To start with, the new Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Uba Sani, though might want to be careful not to offend his political benefactor, former Governor Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai, needs to do a holistic review of the 2023 approved budget to cut down cost of governance. Particularly, there are expenditure allocations that can hardly be justifiable in the face of the disturbing development outcome indicators in the State.

This is nothing new, as historically, we had leaders who were able to sacrifice opportunity for primitive accumulation of wealth and privileges that comes with public office for the common good. In 1962, the Premier of Northern Nigeria and Sardauna of Sokoto, late Sir Ahmadu Bello, announced a six year development plan for the North. In order to achieve the strategic objectives of the development plan, within the resources available, he reduced by 10% salaries to all Ministers and other political officials, and abolished many of their allowances. 

Hence, the need for the Governor to emulate leaders such as the Sardauna and demonstrate leadership by example. Thereby, mandating the immediate review of the 2023 approved budget and cutting down on frivolous budget allocations. For instance, how can we allocate a meager  N1.4 billion, that is approximately 0.4% of the total 2023 approved budget of N376.5 billion, to the entire agriculture sector; while we allocate N3.9 billion for procurement of motor vehicles under the Ministry of Finance.

Why should we at this dire time be allocating N877.7 million to Citizens' Engagement and N559.6 million on Entertainment and Hospitality under the overhead cost of the Government House. When a critical sector like agriculture, which is contributing 36% of our GDP and 42% of workforce, has been allocated a meager N750 for capital expenditure.

The Governor, immediately after the confirmation by the legislature and appointment of Commissioners, need to order the review of the 2023 budget to make it realistic in line with the initial budget size as recommended in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF, 2023-2025). As expected, the Governor should be having sleepless nights on how to turn the rhetoric of campaign to the reality of evidence-based development. The biggest challenge remains financing the promises made in his SUSTAIN blueprint, on various campaign podiums as well as open and private stakeholder meetings.

Despite repeated assurances during the campaign on fiscal sustainability, the Governor should by now be coming to terms with the reality that it is not going to be a tea party. As the Governor has a rising debt obligation of N35.4 billion to service as well as other recurrent and capital expenditures. As the current public debt charges is 18.7% of the total revenue in the 2023 approved budget, 39.7% of IGR, 59.1% of Statutory Allocation and 26.2% of recurrent expenditure. 

This is at a time when the the report of the Auditor-General on the Accounts of the Government of Kaduna State of Nigeria, 2022, same as that of 2021, observed that the State's revenue forecast appears to be exaggerated and too bogus to be achieved, as most MDAs are unable to meet their revenue targets. The effect of which is that some budget releases to MDAs, as captured in the quarterly performance reports, are usually not cash-backed. 

Consequently, any well-meaning leader should not live in luxury while overseeing an area with high unemployment, poverty and inequality rates. No compassionate leader should be moving with a legion of security agents with long convoys fueled by public funds - while his people are slaughtered, maimed and their properties are destroyed. Furthermore, no credible leader should have many lavished houses while those he leads are homeless due to displacement by insecurity or eviction without alternatives by government agencies. 

This is because the security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of the government. Therefore, the Governor should cut down on the number of institutions, aides and allowances as well as other frivolous expenditures in the 2023 approved budget that add no direct value to the people. 

Lets engage, ask the right questions and hold the government accountable.

Yusuf Ishaku Goje 

Active Citizen

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