Governor Uba Sani and the debt burden

When the Governor Uba Sani administration was inaugurated on May 29, 2023, the question on the lips of many people in Kaduna state was whether the big shoes left by his predecessor will fit the new governor. The eight years tenure of Malam Nasiru El-Rufai was dogged by controversies arising from his local government reforms in which thousands of civil servants were sacked, demolition policies that witnessed the pulling down of many structures that were considered illegal and above all insecurity plaguing the state. 

After the successful handover, the Uba Sani government had a slow takeoff comparative to other states where there were change of batons. Little surprise, the governor became a frequent visitor to Abuja. His inability to stay in office amidst pressing state’s matters pitched him against the people he governs. The governor was nicknamed Abuja governor because he barely spent two days in Kaduna.

Penultimate Saturday, the governor, during a town hall meeting with stakeholders, raised the alarm that his administration inherited a huge debt burden of $587 million, N85 billion, and 115 contractual liabilities from the previous administration, making it difficult for him to pay workers’ salaries. He explained that N7 billion out of the N10 billion federal allocation due to the state in March was deducted to service the debts. 

With this shocking revelation from Governor Uba Sani, one can understand the reason he hardly stays in the state. By this statement, the governor is clearly saying that Kaduna state is cash strapped with little or nothing to run the government.. For Kaduna state government to be spend N7 billion monthly on debt servicing, makes it very difficult to meet other financial obligations. Before the 2023 general elections that produced Governor Uba Sani, El-Rufai blew his own trumpet on how he cut down the cost of governance through restructuring and improving the state’s internally generated revenue for optimum performance.

Unfortunately, what the people of Kaduna state are witnessing since El-Rufai left office contradict his much-talked about reforms and the acclaimed gains. While El-Rufai deserves a pat on the back for his urban renewal programme spread across Kaduna, Zaria and Kafanchan, the loans he incurred or collected to execute the project need more explanations. With the state being insolvent, what will Uba Sani do to change this ugly narrative? Will Governor Uba Sani use his power to summon the ex-governor to explain how the loans were spent? Will he collect another loan or improve the state’s revenue generation?

Governor Uba Sani’s outburst has received knocks from different angles. For instance, Bashir El-Rufai, son of the former governor, through his tweeter, countered the allegations against his father. He described Uba Sani as incompetent and being surrounded by incompetent aides. Others wonder why it took Uba Sani this long to reveal the true financial status of the state. Besides, the governor is being accused of facilitating the loans when he was the senator, representing the Kaduna central in ninth National Assembly.

The cold war which is brewing in the state between El-Rufai and Governor Uba Sani should be tamed in the interest of peace, unity and development of Kaduna state. Stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, should quickly intervene, call the duo to a negotiating table and prevail on them to sheath their swords. Unless the festering impasse is fully resolved, their political allies are likely to exploit the misunderstanding and fuel it to dangerous level. This unhealthy development will slow the pace of socio-economic development of the state. 

Ibrahim Mustapha,


Kaduna state