24 May 2013

Nigeria: That TIN Report Kano's Budget Discipline


Transparency in Nigeria recently measured the performances of the 36 states of the federation, using a certain yardstick. The outcome was a product of serious and academic scrutiny carried out by some reputable and independent bodies, the organisation noted. Just to tell you that it was not an arranged matter to favour a particular political entity. And the areas that were addressed included political will to deal with leakages at the level of budget implementation.

TIN's assessment was carried out by different reputable and independent bodies. One could ask, or rather can go to Kano state and ask, is it true that the leakages that were the order of the day during the era of the previous regime are stopped? Go and ask issues like "Overheads given to Ministries, Departments and Agencies." Overheads that were unnecessarily spent were seriously slashed down in all MDAs. And more productivity is recorded with the less overhead at disposal. What then is due process, if not this?!

Charity, as we say in this country, begins at home; so it was natural that Governor Rabi'u Musa Kwankwaso started with the expenses at the Government House, slashing all unnecessary spending. The financial sitting-up started with his office. And public servants are more committed to their work now than before. Their focus and understanding of public service delivery have been redefined.

Critics should go to Kano and see what is meant by physical infrastructures. So also what political will means in the administration of a state. Kwankwaso's political ideology, Kwankwasiyya, is indeed an embodiment of due process, probity and accountability. It is his political philosophy that makes it a matter of unflinching necessity for the state government to public the outcome of the weekly state Executive Council meetings in major newspapers of the country, on weekly basis. No state! And I repeat, no state in Nigeria does that! Kwankwasiyya ideologue means openness and transparency.

If you look at the main areas the Perception Index assesses the state, you will begin to see reason and wisdom in the entire process. What are really involved in it? Other areas of concern for the Perception Index are government expenditures of human capital, youth and women responsive budgeting, the focus of a state budget to sectoral targets of SEEDS ( State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies) and the performance of state in the internally generated revenue, that is a comprehensive revenue profile. Any one of these areas one decides to look deeply into, will come to believe that Kano state government deserves more that what Transparency in Nigeria finds out. Before Kwankwaso's second coming in May, 2011, the internally generated revenue was between N300m to N400m per month. When he came in it rose to N1.7b to N1.8b monthly. What an interesting transparent process being followed?!

The success story is the same in the urban renewal and housing sector. Apart from the establishment of 3 modern cities Kwankwasiyya, Amana and Bandirawo cities, the administration was able to start the construction of flyovers within the city centre, just to ease traffic congestion of the metropolitan Kano. The project is still ongoing. Whoever cares to fully get what I am saying should please pay a visit to Kano. You do not need to ask anybody, just go and see by yourself. Seeing, they say, is believing.

It goes beyond that. Transparency in Nigeria assures that the basic and most fundamental reasons why Kano takes the lead are, among other things the effort being put by the state government to send 501 graduates to 14 countries of the world to further their education at the second degree level, sponsoring of 100 students to go and read Medicine abroad, another 100 students to go and read Pharmacy abroad and 100 students for a training in piloting and aeronautics engineering in Jordan. More than 200 students were sponsored to read different fields in different Nigerian universities. This alone takes good care of youth empowerment.

More than 20 craft schools were also established, and over 3000 youth were trained in different crafts for them to earn good livelihood. What is most important is the way state budget is formulated, as testifies by the TIN Perception Index Report that, "State Budgeting process is people-oriented. The system of the state budget is participatory, where you have all sections of the society largely contributing to the budget conception process. It is in this respect that some of the local government officials are essentially copying from Governor Kwankwaso in making their budget largely participatory."

My argument goes like this, which of the above indices or parameters is not there in Kano? Can someone help me find a way of faulting the mentioned development activities? Those sent to further their studies were they not from Kano? And were they not sent by the Kwankwaso administration? Or can someone come and claim that the money used to send them was not from the treasury of Kano state? It seems to me that TIN forgot to include other projects executed by the government.

So whether TIN accepts to have an affiliate in Nigeria or not, the fact remains that the process and procedures it followed in arriving at the selection of Kano as the best in terms of fiscal responsibility and budget discipline, are unimpeachable. Everything is said in the comprehensive report of TIN. With or without TIN, Nigerians are capable of rating the performance of their public figures and public institutions.

Tafida wrote from Abuja.

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