Governor Nasir El-Rufai has expressed gratitude to Development Partners for giving technical support, financial assistance and feedback on the programmes of Kaduna State Government even before he assumed office.
The governor also thanked the Development Partners and Civil Society Organisations for telling the government the uncomfortable truth where it derails and giving it a pat on the back when necessary.
El-Rufai also praised Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the entire United Nations family for the significant role that they played in terms of good governance and transparency in Kaduna state.
The governor who made this known at the opening of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Strategic Dialogue meeting, also thanked the Development Partners for helping Kaduna state in its Putting People First agenda.
He said that ‘’over a 100 million pounds have been spent on Kaduna state, for us it’s a vote of confidence on our government and governance. The fact that you are here is a vote of confidence.’’
‘’When we assumed office in 2015, our goal in education is to expand access and we took all necessary steps to ensure that primary school, junior secondary school and senior secondary school is easier and free.
‘’We are the only state in Nigeria that do 12 years of free education. All other states try to do nine years of basic education. We do 12,’’ the governor said.
El-Rufai disclosed that his administration ‘’will soon enact legislation that makes education compulsory, with sanctions on parents or guardians that fail to send their children to school, because it is free. Because they have no excuse, its free. For boarding schools, we feed them free.’’
The governor recalled that ‘’we have worked very aggressively in improving teacher quality. Against all political advice, we have sacked 22,000 teachers before the end of our first term. Everyone told us that we were going to lose the election. Nobody sacks teachers and win elections. We did.’’
According to him, the administration easily won its re-election ‘’because the ordinary voters knew that we did that for them.’’
‘’We have improved teacher-pupil ratio. When we came, the teacher-pupil ratio was 1 to nearly 100. Our target is 1:40. In most of the local governments, we are getting around 1:50. We are going to improve on it.
‘’As we speak, we are going to be hiring more teachers; for instance, we will be hiring 7,600 secondary school teachers next week, in English, science subjects and ICT,’’ he added.
The governor said that his administration has ‘’improved school infrastructure. We have over 4,000 primary schools, 500 secondary schools, many of them dilapidated.
‘’About 80% of them are in serious states of dilapidation and we have been trying to bring them up to scratch, we have been renovating, we have been adding classrooms, we are providing water and toilets,’’ he said.
‘’We have also introduced e-learning, we are providing computers and tablets. We are planning to introduce coding in our primary and secondary schools. We just signed an agreement with Airtel to ensure that our entire state is covered with at least 3G and 4G in most areas.
‘’Kaduna state is working with a private company called IHS, the largest power company in Nigeria. We are putting $1 million for them to build towers in unserved areas so that our people will have 3 to 4G access in throughout the state. We believe that this access is necessary in the world of today not only to deliver education but even health care,’’ he added.
The governor disclosed that ‘’because of insecurity challenge that we are facing in the North West, the issue of safe schools has become imperative. Most of our schools are not fenced, we are losing school land to encroachers.
‘’So, we are working on a programme to fence all our schools for the dual purpose of security of the assets as well as protecting the land for the future. We are also engaging community vigilantes and training them.
‘’Some are undergoing training right now at the Police College for deployment of protecting public assets like schools and Primary Healthcare Centres at the community level. These are people that have been vetted by the community leaders and religious leaders, tested for drugs before they are engaged,’’ he added.
After the meeting, Kaduna State Government signed a mutual accountability framework with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime last Wednesday.