Mallam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufa’i, the Kaduna State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress(APC) for the 2015 elections says the state is Nigeria’s second most indebted state.
Speaking in an interview, the former FCT minister lamented that Kaduna had no industrial base or commercial capacity to bear its heavy debt burden. Data as at June 2014 show that the top foreign debtors are Lagos (N162 billion), Kaduna (N40 billion) and Bauchi (N17 billion).
“From estimates, every child born in Kaduna State has a debt of N15,000. If you have a child to be born tomorrow, that child already has a debt burden of N15,000, and there are about eight million people in Kaduna State, so, you do the calculation,” he said.
El-Rufai however noted that “in spite of that, we are confident that we will find a way to work with the people of Kaduna State because there are areas of leakages, corruption we plan to tackle and there is large capacity to expand internally generated revenue.
“In spite of the fact that oil prices are falling and we are facing a dire economic situation more serious than anything that we have faced since 1984, we will do our best to improve the situation because we are committed to making Kaduna great again and we cannot do it without you. We hope once our campaigns; we will have some of you as part of our campaign team, so that you record and document every stage and expose everything.
“We want a transparent campaign and we are not afraid of having the media with us. I hope you will be vigilant before the campaign starts in the next one week or so. Keep an eye on all of us and ask us the most difficult questions and hold us to account and keep a record of all our promises and ensure that for the next four years we do not rest until we meet the aspirations of the people of Kaduna state,” he said.
Speaking on his tenure as minister, El-Rufai dismissed insinuations that he was controversial. “I do not know what you mean by controversial,” he said, adding however that he has “always maintained that I am not controversial. Look at me, I am not big and I am not very strong. Until 1999 when I became the DG of BPE, no one had ever heard of me. If I was a controversial person you would have heard of me.
“I think my fortune or misfortune in public life is that I tend to get the most difficult assignments that every other person is scared of doing. My first real job in government was DG of the BPE and my job was to sell public assets. That is controversial. It is not el-Rufa’i that was controversial, it was the assignment because people are used to government managing everything.”
“Some of these things are difficult to do and in this country if you want to do the job as written in the books, you are given all sorts of names and tags, controversial is one of them. I am not controversial, I mind my business and when I was Adviser to Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar for one year, you never heard of me because an Adviser advises quietly. But once I am given a job and I agree to do it, I do it with all my heart and as Minister of the FCT which is one of the most difficult jobs, I did my job to the best of my ability. I do not think that the issue is whether I was controversial or not. “
“The question you should ask me is whether I left Abuja better than I met it. And I think most people in Abuja will say I did. That is what matters. Now, what about Kaduna? Kaduna is different from Abuja in many respects. So, there is work to be done here. Not everything to be done here will be loved by the people. A lot of it will be embraced by the people but if there is a job to be done and I undertake to do it, if the people of Kaduna State elect me it is because they want change. They do not want this place to be a state of bill boards and no action,” El-Rufai said.