January 23, 2022 / 07:50 AM / Address by Malam Nasir El-Rufai /
Header Image Credit: Malam Nasir El-Rufai
Being Address by Malam Nasir El-Rufai at the State Banquet in honour of President Muhammadu Buhari, at the conclusion of his two-day working visit to commission some projects of the Kaduna State Urban Renewal Programme, held at the Umaru Yar'Adua Hall, Murtala Mohammed Square, Kaduna, on Friday, 21st January 2022
1. It is with immense pleasure that I welcome the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, his distinguished entourage and all the prominent citizens here to this State Banquet. This event honours President Buhari's working visit to Kaduna State, and celebrates the milestones so far achieved in our sustained efforts at a comprehensive remake of Kaduna State.
2. We came into office in 2015 having campaigned on a Restoration Masterplan, the manifesto that gave muscle to our slogan of Making Kaduna Great Again. After 16 years of largely dysfunctional and wasteful governance, the people of Kaduna set aside cynicism and gave us the opportunity to convert their hopes into reality.
3. Though we inherited a state characterised by the economics of dwindling revenues, the politics of self-enrichment and an environment of depleted social capital and suspicion, we have done all we can not to disappoint Mr. President who urged us to run, our party members and leaders of the APC, for trusting us with the ticket, and the voters in Kaduna State who invested their hopes in us since 2015 by electing us to lead the state. Mr. President, you attended the November 2014 event where I publicly declared my interest in leading the rebirth of Kaduna State on the platform of the APC. In your speech at that event, you said that in voting for me people will not be doing me a favour, but will be doing themselves a favour. It was a most moving statement of confidence, and has over the years served as added motivation for our focused approach to governance.
4. We have done all we can to keep faith with our manifesto commitments. We are trying to make Kaduna State great again. We are working hard to restore it to the dreams of its founders and all those personalities whose hard work and vision have laid the foundations on which we are building. We have waited patiently for Mr. President to visit Kaduna to see and hear and decide if we are on the right track.
5. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, we spent the first four years changing the governance direction of the state, reforming public administration and investing in basic education, healthcare, agriculture and rural infrastructure. We completed inherited water supply and other infrastructure projects that had remained uncompleted for decades. We ramped up tax collections, quadrupling it from N13bn in 2015 to N50.7bn in 2020. We made efforts to restore peace and justice amongst erstwhile hostile communities in the central and southern parts of the state. We developed plans for the economic development, industrialisation and physical development of the State, making it the premier investment destination in Nigeria by 2018.
6. We then launched the Urban Renewal Programme in June 2019 to provide the organised framework for the most extensive infrastructure investment in the history of Kaduna State. The projects of our urban renewal programme are designed to improve the competitiveness of Kaduna State, support economic dynamism and promote the well-being of our people. The Urban Renewal Programme seeks to make the three major cities of Kaduna State friendly homes to their residents, pleasant places to live in that are equipped with the facilities to support and promote the livelihoods of our citizens.
7. The Urban Renewal Programme responds to the accelerated urbanisation of Kaduna State. For instance, the metropolitan limits of the state capital, Kaduna, now straddles four local government areas: Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Chikun and Igabi. This metropolitan area is projected to be home to more than half of the state's population by 2050.
8. Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria have grown tremendously in recent decades. But public infrastructure in these cities has not kept pace with the vast increase in their populations nor has it accompanied its expansion into new districts. In our view, it was not enough to acknowledge that the existing infrastructure is not robust enough to support the current population, let alone cater for the projected population. We identified a problem and have tried to do something to make things better by conceiving, developing, and implementing the Kaduna State Urban Renewal Programme.
9. The Kaduna State Urban Renewal Programme was conceived with 14 components, including:
i. Roads with covered drains,
ii. Mass Transit - BRT and LRT,
iii. Social Housing by Government and High-Income by private developers,
iv. Modernised Urban Planning and Improved Land Use,
v. Solar Streetlights,
vi. Parks, Sporting & Recreational Centres,
vii. Markets, Shopping Malls & Neighbourhood Centres, and
viii. Enhanced Waste Management.
