Sunday, 4 December 2016

“Why Kaduna Abandoned School Feeding Programme” – El-Rufai

Kaduna State Governor Malam Nasir El-
Rufai, in this interview with select
journalists, shed light on the ban of Islamic
Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Southern
Kaduna killings, and his administration’s
efforts to reposition the state.MIDAT
JOSEPH was there for LEADERSHIP
Sunday.
Can you give a rundown of the
implementation of this year’s budget?
Our budget implementation has been
satisfactory, I will not say it is very
impressive by our standard, but compared
to what has been done before, I think this
administration has done very well. As at
October 2016, we had about 50 per cent
budget implementation with the following
breakdown: 85 per cent of personnel cost
has been drawn, 77 per cent of overhead
cost has been drawn and 32 per cent of
capital expenditure has been drawn. In
specific terms, as at October this year, we
have spent about N29 billion on capital
projects compared to N27. 5 billion in 2013
for the entire year, N17 billion in 2014 for
the entire year and N27.6 billion in 2015
for the entire year. So we have already
spent more in the first ten months of this
year than the previous three years, two
and a half of which were under the PDP
government.
The bulk of this spending was on
emergency education intervention, water
supply, road construction and health care.
As you recall, we employed 2,550 into
Kaduna State Traffic Enforcement and
Environmental Law Enforcement Agency
(KASTELEA) and we also employed over
2,250 science teachers in our secondary
schools.
Of course you cannot spend money without
income, you recall that for the first time in
the history of the state, we hit monthly
internally generated revenue of N1.6
billion in July this year and this has
remained more or less around this level up
till today. We are moving away from
reliance on federation account, to more on
self-sustenance based on what we have. By
the end of the year, we hope to achieve 50
per cent capital budget implementation
and 65 per cent overall total budget
implementation.
You listed education as your priority and
launched the free feeding programme but
suddenly stopped the free feeding why?
Education is the fundamental gift you can
give to your citizens. Unfortunately,
education investments don’t show returns
immediately. But we believe that the
restoration of public education to the
quality that we had when we were going to
school is an imperative and we are doing
all that we can, to achieve this. Part of the
package of the reforms that we introduced
in education included not only the free
basic education for nine years, but the
primary school feeding programme. It was
costing us N1. 1 billion a month. We felt
that even if you make education free, if a
child cannot get pocket money to eat while
in school, the parents may decide it is
better to withdraw him or her from school
and we didn’t want that. This is why we
introduced this programme. For the 1.8
million children in schools in Kaduna, this
is what we were spending. We were
encouraged to start theprogramme because
the office of the Vice President, under the
Social Investment Programme, promised to
subsidize 60 per cent of the cost of the
programme. So we started spending our
money in the expectation of being
reimbursed. We have spent, nearly N8
billion on this programme this year and
the office of the Vice President is supposed
to pay us back in the region of N6 billion to
N7 billion.
Since we made education free, the
enrollment in class one was huge. We have
not been paid this money, the amount we
earmarked for the programme in the 2016
budget has been exhausted, so we cannot
continue with the programme. We are
expecting the reimbursement from the
office of the Vice President and we had
been assured over and over that we would
be reimbursed. But we didn’t think that we
had the resources to continue without that
reimbursement and we had exhausted
what we budgeted for it. We decided to put
it on hold and we are waiting for
reimbursement from the office of the Vice
President.We will resume the primary
school feeding programme as soon as we
complete the verification of the vendors
and we have a framework that the office of
the Vice President finds acceptable to not
only reimburse us but also to continue to
pay for primaries one to three.
Given the importance of good
infrastructure in attracting investment,
what has the government done in the last
18 months in this regard?
We are looking at several components of
infrastructure. The township roads in
Kaduna have been allowed to go into
disrepair for long. The same in other
urban areas of the state. Our local
government headquarters are all glorified
villages, they have no roads, and they have
no street lighting. Our roads sometimes
have no drainage so they don’t last. Of
course there is the issue of electrification,
particularly rural electrification. So we
have tried to focus on these.
We started street lightings and road
rehabilitation in Kaduna. We have now
moved to all our local government
headquarters; township roads are being
built, street lights are being put up. We
want to tell our people that live in the rural
areas that rural areas can also be cities.
You don’t all have to move to Kaduna,
Zaria or Kafanchan to have a good life. We
will bring the good life to them, so we have
a massive programme for every local
government headquarter and towns.
We have invested a lot in rural
electrification; buying of transformers,
deploying them where Kaduna Electric
Company cannot and offsetting the cost of
deployment from our electricity bills. We
believe that having these basic
infrastructure is vital to people. We have
ensured that our communities have water.
If they cannot have pipe water, we have
boreholes that are solar powered and we
are rehabilitating them all across the state.
We have overall, awarded 29 road
