From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

 

•El-rufai and Sani when the going was good

From all indications, a political battle line has been drawn between the immediate past governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-rufai and the incumbent governor, Uba Sani, over huge debts profile and contractual liabilities of the state which the later inherited from his predecessor.

Two months to marking one year in office, Sani decided to open up on the debts he inherited from El-rufai,

Immediately Sani spilled the beans penultimate Saturday, the political loyalists from the respective camps resorted to war of words.

This was even as the APC women’s leader in the state, Maryam Suleiman has been suspended from the party, perhaps for being too loyal to El-rufai.

 

In a suspension notice dated March 31, signed by the APC chairman and secretary of Badarawa/Malali ward, Ali Maishago and Zakkah Bassahuwa respectively, the party asserted that the women leader had been suspended over purported actions that tarnished the governor’s reputation.

While Sani’s loyalists are warning that no opposing side should under rate the constitutional power of the incumbent governor, they called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to do the needful.

Interestingly, some of El-rufai’s followers saw Sani’s action as a public embarrassment to his mentor and predecessor, saying that there is no state in the country without debt profile and Kaduna should not be an exception.

But in a swift reaction to the debt saga,  the ex-governor’s son,  Bashir

El-rufai,  in his verified X handle, accused Sani of shying away from his responsibility by always staying away from the state and sleeping in Abuja.

Bashir El-rufai also accused the governor of surrounding himself with a retinue of incompetent aides appointed for political patronage.

However, some stakeholders said they cannot understand the exact concerns of Sani since he was in the forefront at the ninth Senate where he fought tooth and nail for the approval of 350 million dollars loan from the World Bank for Kaduna State under the administration of El-rufai. Sani was the lawmaker representing Kaduna central senatorial zone at that time.

Some of the stakeholders pointed out that between 2015 and 2019, Sani was political adviser to El-rufai, and  Senator Sulaiman Othman Hunkuyi represented Kaduna North at the senate while  Senator Shehu Sani represented Kaduna Central. All of them were in APC.

But when El-Rufai sought for the  staggering  external debt of 350 million dollars, Senators Hunkuyi and  Shehu Sani joined hands with Kaduna South’s Senator Danjuma Laah (PDP) to work against the debt, making sure it didn’t pass through parliamentary approval. They argued that generations yet unborn would not be able to pay off the loan, which could make every child of Kaduna a perpetual debtor.

This infuriated El-rufai to a point where he literally cursed the three senators from Kaduna State at a public function. Senator Hunkuyi was the unluckiest because later his house situated at Sambo road  was demolished by the powers-that-be.

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Senators Hunkuyi and Shehu Sani had to leave APC in 2019.

From 2019 to 2023 El-rufai conveniently sacked the two senators who were instrumental in blocking his desire for this huge external loan. Senators Hunkuyi and Sani were sent back home.

He replaced them with Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari and Senator Uba Sani. With them, El-rufai got his heart desires. He expressly got his 350 million dollars loan for the state.

A concerned citizen, Abubakar, said: “Today, Gov Uba Sani is complaining about this debt and one can only be confused. The same loan he facilitated as a senator? Didn’t he have an insight into the implications of this loan before he helped Gov El-rufai secure it?

“The main objective of El-rufai sending Sani and Kwari to the Senate was to get this loan approved, and they succeeded in getting the state indebted: The work that Senators Hunkuyi and Shehu Sani refused to do.”

While being inaugurated on May 29, 2023 as the governor of the state, Sani pledged to carry everybody along in the administration of the state, saying: “We shall run an all-inclusive government that shall leave no one or any part of Kaduna State behind.”

El-rufai, had during the handing over, said he left the state better than when he assumed office in 2015, noting that his administration initiated legacies projects that empowered the citizens.

El-Rufai, however, disclosed that as at May 28, 2023, he left a domestic debt of N80.60bn and a foreign debt of $577.32 million debt for Sani’s administration.

“As of the last financial year, Kaduna State has the following liabilities -Domestic debt: N64.54bn. Other contingent liabilities: N16.06bn and foreign debts: US $577.32m,” he said.

The former governor added that his administration spent N818.bn on capital expenditure between 2015 and 2022 in the prosecution of “our first and second State Development Plans, attracting nearly US $5bn in foreign and domestic investments that created jobs, improved our tax receipts and laid a solid foundation for the future.”

He added: “We are leaving behind a net cash balance in our Treasury Single Account of about N5bn after deductions for the payments of salaries, pensions and dues to the local government councils, and US $2.05m in our domiciliary account as of  28th May 2023.

However, addressing a town hall meeting penultimate Saturday, Sani said that his administration inherited a huge debt burden of $587 million, N85 billion Naira, and 115 contractual liabilities from the previous administration of El-rufai.

Sani said despite the huge debts burden, he has not borrowed a single kobo in the last nine months of his government, but quickly added that the state cannot pay workers’ salaries for now.

He explained that N7 billion out of the N10 billion federal allocation for the Kaduna State in the month of March, was deducted to service the state’s debt.

The governor further lamented that “the state was left with N3billion, an amount which is not enough to pay salary, as the state’s monthly salary bill stands at N5.2billion,” adding that the huge debt burden is eating deep into the state’s federal allocation.

He lamented that, due to the rise in the exchange rate, Kaduna State is now paying back almost triple of what was borrowed by the previous administration of El-rufai.

According to the governor, “despite the huge debt burden of 587 million dollars, N85 billion and 115 contractual liabilities sadly inherited from the previous administration, we remain resolute in steering Kaduna StateS towards progress and sustainable development. We have conducted a thorough assessment of our situation and are sharpening our focus accordingly.

“It gladdened my heart to inform you that, despite the huge inherited debt on the state, till date, we have not borrowed a single kobo.”

Also speaking at the event, former Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Martins Luther Agwai (retd) commended the governor for cutting cost of governance due to huge debt of the state, while calling on all residents to eschew political, religious or ethnic differences and support the state government in overcoming the debt challenge.

In his remarks, the Emir of Zazzau, Amb. Ahmad Nuhu Bamali, expressed optimism despite the challenges facing the state, adding that the governor has the capability to turn around the economy of the state for effective development