At a time of unprecedented anxiety about the fate of the country and the assaults on the press and the country’s democratic values came good news from Kaduna State. Alas! it came from a man many love to hate, that is Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State.
Just as the leadership of his All Progressives Congress, APC in Abuja was formulating one crude strategy after another to get the National Assembly to reconcile the 2018 budget of the Federal Government, Mallam in Kaduna, last Wednesday presented the state’s 2019 budget to the State House of Assembly.
He became the first governor to so do this year. The presentation of the budget in August it was said; was to avoid the tumult that could ensnare the budget process going into next year which is an election year.
It is, however, not as if this is the first time that the Kaduna governor would present his budget early enough. The 2018 budget was tabled before the House of Assembly on October 13, 2017 and approved by the House of Assembly on November 29, 2017 after injecting N100 million. It was assented into law by the governor on December 12, 2017.
The governor’s original proposal for 2018 had been N201 billion, but an additional N15 billion was added by the governor after town hall meetings where public inputs into the budget were sought.
This narrative of popular participation and respect for the legislative branch of government is salutary and is contrary to the tales by some APC aficionados that the National Assembly cannot alter any proposal sent in by the president. Even before the presentation of the 2019 proposals, the governor engaged the legislators in a workshop where the framework for the budget was considered.
El-Rufai’s understanding and demonstration of fiscal tidiness is a strange thing for many of his party members especially those in Abuja.
It has, however, helped him in pushing through development projects and attracted developmental institutions and international investors to his state.
One of the most reputed investors is Olam Feeds and Poultry which besides providing hundreds of jobs to citizens is also turning into a key facilitator in the agric value chain.
A team from Facebook in partnership with Fate Foundation is currently in the state training 40 entrepreneurs in the state in the art of digital marketing.
Mallam’s proclivity to lead the state towards digital entrepreneurship would not be surprising given his pioneering role in that respect as minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. His conception of digital technology in the management of land matters in Abuja through the Abuja Geographical Information Systems, AGIS has been adapted by several state governments across the country. Indeed, the gist is that the FCT has not had a minister since his exit in 2007!
However, what may prove to be one of the most positive impacts in governance introduced by El-Rufai through the use of technology is the adoption of electronic methods in contract bidding. Contract bids are reportedly submitted and processed electronically without the interface of human elements bringing to a minimum, the influence of human considerations.
Such salutary proposals were enunciated in the APC’s presidential policy document before the 2015 presidential election. That document swore to stop the award of contracts by the Federal Executive Council should the APC win the presidential election through the inauguration of the board of the Board for Public Procurement, BPP.
Today, more than three years after the inauguration of the APC federal administration, that board is yet to be inaugurated and the FEC continues to be a forum for contract bazaars just as the APC lamented before it won the presidential election.
The news of the governor’s presentation of the 2019 fiscal proposals prompted your correspondent to do more research on Mallam and led to his facebook page where citizens regularly interacted with him. There were praises and of course, many insults particularly from teachers and former teachers that were disengaged by the governor following the face off with the teachers’ union. Many teachers were booted out by the government following a test that showed that some of their students could do their jobs better.
However, not everything about El-Rufai is positive. The demolition of the house of Senator Othman Hunkuyi, El-Rufai’s 2015 governorship campaign manager over political differences is one instance of intolerance many complain of. If not for that, the Mallam in Kaduna should be an example for many of the other governors and the men in Abuja to emulate.
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