BY ERASMUS IKHIDE
The benign Ooni of Ile Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi squared up with the tempest Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai, last week at the third edition (3.0) of Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit, christened KADInvest. The effervescent monarch charged the governor not to allow the frenzy associated with usual jamboree economic summits for which Nigeria is famous to take the better part of the event.
“Your Excellency, my friend and brother, you know you have greater tasks as the governor Kaduna State in this part of the country to see through the development of northern Nigeria.
“Don’t forget the historical and economic place of Kaduna state in the politics of northern Nigeria and Nigeria at large as the center for
development and economic hub of this region.
“If you get the economic policies right and address the plights of your people aggressively in your avow disposition, then others will take a cue from you. If you fail, this yearly summits would not alone be consigned to the dustbin of jamboree of history, but would also embodied your counterpart to fritter away the chances to structure modern Nigeria”, the Ife monarch said.
He further said, “don’t let political differences affect the state, I want to appeal to all the leaders to put politics aside in the interest of the
state. Look at the future of this state and don’t let us miss this opportunity”.
The former President of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, agrees with the views of the Ooni of Ife that Kaduna state can only achieve her potential when political actors prioritise the plights of their people who elected them into offices.
On the flip side, the Ooni was strictly speaking the mind of a professor of political science at the Federal Polytechnic, Kaduna,, with dampened pessimism that nothing good can come of out governor Nasir el-Rufai’s KADInvest economic summits.
The professor who craves anonymity said: “This is the third time governor Nasir el-Rufai is hosting investors across the globe in this state with the aim of either revitalising comatose industries or building new ones.
“The gains so far in the last three years cannot be commensurate with government’s efforts and financial commitment wasted towards the building of a new Kaduna for the good of all.”
The professor doubted that the summits will ignite industrial rejuvenation needed to arrest dismal employment deficits in the state. He however admitted that there is a genuine effort on the part of the government to doing things differently.
But Suleiman Yusuf, founder/CEO of Blue Camel Energy Limited thinks otherwise. Yusuf said governor Nasir el-Rufai has demonstrated exemplary leadership and commitment to the ‘ease of doing Business’ Charter which has now designated Kaduna State as an irresistible hob for investment destination.
“On January 11, 2017, driven by the interest to increase Nigeria’s local content share in renewable energy development, I wrote a letter to the executive governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai to make a request for a piece of land to build a solar assembly plant in Kaduna state.
“24 hours after our proposal was acknowledged by the governor office swiftly followed by an invitation by the KADIPA (Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency) to give more details about our business plans.
“Within one month, I was shown this land where we are seated here today and 8 months later, we had this entire facility operational and ready for commissioning with C of O and all relevant approvals granted.
“This project that is being commissioned today has the capacity to Assemble over 10,000 units of different solar products in a year and train over 3,000 youths in different renewable energy and entrepreneurship skills, courtesy of KADInvest economic summits initiative of governor el-Rufai”, Suleiman said.
Suleiman’s optimism resonates with Umma Aboki, the executive director of KADIPA who insisted that KADInvest has brought succour to the industrial drought visited on the state by successive governments that led to the collapse of textile industries, automobile industries, car assembly plants, and other manufacturing companies in the state.
Governor El-Rufai is upbeat that no amount of opposition to his economic policies, which he said aligns with the federal government’s economic recovery and growth plans (ERGP) will deter him from his commitment to the mandate of fixing the problems he inherited as governor.
The governor said solar energy is a future investment for every home, school and health centre in the state.
“We are elected on a platform of change and we will make Kaduna great again and improve quality of lives of the good citizenry and we shall not relent in fulfilling that promise.
“Kaduna state is committed to creating conditions that facilitate the investments that will create jobs, improve IGR and provide the resources to develop the state.
“In our immediate history, it’s pretty difficult to communicate with your loved ones. You have to travel long distances to have access to telephones. Today, technology has changed all that. That’s what we hoped to achieve with the solar power investment in Kaduna State where the mighty and the not so mighty will enjoy 24 hours electricity”, he said.
In the same token, the governor is driven by the belief that investing in one of the pillars of social ills in any society like job creation or
employment will compulsorily take down youth restiveness and other social vices.
However, many were of the view that governor El-Rufai has not totally derailed on that social contract with his people to create job and arrest economic drift that has been plaguing the state. The managing director of Mahindra Tractor Assembly Plant at Kakuri Industrial Layout said this much last week.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, the managing director, Springfield Agrid Limited, Tarun Das said, “about 6,000 tractors will be produced per annum, the plan includes the working capital of 20,000 million dollars and expected about 200 people to work in the factory”.
The plant is expected to boost agriculture and create thousands of jobs for youths as much as ease the means of doing business.
Those who accused governor el-Rufai of high-handedness have been unable to deny his commitment to fulfilling his promises on investment. One of such promises is to build Kaduna Hilton Hotel, located on Waff Road by Muhammadu Buhari, which is expected to have at least 200 luxury rooms.
The wish of most Kaduna people — ultimately is that the governor does not lose focus or play politics — by failing to identify with the young people and abandon his promise to empower the youths by giving them free hands to express their expertise.
The question on how Malam Nasir el-Rufai wishes to revitalize the collapsed companies in Kaduna state with KADInvest or KADIPA for a state known for boisterous industrial capacity is left for the 19 northern governors who are shareholders in virtually all the collapsed companies to address. Nigerians look forward to seeing them proffering solutions to revitalizing them at the next Kaduna economic summits.
Erasmus writes from Lagos. He can be reached via [email protected]