this is mandating adjustments by government and the private sector. There is a committed government at the federal level that is using these tough times to create the basis for better times. The Kaduna State government stands solidly behind the Federal Government in this effort to rid Nigeria of oil addiction, import dependence and food insecurity. Let us march ahead knowing that tomorrow will be better than today. Let us reject ethnic and religious divisions. Let us stay together as one family, and work together to make Kaduna great again.”

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