Rap Up And Take Away From Round-table Discussion On Kaduna State 2017 Draft Budget

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The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kaduna State Council in Conjunction with the Kaduna State Government organised a one Roundtable Discussion on the 2017 Draft Budget, held at the NUJ secretariat on Saturday 22nd October, 2016.

ATTENDANCE:

In attendance at the event were members of the Kaduna State Executive Council, including the Honourable Commissioner of Education, Science and Technology, Professor Andrew Jonathan Nock, Budget and Planning, Mohammed Sani Abdullahi and Commissioner of Works, Transport and Housing, Hassan Mahmud Usman.

The event also had in attendance all the executive members of NUJ and a large turnout of members from all the chapels of the union across the state.

TAKE AWAY FROM THE ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION

Acting Chairman of NUJ, Mrs. Zhiroh Jarius Jatau in her welcome address noted that, as members of the fourth estate of the realm and stakeholders in National Development, responsibilities of Journalists in educating and enlightening members of the public cannot be over emphasized.

She however expressed delight that, the roundtable discussion will serve as an opportunity for members of the press and public, to be better informed on what the administration is providing for the overall development of the state.

“It is also an opportunity for our members to help government to ensure full implementation of the budget by proper monitoring and reportage in all stages”.

She reiterated the commitment of the Kaduna State Council of NUJ’s commitment to ensuring the success of Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai’s administration towards the development of Kaduna State.

Delivering his opening remarks, Special Adviser to Governor El-Rufai on Media and Communication, Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye tasked journalists to move away from views reporting to factual reportage of events, and uphold the ethics of journalism profession in carrying out their duty.

He frowned at a situation where media men take views of news makers to the public realm without verifying the authenticity of such views.

Vice President of NUJ, Zone A, Comrade Yusuf Idris in his own remarks commended the state government for organising the Roundtable Discussion with Kaduna State Council of NUJ.

He said there has been gap between Kaduna State Government and the NUJ. He described the gap as unhealthy, saying, public suffers where such gap exists. And therefore described the meeting as a welcome development.

On their part, the Commissioners present did justice to the subject matter, which is the 2017 Draft Budget by fully explaining and clarifying grey areas on what the budget entails, especially, as it affects their respective ministries.

It was noted that the draft budget reviewed is intended for the continued progress and development of the state. It is also said to geared towards taking sectors that were hitherto, stagnant or suffered neglect in the state into limelight, so that value would be added to such sectors to accelerate growth and development.

In his presentation, Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Mohammed Sani Abdullahi disclosed that the past administration of the state spent over N2.1 billion on sweets, juice and chocolates to entertain visitors in 2014. He said, the same government spent over N40 million monthly for chicken and rice for mere refreshment in Government House within the same period.

He informed the gathering that, the Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai led administration had to jettison the wasteful budgeting system it inherited, noting that, N.6 million was used monthly to buy daily newspapers without the actual copies on ground for verification and accountability.

The Commissioner said another N2 billion was wasted on training and retraining of workers that did not need certain training, adding that accountants were allegedly trained on architecture. He noted that, El-Rufai government values training, but concerned about real training in line with workers area of specialisations.

He said it was based on the ugly financial discovery that, the current administration decided to operate zero based budget where every naira budgeted is tagged to a verifiable project which the people could hold government accountable to.

He emphasized that, the previous government was in the practice of budgeting for item repeatedly 10 years, adding 5% every year. “So when we started the zero based budget as soon as we came to power, civil servants in the State were not happy because they were doing budget without executing the project, and the money, for instance, N20 million could go into an individual’s pocket.

“They keep on saying that this is not the way it is done, but we told them that we want to do it in our own way because this is change regime. So we recollected and redirected the budget draft.

“We inherited N8.6 billion from the immediate past government which was in several bank accounts, but we were able to realised N38 billion when we introduced Treasury Single Account (TSA).

“We have money in the State, and it is not that we cannot pay salaries, but it was because we were doing the verification of workers, which had delayed payment of pensions and salaries. But as I speak to you, by this October, pensioners will get their payments”.

On his part, the Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport, Hassan Mahmud Usman said the state government is reconstructing 29 township roads.

Usman however, said it would be impossible for the government to construct all dilapidated roads in the State within four years, and urged the people of the state to support government in achieving its goals.

Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Andrew Jonathan Nok in his own presentation said there was ongoing general assessment of teachers in the state in order to give room to qualified ones.

Nok noted with regret, a situation where a teacher with National Certificate of Education (NCE) in geography could not spell the word geography.

He said his ministry is doing general assessment examination of teachers and they will remedy those that can be remedied, but those that are not qualified will be sent to where they belong. He said teachers must be certified before they can teach.

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