Kaduna State: Beyond The Symbolism of 100 Days, Embracing Social Accountability
By: Yusuf Ishaku Goje
The Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Uba Sani, did not miss the opportunity to flag off and commission projects to mark his administration’s 100 days in Office. He followed it with a live radio program and paid media adverts to reel out his successes so far. As it is now the norm, 100 days in office is used as a pointer to the direction and yardstick for public assessment of a new administration. Elected leaders take advantage of it to showcase their achievements; while the residents offer mixed reactions in scoring the performance of these leaders.
The purpose of this write-up is not to review and score the performance of the current administration in 100 days; the residents of the State are in a better position to do so. The key focus is to highlight topical issues bordering on social accountability as regards the recent subsidy removal palliative funds given to the State and ongoing commissioning of rural road construction across the State. First of all, these are commendable steps, starting with the initiative on the construction of rural roads – which has been clamored for by many stakeholders and is a core part of the Governor’s SUSTAIN blueprint (promoting accelerated rural development by extending infrastructure development to all local government areas).
Already, the Governor and his Deputy Governor have flagged off the construction of some of these roads. The roads are the construction of Rigachikun – Tami – Birnin Yero rural road (25km) in Igabi LG. Construction of 21.7km Anchau-Gadas-Palla Road in Kubau and Ikara Local Government Areas. Construction and rehabilitation of 6.2km rural access road from Tachira-Mayi-Kuwon-Assu and Makaban Aya-Lagun road in Kaura LGA. This is part of the administration’s initiative to construct 32 rural roads covering about 406 km across the 23 LGAs.
A quick look into the 2023 approved budget shows two provisions for the construction of rural roads. Under the Ministry for Local Government Affairs, there is the construction of 149 km of Rural Feeder Roads at 14 Locations across zones 1, 2, and 3 at N925 million. While under the Ministry of Agriculture, there is the RAAMP Counterpart Funding of N200 million for the Construction of Rural Access Roads in Zone 1, 2, and 3. Interestingly, other road constructions for the State as captured in the budget are Township Road Projects, State Trunk roads, Provision of Road Signages and Markings, and Consultancy Services on Road Projects across the state at N2.3 billion, N2.2 billion, N26.7 million, and N200 million respectively under Kaduna Roads Agency (KADRA).
Another important issue of interest is the announcement by the Governor of the receipt of part disbursement of N2 billion (subsidy removal palliative support of the Federal government) and the constitution of an ad-hoc Committee with three terms of reference for the fund’s utilization. A look at the 2023 budget shows that there was no specific revenue estimate (either under grants or domestic loans) for the N5 billion palliative funds – made up of 52% grant and 48% loan. Although there are allocations under the budget line item on Social Protection, it is not specific to the proposed palliative distribution.
As laudable as the steps taken so far are, it is difficult to ascertain if these roads or palliative funds are already captured under the original budget or if the 2023 budget has been revised to capture them. Similarly, there is no publicly available evidence to show that a supplementary budget has been sent or appropriated by the Kaduna State House of Assembly. This clarification is important to ensure accountability in terms of compliance with established public financial management procedures in the State.
Particularly, where necessary, ensure compliance with the provision of the State Public Finances (Control and Management) Law, 2016, section 9, which states: “whenever it is essential to incur additional expenditure under a sub-code (or create a new sub-code) and equivalent savings can be made on one or more other sub-codes within the same Main Code of the Estimates, the Commissioner for Budget and Planning may, in the case of Recurrent Expenditure authorized virement but in the case of Capital Expenditure, he shall recommend all cases of virements to the State House of Assembly for approval.”
Be that as it may, another area of focus is in terms of transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement in the delivery of the 32 rural road construction and palliative distribution. Coincidentally, Kaduna State just became the first subnational in Nigeria to join the CoST – Infrastructure Transparency Initiative. This is the leading global initiative in improving transparency and accountability in public infrastructure. Coast works with government, industry, and civil society to promote the disclosure, validation, and interpretation of data from infrastructure projects. This helps to inform and empower citizens and enables them to hold decision-makers to account.
Given the above, the State government should endeavor to ensure that, in line with CoST recommendations, at least 40 mandatory data points of each of the 32 rural road projects are published and immediately accessible to residents. Likewise, the client and contractors of the projects should be mandated to hold stakeholders’ engagement to ensure ownership by the benefiting communities. Civil society mechanisms already engaging in social accountability should also be incorporated into monitoring road projects and palliative distribution. This is the only way value for money will be achieved in the delivery of these rural road projects and palliative intervention.
Yusuf Ishaku Goje, an Active Citizen, writes from Kaduna and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.