Kaduna State’s  harvest of roads

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The last time Kaduna State witnessed such  a massive harvest  of roads  construction and rehabilitation , was during the administration of then Governor Ahmed Makarfi, (now  Senator), and to whom the present Governor, Sir Patrick  Ibrahim Yakowa was an able deputy. But as the Chairman House Committee on Works, Kaduna State House of Assembly,  Philmon  Usman  said at the flag off  of the Kwagiri- Kussom- Wasa road; “31  new roads , costing more than 28 billion naira and all at a go, it never happened!”.  The same  theme of the unprecedented nature of the undertaking , was what  the contractors  harped on at the signing ceremony. Not only was the road construction/rehabilitation  unprecedented,  but generous, they stressed,  as the government  paid  them  25% in  advance, to enable them mobilize to site and quickly get to grips with the task of helping the Governor bring the dividends of democracy to the people.
When Yakowa , promised  total development  of the state , many cynics did not believe  in the capacity of the state government to deliver. Because for one , the State though third largest in terms of population, ranks tenth  in the allocation from the  federation account, the IGR is also nothing to write home about,  and then there is the huge wage bill of about 4.3 billion naira monthly, which Governor Yakowa  strongly  believes   is heavily padded and is working  hard to reduce . The serious security challenge the State is facing has not also helped matters. There is no doubt ,that  It is an uphill task governing Kaduna State (famed home of the Kaduna Mafia), only a  miracle worker, with the help of God Almighty can accomplish , like Yakowa is doing. The uncharitable group, who have  constituted themselves into an opposition just for the fun of it, who have no idea of  the  Internally Generated Revenue capacity  of   Kaduna  State, but would  compare the  State to Lagos State, that generates more than  23 billion naira a month. And when it suites them they cite   Akwa Ibom State, that has just announced a budget of more than 459 billion naira for 2013, of which it hopes to spend over 340 billion naira on capital projects. The  monthly wage bill and overhead expenditure of Kaduna State they are ignorant about. The  Kaduna State budget this  year was just 150 billion naira,  a joke  when compared to the figure for just  capital projects of Akwa Ibom State.
Undeterred, and being a tested hand, Yakowa  went to work. Critical to him has been  raising the Internally Generated  Revenue (IGR) of  the state  and blocking the leakages. This  has made it possible for the administration to embark on  critical  projects  in all the sectors.
Since the award, signing and flag off of the31 new roads, the state has not been the same again, because there are on- going projects in education, water resources where for instance , the contract for a  total of 680 boreholes has  just been awarded. Same in ministry of health, where a multi-million contract for the conversion of the state hospital  into a teaching hospital has commenced etc .
The road projects is about opening of areas and thus  were carefully chosen. One needs to understand how difficult  it is for the people living in  Kudenda  (it takes them an hour to do a ten kilometer   road), to appreciate  their unrestrained joy ,that their road will be constructed.  They   are yet to come to terms with  the reality that a Daniel  has finally  come to Judgement.  That  Daniel that heard their cry and came to their rescue is Yakowa.
Usman’s “it never happened before” is just one of the many positive comments.  For the people of  Kwagiri – Kussom – Wasa  ,in Jem’a /Sanga local government areas,  and  the people of  Kawo , where a sitting judge of the High Court said “he had to be part of the flag off”, it has been a celebration.  At the flag off of the Kagoro – Manchok – Mubushi  road ,a road that will connect not just   Zangon – Kataf  and Kaura  local government areas , but serve as an alternative route, to the  very treacherous  kafanchan through forestry road  to Jos, Plateau State.  This road  shaves off about 40 minutes and increases trade between the  two states. The story was also one of jubilation.  In fact everywhere  the  governor has gone to flag off the construction , he has been embarrassed . But so far none has come close to  the carnival the people of  Karatudu in Chikun  Local Government Area put up . And like the governor said   “it will remain indelible” , but not just on Yakowa’s  mind , but on  that of everyone present  .It was  the same at  Jem’a and Sanga Local government Areas. His stance  that  “am only doing the job you elected me to “has not  cut ice with  the people , who reasoned  that   he could have decided  otherwise.
