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Borno: Marching forward despite economic challenges
The Borno State government has continued to trudge on despite the insecurity problem inflicted on the state by terrorists. James Bwala writes on the strategies by Governor Kashim Shettima to keep afloat.
THE issue of the national minimum wage has no doubt been a huge burden to most state governments in Nigeria. Only a few among then do not finding it hard to pay the salaries and wages of workers, with the delay in the release of statutory allocations by the Federal Government at the Federal level. Incidentally, Borno State falls into the category of the lucky ones.
Workers in the state who spoke with Gamji on the issue testified to the ability of the government to fulfil its promise of paying promptly in the face of other challenges confronting it. Mallam Shettima Mustapha, for instance, disclosed that workers’ monthly emolument had never been paid later than the 25th of every month since the beginning of the present administration headed by Kashim Shettima. According to him, the Ministry of Finance ensured this despite the delay in the release of the federal allocation. He anchored the feat on the strategies and plans put in place by the Finance Ministry as part of cementing the relationship between the workers and the state government.
He added: “We, workers in Borno, have to give kudos to Kashim Shettima on his positive approach to workers and government business. It is not only about salary; I can say that the usual bottleneck that characterised the process of payment to civil servants is no longer there. Kashim did not come from a civil service background, yet he seems to have learnt the rudiments of attending to the needs of civil servants without entertaining any form of deceit.”
According to the civil servant, workers in Borno have started rejoicing because of the promise by the state government to build 100,000 units of houses for the poor before it retires in 2015. He also alluded to the plans drawn by the government for youth empowerment, construction of more schools, health centers and clinics as well as building homes for the needy in the state. In that regard, the state governor had reiterated that the idea of giving the greatest good to the greatest number in his state holds paramount in his agenda, rather than sharing money to a horde of hangers on who usually throng the Government House on a daily basis for patronage.
The people of Borno, in essence, are taking delight in the plan by the government to close what it described as a gap of 50 years in terms of development between the northern and southern parts of the country. In his belief that governments in the North should take steps towards closing the gap as fast as possible, Shettima has embarked on an enlightenment campaign to mobilise the people of the state for taking up the challenge.
The governor has been making efforts towards assuaging the suffering inflicted on the people of Borno by the spate of crises constituted by acts of terrorism in the state.
Assessing the extent of damage done by the crisis to socio-economic life of Borno, Shettima had declared recently, “A branch of my former bank, Zenith that was processing at times N1 billion in a day is now processing less than N100 million, with most people eating up the capital.” According to him, “We are partnering with the Bank of Industry to help our people in their businesses. We are right now in the process of setting up a microfinance bank and I have just appointed an adviser on special projects whose responsibility is to midwife the take-off of that bank, and we are going to give the sum of N2 billion, while we hope to also get N2 billion from the bank.”
The Borno state Commissioner for Finance, Honourable Yunus Baba Mairami, told Gamji during an interview that the payment of monthly salaries always topped the priorities of the state government notwithstanding the delay in the release of state allocation.Share