Adejoh Idoko Momoh: The Sacrifices That Will Make Kaduna Great Again

My response was simple really, ‘Yes’. His question was well intentioned, genuine even. I saw him for what he was and judged his motives accordingly, he had after all witnessed too many years of political abuse and therefore more inclined to distrust the pronouncements of politicians.

‘We both know he can afford a pay cut for a full year if he so desires’, I agreed. One of the first declarations of the Kaduna State Governor was to on his behalf and that of his deputy make a commitment to take a 50% pay cut until he has improved the state’s Internally Generated Revenue to the extent that it surpassed Federal Allocations for at least five months consecutively.

Like the gentleman above, it is not unusual to doubt the sincerity of pledges made by politicians. After all, anyone who has served as Director General of Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises, Minister of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory and has a successful Quantity Surveying practice is expected to have some money. However, like in many scenarios, people very often miss the point of pronouncements like these. As much as it is about el-Rufai’s willingness to take a pay cut or his capacity to afford such a sacrifice, it is also about what provisions he can make available by taking this cut and leaving the pool of his salary available for state expenditure.

It is about the casual staff whose job the government decides to keep because they can afford to pay his salary from the surplus available as a result of the cut the Governor takes. Or the child hawker who can benefit of free education because there is a pool of funds that ordinarily would have been paid in salaries. It is about the hospital that can afford to procure life saving drugs just because what would have ordinarily been the wage of a Governor is now a reserve of funds from where they can draw.

Ultimately, it is about a Governor wanting to be rewarded or paid a salary only when he is able to deliver progress to his people. And this is the kind of governance Nigeria needs.

Nigerian States are currently gripped by confusion largely surrounding improving revenues or sourcing funds to pay salaries and it is only from the actions of leaders like the Kaduna State Governor, that these States may yet see some recovery; actions that do not put reward before responsibility, actions that prove that the man himself knows that true leadership is about service delivery and only measurable performance should be compensated.

As citizens, we must play our parts by not distracting these sort of leaders who make an effort to earn our confidence. There is a place for criticism and that place is all important. However, our criticism must always be constructive in the sense that it aims to spot a flaw and attract attention to it, not make assumptions and attempt to poke holes where such flaws do not exist.

Kaduna belongs to its 8 million citizens and their future generations. The goal of responsible citizens and governments must be to improve societies for these citizens and this goal must supersede all other interests.

It is misguided at best if writers and armchair critics try to distract better performing Governors or leaders from the business of governance simply because they want publication credits or acknowledgements.

el-Rufai’s actions must be seen as what they simply are; painful yet necessary, fearless yet bold sacrifices; all values on which the great State that Kaduna once was will be rebuilt.

For us who have stakes in Kaduna State no matter how negligible, we will without a doubt bear similar sacrifices and we must know that though the choices that need to be made are tough, we must make them if we are to see the reputation of our state restored. Some of us will take pay cuts; others may see increased taxes or the temporary displeasure of sacrificing luxuries we ordinarily are accustomed to.

In all of these, el-Rufai also must know that as he aims to reduce the cost of governance by plugging leakages that unfairly benefit certain people, he must work to reduce the cost of living in Kaduna State. Citizens must know that if they take cuts and have little disposable income, there will be a commensurate reduction in the cost of living and they can still afford basic necessities.

Instead of raising taxes as a means of boosting revenues, he must seek to expand the tax bracket and ensure full compliance to tax payments. He must implement projects funded by tax revenue; the sense in this is that as citizens see taxes effectively utilized, they will be encouraged to the extent when tax payment becomes largely voluntary.

The high cost of starting and doing business in the State must be addressed in a bid to halt and reverse the trend. Appropriate laws that encourage business to thrive must be enacted, soft loans and grants backed by performance monitoring mechanisms must be made available.

Things will get grave and we must meet these times with adequate preparation. Ultimately, we must know that in the most difficult situations if we put exceptional people in positions of governance, they will not lose sight and be distracted by people who are not willing to pay so high a cost.

And this is what gives me the confidence to support visionaries like el-Rufai: just the fact that when it comes down to it, they will be fearless; they will take the unpopular route and constantly raise the stakes just so our Nation and its States are made great again.

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In the beginning...Let there be Light

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