Remarks by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, on the occasion of the swearing-in of the members of the Kaduna State Executive Council, held at the Council Chambers of Sir Kashim Ibrahim House
1. I welcome you all to the swearing-in of the members of the new Executive Council of Kaduna State.
2. We thank the people of Kaduna state for re-electing us. Ordinary people have been our backbone against the vain efforts of some entitled elites to manufacture hysteria around some of our policies. We do not take this support for granted. We will continue to work to retain the trust of the people, as we steadfastly uphold our platform of Putting People First.
3. In our first-term, we devoted much effort to implementing tough, but necessary policy reforms. We firmly began to promote equality of opportunity as a key component of our governance agenda. At great risk, we undertook to return the concerns of ordinary people to the heart of government. I assure the people of Kaduna State that we shall not waver in expanding access to decent education and quality healthcare for ordinary people.
4. One of the most important reforms we started in the first-term is the Public Service Reform and Revitalisation Project. One of its major objectives is to strengthen the public service by injecting into its ranks our younger, well-educated, IT-compliant and competent personnel. This goal will be actualised, by the grace of God. We shall be recruiting thousands of teachers, health workers, administrative officers and other professionals into the public service. Vacant positions in the public service will continue to be advertised. Public service jobs will be available to every Nigerian citizen, but only on merit, not ethnicity, religion or as a result of cronyism.
5. While we envisage no major change of direction regarding our governance policy since 2015, we shall be paying closer attention to some aspects of the social sector. There will be a focus on providing low-income housing and developing a social protection system, in addition to expanding access to education and improving health outcomes.
6. With nearly 5% of Nigeria’s population, Kaduna State may account for up to 1m of the 16m housing deficit in Nigeria. This gap exists mainly at the lower end of the market, which is not particularly attractive to the private sector. Therefore, the state government must intervene to address this deficit and enable ordinary people to access decent housing. We also will strive to widen and broaden the mortgage system that we created to support the sale of government houses to enable Kaduna citizens buy houses and pay over 15-20 years paying single digit interest rates.
7. I also indicated in my second inauguration address that we shall launch a social investment programme for the poorest and the most vulnerable residents of our state. Even in tough times, there is an obligation for government to strive to leave no citizen behind. As such, we shall reform and expand programmes like the Kaduna State Women Empowerment Fund (KADWEF) to fully embrace the vulnerable. Last year, we spent N200 million to support women entrepreneurs. This year, N400 million will be spent to ensure that our vulnerable groups are supported to realise their full potentials.
8. Along with our partners, we have made a lot of investment in providing facilities and opportunity for skills acquisition and vocational training. During this term, we shall seek to take the next step and move beyond skills acquisition into creating more jobs and building viable businesses. We shall support initiatives to create products and move these to the market, thus, creating a veritable and sustainable Made in Kaduna brand. Our agencies will also work to retain and build on our World Bank ranking as the Number One state for Ease of Doing Business. This is critical to our goal of driving development through attraction of investments and creation of jobs.
9. As you are aware, we recently launched our Urban Renewal Programme, starting with Kaduna where we are building seven new roads and upgrading or dualising 14 others. The Urban Renewal Programmes for Kafanchan and Zaria Metropolis will follow, by the grace of God. All these align with our State Development Plan (SDP), 2016-2020. Infrastructure is crucial to economic activity and the wellbeing of our people, and we will continue to invest aggressively in transportation, water supply and electrification projects across the State.
10. The foregoing are the considerations that informed the restructuring of ministries contained in the Executive Order of June 2019. Each of the 14 ministries has been designed to help drive the items on our governance agenda in line with the objectives of our party and our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari. Social justice is paramount to us in Kaduna.
11. Therefore, we have appointed our commissioners to represent and work for the entire state. We chose insiders so that they can hit the ground running. That is why you can see so many familiar faces, selected for their sound education, solid experience and capacity. I thank members of the Executive Council that served from 2015-2019. We chose to refresh the team so that other colleagues can bring their experience from other parts of the government into the Executive Council. In fact, some of our appointees are accomplished enough to be federal ministers and even State Governors – it is certainly humbling to be state commissioners, but we thank them for agreeing to serve. After-all, no public service responsibility is too small as serving humanity is the best way to serve God Almighty. I know that for you all, you are sacrificing to serve because Kaduna comes first!
12. The new commissioners must quickly settle in and deliver results. Each of you has already received and signed the job descriptions that will guide your supervision of your ministries. These will be followed by agreeing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each ministry, and the execution of Performance Agreements between the Governor and every State Commissioner. Every Commissioner must in turn agree KPIs and sign Performance Agreements with the Permanent Secretary and top management of their ministries. All KPIs are subject to strict quarterly reviews, and any MDA head that misses targets in two consecutive quarters without adequate explanation will be relieved of the public office. This is necessary because we must maximise the utility of the short time left to deliver social services for our people.
13. I must now appeal to family, friends and associates here to support our commissioners. Family members and associates must realise that the commissioners would need their support. We thank you for the sacrifice you would make, but we urge you not to pressurise them. They are neither rich nor in office to acquire wealth or make their friends and family rich. They will manage billions of Naira but must comply with financial regulations and due process. Please counsel and encourage them to do right to all manner of persons without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. Remind them and indeed all of us always that genuine public service is a call to duty and we must all account to the Almighty sooner or later!
14. With today’s event, we have formed the apex of the government. But the full government is still emerging. More appointments are coming. We have vacancies for Special Advisers, Special Assistants, Permanent Secretaries and chief executives of agencies that need to be filled from within the public service as well as from outside.
15. We therefore call on all those interested in serving the state in various capacities to send their resumes to the Deputy Governor – the chief employment officer of the State – for review and consideration. We have also recently dissolved all boards of parastatals and will soon begin appointing new board members, recognising those that have served our country, our state and party in various capacities during the recent campaigns and elections. We will not forget those that have worked hard and contributed to our quest to make Kaduna Great Again.
16. Permit me to put on record our immense gratitude to the Kaduna State House of Assembly for the prompt scrutiny and confirmation of our commissioners. We note that the House was unable to confirm one of our nominees. We support fully the decision of the House, as it is its constitutional responsibility to serve as a check on executive decisions and actions.
17. We therefore still have vacancies for the health and agriculture portfolios. We will soon present nominees for these for the consideration of the State House of Assembly. Until we decide on the substantive head of the health ministry, I would also like to confirm that the Deputy Governor will, for the time being, oversee the Ministry of Health.
18. During our second term of office, we intend to group ministries, departments and agencies with related mandates into Policy Councils, to which will be delegated, by Executive Order, the constitutional functions of the State Executive Council, and shall meet weekly to consider coordination and implementation of policies, and reduce or eliminate the silo mentality of MDAs. As an example, the Social Development Council shall be chaired by the Deputy Governor with the Commissioners of Education, Health, Human Services and Social Development, Justice and so on, with all parastatals within that sector. The various policy councils will then bring memos to the State Executive Council from time to time. We are confident that based on lessons learnt between 2015 to date, this measure will improve the overall functioning, efficiency and effectiveness of the government.
19. Much is expected from the new Kaduna State Executive Council and much must be delivered for the benefit of our people. I congratulate all the new and returning members, and appreciate their families and friends for being here to support and celebrate with us. May God bless the Kaduna State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Thank you for listening.