“Theart of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes”-Tony Blair
Mallam Nasir El- Rufai,the reformist governor of Kaduna State undoubtedly gave a very credible account of himself in his first term which has guaranteed him a place in history- for providing leadership,for taking bold decisions on the myriads of issues that “routine” governors that “reigned” before him lacked the guts to frontally confront even in their second term when they were no longer candidates for elections. The challenge ahead for Nasir El- Rufai in the next four(4) years that would further consolidate his place in history is for him to put up a more superlative performance in his second and final term.Though the challenges are exceptionally enormous, they are certainly not insurmountable.
Because Nasir El-Rufai dared the fear of defeat he defeated defeat , which in the case of kaduna State was largely responsible for the stagnation of the once acclaimed leader of the North. The failure of leadership,can be linked to the morbid fear of being defeated by elected officials,which is responsible for their failure to take critical decisions, with dire consequences for society. In a fundamental way the victory of El – Rufai is not just for the various policies – Kaduna State Public Service Revitalization and Renewal Programme,Reforms of the Local Government Councils, Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service (KADRIS), which presently generates N2billion monthly as against the paltry N800million generated before the surgical reform, the reform of the educational sector,especially the competency test that led to the exit of thugs who masqueraded as teachers- but a road map for any leader desirous of making impact.
The beauty of El-Rufai’s Second Term are the prospects for the consolidation of the many “Second Term” policies that he had embarked on in the first term, such that by the end of his second tenure in 2023 , they would be difficult to reverse and the state would bountifully reap the extraordinary rewards of democracy,all because the people stood up for quality and purposeful leadership,as opposed to the visionless alternative the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) offered them. The other gain of the the overwhelming endorsement of El- Rufai by the electorate, is that the governor would continue to be guided in his actions by the common good which in the first place made his reelection possible. Had he bought his election,the story would certainly be different.
Nasir El-Rufai’s acceptance and inaugural speeches,some behind the scene peace offensives by the governor and some of his key aides indicates that peaceful coexistence, improved security will be top on the Second Term agenda like it was in the First Term, because the desire to bequeath a united and prosperous state to the people,who are sick and tired of the image of the state as a place were at the slightest provocation people unleash terror on each other is obvious. Like the late United States President John F. Kennedy said “Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.”Exactly the policy of the state government. Agreed that there would always be dissent,but it must be constructive and why he would work with everyone out of conviction,it won’t certainly be for convenience. The Motto of Nasir El – Rufai seems to be : “We will talk to those who disagree with us.”
The question that has continued to agitate the minds of the people, is the response of the opposition – will they accept the olive branch genuinely offered or continue on the warped strategy of continuous war of attrition which it had aggressively pursued with the hope that it would help defeat El-Rufai in the 2019 General Elections. This strategy was the main reason why Kaduna State was constantly in a state of crisis. But having failed they must as a matter of duty to themselves and the state abandon the earth scorched strategy and work with the state government to ensure a more peaceful state,which like the governor said is necessary so as to tackle the issues of high poverty rate,lack of access to health etc.
The Macmillan dictionary defines a reformist as one “wanting to change and improve society or an institution”. Since El-Rufai became governor nothing has been the same again – every sector- from the Public Service to the Agricultural Sector – has received the necessary Nasir El – Rufai “shock therapy”. Before his coming Kaduna State,the Center of Learning lagged behind other states in about every area and was in dare need of a reformist in the mold of El- Rufai,to wake it up from years of stagnation. So another policy which the governor is expected to focus attention and rightly so is the public service reform. He had inherited a dysfunctional Public Service,that was unproductive, an aging workforce that lacked capacity to deliver,but very “focused on taking care of itself” by ensuring that the recurrent budget was always implemented,as opposed to capital expenditure that was hardly funded.
Nasir El-Rufai would further deepen the reforms by attracting bright young men and women into the service,because like he has argued and rightly too that “No Nation develops beyond the capacity of its Public Service”. If El -Rufai holds the public service in disdain,it is for their role in the underdevelopment of not just kaduna State,but Nigeria. This is the light in which the vigorous implementation of the Kaduna State Public Service Revitalization and Renewal Programme, aimed at improving the efficacy and capacity of the service to deliver service effectively to the people of the State must be seen.
For Governor El- Rufai the issue of job creation has a special place in his heart and he has consistently been unambiguous in affirming the role of the organized private sector in driving the economy of the state,because the state government can only directly employ a few people.With the frightening and unacceptable high rate of unemployment, job creation will remain critical and top on El – Rufai’s agenda ,more especially because the population of kaduna State consists of more younger people. Like the popular saying goes the idle mind is the devil’s workshop. With his wealth of experience at the Bureau for Public Enterprises(BPE), it is not surprising that he is partnering with the private sector to drive the industrialization process towards achieving the objectives of the government,which includes gainful employment, reduction of poverty, the boosting of human dignity and living standards. Nigerians should expect the intensification of efforts to attract investments,while those on the drawing board like the Dangote Peugeot Assembly Plant,the Moroccan Fertilizer Company will be hastened.
Though the Kaduna State Government Reforms of the Ease of Doing Business has received world recognition, more work should be expected in business registration procedures.Such that Ministries, Agencies and Departments, (MDAs) like the Ministry of Commerce; Kaduna Geographic Information Services (KADGIS); Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KASUPDA); Kaduna State Traffic and Environmental Law Enforcement Agency (KASTELEA); the Ministry of Justice, and the Kaduna Environmental Protection Agency (KEPA),will commence E-registration procedures that will drastically shorten business registration durations. It’s not just about because the world bank uses the ease of registering a new business, obtaining business licencing, favourable tax regime, ease of obtaining land and title documents,in concluding how friendly a state or country is doing business with them,but because it’s the smart thing to do.
The other area that would definitely be receiving the attention of El-Rufai is the Local Government Administration. Considering the political risk he took by embarking on the reforms, it’s doubtful if he won’t want to take the Local Government Councils to the next level,especially with the introduction of the presidential system at that level. His dream is clearly to see the Councils function like the constitution envisages,so that they can compliment the state government. Like the governor said during his inauguration “the fruits of our efforts to reform grassroots administration, by strengthening the local government system, has become manifest with better project delivery by the local councils. We have rescued the local government councils from bankruptcy and bloated payrolls. The elected chairmen of these now financially-healthier councils are now better equipped to deliver public goods at the grassroots. ” But they can do much better and this will be the attraction to deepen the reforms.
Considering the premium the governor places on education, health, environment these sectors would witness policy reforms and vigorous implementation of the adopted template,because the governor would continue to stand up for what he is convinced is right. And this explains his front loaded apology for the very difficult decisions that he would be taking,essentially for him this is what leaders are elected to do – take risks and difficult decisions.
One thing is certain and that’s that Kaduna State in the next four(4) years would be an exciting place especially with the expected inflow of the 350 million United States Dollars world bank facility – it would be a huge construction site. The State is not yet where it wants to be, but the vision is clear and like the Chinese will say,the journey of a thousand miles,starts with the very first mile.Kaduna State has definitely left Egypt,it might spend some few more years to get to the desired promised land,but the fact remains that it has embarked on a journey that wasn’t imposed,because the various reforms are products of self assessment – the government identifying strengths and weaknesses of its public service,its policy and strategy,and taking steps to address them.