Why Kaduna Abandoned School Feeding Programme – El-rufai

Kaduna State Governor Malam Nasir El-Rufai, in this interview with select journalists, shed light on the ban of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Southern Kaduna killings, and his administration’s efforts to reposition the state.MIDAT JOSEPH was there for LEADERSHIP Sunday.


Can you give a rundown of the implementation of this year’s budget?

Our budget implementation has been satisfactory, I will not say it is very impressive by our standard, but compared to what has been done before, I think this administration has done very well. As at October 2016, we had about 50 per cent budget implementation with the following breakdown: 85 per cent of personnel cost has been drawn, 77 per cent of overhead cost has been drawn and 32 per cent of capital expenditure has been drawn. In specific terms, as at October this year, we have spent about N29 billion on capital projects compared to N27. 5 billion in 2013 for the entire year, N17 billion in 2014 for the entire year and N27.6 billion in 2015 for the entire year. So we have already spent more in the first ten months of this year than the previous three years, two and a half of which were under the PDP government.

The bulk of this spending was on emergency education intervention, water supply, road construction and health care. As you recall, we employed 2,550 into Kaduna State Traffic Enforcement and Environmental Law Enforcement Agency (KASTELEA) and we also employed over 2,250 science teachers in our secondary schools.

Of course you cannot spend money without income, you recall that for the first time in the history of the state, we hit monthly internally generated revenue of N1.6 billion in July this year and this has remained more or less around this level up till today. We are moving away from reliance on federation account, to more on self-sustenance based on what we have. By the end of the year, we hope to achieve 50 per cent capital budget implementation and 65 per cent overall total budget implementation.

You listed education as your priority and launched the free feeding programme but suddenly stopped the free feeding why?

Education is the fundamental gift you can give to your citizens. Unfortunately, education investments don’t show returns immediately. But we believe that the restoration of public education to the quality that we had when we were going to school is an imperative and we are doing all that we can, to achieve this. Part of the package of the reforms that we introduced in education included not only the free basic education for nine years, but the primary school feeding programme. It was costing us N1. 1 billion a month. We felt that even if you make education free, if a child cannot get pocket money to eat while in school, the parents may decide it is better to withdraw him or her from school and we didn’t want that. This is why we introduced this programme. For the 1.8 million children in schools in Kaduna, this is what we were spending. We were encouraged to start theprogramme because the office of the Vice President, under the Social Investment Programme, promised to subsidize 60 per cent of the cost of the programme. So we started spending our money in the expectation of being reimbursed. We have spent, nearly N8 billion on this programme this year and the office of the Vice President is supposed to pay us back in the region of N6 billion to N7 billion.

Since we made education free, the enrollment in class one was huge. We have not been paid this money, the amount we earmarked for the programme in the 2016 budget has been exhausted, so we cannot continue with the programme. We are expecting the reimbursement from the office of the Vice President and we had been assured over and over that we would be reimbursed. But we didn’t think that we had the resources to continue without that reimbursement and we had exhausted what we budgeted for it. We decided to put it on hold and we are waiting for reimbursement from the office of the Vice President.We will resume the primary school feeding programme as soon as we complete the verification of the vendors and we have a framework that the office of the Vice President finds acceptable to not only reimburse us but also to continue to pay for primaries one to three.

Given the importance of good infrastructure in attracting investment, what has the government done in the last 18 months in this regard?

We are looking at several components of infrastructure. The township roads in Kaduna have been allowed to go into disrepair for long. The same in other urban areas of the state. Our local government headquarters are all glorified villages, they have no roads, and they have no street lighting. Our roads sometimes have no drainage so they don’t last. Of course there is the issue of electrification, particularly rural electrification. So we have tried to focus on these.

We started street lightings and road rehabilitation in Kaduna. We have now moved to all our local government headquarters; township roads are being built, street lights are being put up. We want to tell our people that live in the rural areas that rural areas can also be cities. You don’t all have to move to Kaduna, Zaria or Kafanchan to have a good life. We will bring the good life to them, so we have a massive programme for every local government headquarter and towns.

We have invested a lot in rural electrification; buying of transformers, deploying them where Kaduna Electric Company cannot and offsetting the cost of deployment from our electricity bills. We believe that having these basic infrastructure is vital to people. We have ensured that our communities have water. If they cannot have pipe water, we have boreholes that are solar powered and we are rehabilitating them all across the state.

