Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s pedigree put him far ahead of other contestants who wanted to govern Kano, Nigeria’s centre of commerce, in 2015. Firstly, he was a deputy governor in the preceding government. His acquaintance with the government institutions and people in the state gave him that rare privilege of understanding the major challenges of Kano state economy, and specific constraints being faced by players in different economic sectors, private and public institutions, regions and professional bodies.
Secondly, Governor Ganduje is well read. He has NCE, B.Sc, M.Sc, MPA and PhD degrees to his credit from the prestigious Bayero University Kano, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, and Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan. The versatility demonstrated in the pursuit of these certificates, considering that it is not an easy task to obtain a degree in Nigeria, shows his doggedness and testifies to his mettle.
Governor Ganduje also has a very rich professional experience spanning private business and public service, before joining politics. He was a personnel manager with Nornit Limited Kano for two years. In the public sector, he served as an education officer; a lecturer and later as an admin officer with the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), where he rose to become the director of planning, research and statistics. He was at a time a member of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA); chairman, Federal Polytechnic; and the Executive Secretary, Lake Chad Basin Commission at Ndjamena, Chad Republic.
With his wealth of experience, he anchored his manifestoes on twelve different programmes, including: compulsory education; establishment of due process bureau; housing; regional water scheme; agriculture; health service and war against drug abuse; security; boosting internally generated revenue (IGR) and reinvigorating the Kano master plan, among others.
No matter how brilliant the ideals of any administration, they will only fly on the wings of regular and sustainable revenues. This means the issue of financial sustainability must be addressed as a matter of priority. He, therefore, reformed the State Board of Internal Revenue into a more professional agency to enhance revenue generation.
In addition, his approaches were quite simple and straightforward. He brought in professional accountants, tax administrators, practitioners well versed with the technicalities of taxation for both the public and private sectors.
These innovations have started to pay off. In the last fiscal year, the state’s IGR rose a record 127 percent to N31 billion in 2016 up from N13.61 billion in 2015. This feat was unique in the sense that between 2012 and 2014, Kano’s annual IGR stood at N13.95 billion on the average.
An idle mind is the devil’s workshop, so says the sage. If past findings have linked poverty with insurgency and other vices, then, any administration not focusing on job creation must have its programmes re-evaluated. So far, 1,857 teachers have been employed by the state’s ministry of education; 874 practitioners recruited into different units within the health ministry while 1,036 individuals employed into the state’s security outfits, Corporate Security Guards. Above all, 1,715 temporary employees under the ministry of education have been converted into permanent and pensionable status.
As an academic and a former education officer, Governor Ganduje was well equipped with the passion and knowhow to address the challenges of the education sector. He chose his projects in this sector very carefully. The teaching staff were the first port of call. Since the quality of students is linked to the level of education of the instructors, Governor Ganduje’s administration started by training and retraining the basic education teaching staff. This was supported with the release of matching grant to the Universal Basic Project (UBE) and counterpart funding for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the renovation of schools while teaching materials are provided to schools across the 44 local governments in the state. The tertiary institutions in the state especially the Northwest University and Kano University of Science and Technology Wudil have witnessed the completion of notable capital projects such as halls, lecture theatres and laboratories.
Nowadays, any state government that ignores the agriculture sector does so at its own peril. This is because, apart from being the largest employer of labour in the country, the sector has remained resilient to the forces of recession, while other sectors witnessed lower economic activities since 2016.
The renewed interest in locally grown produce such as rice, maize and sorghum, opened vast opportunities to small holders and commercial farmers.
Towards this end, major agricultural programs have focused on the resuscitation of Kano State Agricultural Supply Company (KASCO) and Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA) for the supply of insecticides, quality seeds, adaptable farm implements and provision of extension services. His administration has also tapped into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) loans to farmers. A total of N2 billion is being sourced for farming related activities in the state through the CBN scheme. This was also supported by the distribution of 5,000 water pump to all farmers, compact sealing machines, combined harvesters, N100 million loans to wheat farmers, while some 60 local Fulani cattle rearers were trained abroad on artificial insemination.
Governor Ganduje’s administration has recorded some of the successes highlighted above through the cordial relationship it enjoys with the legislative arm while the state’s civil service is in complete harmony with his programs. Since its inauguration on June 8, 2015, Kano State House of Assembly has passed 15 bills, thereby further enhancing the capacity of the state government to deliver at the pace witnessed in the last two years.
Some of the bills passed include the Land Use Charge Bill; Tax and Levy Bill; Universal Basic Education Bill; Local Government Amendment Bill and Pension and Gratuity Amendment Bill; Kano State Contributory Health Care Scheme; Kidnapping, Abduction and Forced Labour Amendment Bill, and the Metropolitan Transport Authority Bill.
Furthermore, Governor Ganduje considers prompt payment of workers’ salaries a prerequisite for economic development. Therefore, while some state governments owe the civil service backlogs of salaries due to recession, Kano State Government under Governor Ganduje has effectively employed his financial engineering skills garnered over the years from both the public and private sector to promptly pay workers’ salaries and remit monthly pension deductions timely and even pay pension arrears by the previous governments on monthly basis, even when the monthly federal revenue allocation has nosedived.
What’s more, investors are monitoring the reforms and progress being made in the state. At present, a number of them have invested in Kano State ahead of other states in the country. The rising confidence among the investing community within and outside the state explains why the government recently signed 10 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with different companies during 50th anniversary since the creation of the State. These companies will invest N146 billion in the state. This is aside the direct and indirect job opportunities they will create, and their impact on the tax base of the state.
Amongst the new investors in Kano State are Black Rhino/Dangote Group which are to construct a 100-megawatt solar project estimated at $150 million. In a similar vein, St. Meer International Investment and Management Company will invest $120 million in a similar project. In addition, just recently, Shandong Ruyi Technology Group, a multinational Chinese company, committed to investing $600 million into the textile and garment sector of Kano State. The disclosure was made by the Chairman, Kano State Investment Promotion Agency, Isyaku Umar Tofa.
The first two years have confirmed that Governor Ganduje has walked the talk as his legacies are visibly everywhere in the state. The next two years promise to be more fulfilling. “We want to make Kano state a functional and self-sustaining one through improved social services, boosting of agriculture, adequate water supply, provision of qualitative education, healthcare and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). We have succeeded in channelling most of our energies to development matters of the State. I believe that this attitude will continue to prevail as we now move into more aggressively implementing our development plan,” said Governor Ganduje.
A’isha M. Bello
A’isha M. Bello, is the Accountant General (AG) of Kano State. She contributed this piece from Kano.