DAILY FILE – Governor Nasir El-Rufai, has said that the reform of local government administration and restructuring of the traditional institutions has freed up resources in the 23 area councils in Kaduna state.
His worsd “Now, some local governments are even richer than state governments. So, we will soon allow them to assume their constitutional responsibilities,’’ the governor clarified.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting at the Umaru Musa Yar’adua Centre in Kaduna yesterday, the governor reiterated that all the 23 local government areas are now financially buoyant enough to execute capital projects after paying salaries and overhead costs.
The governor who addressed representatives of Kaduna North and Kaduna south local governments, said that the reform involved reducing 390 districts to the 77 districts that existed before year 2000 and reducing local government staff.
El-Rufai, recalled that the state government was giving financial bail-out to eight local governments every month in order to pay salaries, when he assumed office in 2015.
The governor further said that the combination of a bloated local government staff and a proliferation of districts had placed a heavy financial burden on the local government areas, so much that they could not pay salaries.
El-Rufai said “In Kaduna North and Kaduna South, every big man wanted his wife or relative to teach in primary schools because they are located in urban centres. No one wanted his relative to go to the villages to work or teach.
‘’In Zaria local government, there used to be more that 1,100 staff. Looking at the secretariat, there is no way it can accommodate that number of staff. Clearly, most of the names on the pay roll were ghost workers. Some council chairmen padded the pay roll with the names of members of their families,’’ he recalled.
El-Rufai,further said that his administration was called all manner of names when he embarked on the local government reform but now the people are reaping its benefits.
According to him, Kaduna state government will not shy away from doing the right thing for fear of losing elections. He said that almost all past governors knew about the problem but they swept it under the carpet.
The governor maintained that it is God, through the electorate, that gives victory to whoever He pleases, adding that he will continue to do the right thing without political considerations.
El-Rufai revealed that the state government will soon devolve some functions to local governments because they now have the financial wherewithal and capacity to execute such projects.
‘’Ideally, the construction of township roads, maintenance of primary schools and abattoirs are responsibilities of local governments. State governments executed the projects because the councils lacked funds. Now, some local governments are even richer than state governments. So, we will soon allow them to assume their constitutional responsibilities,’’ he clarified.
The governor said that there is no local government in Kaduna state that does not have between N50 million to N100 million in its kitty after paying salaries and other recurrent expenditure.
El-Rufai, said that security will be beefed up before, during and after elections, adding that a strike force outpost will be located in all the exit points of Kaduna town, including Gonin Gora, Mararaban Jos and Kachia roads.
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