Uba Sani’s Victory at Tribunal Re-enforces Hope in Kaduna

Uba Sani’s Victory at Tribunal Re-enforces Hope in Kaduna

Salman Sadiq

Since assuming office as the Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Uba Sani has brought new vista to the governance of the historical State. Typical of an activist, that he is, Uba Sani came in with clarity of purpose and a mindset to ensure a level playing field on all levels of administration. In less than 100 days in office, it seems he is healing speedily, most of the ethnic, tribal, communal and religious challenges that dogged the state for decades, that most persons thought were intractable. Truth is, Uba Sani is loved and even revered across every local government in Kaduna State simply because he is a fair ruler who understands the peculiar nuances of all components of the State.

The slight apprehension the deliberate misinterpretation of the recent election tribunal verdict in the state elicited has since been found to be of no effect and consequence in law, other than propaganda by a tiny opposition party members in the state. From the outset, Senator Uba Sani swore to be governor of all persons in Kaduna State, irrespective of party, religion, community or any other affiliations. And he has been doing just that since assuming office, to the joy and happiness of overwhelming majority of the great citizens and residents of Kaduna State. Truth is that, Senator Sani, being a man of peace, has brought peace to Kaduna State.

Even while the little controversy over the true interpretation of the ruling of the election petition tribunal made news in a few places for a little while, Governor Sani, in an uncommon show of patriotism and humility warned his party members and all his supporters not to take to the streets in the usual frenzy of jubilation. Rather, the governor urged unity and invited his elder brother, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mallam Isa Ashiru, to join him in the ongoing tough job of consolidating the efforts of the previous administration and generally retooling Kaduna State for the good of all.

Governor Sani understands the law, particularly the Electoral Act (as amended), having spent four years in the upper chamber of the National Assembly. That explains why he has been calling for caution and understanding since the ruling of the election petition tribunal.

“I’m not someone who will bother myself about propaganda because of my background as one who has spent three decades as a civil society activist, someone who believes in the rule of law, and democracy and fights for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria. I’m someone who always believes in the rule of law and I cannot sit here and join the propaganda of people that want to misinform the public. We know this thing clearly, we listened to the ruling by the judges and I can say here clearly that we shouldn’t be joining propaganda because the ruling is clear.

“The case has been dismissed loud and clear by the judges and of course, now it’s left for the PDP’s candidate to approach the Court of Appeal. Any propaganda is just a waste of time. For me, sitting here, I have been involved in democratic processes in Nigeria, I contested elections four times, I won twice, and lost twice. So you are talking with someone with experience of winning and losing elections. But never in my life have I gone into propaganda.

“The fact of the matter is very clear. Again, as someone who has spent four years in the National Assembly, this Electoral Act we are talking about, I was involved in amending the Electoral Act, I know what it takes and I know that if you have any case that has to do with the election petition, you have to be very clear with what the Electoral Act states there clearly. Every aspect of their case has a time limit. So it’s not about the judges, it’s about the lawyers who are supposed to file their preliminary objection within the timeframe, and if they don’t do it, that’s the Supreme Court ruling in most of the cases and if they don’t do it, we in the National Assembly who amended the Electoral Act we made it clear.

“And in any case, talking about propaganda, I shouldn’t be part of it. For me, what happened at the tribunal is a true reflection of the mandate given to me by the people of Kaduna State. And of course, I must thank them and I must also thank Hon. Isa Ashiru as a democrat, I believe that he is within his right to ventilate his grievances by going to court, and as stated by the ruling, I will urge him if he has any grievance, he should approach the Appeal Court. We are in a democratic setting, the earlier the better for us to stop trying to undermine our democratic system and the judiciary. This is key. It pays to approach the Court of Appeal,” he said.

Governor Sani reiterated his invitation to Alhaji Isa Ashiru and his supporters, mostly in the opposition PDP, to come out in their numbers to join him in the on-going economic, social and security revolution going on in Kaduna State.

“I will welcome my brother, Alhaji Isa Ashiru to come and work with me, it is about Kaduna. So I welcome not only him, his supporters, and my supporters to come and work together for the interest of our own state. In any election, there must be only one winner and there must be a loser. So he lost the election. We already knew this. But the tribunal has confirmed it. As far as I am concerned, I’m happy about the judgment but most importantly I also caution my followers and I have instructed them using our several sophisticated channels to shun unnecessary rejoicing or partying; let’s bring everyone together because we are in Kaduna,  let us work together, and contribute to the success of the state. Every person is important, that is where we are today,” Governor Sani added.

Speaking in the same regard, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, while congratulating Governor Sani on his victory at the governorship election tribunal on Thursday, September 29, said Governor Sani’s victory at the tribunal has affirmed the massive support he received from the people of the state during the March 2023 governorship election.

