BY JUBRIL ABDULAZIZ
Of the 16 newly elected Governors in the country, Senator Uba Sani, the young and ebullient Governor of Kaduna State seems the most prepared for the top job. For one, Senator Sani is thoroughly rounded in administration and governance. Better still, the Kaduna State Governor has a firm understanding of the workings of all arms and tiers of Government at both the Federal and State levels.
Though Governor Uba Sani started out as a fiery pro-democracy and human rights activist in the heady days of military rule in Nigeria – working closely with pro-democracy icons of that era like the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chima Ubani, Yinka and (his wife) Joe Okei-Odumakin, among others; with the nation’s eventual attainment of democratic rule in 1999, Uba Sani retreated to his professional training as an Engineer and calling as a businessman. Today, however, Governor Uba Sani has become a shining symbol of careful grooming in politics and governance.
The rather down-to-earth Governor of Kaduna State is deploying inclusive governance as a very potent weapon to curb acute poverty, banditry and general insecurity in the State. The Governor makes no pretences about his administration’s resolve to make the overwhelming majority of the citizens and residents of Kaduna State, directly feel the impact of government. Uba Sani intentionally treats all the local government areas in Kaduna State as equals and spreads both infrastructural development and political patronage equally.
Even more important, Governor Uba Sani is a believer in identifying and harvesting the good in people and he readily avers that underdevelopment, poverty and lack of inclusion are at the root of the seemingly intractable security challenges that Kaduna has been battling with over the years. He seeks to change the poor narrative and status quo. Governor Uba Sani is totally committed to opening up and bringing to the mainstream all the geo-political zones in Kaduna State but specially targeting the poor, vulnerable, underserviced, youth and women population in the State.
Governor Uba Sani is building on the giant strides of his immediate predecessor, Mallam Nasir El Rufa’i without seeming to be duplicating efforts already accomplished or achieved by the phenomenal El Rufa’i. Governor Uba Sani is at home with the fact that government is a continuum. “Our vision is to make Kaduna the Leading Economic Hub in the North. We want to create a business cluster that will drive competition in the Northern Region. Kaduna State is rich in natural and human resources. It is the gateway to many parts of Nigeria. It is a transportation hub. The immediate past government worked assiduously to upgrade the infrastructure in the state. We are determined to build on that legacy to fast-track the economic development of the state,” the Governor says.
Governor Uba Sani who proved himself as a champion of financial inclusion while he served as the Chairman of Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Matters between 2019 and May 29, 2023, when he was sworn in as Governor, is leading a revolution of sorts in Kaduna State by bringing millions of underserviced persons under one form of financial service or the other.
Indeed, long before the Federal Government announced a series of palliative measures aimed at cushioning the effect of the withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products, notably PMS (petrol), Governor Uba 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 unbanked 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 Uba Sani is a strong proponent and believer in both the kinetic and non-kinetic options 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 Uba 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 Governor says the State will recruit 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 10th 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 Uba Sani enthused.
On the other hand, Governor Uba 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,” Gov. Uba 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 Uba 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 a 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 the building of houses for the less privileged, underserved and vulnerable people, special homes for orphans, hospitals, markets, schools etc,” Governor Uba 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 Uba 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 Uba 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 Uba 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 Uba 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.
Following these recommendations, Governor Uba Sani on Monday, August 21, announced that “as a caring, responsive and responsible government, his administration has accepted the recommendations and accordingly reviewed downwards the fees paid in all tertiary institutions owned by Kaduna Sate by between 30 per cent and 50 per cent”. Under the new dispensation, the Governor moved the extant fee of N150,000 at the Kaduna State University to N106,000; Fees for the State-Owned Polytechnic (Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic) was reduced by 50 per cent from the extant rate of N100,000 to N50,000. In the same regard, fees paid at the State’s College of Education, Gidan Waya was reduced by 50 per cent from N75,000 to N37,000. Fees paid at the Kaduna State College of Nursing was reduced from N100,000 to N70,000, a 30 per cent reduction.
Governor Uba Sani said that the downward review of the extant fees regime in schools owned by the State aligns with his administration’s commitment to offering palliatives to cushion the effect of the rising cost of living in the polity, especially in the wake of recent petroleum subsidy removal in Nigeria
“The welfare of the people is our topmost priority. Our administration shall continue to take all measures necessary to ensure access to free and qualitative education for every child in Kaduna State from primary to secondary school; expand access to higher education; enhance Teachers’ Welfare & Teaching Standards; improve School Infrastructure; build ICT competence in our students from basic education level; and intensify investments in Technical & Vocational Education,” the Governor announced.
Governor Uba Sani summed up the immediate direction of his administration during the swearing-in event of the newly appointed commissioners in the State:
“I charge you all (Commissioners) to adopt the inclusive approach to leadership. You must build a team and see everybody as important. You must get down to work immediately and deliver on the 7-Point Agenda of our administration, namely: Safety and Security, Upgrade of Infrastructure, Strengthening Institutions, Trade and Investment, Agriculture, Investing in Human Capital, and Nurturing Citizens’ Engagement. The central focus of our administration is however the Transformation of the Rural Areas. We want to revitalize the economies of the rural areas through massive infrastructural development.”
Jubril Abdulaziz lives in Kaduna.
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