By Yusuf Ishaku Goje
The candidates gunning for the Governorship of Kaduna State, come 2023 general elections, need to be rigorously scrutinized beyond the recycled rhetorics. It is going to be competence over divisive sentiments and deceptive generosity.
Regardless of party or ethno-religious affiliation, they should tell us what they will do to generate the needed revenue to provide social amenities and at the same time service the over N284 billion public debt as at December 2020 (much higher now if one adds about N63 billion already collected in 2021 and the N20 billion proposed in 2022).
The candidates must also be able to tell us how they will increase, without increasing taxes, the informal sector’s contribution to the internally generated revenue of the State – as against the current situation where Tax Audit Arrears, PAYE Others and PAYE Federal contribute the largest chunk of our IGR.
A situation where Tax Audit Arrears constitute about 27% of revenue generated by KADIRS (2022 approved budget) is worrisome and not sustainable. Also, they should tell us their plans for providing rural roads to accelerate inclusive development – as available data shows out of the about 3,110.43 kilometers rural roads, only 104.20km (3.35%) is paved.
Furthermore, they should tell us in concrete terms what they will do to address the low level of household income and widening inequality – with over 50% of the population living below the poverty line. Similarly, we will be keen to know what ideas they have for the fast growing 8.2million young residents, bedeviled by growing unemployment rate of around 30%.
Not to forget, they should provide concrete social protection plans for those affected by government’s downsizing of civil servants, displacement as a result of insecurity (including demolition of houses) and loss of livelihoods due to urban renewal projects (roads and markets component).
No candidate is worth being the next Governor of Kaduna State without having a comprehensive plan and the needed political will for reforms (those that are working should be sustained; while those that are not pro-people should be replaced). This also means they must assure us that they will not throw away the baby with the bath water.
Beyond sentiment and generosity, we need a Governor that understands the issues and has the capacity to address them in Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, come 2023.
Lets engage, ask the right questions and hold the government accountable.