We have overall, awarded 29 road contracts under what we called a retainer scheme. We found that when you advertised and go through tenders, it takes four to five months to award the contracts. So we came up with some very innovative ideas. We got an initial list of ten contractors that have done roads in Kaduna.

Every month, we give N100 million to each of them, that is N1 billion. Ministry of Works will ask you to do a particular road, you build the road, at the end of the month, and we will reconcile account and balance you. We determine the rates which are the same for all the contracts. Of course when we invited Julius Berger, they couldn’t accept our prices, but some others accepted it. So we have 10 or 12 contractors that we have on the retainership scheme. This idea came to us because of the budget support facility by the federal government. Every month the federal government gives each state N1.3 billion to augment the prices in the fall of crude oil. So we felt the money will be better utilised this way. So we pay N1.2 billion to the 12 contractors every month that is why they keep on working.

We are about to award contract for Guchimishi – Kuyelo , Randagi – Funtua, Rigachikun – Sabon Birni, Anguwan Katafawa, Anguwan Kaji, Rafin Guza and the Kaduna bridge. We want to build another bridge across river Kaduna to open up the eastern sector.

About 20 percent of all the projects would be completed before the end of 2017. I have focused more on roads, but of course we are doing a lot in electrification and water and everything. I will not relent until we give Kaduna state the infrastructure I think it deserves.

There have been a lot of hues and cries over the banning of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria(IMN).Why did the government decide to infringe on the Shiites’ freedom of association and the freedom to practice their religion?

The issue of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and their declaration as an unlawful society is something that we did with all sense of responsibility. What we did is to say that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is an unlawful society and we derived the powers to do this under the Penal Code that was passed in 1963, so it is not a new thing that we did. And we concluded, after receiving the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry that looked into the clashes between the IMN and the army, that the IMN poses a threat to the peace, security and good governance of Kaduna state.

We did not ban Shiism, we did not ban Shiites. The IMN does not recognize the constitution of Nigeria, they do not recognize Buhari as President of Nigeria, and they do not recognise me as governor of Kaduna state because they had their governor in Tudun Wada. They have their para military wing, the call them ‘Hurras’. They train them in violation of our laws. They do not accept that any law in Nigeria applies to them. They block public high ways, they occupy schools when they are doing their processions and they feel that to practice their religion, they have to infringe on the right of others.

Because IMN doesn’t recognise Nigerian laws, they are not registered with CAC, so they cannot be sued or held responsible. They build anywhere they want without approval. They don’t even bother to acquire title to land. Their allegiance is not to Nigerian government, their allegiance is to somewhere else IMN looks like an insurgency waiting to happen. The report of the commission of inquiry recommended that we should proscribe IMN because they are not registered, they can’t sue or be sued in their own name.

The crises in Southern Kaduna have been recurrent and there seem not to be an end in sight. What is your administration doing to ensure an end to the crisis?

When we came to office, the two problems we faced in the area of security were cattle rustling in Birnin Gwari/Giwa axis and this communal killings in southern Kaduna. We were very concerned about both and we did two things. We needed to understand what was happening in Southern Kaduna. We understood cattle rustling and we convened a meeting of all the north west governors because the problem was centred around the forest ranges of Kuyambana and we felt state cooperation was necessary. We came together and launched an operation to deal with cattle rustling. We were successful because we degraded their ability to do cattle rustling, even though that created a problem of kidnapping, because they moved from cattle rustling to kidnapping we are still facing.

For southern Kaduna, we didn’t understand what was going on and we decided to set up a committee under Gen. Martin Luther Agwai (rtd) to find out what was going on there. What we established is that the root of the problem has a history starting from the 2011 post-electionviolence. So this was the problem, we knew this by August last year and we started taking steps. But what is happening now, I don’t want it to be restricted to Southern Kaduna. I noticed that some people are trying to bring religion or ethnicity into it. What about Zamfara state? That is why I considered the statement by the President of Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN ) as regrettable. What is happening in southern Kaduna today, in my opinion, has roots in banditry, it has nothing to do with what has happened in the past to a large extent.

Secondly, I think that those that preach the message that this one is a settler, he shouldn’t he here or this one is of different tribe and religion, he should not live with you, are more responsible for what is happening than anything else.

For some of the politicians from the southern Kaduna that are trying to politicised this, they should go to Plateau state and find out or talk to former Governor Jonah Jang and find out what happens when you add fuel to the fire of this kind of division.We are deploying more and more security to the crisis prone areas.

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