contracts under what we called a retainer
scheme. We found that when you
advertised and go through tenders, it takes
four to five months to award the contracts.
So we came up with some very innovative
ideas. We got an initial list of ten
contractors that have done roads in
Kaduna.
Every month, we give N100 million to each
of them, that is N1 billion. Ministry of
Works will ask you to do a particular road,
you build the road, at the end of the
month, and we will reconcile account and
balance you. We determine the rates which
are the same for all the contracts. Of
course when we invited Julius Berger, they
couldn’t accept our prices, but some others
accepted it. So we have 10 or 12
contractors that we have on the
retainership scheme. This idea came to us
because of the budget support facility by
the federal government. Every month the
federal government gives each state N1.3
billion to augment the prices in the fall of
crude oil. So we felt the money will be
better utilised this way. So we pay N1.2
billion to the 12 contractors every month
that is why they keep on working.
We are about to award contract for
Guchimishi – Kuyelo , Randagi – Funtua,
Rigachikun – Sabon Birni, Anguwan
Katafawa, Anguwan Kaji, Rafin Guza and
the Kaduna bridge. We want to build
another bridge across river Kaduna to open
up the eastern sector.
About 20 percent of all the projects would
be completed before the end of 2017. I
have focused more on roads, but of course
we are doing a lot in electrification and
water and everything. I will not relent
until we give Kaduna state the
infrastructure I think it deserves.
There have been a lot of hues and cries
over the banning of the Islamic Movement
in Nigeria(IMN).Why did the government
decide to infringe on the Shiites’ freedom
of association and the freedom to practice
their religion?
The issue of Islamic Movement in Nigeria
(IMN) and their declaration as an unlawful
society is something that we did with all
sense of responsibility. What we did is to
say that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is
an unlawful society and we derived the
powers to do this under the Penal Code
that was passed in 1963, so it is not a new
thing that we did. And we concluded, after
receiving the report of the Judicial
Commission of Inquiry that looked into the
clashes between the IMN and the army,
that the IMN poses a threat to the peace,
security and good governance of Kaduna
state.
We did not ban Shiism, we did not ban
Shiites. The IMN does not recognize the
constitution of Nigeria, they do not
recognize Buhari as President of Nigeria,
and they do not recognise me as governor
of Kaduna state because they had their
governor in Tudun Wada. They have their
para military wing, the call them ‘Hurras’.
They train them in violation of our laws.
They do not accept that any law in Nigeria
applies to them. They block public high
ways, they occupy schools when they are
doing their processions and they feel that
to practice their religion, they have to
infringe on the right of others.
Because IMN doesn’t recognise Nigerian
laws, they are not registered with CAC, so
they cannot be sued or held responsible.
They build anywhere they want without
approval. They don’t even bother to
acquire title to land. Their allegiance is not
to Nigerian government, their allegiance is
to somewhere else IMN looks like an
insurgency waiting to happen. The report
of the commission of inquiry
recommended that we should proscribe
IMN because they are not registered, they
can’t sue or be sued in their own name.
The crises in Southern Kaduna have been
recurrent and there seem not to be an end
in sight. What is your administration doing
to ensure an end to the crisis?
When we came to office, the two problems
we faced in the area of security were cattle
rustling in Birnin Gwari/Giwa axis and this
communal killings in southern Kaduna. We
were very concerned about both and we
did two things. We needed to understand
what was happening in Southern Kaduna.
We understood cattle rustling and we
convened a meeting of all the north west
governors because the problem was
centred around the forest ranges of
Kuyambana and we felt state cooperation
was necessary. We came together and
launched an operation to deal with cattle
rustling. We were successful because we
degraded their ability to do cattle rustling,
even though that created a problem of
kidnapping, because they moved from
cattle rustling to kidnapping we are still
facing.
For southern Kaduna, we didn’t
understand what was going on and we
decided to set up a committee under Gen.
Martin Luther Agwai (rtd) to find out what
was going on there. What we established is
that the root of the problem has a history
starting from the 2011 post-
electionviolence. So this was the problem,
we knew this by August last year and we
started taking steps. But what is happening
now, I don’t want it to be restricted to
Southern Kaduna. I noticed that some
people are trying to bring religion or
ethnicity into it. What about Zamfara state?
That is why I considered the statement by
the President of Christian Association of
Nigeria ( CAN ) as regrettable. What is
happening in southern Kaduna today, in
my opinion, has roots in banditry, it has
nothing to do with what has happened in
the past to a large extent.
Secondly, I think that those that preach the
message that this one is a settler, he
shouldn’t he here or this one is of different
tribe and religion, he should not live with
you, are more responsible for what is
happening than anything else.
For some of the politicians from the
southern Kaduna that are trying to
politicised this, they should go to Plateau
state and find out or talk to former
Governor Jonah Jang and find out what
happens when you add fuel to the fire of
this kind of division.We are deploying
more and more security to the crisis prone
areas.

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