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Nasir el-Rufa’i and His Hopeless Claims

| May 9, 2012 More

Nasir el-Rufa’i

The opinion article titled “Bauchi’s hopeless budget” written by one Nasir el-Rufa’i, which appeared in THISDAY of Friday, April 13, 2012, was an unconscionable, irritating, abominable mishmash of untruth, conjecture, fertile imagination, mischief and an attempt to pull the wool over unsuspecting people’s eyes in a vain attempt to rewrite history and whitewash the ignoble tenure of his friend whom the Bauchi masses ignominiously threw out of their Government House five years ago.

One can seriously consider el-Rufa’i’s write-up as an extreme case of sentimentality in his analysis of Bauchi State’s budget and other sundry issues. Because of his close friendship with the immediate past Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Ahmed Adamu Mu’azu, who was his roommate at Zaria, his sense of judgment could have been easily compromised. Unfortunately for eI-Rufa’i, in choosing to attack Bauchi State budget in particular, and Governor Isa Yuguda’s administration in general, his prevarication is all too evident for everybody to see.

I am not sure if el-Rufa’i, before summoning the courage to discuss Bauchi State budget and other relevant issues, cared a hoot about the state’s debt burden immediately after Mu’azu left office. Had he been dispassionate, he would have been confronted with the true picture of how Mu’azu almost ran the state to economic ruin.  Neither did he bother to make any real effort in getting the 280-page 2012 Bauchi State budget document.

It is now common and verifiable knowledge that Mu’azu left a colossal debt of a little over N22 billion which the Yuguda administration has already paid creditors N17 billion. When el-Rufa’i attempts to dabble into areas out of his competence and jurisdiction, he abuses not only the sensibilities of knowledgeable Bauchians, but also discerning and concerned Nigerians and friends of the state.
Since May 29, 2007, Bauchi State has had the good fortune of being run by a governor who is competence and excellence personified. Here we are taking about a governor who has left his footprints in the sands of time. That is why it is indecorous that it is el-Rufa’i of all people who can moralise or educate Yuguda on budgetary insights and what have you.

One would like to know the premise or yardstick el-Rufa’i employed in lambasting the 2012 budget. Or, is el-Rufa’i trying to confuse Bauchians in particular, and Nigerians in general that Yuguda is so naive, inept and reckless not to recognise in arriving at the figures of the 2012 budget that his actions have to be guided by the provisions of fiscal responsibility laws which stipulate that borrowing at any time should not exceed 50 per cent of total revenues generated in the previous year? Is it not preposterous for el-Rufa’i to conjure arbitrary figures without bothering to name his sources of information?  Is he not aware that the 30-page document he is referring to is the executive summary of the budget?

How will he defend himself before Nigerians and his Creator, the Almighty Allah that although Bauchi State has a 280-page detailed budget, he cynically dwelt only on the 30-page executive summary thus exhibiting his intellectual laziness to study the main budget document?
For el-Rufa’i to classify the entire budget document as 30-page long, “short on details and defective in organisation” is insulting. He simply wants to run down Yuguda and cast aspersion on his administration, as no serious minded person who has followed Yuguda’s eventful career as a seasoned banker and performing Minister of Aviation would buy this cheap blackmail.

Even a cursory assessment of his piece would reveal how unserious he is. Does he really expect Yuguda to flout laid down five regulations on borrowing to sustain the state’s budget? This is outright balderdash because those familiar with the governor’s style can attest that he has become renowned for his prudent management of scarce resources, and particularly watches over the state’s implementation of the budget to avoid waste. This practice led to the state saving close to N2 billion in last year’s budgetary spending.

For the avoidance of doubt, el-Rufa’i got it all wrong when he implied that Bauchi State would shop for a whopping 40 per cent to supplement its budget whereas the true figure only represents about 20.2 per cent.  Because of his deliberate and malicious inclinations which may not be necessarily borne out of ignorance, he didn’t bother to itemise how the state government even arrived at its N138.7 billion budget.

Had he done his job meticulously, he would have known that the projected revenue for internally generated revenue is likely to hit N8.8 billion, a rare feat, especially when judged from previous years, and especially before the advent of the Yuguda administration. He should have equally realised that to arrive at the 2012 budget, the following areas of revenue were taken into consideration.

Besides the Statutory Allocation, Excess Crude, Value Added Tax (VAT), there is the internal and external technical assistance from United Nations (UN) related Agencies, Federal Government grants, Local Governments Joint Account for mutually agreed developmental projects, transfer from consolidated revenue funds, funds from closing balance etc.