Abbas said the governor had already started justifying the trust and the support he got from his people by initiating people-oriented programmes and projects in the state.

The Speaker said he was satisfied with the tribunal judgment as most of the people from Kaduna State are. He urged the citizens of the state to use his tribunal victory to rally around all politicians in the state, irrespective of their inclination, for the betterment of the people.

Abbas also called on those in the opposition, especially the PDP, to sheathe their swords and join hands with the governor to work for the state. Indeed, long before the Federal Government announced series of palliative measures aimed at cushioning the effect of the withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products, notably PMS (petrol), Governor Sani made history on Tuesday, 25 July 2023 when he signed his first Executive Order as Governor on “Financial Inclusion in Kaduna State”. The Order is pursuant to his administration’s efforts to address the exclusion of about 2.1 million poor, underserved and vulnerable citizens in the rural areas from financial services in Kaduna State and to ensure they benefit from the state’s and Federal Government’s Social Intervention Programmes.

“In exercise of the powers conferred on me by Section 5 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I make the following orders: A Financial Inclusion and Literacy Committee is hereby constituted to fashion strategies and modalities to ensure the inclusion of the poor, underserved and vulnerable in Kaduna State, as well as equip them with financial skills to enable them make sound financial and investment decisions,” the governor asserts in the Executive Order.

The target of the state government is to include about 1.2 million poor, underserved, unbanked and vulnerable citizens in the financial services sector in the next one year; The state government, in collaboration with key stakeholders, including CSOs, NGOs and Financial Technology Companies (FINTECHS) is poised to develop a State Financial Inclusion Strategy. In this regard, the Executive Order stipulates as follows: The state government shall develop a State Register of the poor, under-served and vulnerable. The Register will be subjected to various stages of integrity tests; The state government shall work with banks and other financial service providers to open bank accounts for un-banked citizens, and embark on aggressive sensitisation programme to ensure the mass participation of the state’s citizens in this exercise; The state government, in collaboration with regulatory agencies in the financial sector will organize Financial Literacy Workshops to equip citizens with financial skills that will enable them make sound financial and investment decisions.

The Executive Order further compels the Kaduna State Government to consult with key stakeholders like traditional rulers, religious leaders, local government chairmen, youth, women and community development associations to ensure the mass sensitisation and involvement of the citizens in this financial inclusion drive.

Governor Sani is a strong proponent and believer in both the kinetic and non-kinetic option in battling banditry and general insecurity in Kaduna State. On the kinetic option, he has since assuming office, visited the service chiefs of the nation’s armed forces to pledge the full cooperation of Kaduna State in the fight against bandits and criminals in the state. “My administration shall work very closely with the nation’s military and other security agencies in our collective efforts to rid the state of bandits and criminals. We are even prepared to fund some of their operations in our state within the little resources available to us,” he said in a recent media chat.

Similarly, Governor Sani has rebooted the Kaduna State Vigilante Service. Other than procuring needed vehicles and other equipment for the Vigilante Service, his administration is currently recruiting able young men and women into the re-energised Kaduna State Vigilante Service. The state is currently recruiting 7,000 persons to nudge up the current size of the Service’s personnel from 2,000 to 9,000.

“Throughout my stay in the Senate, I was a strong advocate of State Police; but unfortunately, the 9th National Assembly, despite our best efforts was unable to achieve this. But the law permits states to set up Vigilante Services. Ours in Kaduna State will abide by all extant laws; In fact, they will be trained at the Police College and shall work very closely with the police. We are projecting that in a matter of days, Kaduna State will rank among the safest states in Nigeria,” Governor Sani enthused.

On the other hand, Governor Sani’s non-kinetic approach centres on taking development to the remotest parts of the state. Governor Sani, who has since taken a 50 per cent salary cut himself, wants to conquer poverty and crass deprivation in rural areas of Kaduna State, provide basic necessities and empowerment for persons leaving in rural communities, especially the youth population and women. “We may not eradicate entrenched institutional causes of insecurity in Kaduna State immediately but we are on a daily basis reducing incidences of banditry, organized crimes and general insecurity in the state by deliberately targeting and meeting the needs of the poor, vulnerable and underserviced persons in our vast rural communities. Curbing insecurity is not a 100-metre dash, that is achievable in seconds like Usain Bolt; it is a marathon; I can attest to the fact that in this big race, we are taking giant strides and our efforts are yielding huge positive results, by the grace of God,” Governor Sani opined.

