Kebbi: A look at Kauran Gwandu’s Budget of Infrastructure and Empowerment

Budget proposal is a yearly routine where chief executives of national and subnational governments present their expenditure outlook for the next fiscal year. Nigeria has witnessed some very interesting and sometimes melodramatic budget title in the past. In this respect, the budgets of Olimpotic Meristamasis or Conjugated Agglutination as coined by erstwhile governor of Cross River state, Ben Ayade, readily come to mind.

However, budget titles do not need to be dramatic to draw attention and I am sure this is why the Governor of Kebbi state, Nasir Idris, decided to settle for a straightforward, uncomplicated title devoid of any drama by tagging his first budget since landing the people’s mandate as the Budget of Infrastructure and People’s Empowerment. The title resonates focus and a determination to change the plight of the people, a task that the governor has been fulfilling since his swearing-in on May 29, 2023.

From the governor’s showing since coming to power, one can picture how this budget of Infrastructure and People’s Empowerment will be deployed to better the lives of the people of Kebbi state. Already, the governor has flagged-off series of critical infrastructural development projects across all local government areas of the state and it’s not hard to see that next year’s budget will be on servicing the financial component of the contracts entered into with the various contractors handling these state projects.

Some of the projects include the rehabilitation and reconstruction of city centre roads in Birnin Kebbi on July 25 worth N9 billion. This was done in fulfilment of the governor’s campaign promise, a public declaration made in the run-up to the 2023 elections.

The contract for the construction and rehabilitation of many roads have since followed. These include, the rehabilitation of Yauri township roads to include local government Dawanau junction, market roundabout – Tashar Garkuwa, Garkan Dudu- Liberia junction and police station – Union Bank. The total cost stands at N3.8 billion. The contract will cover a distance of about 5.2 kilometers total area when completed. It’s also noteworthy that the contractors have been given 18 months within which to deliver a quality job. Needless to say this budget will make sure the contractors deliver on time.

The contract for the rehabilitation of Warra township roads in Ngaski local government area worth N1.8 billion has also been approved. The people have hailed this contract as most sensitive undertaken as it signifies the governor’s consciousness towards equitable distribution of development all over the state. Part of the 2024 budget will also go into the rehabilitation of Koko-Mahuta-Dabai road.

Looking at the revenue outlook from the budget, it makes sense to invest heavily in sectors that will shore up the state’s Internally Generated Revenue. It’s no wonder then that
Governor Idris explained “that the budget aims to enhance agricultural and mineral resource productivity through access to improved technologies, finance and services to increase income generation and provide food security as well as poverty reduction”.

For agriculture to work, however, youths and women must be empowered to contribute their quota. It is in this regards, that governor posited that the livelihoods of youths and women would be improved through job creation and socio-economic empowerment that will deliver social progress and transformation. This is the bedrock of the empowerment half of the budget nomenclature and a very vital component, I must add.

A close look at the governor’s impact since assuming office will reveal a focused approach targeted at areas of immediate to short term turnarounds. Workers’ salaries have been paid as at when due, government has run smoothly and payment of pension and gratuity to retirees have been sustained without let or pause.

In addition to the construction of roads as earlier elaborated, schools have also been either renovated or constructed in strategic locations, fertiliser and farm inputs have been distributed to farmers in a bid to maintain food security, while working assiduously to ensure priority is given to the security of, and protection of lives and properties of the people!

Indeed, the governor was in Abidjan as part of delegation of North-west governors to seek for investment from African Development Bank, AFDB, for Special Agro Processing Zones, SAPZ. The governor’s commitment to make similar trips to the United States in order to continue the drive to attract Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, for the agriculture sector sums up his desire to fully harness agriculture as the mainstay of the state’s economy, and it makes sense.

With the state’s comparative advantage in the cultivation of rice all year round as well as premium grains like wheat, it’s only a matter of time and the right investment before the whole of Nigeria begins to depend on Jigawa state for its national staple.

A major commitment towards this bold undertaking is the decision to utilise part of the 2024 budget towards providing clean drinking water by sinking boreholes and the continuation of the electrification of towns and villages at the cost of over N1 billion.

Without breaking the dictionary to coin a budget title that will play denouement on very serious state functions, the simplicity in the title of this budget can only be matched by the uncomplicated nature of the proposals and costs and projections in the budget. It gets easier because the governor has shown within these first six months that he walks his talk!

Musa writes from Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi state