By Mustapha Haruna Farakwai
Several weeks back the Federal government of Nigeria graciously refunded monies that were excessively deducted during the servicing of Paris Club debt that led to the offsetting of debt worth over USD12 billion, Kaduna state graciously got over N14.3billion Naira from the fund.
The magic wand of the fund is already doing wonders in the state, the entire landscape of the state has been turn to construction site, the once poor image and rating of the current Kaduna State government has received surgical blade and miraculously boosted to a level that members of the front line opposition party had to query the source of money that has turn the state into a construction site.
The major cloak in the wheel of progress of the state is the inability of some local governments to settle the salaries of those that were unjustly removed from their payrolls during the seeming endless verification exercises and that of the traditional council.
Talking about the traditional council, I am referring to District and Village heads. In some local governments, they have stayed for over a year without pay. Others are indebted for six or seven months, depending on the financial strength of such councils. The inability of some councils to pay the traditional institution what is rightly due to them have contributed in no small measure to escalate the security challenges in the state. Instead of the traditional rulers to focus on maintaining law and order in their communities they are struggling with different ailments without source of income to treat themselves, those with little strength have abandoned their jobs and have resorted to farm to make ends meets.
While funds for their payments (Paris Club Refund) is either lying dormant in Treasury Single Account or in a Fix Deposit account for the benefit of some microscopic few at the loop of power. While I don’t have any reason to doubt the governors commitment to remit what is rightly due to Local governments, I don’t know what has happened midway to make the government of Kaduna State to reneged on her earlier commitment to readily release funds to local governments as her sign of commitment to Local Government autonomy.
The inability of the state government to release funds to local governments is not only having negative implications on civil servants and traditional council but also the political class, especially the governors trusted persons he sent to hold forth those councils in trust for him. Many of them never got funds to execute any project. The Paris Club refund money would have given them the opportunity to touch lives and communities, which will later serve as their political capital.
Some of them don’t have any project to show for their either six, twelve or seventeen months on the helm of affairs. If nothing urgent is done to release the funds due to the councils, APC and the local government chairmen should as well forget about any aspiration for now.
The State government will reap from it when it is time for election as the class of the Interim Management Committee that coordinated his campaign would be rejected by their people.
There is no better time for the state to release those funds for either construction of roads, drainages, culvert, rural electrification or borehole than now. Raining season is at the window where construction sites are largely put on hold. In the business of restoring the greatness of our dear state, we don’t have the luxury of time to waste, every moment count.
Lastly, I wish to call on the members of Kaduna State House of Assembly to urgently look into the matter, as the people that elected them to represent them are suffering while funds that would bettered their lives is laying fallow in a strange account, doing nothing or replicating via interest for only God knows people benefiting.
Mustapha Haruna Farakwai, [email protected]