For the purpose of educating el-Rufa’i, Bauchi State’s 2012 budget is a deficit budget. Deficits are financed either through long term borrowing in the financial markets, reserves run down or savings run down where they exist. Given that Bauchi State Government has a debt management agency established by law that determines debt sustainability of the state in the event it wants to borrow and performing other roles of ensuring transparency, prudence in the financial management of state resources, the government also established a fiscal responsibility law.
And these two establishments have to confirm that debts to be booked by government comply with the law, and also subjected to such analysis, including the debt management office of the Federal Ministry of Finance before even the figures are captured in the budget for presentation to the state Assembly.

It was for the prudent financial to debt management of the state’s finances that the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who all Nigerians had expected that if there was justice at the Bretton Woods Institution she would have been president of the World Bank approved for Bauchi State a sovereign guarantee to obtain a loan of $171 million from China’s Exim Bank to build a power plant for Bauchi State. Her approval of that loan facility confirmed the debt sustainability of Bauchi State and a clear evidence of prudent financial management of the economic team led by Yuguda himself.

In financial parlance, Okonjo-Iweala is in the North Pole while el-Rufa’i is languishing in the South Pole. It is unfortunate that his MBA in Banking/Finance has not done much for him in understanding financial issues. El-Rufa’i may have gone through the MBA Banking/Finance   programme but the programme didn’t go through him. El-Rufa’i should as a matter of urgency obtain the 280-page Bauchi State 2012 budget document to acquaint himself with the professionalism that went into the production of that budget.

Yuguda identified inadequate funding of the education sector as the major stumbling block in providing qualitative education. It is in the light of this that the governor approved the upward review of the budgetary allocation to the education sector from N2.6 billion in 2007 to N6.6 billion in 2008, representing 250 per cent increase which is unprecedented in the history of the state.

It would also be recalled that the state has gone beyond UNESCO standards set out for developing or third world countries on funding for the education sector with nearly 38 per cent of its budget allocated to education, and with an implementation rate of 73 per cent. UNESCO had urged third world countries to set aside 25 per cent of their budget on the education sector. Equally, in a recent study made available by the Federal Ministry of Education, under the auspices of the National Council of Education on compliance and implementation, the state came second directly behind Delta State. 

It is also on record that Bauchi and Lagos are the only states in the entire country that were able to procure textbooks in all subjects from kindergarten to the tertiary levels of education.  This much was revealed by none other than the Minister of Education, Prof. Rukayyatu Rufa’i, some time early this year after the FEC meeting. If he genuinely bothered about the education fortunes of the state and Nigerian youths, he would have applauded these laudable achievements by extending congratulatory messages to Governors Yuguda and Babatunde Fashola.

However, these achievements didn’t go un-noticed as the leadership of the Nigerian Union of Secondary Schools Teachers gave national awards to three governors who distinguished themselves in the domain of educational development in Nigeria. This prestigious awards were presented by none else than Vice-President Namadi Sambo in a grandiose occasion at the famous Eagle Square in Abuja.  Governor Yuguda happened to be one of the distinguished recipients. The others were Governors Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, and Liyel Imoke of Cross River State.

Unfortunately, el-Rufa’i for four long years as the Minister of the FCT failed to revolutionise the education sector of the FCT, and this is despite the colossal sums accruing to the FCT.  By contrast, Senator Bala Muhammad the current Minister of FCT who inherited the mess orchestrated by el-Rufa’i has successfully revolutionised the FCT education sector and restored the past glory in the FCT education sector.

El-Rufa’i also dwelt on the security aspect of the state and unfortunately raised stupid comments on how Boko Haram first reared its ugly head in Bauchi State. Those familiar with the Boko Haram file can attest that Yuguda more than any other governor in the areas where Boko Haram is infested remains the only governor who has come out energetically to denounce their ignoble activities. Credit must also be given to the governor for creating the enabling environment that has resulted in the curtailment of the sect’s activities by the security outfits.

For instance, of all the state’s where the sect has shown some prevalence, Bauchi State remains a near impregnable fortress, and this has resulted in the uncoordinated acts of banditry in one or two local government headquarters where banks were robbed and some policemen killed. In all this, the governor ought to be congratulated as the Chief Security Officer for his pro-activeness in bringing criminals to their knees in Bauchi State

*Joe wrote from Bauch

Category: Bauchi State News

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