Gov Uba Sani’s strategic planning on governance in Kaduna

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By Shehu Abubakar

When he took over the steering wheel of Kaduna state on the 29th of May 2023 from former Governor Nasir el-Rufai, the immediate past senator representing Kaduna Central, Malam Uba Sani, was not unaware of the global economic realities, particularly the financial standing of the state he aspired to govern.

But, like other great leaders of international repute, he accepted the daunting challenge of leading Kaduna to a greater height.

Despite his predecessor’s scary valedictory speech, which exposed Kaduna as the second most indebted state in Nigeria, Governor Uba Sani in his inauguration address gave hope to the citizens of Kaduna state. Even when he acknowledged the challenges he was inheriting, Governor Sani expressed belief in his knowledge, commitment and determination to navigate the state out of troubled waters.

Former Governor el-Rufai declared before the mammoth crowd that came to witness Sani’s inauguration at the Murtala Mohammed Square, that he was leaving the state better than when he assumed office in 2015, adding that his administration initiated legacy projects that would empower the citizens, but he openly admitted that he left a domestic debt of N80.60 billion naira and a foreign debt of $577.32 million dollars for the Uba Sani administration.

According to ex-governor El-Rufai: “As of the last financial year, Kaduna state has the following liabilities -Domestic debt: N64.54bn, Other Contingent Liabilities: N16.06bn and foreign debts: US $577.32m.”

However, rather than play politics with the challenges at hand as some of his colleagues across the country are doing, the new Kaduna governor rolled up his sleeves and swung into positive actions that will change the statistics, having realised that, he was not voted to come and lament.

At inception, Governor Sani promised that his administration would run a people-oriented government and work hard to speedily achieve a secured, peaceful and united Kaduna state that guarantees investment in its economy as well as hope and certainty for the future.

His words: “I am close to the people enough to know that things have become so tough for many families that they have become anxious and are even beginning to lose hope. For these people, I say to you that I know you, I see you, and I hear you loud and clear. I vow to you today, that as your governor, I shall work round the clock, deploying all my God-given talents, modern governance tools and the most gifted personnel that this state can boast of, to not only alleviate your condition but to give the majority of our people sustained prosperity and hope again.”

Within the past six months, political observers have noted the convergence of Governor Sani’s zeal and commitment to development on many fronts including, infrastructural, human capital and job creation, wealth creation and employment, which led to him seeking investments from investors and businessmen across the world.

Beyond rhetorics, Governor Sani has been very pragmatic in his developmental strides. He has been able to match his words with action; as part of his promise to address the housing deficit in the state, Sani’s government has secured a tripartite partnership with Qatar Charity Foundation and Qatar-owned Sanabil Foundation, to establish an economic city and build houses for 500,000 low-income earners in Kaduna state.

Just a few weeks after the signing of the accord, Governor Sani brought down the Qatari Ambassador to perform the groundbreaking of the two projects at the Millennium City area of the state capital. He said the economic city is designed to establish world-class infrastructure, positioning Kaduna as a benchmark for contemporary affordable living. “It will offer a secure environment and a conducive atmosphere for thriving business activities. The city would facilitate global trade and simultaneously serve as a nurturing platform for local entrepreneurs and traders.”

He also disclosed that the housing project which is aimed at uplifting the lives of the State’s vulnerable and underserved population, extends to provision of clinics, shops, poultry farms, and farmlands for the rainy season and irrigation farming.

Qatar Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Ali Bin Ghanem Al-Hajri, while addressing the groundbreaking event stated that the Qatari Charity had also pledged various interventions and empowerment programmes for Kaduna’s poor and underserved, adding that, “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 governments of Kaduna state”.

Like the Qatar partnership, Governor Sani’s frantic effort to bring the government of Kuwait to equally invest in Kaduna has reached an advanced stage, as the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Nigeria, Abdelaziz Albisher recently indicated the country’s interest in investing in Kaduna State.

In the area of human capital development, as well as youth and women employment, the Uba Sani government has been able to secure a pact with Google.Org to train 5,000 women and girls in data science, artificial intelligence, and entrepreneurial application of digital technologies.

The initiative, which was part of Governor Sani’s broader skills development programme, is aimed at empowering women and young people across the state with 21st-century skills, positioning them for opportunities in the digital and creative industries.

The programme, which is being executed by Data Science Nigeria and designed to set up Arewa Tech4Ladies across four key semi-urban and rural communities in Kaduna State, will offer specialised women-focused learning, mentoring, and job placement support facilities.

Though not about erecting physical structures, the partnership with Google is about putting Kaduna on the global map of most sought-after tech experts, as the ICT and artificial intelligence are the current mainstay of the global economy. This is why the Governor while signing the Google agreement said, “inclusion in technology is not just about social equity; it’s about economic progress.

By empowering our women with digital skills, we are not only breaking gender barriers but also setting the stage for significant economic growth. This partnership with Google underscores our commitment to the vast potential of our women for the socio-economic transformation of Kaduna state and Nigeria at large”.

Google Director for West Africa, Olumide Balogun, commended the Sani-led government for its foresight, saying that, “the future of tech in Nigeria hinges on tapping into the potential of every individual, irrespective of gender. Our collaboration with the Kaduna state government is a testament to our unwavering belief in the transformative power of women in tech. Through the support of Google.org, we are dedicated to fostering a more inclusive digital landscape, ensuring every trained woman becomes a beacon of change in the tech world.”

Also at the international level, Governor Uba Sani has commenced the process of strengthening and expanding the partnership between the State Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in critical areas of Agriculture, Health, Education and Financial Inclusion. It was in furtherance of that, that he recently received a high-powered delegation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) led by the President of its Global Growth & Opportunity Division, Rodger Voorhies.

The Senator Uba Sani-led government also joined other states from the north-west region on a tour of Code d’Ivoire to seek the intervention of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) in power and agriculture.

The deputy governor, Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, joined the other governors of the northwest region at a meeting with AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina, where they presented a regional approach developed by the seven states to position the region to better utilise the opportunities offered by the bank’s agro-industrial processing zones programme.

She further called for AfDB’s intervention in Kaduna State under the National Transmission Expansion Project to energize a 2 by 60MVA transmission substation for the green economic zone, pointing out that Kaduna State has already conducted pre-feasibility studies for energizing 5,000 off-grid communities. “We have done deep dives and investor pitch for 2 clusters of 42 communities and what remains is for them to be powered now”.

The Uba Sani government has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Basscomm Nigeria Limited and Eneriv Power Limited to provide solar power to KDSG civil servants as a clean and affordable alternative source of electric power under its Solar-For-All programme. The initiative is in line with Governor Sani’s pro-people style of governance and commitment to seeking climate-friendly sources of energy in the face of environmental challenges.

The Solar-For-All Programme will cater for over 70,000 public servants in the Kaduna State Civil Service. Through the programme, eligible workers can purchase high-quality solar systems for their homes, small businesses or farms at stipulated rates with a payment plan of 3 years. Additionally, the solar systems will be installed safely by certified solar energy providers to ensure compliance with international best practices and standards.

With the feat so far achieved in less than six months in office, Governor Uba Sani has no doubt demonstrated an understanding of governance during challenging times. No wonder he has always been on the move. Like a father whose house has run dry of food and drinks, he knows the right thing to do is go out, work and bring food home.

The condition he met in Kaduna state in terms of financial standing, requires that Governor Sani go after investors to seek foreign direct investments and he had to reach out physically to convince foreign investors to be willing and ready to invest in the State.

Shehu Abubakar writes from Abakwa, Kaduna.

Culled from TheCable

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