Kaduna State: Cost of Governance Beyond the Governor’s Sacrifice
BY: Yusuf Ishaku Goje
The recent statement of Kaduna State Senator Uba Sani during the swearing-in of the new Commissioners, slashing 50% of his salary for the next two years and using current official vehicles, brings nostalgia. In 1962, the Premier of Northern Nigeria and Sardauna of Sokoto, late Sir Ahmadu Bello, announced a six-year development plan for the North. To achieve the strategic objectives of the development plan within the available resources, he reduced the salaries of all Ministers and other political officials by 10% and abolished many of their allowances.
Many will also recall that in 2020, as part of the Covid-19 response measures, the former Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, ordered all senior appointees and top civil servants in the state to “donate 50 percent of their salaries” to fund the provision of relief items to vulnerable people in the state. Indeed, there is no gainsaying that we are in desperate times, which require desperate measures as well as a demonstration of leadership by example.
In this light, the Governor’s statement, aimed at empathizing with the current challenging economic situation, should be appreciated. The Governor was reported to have stated, “I will donate 50% of my salary to the Trust Fund for the next two years. This is part of my sacrifice towards reducing the cost of governance in Kaduna State and improving the lives of the poor, underserved, and vulnerable in our State.”
Furthermore, the Governor warned that “we are therefore in a period of emergency. This is a time for belt-tightening. Austerity measures have been unofficially declared.” Additionally, “we will take firm measures in Kaduna State to cut down on the cost of governance. We must, as political leaders, show our people the way. We must avoid an ostentatious lifestyle. We must not be telling our people to make sacrifices while we are busy living in opulence.”
However, to demonstrate the Governor’s seriousness and commitment to transparency and accountability, it will be essential for the administration to declare the total amount the 50% salary slash will amount to in two years. This will enable the residents to better appreciate the significance of the Governor’s sacrifice. Moreover, the Governor needs to urgently mandate the immediate review of the 2023 approved budget to ensure the reallocation of strategic priorities in response to the current difficult realities.
Instructively, among a few examples, the State allocated a meager N1.4 billion, approximately 0.4% of the total 2023 approved budget of N376.5 billion, to the entire agriculture sector. Meanwhile, N3.9 billion was allocated for the procurement of motor vehicles under the Ministry of Finance. Also, at this dire time, why should N877.7 million be allocated to Citizens’ Engagement and N559.6 million on Entertainment and Hospitality under the overhead cost of the Government House?
For a State that already has a 70% incidence of multidimensional poverty, as well as combined unemployment and underemployment of about 67%, the administration needs to review its budget to reflect current priorities. Even though the State has allocated N15.4 billion for social protection, it needs to balance the distribution, as Old Age (pension) has the highest chunk of 59%, while 22.0% went to Social Protection programs, 7.4% to Housing, 7.8% to Survivors, and 3.6% to Social Exclusion.
In summary, beyond the laudable personal sacrifices of the Governor and other political leaders, there is an urgent need to review the 2023 budget and reallocate resources to strategic priorities that directly address poverty reduction, ensure value for money in service delivery, and enable social accountability through openness and proactive disclosure of information.
Yusuf Ishaku Goje, an Active Citizen, writes from Kaduna and can be reached via email@example.com.