In Kaduna, El-Rufai Makes Great Strides, But Insecurity Remains a Major Headache

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John Shiklam writes that Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has recorded recent giant strides in office

As a politician who is in a hurry to deliver on his electoral promises, time is of essence to him.
He was probably the first governor to hit the ground running upon taking the oath of office for a second term on May 29, 2019.

Few days after his swearing in, he made key appointments and on July 12, he constituted the state executive council by swearing in commissioners.
Most of his appointees are those who served in various capacities during the first term.

His administration is focused on reforms in the public service, education, health, provision of infrastructure and creation of jobs among others.

During his first term, he introduced the Public Service Reform and Revitalisation Project, aimed at strengthening the public service by injecting into its ranks younger, well-educated, IT-compliant and competent personnel.

The reforms in the education sector also led to the replacement of thousands of school teachers, rated as unqualified.
Speaking at the swearing-in of commissioners, el-Rufai said there would be no major policy change during his second term.
“While we envisage no major change of direction regarding our governance policy since 2015, we shall be paying closer attention to some aspects of the social sector,” he said.

According to him, “There will be a focus on providing low-income housing and developing a social protection system, in addition to expanding access to education and improving health out-comes.”
The governor also promised to launch a social investment programme for the poorest and the most vulnerable residents of our state.
He noted that, “even in tough times, there is an obligation for government to strive to leave no citizen behind.”
“As such, we shall reform and expand programmes like the Kaduna State Women Empowerment Fund (KADWEF) to fully embrace the vulnerable,” he promised.“

According to him, the state government, alongside its partners, have made a lot of investments in providing facilities and opportunity for skills acquisition and vocational training, stressing that during his second term, steps would be taken to move beyond skills acquisition into creating more jobs and businesses.
Some of his recent achievements includes the launch of the Urban Renewal Project, which aimed at boosting infrastructural development in the state.

The project was kicked started in Kaduna metropolis with the groundbreaking and signing of the contract for the construction of a N3.9 billion Galaxy Mall in the metropolis.
The Shopping Mall is being constructed through a public private partnership (PPP).

The Urban Renewal Project has 14 components, which includes the construction and rehabilitation of roads, mass transit transportation, housing, improved land use, street lights, parks and recreational centres, markets, neighbourhood centres and waste management.

Shop owners along Warf Road, Kaduna, have cleared their structures to pave way for the construction of the Galaxy Shopping Mall and the dualization of the road.
The construction of the new Kasuwan Magani Market, Kajuru Local Government Area, to replace the one that was burnt during the crisis that engulfed the community in October 2018, has also commenced.

Speaking at the flag-off of the project, the El-Rufai said the reconstruction of the market is part of the programme aimed at promoting equality of opportunity and economic development.
According to him, N3 billion was being invested in the project which will have 2000 shops when completed.
Also, the dualization of Katuru road from Isa Kaita to Rabah road Kaduna and the construction of the 5.7km road from Millennium City, connecting the Eastern bypass to the Kaduna-Abuja expressway are in progress.

Work has also resumed at the Gonin Gora-Hayin Katafawa-Ungwa Bije Road Project.
Recently, the state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Denmark based Arla Foods International, the biggest milk corporation in the world to boost dairy production in the state. The €100 million investment is expected to create 50,000 jobs when it becomes operational.

Speaking during the signing of the MoU, El-Rufai said it will promote modern livestock production and encourage itinerant nomadic herdsmen to embrace modern techniques of livestock production.
“We want to show that it is possible for livestock production to be a business rather than a culture or habit or lifestyle but something that can empower and enrich our herdsmen and women.

“Arla intends to invest one hundred million Euros in this project, this is a major investment that will create tens and thousands of direct Job opportunities, but more than that, its success will provide a template that can be replicated across our other 15 grazing reserves and indeed across Nigeria, because the herdsmen-farmer problem is not just an economic or political problem but has today become a national security problem,” the governor said.

Similarly, the state government has signed a MoU with Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), a programme under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to implement a five year programme to support environment policy, facilitate business enabling environment and capacity building of women and youth involved in agriculture on priority crops in the state.

The project is expected to attract $100 and $200 million in investment and credits to the agricultural sector of the state.
The initiative is expected to benefit about 6,000 small business and farmer groups across the state.
In the health sector, the governor is focusing on the completion of the upgrading of the 255 primary healthcare centres in all the wards across the state.

Furthermore, the second phase of the multi-billion Naira Zaria Water Project which was initiated in 2008 by the administration of former governor Namadi Sambo was completed by the governor and commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 22, 2019.
In order to strengthen the public service and its capacity to deliver quality and responsive public service, the state government on August 26, 2019, announced that it will implement the N30,000 national minimum wage by this September.

In order to put an end to ethno-religious conflicts in some communities in the state, the governor inaugurated a 10-man judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the incessant crises in Kajuru, Kachia and Chikun Local Government Areas of the state.

The commission which was inaugurated on August 7, 2019, is headed by Justice Isa Aliyu, a judge of the State High Court.
The governor charged the commission to identify individuals, traditional and religious institutions and other associations that might have contributed to the build-up of the disturbances and recommend further action by government.

But, besides ethno-religious conflicts, Kaduna state is one of the states facing serious security challenges, occasioned by kidnappings and banditry at homes and on the highways, especially along the Kaduna- Abuja, the Kaduna- Zaria and the Kaduna- Birnin Gwari highways.

Kidnappings along these roads have become so rampant, despite the efforts by government and security agencies to combat the menace.
Almost on a weekly basis, people are being abducted either on the highways or in their homes by dare devil gunmen.

Though the government is making concerted efforts to stem the tide of kidnapping and banditry, the efforts are yet to pay off, as bandits continue to unleash terror on people and collecting millions of Naira as ransom.

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Recently, the state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Denmark based Arla Foods International, the biggest milk corporation in the world to boost dairy production in the state. The €100 million investment is expected to create 50,000 jobs when it becomes operational