10. The roads captured in the Kaduna State Urban Renewal Programme represent a significant investment in the present and the future of our cities. Constructed with markings, solar lighting, covered drainage and shoulders, these roads open up our cities, connect communities, create alternative roads, reduce travel time and enhance security of lives and property. Road upgrades often have a multiplier effect on property values, housing, business and social development. The programme is also expected to promote integration across communities and enhance unity.
11. Mr. President, Kaduna Capital Territory was established by Lord Frederick Lugard as a planned city in 1917. I am happy to report that all the roads selected for expansion, upgrade or fresh construction within Kaduna City are based on the Max Lock Masterplan, as published in 1967 and reviewed by the Governor Namadi Sambo Administration in 2010. This explains why we are building new roads and bridges across River Kaduna to connect Kabala Costain in Kaduna North LGA to Aliyu Makama Road in Barnawa, Kaduna South LGA, and the Main Campus of the Kaduna State University in Rigachikun to link Igabi and Chikun Local Governments.
12. To further connect the fast-growing Millennium City (Eastern Sector) to the Rigasa Area (Western Sector) of the city, a new 9.65km road is under construction to connect the now dualised Rabah Road to Nnamdi Azikiwe Way, with a link to the Rigasa train station. The required flyover from Rabah Road, over Ali Akilu Road, has been built and the project is going well, going through an undeveloped part of the old NDA site. A new road from Malali to College Road in Ungwan Dosa has also been built and completed and will be extended with a bridge across River Kaduna to connect to the Eastern Bye-Pass being constructed by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
13. The Nnamdi Azikiwe Way (the old Western bye-Pass) is being reconstructed into a six-lane concrete highway by the Dangote Group under the President's innovative Tax Credit scheme. We appeal to Mr. President to direct the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to end the two-year delay suffered by this project and give Dangote the go-ahead to start the construction and completion of the earthworks before the onset of the rainy season. Vital projects to reconstruct the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari road up to the boundary with Niger State and the Birnin Gwari-Dansadau road which passes through Katsina State and terminates in Zamfara State are also stalled at the Ministry of Works, despite the expressed readiness of the Dangote Group to work on them.
14. With the rapid progress in the construction of the Eastern Bye-Pass by the Federal Government, our government has completed plans to begin the construction of a new Western Bye-Pass to link with the Eastern Bye-Pass to create the Third Ring Road of Kaduna from the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway behind the Rigasa Train Station and the Kaduna International Airport and terminating at the Kaduna-Zaria highway. We need the commitment of the Federal Government to support this laudable project that will further expand economic opportunities for the people of Kaduna State and Nigeria at large.
15. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, many of the road projects of the urban renewal programme have been completed and have already been made available for the use of our people and the businesses that have made our state home. Others are billed for completion within the life of this administration by the special Grace of Almighty God, and the continuous support of Mr. President and his ministers.
16. Mr. President, you are a long-term resident of Kaduna State, and we most delighted and grateful that you have commissioned many projects designed to regenerate Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria.
17. We have built strong partnerships with the private sector in our state over the years as part of our determined quest for job creation, economic progress and social development. In recognition of the vital contributions of investors in our state, we look forward to inviting Mr. President soon to commission the new vehicle assembly plant of Dangote-Peugeot, a joint venture in which the Kaduna State Government and the Kebbi State Government are minority but committed shareholders. This is going to be the largest vehicle assembly in plant in Nigeria that will produce trucks, SUVs, saloon cars, trailers, pick-ups and the like, along the Kaduna-Abuja Road.
18. We recall with gratitude that in September 2017 you personally commissioned the Olam feed mill and poultry project, an investment that signalled that our determined efforts to market the prospects of Kaduna State were being taken seriously by businesses and investors.
19. Several other projects of the Urban Renewal Programme are at various stages of completion. This includes the Galaxy Mall, the Rabah Road to the Western Byepass and onto the Rigasa train station, the Kabala Costain to Barnawa Road and the Shehu Laminu to Ramat Road in Ungwan Rimi, among others. We intend to complete the projects of our Urban Renewal Programme as a concrete legacy and monument to serious governance. We hope Mr. President will be able to return once more to Kaduna State to commission more of these projects before May 29, 2023 by the Grace of God.
