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KADUNA: A MODEST EXPOSURE OF PERFORMANCE

By NBF News

When I came across the article entitled Minorities Could Be King in The Sun of August 8, 2010, I could not resist the urge to read it immediately in view of my keen interest in the raging controversy over zoning. As an indigene of Kaduna State it was of special interest that the article focused on analysis of the issue in my state and so I delved into it.

Political analysis has always been very useful for the purpose of gaining insight into interpretation of various factors that influence the interplay and outcome of political competition but its reliability depends a lot on the competence of the analyst. In this case, I thought the article was well-informed. My misgivings were heightened when I came across a portion of the article that could not have been based on even a cursory knowledge of developments in the tate. While it is understandable that political analysis will be highly subjective and opinionated, assessment of performance of a government needs to be grounded on facts and figures if it is to be credible.

The comments in the article pertaining to the performance of the Namadi Administration between 2007 and May 2010 convinced me that the piece was not only uninformed about developments in the state but the jaundiced prejudices of political opponents of the Namadi administration. Otherwise how can anyone in Kaduna reproduce outrageously unfounded remarks like 'all those who had issues with the immediate past governor within and outside PDP point to his alleged record of poor performance' and 'they severally accused the immediate past governor of only excelling in super-sized billboards with his image on them', quoting only the opposition without any attempt to get the other side of the story from members of the Namadi Administration? The author did not seek the views of PDP officials but only PDP members who were defeated by Namadi Sambo in primaries!

There is no way any fair minded citizen or even politician in Kaduna State will allow this kind of cheap propaganda to go without being debunked with verifiable facts and figures. It is ridiculous that inconsequential opposition members and failed politicians, who share a common lack of verifiable qualification or competence for governance, are the ones accusing a distinguished architect and successful businessman who took up politics and became a result-oriented governor for three years, of 'non-performance.'

One of the first achievements of Sambo was the settlement of outstanding payments for contracts hurriedly awarded by Makarfi in his last days in office and the 15% salary increase to civil servants which amounted to over N30 billion, all of which were meant to hamstring the incoming government. In fact, salaries and emoluments of civil servants and public office holders as at 2009 stood at N60 billion. Sambo also successfully hosted the National Sports Festival (Kada Games), necessitating the construction and equipping of world class multi purpose hall, standard Olympic-size swimming pool, games village and renovation and upgrading of the Ahmadu Bello Stadium at a cost of about N4 billion in record time.

He embarked on the Millenium City Hospital project now at 60 percent completion stage for N4.4 billion, Zaria Water Supply also nearing completion at a cost of N15.7 billion, Government House extension which is 80 percent ready for N2.8 billion. Namadi also undertook and completed the Kauru Bridge with N685 million and the Mobile Police Barracks in Zaria at a cost of N48 million, in addition to three dams and 12 irrigation schemes and 10,000 tonnes capacity grain silos in Kafanchan, Lere and Birnin Gwari.

His administration has distinguished itself in maintenance of the security of lives and property with the famous Operation Yaki outfit as well as the rehabilitation and resuscitation of the railway network in the state that set the pace for other states to emulate. It was among the first to introduce free medicare for pregnant women and children under five years, free uniforms and text books for primary school pupils and a special school for the almajirai just to mention a few.

It is remarkable that between 2007 and 2010, the state received an average of N2.5 billion monthly from statutory allocation, which amounted to N90 billion and not over N143 billion as claimed by the immodest critics, and raised about N500 million monthly internally with which it met its numerous obligations including most of the projects mentioned here. Even the issue of foreign debt is not significant in Kaduna State because of prudent management and minimum recourse to external borrowing from IDB for the ultra- modern Millennium City Hospital and by the existing fiscal regulations no external loan can be drawn without appropriation by the National Assembly which is yet to be considered.

It should be evident that accusations of non-performance cannot stand in the face of these projects which are there for all to see, thereby obviating the reference to bill-boards as yardsticks for assessing performance. To sweep all these under the carpet of bogus political analysis is clearly the propaganda assignment undertaken by the enemies of progress of Kaduna State hiding behind 'opposition' and failed ambitions. It is too early to forget that Sambo's elevation to Vice President of Nigeria without joining the lobbying lane has been conclusively attributed to his enviable track record as an achiever and statesman.

Needless to say, the entire 'analysis' has been rendered irrelevant and misleading by the exposure of deliberate bias, ulterior motives and questionable credibility of the pseudo-analyst. Kaduna politics has since gone beyond the Makarfi-Sambo parameters. Today, Patrick Yakowa's ethnic and religious agenda as governor is laying the foundation for retrogression into nepotism, intolerance and mutual distrust in Kaduna politics with ominous implications for those who groomed him into prominence for their own political convenience. I pray I can be proved wrong on this prognosis!  Minorities can only be kings of minor enclaves - and that is putting it modestly.

•Abdullahi Garba Barnawa, Kaduna.