It is a known fact to note that Sokoto State, under the leadership of Rt. Honourable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has witnessed a remarkable level of financial discipline, probity, transparency and accountability born out of his burning desire to keep the state in the comity of states renowned for socioeconomic and political advancement.
Through his vision and dedication, steadfastness and innovation, Tambuwal, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, has made steady progress and engineered far-reaching reforms geared towards restructuring, re-engineering and reinvigorating the state’s economy. This is in keeping faith with his campaign promise to pilot the affairs of the state to the satisfaction of the majority of Sokoto citizens who voted him into office as their leader.
Meanwhile, the consequential effect of the dwindling federal allocation to states and local governments as a result of the not-too-impressive happenings which led to price crash in the oil sector has made it imperative for government at all levels to review several issues hindering development and provide solutions on how best to service the people.
In Sokoto, it is pertinent to note that a new orientation has taken the centre stage in line with Governor Tambuwal’s desire to give the state quality leadership and render selfless service in an atmosphere of peace, accountability and fiscal discipline.
To achieve his aim, the governor set up a sound and effective economic team headed by the state’s commissioner for finance, Abdussamad Dasuki, which has been working tirelessly for the implementation of the 2020 budget amidst the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.
To make the budget a reality, the state government in its wisdom and in line with the World Bank protocol, reduced the budget by 21 percent which is more than the 15 percent recommendation of the World Bank.
The state’s monthly federal allocation stands at about N4billion, from which N2.5billion is paid to the 30,000-strong workforce in the state as salary, while another N288million goes to pensioners in the state every month.
Information obtained by Sunday Tribune further indicates that another N129 million is spent on allowance of political office holders, while between N80 million and 100 million monthly is for the treatment of water by the state’s water board to ensure adequate supply of pipe-borne water to the citizens. Apart from these, the state government spends the sum of N600million to service the loan obtained by the previous administration.
However, with all this financial commitment, the state is still able to meet up with its monthly financial obligations due to the principle of transparency and probity entrenched by the Governor.
Recently, in acknowledgement of the state’s financial prudence, the office of the Accountant General of Federation (AGF) rated Sokoto as the eighth best state in fiscal sustainability and being prudent in public fund management. It also rated the state as the best among others for meeting monthly recurrent, expenditure and loan repayment in 2019.
The Independent Evaluation and Quality Assurance Agency of the World Bank scored the state 93 percent in financial discipline and due process. As a result, the state has secured the approval of N6billion grant from the World Bank due to its commitment to financial stability, tax reduction and fund due process during the COVID-19 challenges.
Before Tambuwal’s assumption of office, the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR) monthly was N200million, but with the reforms he brought into the system, the IGR has increased to about N600million.
Despite the financial crunch in the country, Sokoto is one of the states that approved the implementation of N30,000 as minimum wage for its workers while workers’ salary and pensions are paid every month.
Apart from investing N1.5billion in Bank of Agriculture and Industry, the state also injected N500million in Taj Bank, with another N2billion invested in Gingiya Microfinance Bank by the Tambuwal administration to be disbursed as interest-free loans to the citizens of the State.
It will be recalled that the state governor recently flagged off a loan scheme through the Gingiya Microfinance Bank where citizens of the state got a sum of N20,000 per person as against the Federal Government’s loan scheme of 10,000 naira per person.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor, Alhaji Yusuf Dingyadi, while speaking to journalists in the state recently, described the governor as one really focusing on how to rebuild Sokoto State economy to be able to stand the test of time.
Dingyadi disclosed that through the efforts of the state commissioner for finance, Honourable Abdussamad Dasuki, the state is well positioned to compete with others in the area of development.
He cited the huge salary structure in the state’s civil service as a great impediment affecting the infrastructural development plan of the administration. “Imagine a situation where the state spends about 2.5 billion naira on salary and wages of civil servants from an allocation of about 4billion naira. “This excludes the salary of political appointees; pensioners also collect about 288m naira monthly, while government spends between 100 and 120 million naira every month on water treatment to ensure potable water is provided for the people of the state”.
The senior special assistant also praises the ingenuity of the state’s commissioner for finance, for finding a solution to some of the leakages in government which he said increased the state’s internal revenue from less than 200 million naira to almost 600 million naira monthly.
He described the recent commissioning of Investment House by the ministry of finance where state-of-the-art ICT equipment was installed to make things easy for the staff of the ministry and enhance their performance to generate and centralize the state’s IGR as one of the numerous achievements of the commissioner.
He, however, appealed to the people of the state to be patient as all the programmes of the administration will benefit the state in the long run.
A financial analyst, Abubakar Sani, who spoke to our correspondent commended the efforts of Honourable Dasuki on the good job he has been doing in the state. He said the era of siphoning or diversion of internal revenue in the state is gone forever as the efforts of the former member of the House of Representatives is paying off in the ministry since he became a commissioner.
He also praised Governor Tambuwal for believing in his ability to turn things around for the better in the state. Sani believes that in due course, Sokoto will be self-reliant and will be able to pay her dues without waiting for federal allocation.
He, however, warned that the state still has a lot of work to do in order to be self-reliant and for that reason, should remain focused in the ministry.