20. As stated earlier, the Urban Renewal Programme builds on the investments in infrastructure during the first term of office. Between 2015 and 2018, the Kaduna State Government built 443km of township roads, 414km of intercity roads,172km of rural feeder roads and over 60km of solar streetlights in our urban and rural areas of the State.
21. Physical infrastructure complements the sustained focus on human capital development and governance reforms that we began right from our first week in office back in 2015. We implemented the migration to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in September 2015 to infuse greater control of public finances. We declared a state of emergency in the education sector to enable us to begin to reverse the decades of neglect that had left most of the 4,250 public primary schools in a state of dilapidation. We began to renovate schools and build new classrooms where necessary, and to provide water and sanitation facilities in many schools. We also mobilised Kaduna-based furniture makers to help address the acute shortage of school furniture. We have made education free from Primary One to the completion of senior secondary schools. At the tertiary level, we are providing local and international scholarships, and instituted a student loan scheme for those not qualified for merit or need-based scholarships.
22. We have renovated and equipped 290 primary health centres - at least one in each of the 255 wards in the state to help promote safer delivery and reduce infant and maternal mortality. We are faithfully implementing a contributory health insurance scheme and a contributory pension scheme. Shortly after we began paying the new national minimum wage in September 2019, we also increased the minimum pension for retirees on the old defined benefits scheme to at least N30,000 monthly from as low as N1,000 for the oldest retirees.
23. The concrete investments in making life better for our people are being made in an atmosphere made difficult by evolving security challenges. We have pressed on because it is neither prudent nor responsible to stop work in sectors where there is much scope to improve and better lives just because there are significant challenges in other spheres. Throughout history, rational human beings have always responded to challenges and difficulties, not by a feckless and unimaginative resort to paralysis, but by pressing forward with a pragmatic approach. Those who say that no problem should be solved until all problems disappear are only betraying a lack of capacity or an absence of resolve, or possibly both. That is not our way in Kaduna State, although a few of our politician-residents consistently exercise their democratic right to brazenly advertise their limitations.
24. We have spent considerable sums to support federal security agencies in our state in order to promote the safety and wellbeing of our people. We are implementing a Safe City project, created a Vigilance Service to provide community level security services and established a Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs to improve coordination among security agencies and intelligence sharing. We believe that further military action and more boots on the ground are needed to stop the terrorists that menace our people. But as we tackle security, we must also move forward with the things that our resources and planning enable us to do to make life better for our people.
25. We have heard some people making specious contrasts between urban renewal and rural development as if they are mutually-exclusive. Every public works project in Kaduna State is for the benefit of everyone, including schools, health centres and roads. This government is improving schools with better quality teachers everywhere. Its successes in attracting investors in the agriculture sector is helping to expand prosperity by enabling farmers to vastly increase their yields and incomes in key crops. For instance, the Tomato Jos has supported farmers in the Kangimi area to produce tomato at seven times the national average per hectare. The development of our major cities provides a template for the modernisation of infrastructure in all our local government areas.
26. Mr. President, Kaduna State has ambitions to become a knowledge-based economy. We are taking action to expand access to the internet by laying fibre optics, which will also be used for the Safe City project. Telecom infrastructure partners like IHS and BCN are helping us provide statewide telecom coverage and capacity for high-speed internet. We are working with some of the successful figures from the tech ecosystem in the Lagos area to build a Kaduna campus for innovation, in addition to ongoing programmes in the Kaduna ICT Hub, KADA Hive and Click-on Kaduna. We want to nurture and support talent in these new growth areas.
27. The investments in urban infrastructure in Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria have demonstrated conclusively that our major cities have to be managed as organic, integrated cities. Kaduna metropolis straddles four local government areas: Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Chikun and Igabi. Zaria embraces Sabon-Gari and Zaria, and parts of Giwa and Soba Local Governments. Kafanchan includes parts of Jemaâ€™a, Kaura and Zangon-Kataf LGAs. That has created a situation wherein no specific authority was directly responsible for these cities. We have tried to remedy the situation by creating metropolitan authorities to manage and sustain each of these cities. The Kaduna State House of Assembly has passed the laws establishing the Kaduna Capital Territory Authority, the Kafanchan Municipal Authority and the Zaria Metropolitan Authority. As governor, I have assented to these laws and appointed the pioneer set of administrators for the three metropolitan authorities: Hafiz Bayero for Kaduna, Phoebe Sukai Yayi for Kafanchan and Balaraba Aliyu-Inuwa for Zaria.