The kudos he has been receiving  also has to do with the fact ,that  in the usual  Yakowa style the 31 new roads  are spread through- out the twenty –three (23) local governments areas of the state for equity ,justice and fairness  – the  hallmark of his administration.
It was emotional seeing  Yakowa  at  the verge of tears , at the  emotional reaction of the people, the we understand  body language , that if Yakowa  had the resources  he would deliver more than 31 roads. And  it is  reactions like this, that gives him  the strength  to work from morning to night , to ensure that people can  move from point  A to point B   with ease. That the farmer can evacuate his produce to the market and get good price , that  the  middle men do  not cash in, on the bad state of the roads  to short change them.
But unknown to many people , is that while   the  euphoria of his” roadcrazy” , is yet  to die down, he is already tasked his commissioner for works Engineer Suleiman  Richifa  and  the able director civil works ,Engineer  Ishaya  Yem ,   to identify  critical roads projects ,  that will receive the “Yakowa  treatment” in 2013. There is just no time, especially  as  we seem to have longer period of  rainfall  ,than  dry season now.  And  the  road needs of the people is understandably insatiable. At Kaura he actually called them Oliver Twists.
About  three   weeks ago, he had also  commissioned equipment  – loaders , graders etc for the Kaduna State Public  Works Agency (KAPWA), for the rehabilitation  of roads that have failed in part due to old age,  the heavy rains and the indiscriminate digging up and erection of speed bumps. But what is equipment ,without  funds to buy the bitumen ,cement etc  to carry out the repair work ? So  about 143 million naira was released  to KAPWA , to  ensure that Kaduna roads are fixed once the rains are over. They have since  commenced work, to the delight of the people whose trust in government, Yakowa has restored by keeping to his word.
But this article is not about an elected governor performing what  is in  my opinion  , a routine exercise  that  should at best attract the attention of the  commissioner in charge of works , it is about leadership. Kaduna State,    in a good month gets  about 5 billion naira from the federation account . It has a huge work force , that takes about 4.3 billion  naira of this. The Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), is between 700 million and 1 billion naira. In terms of population, it has a projected population of about  7.1 million using the 2006 figure. It is the third largest state in Nigeria , but in terms of revenue allocation ,it is a distant tenth(10).  And  a land mass area of  46,020 square kilometer.  The distance between  Saminaka to Birini –Gwari  is about six(6) hours, the same number of hours, it will take somebody  travelling  from Kaduna town to Benin City , Capital of Edo State.
Governor Yakowa  has  not and  will never complain about his “good luck”, but an appreciation of facts and acknowledgement of the efforts to change the fortunes of the state , will be a tonic, rather than  uninformed criticisms and wild allegations. Only last week , a magazine had alleged that under his watch the state had collected over 100 billion from the federation account.  An information  any serious critic would have cross checked from the web site of the federal ministry of finance.
With the improved  IGR , it is obvious that sky is the limit for this servant of the people. Many of the contractors were dumbfounded when the   government declared  that it  would  pay  25% advance, to enable them mobilize to site. The cynicism that greeted the decision suggests  that there is a  tinny minority, praying that he fails all because of 2015.  Yakowa, like everybody knows is not a magician. What he has  done , is prudent management of the very little   resources and expanding the revenue base.
The government going by  the governor’s  pronouncements will  not slow down  on its rural transformation agenda. Through the Kaduna State Rural Access and Mobility Project (KADRAMP), the governor  has further  committed himself to improving access for rural communities. The underlying reason, being that it will promote economic development. To date , more than 144 river crossings, linking several communities , in more than ten local government areas have been built. The programme  has also constructed 464 kilometers of feeder roads.  These projects have been executed at the cost of over 8.4 billion naira. But the benefit goes beyond the amount spent –  it is  the improved earnings of the farmers, truck owners that  no longer crash  their vehicles  due to bad roads and most importantly life, that nobody can put a figure to.
The way forward is support and payment of taxes to enable government continue to meet  its obligation.
Emmanuel , is External Media Consultant to Governor Yakowa.

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