Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna state, since when he was sworn in as governor of the state, has vowed to uphold his campaign promises which is to make Kaduna state great again. From 29th May when the government was inaugurated, the Governor has indeed taken some drastic steps to reform the old order of how things were done in the state to usher in a new system that will save the state and indeed make Kaduna great again.
In his bid to reduce government spending, the governor and his deputy slashed their salaries and allowances by 50%, he also reduced ministries in the state 19 to 13, same with the number of permanent secretaries in the state civil service, and also the continuous civil servants verification program to curb ghost workers in the government’s pay roll.
Again it is true that the Gov. El-rufai led government is not backing on its mission to bring good governance to the state, for the governor to actualise this herculean task, there is need to have constitutionally elected local government councils in the state. The idea of local government councils was borne out of the need to bring government closer to the people as a mechanism for engendering development at the grassroot level. Though as important as this is, many state governors and their appendage ‘Houses of Assembly’ choose to disregard this third tier of government; in most cases, the state governors appoint party loyalists, political friends and cronies to perpetually steer the affairs of local governments in their states even as it is not constitutional. And it is not a just system where the governor controls both the state and local governments; no matter how purpose-driven an interim council chairman is, s/he will be greatly controlled by the governor who appointed him or her.
The question here is: When will Gov. El-rufai conduct local government elections? Already, most parts of Kaduna city centre and local government headquarters are flooded with posters, bill boards and sign posts of men and women who are already showing interest in contesting for local government council positions in the state.
Though Gov El-rufai has long before now appointed Interim Management Council to manage the affairs of the local governments, some are able to do the job diligently, but a large chunk of them are just there to take part in the carting of the largesse on offer.
If Gov El-rufai is really determined to make Kaduna state great again, I think the governor needs to as a matter of urgency conduct local government elections in the 23 local government areas of the state. By so doing, there will be constitutionally elected and recognized councils who will assist the governor in his task of bringing unprecedented development in the state. When local
government chairmen are elected, the governor will have a strong and formidable team that will help him out in carrying out his developmental plans. Every local government will fashion out ways, with the support of the governor, to bring good governance to the grassroots.
Considering that this is the first time that Mallam Nasir El-rufai has been elected into a public office, unlike in the past when he was just appointed, one will expect that El-rufai will make effort to have local governments run as is constitutionally provided, which will score him a point in his political career. Considering also, the fact that he had promised in his campaign to allow the local councils to run a separate account from the state government, therefore he should match his words with action by conducting council elections.
Good governance is achieved by a collective effort of all stakeholders, and local government chairmen are important stakeholders for the attainment of good governance at the level of governance closest to the people.
Jesse David is a Political Analyst and writes from Kaduna