28. Mr. President, this is the first time that any state in Nigeria is approaching development from a city perspective. Contemporary thinking recognises cities as the hubs of modern prosperity. There is also a growing understanding that cities achieve more for their residents when their services are coordinated. The Federal Government had been unique and successful in creating, developing and managing our federal capital, Abuja, as one organic city. My personal experience as one-time Minister of the FCT and as governor of Kaduna State has convinced me that our cities are too critical and vital for the human experience to be treated like abandoned orphans with no single authority in charge. As the magnets for large swathes of our population, our cities must be managed to enhance opportunity, life chances and prospects for their residents.
29. Mr. President, I wish to acknowledge your support and that of the Federal Government on many fronts, not least of which is securing the financing for these projects. Without your intervention and the support of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, we would be struggling to do anything more than pay staff salaries! Our Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Mahmoud Abubakar has been exceptional in supporting our environmental and agricultural initiatives since his appointment. But like Oliver Twist, we ask you and everyone to continue to do more for our State.
30. We are also working with the Minister Suleiman Adamu and his team in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources on the Greater Kaduna Water Supply Project which aims to develop new water sources to meet the growing needs of Kaduna metropolis and its immediate neighbours. We delivered Zaria Water Supply project which you graciously commissioned, and we are confident that with your support, we can lay the grounds for our successors to deliver the Greater Kaduna Water Supply Project.
31. Mr. President, I wish to express our gratitude to the people of Kaduna State for supporting the delivery of the urban renewal projects for the benefit of the entire state. Many of our people have borne the inconveniences of construction, including longer commuting times, the removal of some buildings, adjustment of fence lines and other attachments in the public interest. Several have been constructive in their attitude to matters of compensation and in reporting saboteurs.
32. The people of Kaduna State have provided a bulwark of support for our governance efforts. They have rejected lies and resisted repeated attempts at incitement to cause ethnic and religious problems. We appreciate our people for this approach which has helped ensure that whenever problems have arisen since 2015, they have been contained and limited. We have had to take difficult decisions, and most of our people have often understood that those steps were taken to uphold the common good. We are immensely grateful to the residents of our state.
33. I also wish to acknowledge the consultants and contractors working round the clock with our team of dedicated professionals to deliver these projects. The very first Memorandum of Understanding for Urban Renewal was signed with CCECC in Beijing, China, when we escorted Mr. President to the China-Africa Summit in 2019, and they have been exceptional. Companies like Mothercat, Ronchess, Farmtrac, Chamberlayne, Julius Berger, RCF, R&M, Rafali, Habibu Engineeirng, Dantata & Sawoe, COEC, SKY Construction and numerous others that are daily helping us to realise the restoration of our state.
34. Mr. President, I wish to thank the current Kaduna State contingent of elected senators and members of the House of Representatives for the bipartisan cohesion and commitment to the interest of Kaduna State. We appreciate the Kaduna State House of Assembly for upholding a productive partnership with the executive branch in the service of our people.
35. Permit me to conclude by paying tribute to the extraordinary work of our team in the Kaduna State Government. The Deputy Governor, our commissioners, special advisers, assistants and other officials have displayed imagination and demonstrated commitment to help the Kaduna State Government to achieve set objectives, and I applaud them for living up to their oaths of office. I challenge our team to remain focused and ensure that we finish as strongly as we started. Our traditional rulers and religious leaders have been partners in mobilising the populace to understand our policies and efforts. Our partners in civil society have been critical in enabling the government to appreciate the concerns of citizens without a voice. We will not not have gone this far without their commitment and trust in our government. We are grateful to them all.
36. Thank you for listening. God Bless Kaduna State. God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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