Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Kaduna screens 230 nominees for 77 district head positions

Gentlemen of the press:
In June 2017, the Kaduna State Government announced that the state was returning to the 77-district structure that existed prior to 2001. The government reached the decision after due consideration by the State Executive Council of the report of a committee that examined district and village administration in the state.

A meeting of the State Executive Council on 24th April 2017 concluded that no scientific criteria or strategic consideration could be found to justify the expansion in the number of districts from 77 to 390. Instead, political expediency appeared to have motivated this proliferation that imposed the burden of paying personnel of the 313 extra districts on our local government councils. This proliferation also severely reduced the prestige and respect attached to the office of district head.

On 25th April 2017, Malam Nasir El-Rufai consulted the State Council of Chiefs which requested two weeks to deliberate on the matter and submit a report. The State Council of Chiefs eventually communicated its support for the restructuring of districts via a letter dated 8th May 2017. This letter forwarded the resolutions of a meeting the State Council of Chiefs held in Kaduna on 4th May 2017.

The government has subsequently implemented its decision to restructure the districts. Reverting to 77 districts implies that fresh appointments of district heads have to be made. Government asked all the 32 emirates and chiefdoms to forward nominees to be considered for appointment as district heads. In addition, government restated longstanding policy that succession to district headship is not hereditary, and that all residents of a district are eligible to seek the headship whenever it is vacant.

Accordingly, all the 32 emirates and chiefdoms have forwarded the names of persons they are nominating for appointments as district heads. Following the receipt of the nominations, the government is currently vetting the resumes and records of the 230 nominees. Government will announce the new 77 district heads when this process of checks and assessments is concluded.
The Kaduna State Government wishes to commend the State Council of Chiefs for the promptness with which our royal fathers compiled and forwarded nominations for new district heads.

However, the state government is unable to accept the recommendation to allow the district heads affected by the restructuring to remain as Community Leaders. Government notes that community leaders are not appointed; rather, they emerge naturally from among the people. Many of the erstwhile district heads did not belong to the areas where they served, further complicating the argument. And there is no question of appointing any of them as unpaid officers.

The affected district and village heads are being paid three months’ salary.

It is important to highlight that the restructuring of district administration is a logical extension of the streamlining of governance that has guided this government since inception. Actions taken to reduce the size of government since June 2015 include:
1. Reducing ministries from 19 to 14;
2. Appointing only 15 commissioners, compared to the 24 that the previous government had.
3. This government has fewer special advisers, special assistants and technical assistants than the hundreds of appointees that previous governments appointed.
4. Reduction of the monthly payroll from N2.7bn to N2.2bn through verification of workers and pensioners.

Why should anyone expect that these vital decisions meant to orient government to actual public service delivery should not be extended to the local government level? Why should anyone oppose measures to restore the prestige of district heads while also reducing the burden that proliferation of districts imposed on local governments?

Government cannot be deterred from doing what is important, necessary and consequential for what our people. That is a more important goal than the ego and private interests of certain individuals. As you will recall, we have provided a robust response to the frustrations of the so-called Kaduna Restoration Group. The same response holds good for Tom Maiyashi and his factional ilk, who think that nothing can or should happen in this state except they say so. There is nothing new in what he said. Kaduna State is moving forward, whether the frustrated and the greedy elite like it or not. We acknowledge that the personal economic crisis of some of this elite is what they are disguising as political commentary. Even those who always condemned and displayed disrespect to our traditional institutions and religion, are now pretending to be their champions.

The government is aware of funny games being played regarding the return to 77 districts. We have letters from some of the former district heads who are alleged to have sued the government dissociating themselves from the litigation.

The government has consulted, made its decision and has already implemented it. Districts have been restructured in the better, longer-term interest of Kaduna State. Those who are concerned have already applied for appointment as District Heads. There is no need for all the baseless scaremongering.
Thanks for listening.
Samuel Aruwan
SSA Media and Publicity
10 July, 2017.

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