John Shiklam writes on Governor Uba Sani’s vision for Kaduna state.
Governor Uba Sani’s administration in Kaduna state appears to be a departure from the past. He appears to be charting a new pathway for the state.
As a former Special Adviser to ex- governor Nasir El-Rufai, on politics between 2015 to 2019, and a Senator who represented Kaduna Central Senatorial zone between 2019 to 2023, Sani has an in-depth understanding of Kaduna state and its complex nature.
His administration is anchored on a seven-point agenda – Safety and security, infrastructural upgrade, strengthening of institutions, enhancing trade and investment, human capital development and citizens engagement.
He has promised to carry every section of the state along, regardless of religious, ethnic or political differences.
“My administration will be guided by the principles of inclusiveness, fairness, justice and equity”, he said during his inaugural speech on May 29.
His body language in the past 100 days since he was sworn in shows that he is in a hurry to achieve set goals.
As soon as he constituted the state executive council, he hit the ground running without wasting time.
One of the first things that has endeared him to the hearts of the people of Kaduna state, was his decision to reduce the school fees payable in state-owned tertiary institutions.
His predecessor, Nasir El-Rufai, had in 2021 increased school fees in the state owned tertiary institutions by 200 per cent, amid public outcry after mass sacking of workers.
Sani said the downward review of the fees was in fulfilment of his electioneering campaign. According to him, the review also aligns with the commitment of his administration to offer palliatives to cushion the effect of the rising cost of living especially in wake of recent removal of petroleum subsidy.
The governor’s pronouncement was heralded by jubilation from students and their parents, some of who find it extremely difficult to pay the exorbitant fees.
The governor is also determined to ensure fairness and equity to all sections of the state, assuring that his administration will not discriminate against any section on the basis of religion, tribe or political differences.
“My administration will be guided by the principles of inclusiveness, fairness, justice and equity”, said during his inaugural speech on May 29.
In the past 100 days, the governor has taken several key interventions in security, health, education, infrastructure and rural development.
In the efforts to tackle the security challenges that has continued to bedevil Kaduna state, Sani ordered for the recruitment of 7000 young people to strengthen the state owned Kaduna Vigilance Service (KADVS) so as
to compliment the efforts of security agencies in fighting criminality in the state.
The training of the KADVS recruits, drawn from the 23 Local Government Areas of the state, was flagged off by the governor at the Police College, Kaduna.
Speaking while flagging off the training, the governor noted that, “since its establisment, KADVS has been working with security agencies to degrade criminal elements.
“But we face the challenge of inadequate personnel to successfully wage the battle against bandits and other criminal elements.
“It is for this reason that our administration decided to recruit 7,000 personnel into KADVS”.
The governor said the vigilante outfit will assist security agencies with actionable intelligence.
“With its knowledge of the local environment, bandits will have no hiding place”, he said.
The health sector also received a boost with the inauguration of a state of the art mobile diagnostic trucks worth millions of naira.
The mobile trucks, fully-fitted with medical diagnostic equipment are to render integrated health services to remote communities with difficult terrains.
The governor also inaugurated the Women and Child Shelter located along Katuru Road within Kaduna as part of activities marking his 100 days in office.
The centre will serve as a transit home for children and women who are subjected to violence abuse as well as offer them medical, psychosocial and legal support.
Sani also flagged off the construction of the multi million dollar housing units for the poor initiated by the Qatar-Sanabil Project.
The 500,000 housing units are aimed at improving the living condition of less families in the state.
The Mega Economic City project was officially inaugurated by Qatar’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Ali Bin Ghanem Al-Hajiri who commended the governor for his support for the successful launch of the project.
Aside from the construction of the housing units, Qatar Charity has also pledged interventions and empowerment programmes for the less privileged across Kaduna state.
According to Al-Hajri, these 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 government areas of Kaduna State.
The governor while commending the Embassy of Qatar in Nigeria and the Qatari Sanabil Project, said the Economic City will provide world class infrastructure and make Kaduna a reference point in modern and affordable accommodation, with adequate security and a conducive atmosphere for business activities.
In fulfilment of his promise that his administration will focus attention on rural development, Sani has commenced the construction of 32 rural roads covering about 406km across our 23 Local Government Areas, according to a statement by Mohammed Shehu, the spokesman of the governor.
Similarly, Sani also inaugurated blocks of hostels at Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS), Kawo-Kaduna and the Zaria Metropolitan Authority Office Complex during the weeklong activities marking 100 days in office.
He said the rehabilitation of the hostels which were gutted by fire in 2020 was in fulfillment of the promised made by the state government and a demonstration of the importance it attached to girl-child education.
At the inauguration of the Zaria Metropolitan Authority Office Complex, Sani said the authority had since inception, performed its role creditably well in the area of road construction and maintenance, solid waste management, installation of solar street lights and regulation of business environment.
He further performed the ground breaking ceremony of the first phase of 62 new Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) and Senior Secondary Schools (SSS) under the World bank funded Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) project across the 23 LGAs of the state.
A total of 93 new schools are expected to be constructed under the project before the end of 2025.
The governor said the initiative will address the challenges of out-of-school children.
He said education is one of the major priorities of his administration, stressing that primary and secondary education are free in Kaduna state.
“As you are aware, Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children in the whole world. As I speak, we have about 14 million out of school children, Kaduna state have about 500,000.
“We have reached out to all our rural communities so that this projects are situated in communities to give our children the opportunity to go to school.
“In Kaduna Primary and secondary schools education are free. But beyond that we believe that we must take the schools closer to them”, the governor said.
However, despite his strides since he assumed office, his critics alleged that his appointments, like his predecessor, Nasir El-Rufai, are lopsided and discriminative against a particular section of the state.
For instance the opposition peoples Democratic Party ( PDP), accused the governor for allegedly shortchanging certain sections in the appointment of commissioners.
State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Abraham Catoh, had in a statement on July 26, 2023,
condemned what he described as “divisive antics reminiscent of the Nasir El-Rufai era” and called on the government to “ensure balance in all appointments and projects across the state in line with the federal character as enshrined in the 1999 constitution.
However, a government official who pleaded anonymity, dismissed the criticisms as baseless, insisting that the governor’s appointments are fair and balanced as every section of the state is adequately represented.
For the people of Kaduna state, “all eyes are on” the governor to see whether he will live up to his promises and make a difference in addressing the security and socio-economic problems facing the state.