Dear sir,

Trust this open letter finds you well.

Congratulations on your swearing in and best wishes as you pilot the affairs of Kaduna State. There is no time for long felicitations,  as you do not have the luxury of time to bask in the euphoria of victory. Therefore, this letter is a strong reminder that a huge burden of responsibility saturated with challenges has been placed on your shoulder and there will be no room for excuses, only pro-people results. 

You have much to prove, more so, because your victory has the lowest margin between a Governorship winner and runner-up since the return of democracy in 1999 in the State. Your party, the APC, has been in power since 2015, however, evident trend shows a rapid decline in popularity with every election. The party won with a huge margin of 631,802 in 2015, it dwindled to 231,259 in 2019 and declined sharply to 10,806 in 2023 . Also, you won with about 47% (730,002) of the valid votes; while 53% (816,744) went to the other candidates combined. 

This is a difference of about 86,742, far more than the votes you defeated the first runner up. If this was to be an official referendum, your guess is as good as mine. In view of this, all eyes are on you to justify the mandate that has elevated you to the position of the number one public servant in the State. Despite inheriting both the performance assets and liabilities of the former Governor, Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-rufai, be assured you will be strictly assessed, measured and scored solely by your performance. 

The performance indicators that will be used will go beyond just development outputs, the focus will be on the target outcomes as captured in the State Development Plan (SDP, 2021-2025) - especially that during the campaigns you promised continuity and consolidation. We await to see, while holding you accountable, what you will do differently and how you will generate the needed revenue to fulfill the social contract you entered with the good people of the State - as outlined in your SUSTAIN blueprint. The election rhetoric and promises have passed away, behold it is now time for action and results.

Some of the issues we will be tracking and holding you accountable is how you will generate sufficient revenue to service our huge Public Debt Charges of N35.4 billion, as captured in the Kaduna State 2023 Approved Budget. As this 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. Considering that the previous administration approved an ambitious budget of N376 billion for 2023, with another N8 billion currently before the State Assembly.

I must say you are in for a tough ride. More so that 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.

Similarly, the BudgIT State of States Report, 2022, reported that the State is poorly positioned at 33rd (3%) in terms of being able to significantly grow its IGR year on year and progressively reducing over-dependence on Federal transfer. Also, the Fitch rating, 2022, stated that Kaduna's 'Vulnerable' risk profile reflects Fitch's view of a very high risk relative to international peers that Kaduna's ability to cover debt service with its operating balance may weaken unexpectedly over the forecast horizon (2022-2026).

We look forward to the public financial management reforms you will be initiating to enable your administration to service our high and rising debt profile and at the same time meet other recurrent and capital expenditures.

At the same time, it is worthy of note that you have also saddle the exalted but burdensome seat at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House at a time when the State is home to about 8.04 million multidimensionally poor with an incidence of above 70%, according Nigeria Multidimensional Poverty Index (2022). As well as having a high dependency rate with 49% of the population below 14 years, while 67% are less than 24 years.

Another monster awaiting you is the unemployment and underemployment rates of 44.3 and 22.6% respectively. Same with education, as according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report, 2022, the State is among the 12 states with the highest number of out-of-school children with 652,990 as at 2022. While 56% of the people aged 10 years and above in the State have not completed six years of school, as reported in the Nigeria Multidimensional Poverty Index (2022).

The health indicators are no better as the State is said to have some of the worst health outcomes in Nigeria (NDHS, 2018). The State has the worst Neonatal Mortality Rate (63 per 1000 live births), the fourth-worst state in terms of Infant mortality (97 per 1000 live births), and the sixth-worst for Under-5 mortality (187 per 1000 live births) in the entire country. Furthermore, we have one of the worst stunting rates among under-five children in Nigeria, with 48.1% of children under five said to be stunted. About 64% of households are deprived of access to clean drinking water.

Despite the effort of the previous administration in terms of road construction under its Urban Renewal Project, with some still uncompleted, there is still a deficit of standard road infrastructure. The Kaduna Infrastructure Master Plan (2018-2050) shows that 49.20% (1,049.72km) of the roads in the State are in good state, 22.09% (471.25km) are in fair state and 28.71% (612.63km) are in poor condition.

Notably, some private sector investments have been attracted into the State. However, public investment in the agriculture sector leaves much to be desired. The agriculture sector budget trend shows low allocation of 2.6% in 2017, 2.3% in 2018, 1.2% in 2019, 0.9% in 2020, 4.6% in 2021, 0.8% in 2022 and 0.4% in 2023. Another issue of concern awaiting you is the continuous default in 10% IGR statutory remittance to LGAs with trend showing 43% in 2018, zero percent in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 1.1% in 2022.

Though security remains the number one priority, proactively tackling the enablers is key to sustainable solutions. The ball is now in your court and be assured we will not be passive spectators. We will engage you, ask you the right questions and hold you accountable for the promises made.

Yours sincerely,

Yusuf Ishaku Goje

Active Citizen and Civil Society Advocate

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