Uba Sani: The Governor with a human face
By NABILAH HASSAN
People of Kaduna State, on 21st August 2023, went wild with celebration, upon receiving news that His Excellency, Senator Uba Sani, has slashed school fees of the state owned tertiary institutions. The downward review ranges from 30% to 50% depending on the institution. This couldn’t have come at a better time, as most of the country’s citizens are grappling with the prevailing economic challenges, owing to the removal of petroleum subsidy. After the announcement, both the traditional and new media were agog with praises and commendations and the consensus of Kaduna people is that they have seen the real face of their Governor. And what they saw is a Chief Security Officer with a human face and a milk kindness.
Governor Uba Sani has always maintained that his administration is keen on Human Capital Development, believing that it is the key to societal growth and development. According to him, only a well educated and healthy citizenry would have the skills to exercise initiative and the vigour for the hard work, that will lead to a strong society and a prosperous economy. This explains his administration’s priority to Access to Education for Children and Youths of Kaduna State.
The Governor’s decision to slash the school fees is not surprising, given his antecedents and what he is passionate about. For example, he was all over the news for calling the National Cash Transfer Scheme a scam. Of course, that was the angle that the media used as their headlines to generate traffic. In actual fact, he was advocating for transparency and accountability of the Cash Transfer Scheme but this point was muted in the interview. As the immediate past Chairman, Committee on Banking, Insurance & other Financial Institutions of the 9th Senate, Governor Uba Sani spoke from an informed perspective in the interview. According to him, “about 70% of the rural population in the North-West are completely financially excluded. So, if you want to transfer money to 8 million Nigerians for instance, and you are telling me that you want the vulnerable people to benefit from the transfers, I will disagree with you completely”.
In addition, the Governor argued that the existing Social Register was generated from as far back as 2019 and a lot has happened since then that could change a person’s status. “You will agree with me that in the last three years, we have faced some critical crisis of Covid-19 Pandemic and many other social crises that happened in our country. A lot of people lost their business completely and I believe these are the kinds of people that need to be captured”, he said. For example, he cited people of certain areas who were not captured in the compilation of the Social Register due to insecurity. “There are some Local Governments in my State that were not captured due the problem of insecurity at that critical time. I am talking about Local Governments like Birnin-Gwari, Giwa and Zangon-kataf in Southern Kaduna, and Local Government in parts of Central Kaduna were missing largely because of the issue of insecurity”.
After the interview, the Governor put his words to action, by signing the Financial Inclusion Order 2023, which is meant to address the exclusion of about 2.1 million poor, underserved and vulnerable citizens in the rural areas from financial services and Social Intervention Programmes. He also constituted a committee to fashion out strategies to ensure the inclusion of the vulnerable, as well as equipping them with the enabling financial skills to make sound financial and investment decisions. “One million, unbanked citizens are targeted to be included into the financial services sector in the next one year”, he said.
Governor Uba Sani has also taken concrete steps to tackle the twin challenges of insecurity and unemployment, by announcing his administration’s plans to recruit 7,000 youths as Vigilante Services. This is like killing two birds with one stone, by fighting insecurity and also providing employment. Not that alone, the Governor has set up a committee that will ameliorate the sufferings of the vulnerable, by providing palliatives to the needy. This committee comprises members of the Labour Unions, TUC, NGOs, Market Women Groups and groups representing people with disability. The committee’s mandate is to design a roadmap of providing succor to 1.2 million poor and underserved people, through distribution of foodstuffs, from the federal government’s monetary grant.
So far, it is now evident, not just to the people of Kaduna State, but Nigerians at large, that Governor Uba Sani is a humanitarian and a developmentalist. And if one is to judge by the first few months of his administration, one can anticipate a general improvement in the quality of citizens’ lives, as he promised in his SUSTAIN Manifesto.