Pursuant to this goal of opening up and bringing development to all the local government areas of Kaduna State, earlier this month (August), Governor Sani performed the groundbreaking of the Qatar Sanabil Project, initiated by Qatar Charity for the construction of the Kaduna Economic City and provision of Mass Housing for the Less Privileged persons in Kaduna State. He was joined at the ceremony by top officials of the Kaduna State Government, Embassy of the State of Qatar, Qatar Charity and enthusiastic citizens of our dear state. 

Located at Millennium City, Kaduna, the Economic City, when completed, will provide world class infrastructure and make Kaduna a reference point in modern and affordable accommodation, adequate security and conducive atmosphere for business activities. The Economic City will facilitate international trade. It will serve as a platform for entrepreneurs and traders. It will help harness product value chain opportunities and improve economic growth. In the Economic City, there will be houses for the poor, clinics, shops, poultry farms, farmlands for rainy season and irrigation farming. 

“The Mass Housing Project for the Less Privileged is a major contribution towards putting roofs over the heads of the poor, underserved and vulnerable in our state. This will go a long way in addressing a major gap in our Interventions in the Housing Sector over the years,” the Kaduna State Governor said. 

Other empowerment programmes that the poor, underserved and vulnerable in Kaduna State will benefit from the Qatar Charity include: scholarships for orphans and children of the poor, distribution of sewing machines, welding machines, irrigation pumping machines, salon kits, and drilling of hundreds of boreholes across the 23 local governments of Kaduna State.

“On behalf of the good people of Kaduna State, I want to specially thank Qatar Charity, as well as the Qatar Government and the Qatar Embassy in Nigeria for choosing to support the Kaduna State people with a multimillion dollars charity project, the ‘Kaduna Economic City’ that will include building of houses for the less privileged, underserved and vulnerable people, special homes for orphans, hospitals, markets, schools etc,” Governor Sani asserted at the event. 

In addition to this charitable work, the Qatar Charity will also provide startup support for small scale businesses, poultry farms and irrigation farmlands for the poor, full scholarships for thousands of orphans and poor children, provision of hundreds of boreholes across the 23 local governments amongst others.

Relatedly, pursuant to his efforts to promote digital inclusion and leverage technology to drive economic growth in Kaduna State, Governor Uba Sani has attracted digital technology giant, google, to Kaduna State. The governor recently received a high-powered delegation from Google Africa led by its Director for West Africa, Mr. Olumide Balogun, to Kaduna recently.

“I am glad that Google Africa has answered our call to promote digital innovation and inclusion. Kaduna State has a high digital maturity index. We have creative and talented young people who are ready and motivated to learn, especially in this age of Artificial Intelligence,” an elated Governor Sani said at the meeting.

The Kaduna State Government, in collaboration with Google, will train 5,000 women and girls in data science, artificial intelligence, and entrepreneurial application of digital technologies. The programme will be executed by Data Science Nigeria, which will set up Arewa Tech4Ladies. This initiative is crafted to serve four key semi-urban and rural communities in Kaduna State, offering specialised women-focused learning, mentoring, and job placement support facilities.

Governor Sani said that the Kaduna State Government will give Google and its partners the necessary support to effectively implement this laudable initiative. Following a recent outbreak of diphtheria along the Kaduna medical corridors, Governor Sani left nothing to chance as he mobilized his team and collaborated effectively with agencies of the Federal Government to battle the scourge. With the scare of diphtheria fully surmounted, the governor proceeded to proactively launch a Statewide Immunization Campaign for the Prevention of the Integrated Fractional Inactivated PolioVirus Vaccine (FIPV).

Governor Sani is prioritising Human Capital Development as a key pillar of his administration’s developmental agenda. On this score, the governor is determined to return as many indigenes of Kaduna State back to both formal and vocational education. The governor is keen on removing all barriers to access to education for children and youths of the State.

For starters, in response to the public outcry over the seemingly prohibitive fees being charged by tertiary institutions in Kaduna State and its effect on school enrolment and retention, Governor Sani directed heads of tertiary institutions in conjunction with the state’s Ministry of Education to obtain relevant information on the extant fees regime in state-owned tertiary institutions. At the end of their assignment, far-reaching observations and recommendations were made for the governor’s consideration and approval. These include: That the extant fees regime in the state-owned tertiary institutions is burdensome and has led to a significant decline in student enrolments; That the extant fees have made many students to either abandon the pursuit of tertiary education or moved to alternative institutions; That to reverse the trend mentioned, it is imperative that a competitive fees model should be adopted in the state’s tertiary institutions and that the competitive fees model responds to current realities and promotes access to quality education.

In a nutshell, the election tribunal verdict on the governorship election has left the people of Kaduna State jubilant.

 * Mr. Sadiq, a business man, lives in Kaduna

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