By MAHMOON BABA AHMED
New Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasiru el-Rufa’i, is visibly enraged and extremely angry. He has every reason to be furious and disturbed because he is faced with imminent prospects of inheriting an empty treasury and an insolvent, ruined government that could not mobilise sufficiently to cater for the immediate needs of its people.
He is also worried by the despair and the high degree of gloom that have characterised the civil service of the out-gone government of Dr Mukhtar Ramalan Yero has bequeathed to him. There is no gainsaying the fact that these two situations will readily combine to provide inhibiting circumstances that will present hordes of problems for the administration of Malam Nasir el-Rufa’i.
The out-gone government of Yero was neither helping matters nor doing anything worthwhile to assuage the situation by conserving what it could actually salvage from the remnants of its excessive spending and extremely flamboyant nature of governance so as to provide a fallback for the new government of el-Rufa’i before it could begin to grapple with the realities of the austere system it has inherited.
The Yero administration had recklessly embarked on last minute lavish spending spree, squandering any available Naira and kobo on frivolities, leaving huge bills from unpaid claims of contractors and numerous service providers. It has also ill-advisedly pressurised the Kaduna State House of Assembly to approve the sum of over two-billion-seven-hundred million Naira due to it from the Subsidy Reimbursement Program (SURE-P) funds. Governor Yero intended to share the amount between his government and the twenty-three local government councils, allegedly as a parting gift.
Piqued by that discouraging condition, coming barely few days to the end of Governor Yero’s tenure, concerned officials of his kitchen cabinet had begun to contemplate prosecuting the matter before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for what they called callous and total disregard for due process in expending public funds in a manner that will not be beneficial to the recipients.
A statement by the spokesperson for the Governor, Samuel Aruwan said categorically that the APC Government would punish anyone found culpable in the illegal diversion of the SURE-P funds. The statement pointed out that Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufa’i was not totally unaware of the desperate attempt to secure an approval to spend more than 2.7 billion Naira which was badly needed by the Kaduna State Government for the execution of meaningful projects that will surely touch the lives of the already despondent people when he takes over the reigns of governance.
By and large, the governor has obligatory responsibility to caution every official involved in these last-minute deals and that his new government would ensure that there are effective consequences for illegal conducts, breach of trust and outright theft of public funds or assets. It is quite clear, and unequivocally too, that the new government of el-Rufa’i will certainly insist on accountability and would definitely not leave anyone in doubt about its resolve, honesty and the genuineness of its intention and sincerity.
It should also not tolerate those that would doubt its seriousness by initiating or instigating any indecency and immodesty, or extending outright support to those that could facilitate or execute such misdeeds. Such was the vile practices that persisted unabated during the sixteen-year reign of the PDP in Kaduna State.
However, if the PDP and its out-gone Governor Mukhtar Yero had actually known that the bubble would burst on April eleventh, they would have been a little bit prudent and cautious in dealing with the state’s finances. As it has now turned out to be, the imprudent attitude of the government which has shown total lack of care, forethought or sound judgment it its affairs has led to its inevitable downfall when its officials had least expected that.
What worries the good citizens of Kaduna State most was why former Governor Yero was stressing hard to hurriedly spend the almost three billion Naira SURE-P largesse since he knows full well that doing so will surely jeopardize the new government of el-Rufa’i? Besides inheriting a consortium of uncompleted projects that dotted the landscape of Kaduna State, the poor, paltry finances he will leave behind may not even be sufficient enough to fuel the fleet of Government House vehicles for a week.
It is, however, gratifying to note that the Transition Committee which the governor-elect had set up to facilitate a smooth take-over and a take-off devoid of interruption, upheaval or knotty problems is progressing with its daunting assignment steadily and satisfactorily. It has been receiving disheartening reports about the dire financial straits into which the Yero government is plunging the state.
In the face of all these, Governor Nasiru el-Rufa’i remains undaunted and unshakable in his irrevocable affirmation that he cannot and would not turn a blind eye to any misdemeanor and official misconduct. . Again, the people of Kaduna are joining the new governor in asking the ever pertinent question: “Where did all the money go to?” They need to know as soon as practicable.
By MAHMOON BABA AHMED