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El-Rufai means business

El-Rufai means business
January 08
15:26 2020
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Radical, populist and idealistic, the Peoples Redemption Party(PRP) fired the politics of the second republic. Welfarists, goateed Marxists and trade unionists had found common ground in the party. Together, these disparate groups and personalities, like a Salvation Army, had converged on Aminu Kano’s political totem pole. Malam, as he was called, espoused ‘Democratic Humanism’ and broadly, the ideology resonated with the people. Specifically, it aimed at ‘dignifying the  human person’ and in this quest, PRP spared no punches, firing broadsides at the ruling class. Curiously, with rhetoric and altruism,  the party disrupted governance in the Shagari era.

In particular, it abolished the poll tax in Kaduna and Kano states, the political capital of the north and its commercial hub respectively. Indeed, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi of Kano state, the fiery and flamboyant governor, as well as Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the ascetic governor of Kaduna state, drove the ‘’no taxing’’ policy. Taxation, according to them, was exploitative and expectedly, this polemic attracted mass appeal. Generally, students, the proletariat and urban poor,  gravitated to PRP and naturally, the ruling National Party of Nigeria(NPN) became jittery as a result. Consequently, NPN toed the same line, jettisoned poll tax,  to reclaim lost ground. Thereafter, taxation  of every kind, including cattle tax, took the back seat of governance in Nigeria.

Significantly, petro-dollar was everywhere, the nation was awash with it and politicians went on a spending binge, relegating Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) to the background. In 1981, the Shagari administration imposed Austerity Measures, leading to belt tightening and sundry cuts. Since then,  governments have been running from pillar to post, whether civilian or military administrations, trying to cut expenditure and improve revenue. Basically, the principles have been somewhat the same, from Austerity Measures to Structural Adjustment Programme(SAP), including National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy(NEEDS), the lesson is to  earn more and spend less.

Similarly, Kaduna State Development Plan(SDP), as a policy document, reflects Governor Nasir El Rufai’s blueprint. In summary, it seeks to promote economic development, enhance social welfare, strengthen security and justice as well as broaden  good governance. In particular, infrastructural upgrade and development, in all ramifications, are components of the SDP. However, without revenue, a development plan remains just a plan, another policy document awaiting implementation. So, El Rufai has been looking for ways and means, in the last four years, to improve the IGR  and attract investments to  Kaduna state.

In particular,  El Rufai has   changed the way of doing government business in the last four odd years. Initially, the state’s IGR hovered around N800 million in the previous administration.  In 2016, the governor  had  reviewed the tax and revenue arrangements of Kaduna state. Specifically,  Ms Ifueko Omoigui-Okaru, former head of  Federal Inland Revenue Service, chaired the committee. In part,  a new tax law was enacted and  the  Kaduna State Inland Revenue Service(KADIRS) was restructured for efficiency. Afterwards, Omoigui-Okaro continued as a consultant to KADIRS. Thereafter,  she  designed, produced and implanted a service-oriented corporate and field operations structure. In no time, the  state’s finances had increased as its IGR  started improving from that  year.  In 2017, KADIRS  generated N26.53 billion as revenue. Likewise, the figure had jumped to  N30 billion by 2018 and last year,  the revenue had reached a  stratospheric level, climbing to N44 billion in 2019, surpassing KADIRS’s own target by N1 billion.

Similarly, El Rufai has created an enabling environment, apart from improving revenue generation, for businesses to thrive in Kaduna state. In fact, he has  attracted   several local and international firms to set up shop in the last four years. For example, the $150 million Olam’s Integrated Feed Mill and Poultry Breeding Farm   was commissioned by President  Buhari on September 12,  2017.  Olam, a multinational  company, was founded in 1989 and right now, it is about  one of the largest agricultural  companies in the world. Currently, the company  is one of Nigeria’s largest single Foreign Direct Investment. In fact, it  was designed to produce 1.6 million-day-old chicks weekly and 360,000 metric tons of animal feeds annually, a significant milestone for Kaduna state and Nigeria in the quest to achieve food security and  economic diversification. In addition, it has created 2, 000  direct jobs and  has impacted positively on the local economy, by creating jobs along the agriculture value chain.

Interestingly, El Rufai has not rested on his oars, in spite of these milestones. In 2016, he had hosted  the Kaduna Investment and Economic Summit(KADINVEST),   between 6th  and 7th April. The governor,  in an elaborated ceremony,  had  show-cased the state’s economic potentials. Specifically,  the  summit’s  theme was, ‘’Let’s Move Kaduna into the Global Economy’’.  In a lucid, coherent and well articulated  presentation, El Rufai  had explained the structural adjustments and various enactments  that have made the state business-friendly. In addition, he unveiled a four-year Development Plan which is  aimed at moving the  state  into the global economy. In summary, the plan has targeted  N1.5 trillion in both public and private investments,   over a five year planning cycle.  Similarly, El Rufai had highlighted the  investment potentials in both the agricultural and mining sectors, listing the comparative advantages of Kaduna state as he did. In particular, the state produces the best ginger in the world and it is also the highest producer of maize and  tomatoes in Nigeria. In rice, millet and  shea butter production , Kaduna is the   second  highest producer of these commodities  in  the federation, the governor had  revealed.

In 2017, the second edition of KADINVEST also held between April 5th   and 6th. Investors, policy formulators and drivers, as well as Development Partners, including traditional rulers, had  converged at the Umaru Musa Yar’adua Indoor Sports Hall,  to glean how El Rufai is ‘’Making Kaduna The Investment Destination of Choice’’, the theme of the summit.  Likewise, the third edition of KADINVEST was held in 2018  and categorically, Kaduna state was declared as one of  the leading investment destinations  in Nigeria. In it’s 2018 report,  the World Bank Group  rated Kaduna as the most improved state  in the Ease of Doing Business, emerging number one in registering properties and in enforcing contracts, and number five  in starting a new business among the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory. Last year, the summit’s fourth edition held and in summary, it provided a platform  for the private sector, international development partners and development finance institutions to leverage on Kaduna’s investment climate. Similarly, the summit provided opportunities for stakeholders, especially in the  state, to consolidate on investment initiatives that drive growth. Right now, the fifth edition of KADINVEST is in the works.

Indeed, with an improved IGR, a  good Ease of Doing Business rating and a stream of investments, Kaduna state may soon achieve fiscal independence because Governor El Rufai is ready for business. With time, the statutory monthly allocation will just be an icing on the cake.

Musa is the Special Assistant to Governor Nasir El Rufai on Media and Publicity

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