Salihu Tanko Yakasai
THE sudden spread of the coronavirus from its initial epicenter of Wuhan, Hubei Province of China, to over 100 countries has had devastating consequences on the affected countries in addition to the huge human cost in the forms of morbidities and mortalities with about seven million people directly affected. The pandemic has brought the global economy to its knees due to restrictions in social and economic activities with the hardest hit being the education, transportation, tourism, health, and international trade sectors. In fact, the devastating negative effects of the pandemic – politically, socially, economically, religiously, educationally and financially – cannot be quantified and it is feared it will take ages before things return to normal.
With the closure of many factories and business concerns following the imposition of lockdowns, millions of people have lost their jobs or have their businesses crippled. In the US alone, over 40 million people have lost their jobs, which is the highest figure in decades. These stringent curtailment measures resulting in severe economic recession require comprehensive strategy by governments and multi-lateral agencies so as to reboot the various sectors that make up the economic matrix so that the affected countries can get themselves out of the woods after the removal of the lockdown and other restrictions, though the recovery cannot be immediate in view of the enormity of the economic stagnation.
Emerging economies’ woes like Nigeria’s was further compounded by the drastic drop in crude oil prices from as high as $70 per barrel pre-Covid-19 last year to as low as below $20 per barrel early this year. While the US resorted to taking a whopping loan of $3 trillion, Nigeria had to source for an external loan of $5.5 billion to shore up this year’s budget. Upon realizing that humanity now has to live with the Covid-19 virus, countries must come up with measures to curtail its debilitating effects, map out strategies to resuscitate the ailing national economies and possibly find effective vaccine and cure against the novel virus.
Kano State has also received its bitter share of the pandemic with social and commercial activities severely restricted as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Apart from substantial drop in the monthly federal allocation to the three tiers of government, Kano State also has to grapple with dwindling internally generated revenue following the imposition of the lockdown on the state and the state government has to settle huge monthly wage bill of about N10 billion.
That is why the present administration of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has been mapping out strategies to revamp the state’s economy and normalize social life in the commercial nerve centre with its large population harbouring numerous expectations on the government to turn things around. Indeed we have to find a way, to live with Covid-19 for a while.
Kano State has been coming up with proactive measures to manage the crisis for which the government deserves commendation. Likewise, many individuals and corporate bodies must share in this commendation for coming to the aid of the state at this trying period of its history especially two of its illustrious sons and businessmen, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Alhaji Abdussamad Isyaku Rabi’u, for donating equipment worth billions of Naira in addition to other numerous interventions to the state government toward curtailing the spread of coronavirus.
As part of the government’s efforts to resuscitate the economy of the state post- Covid-19, Gov. Ganduje has developed close cooperation and collaboration with industrialists toward complementing these efforts. For example, the governor recently met with industrialists based in the state to cement this cooperation for a better synergy between the private and public sectors toward achieving this noble objective. Recently, the governor inspected a gas-powered 20 megawatts power plant being constructed by Mamuda Industries at Challawa industrial estate, which is the first private gas plant in the whole of Northern Nigeria. Upon completion, this plant will provide electricity to many industries in the area.
The chief concern of the governor has been on how to reopen industries and other businesses after the total lifting of the lockdown which can only be realized through partnership and good working relationship between the state government and industrialists and business proprietors. It is gratifying to note that this has been yielding fruitful result as exemplified by the expected boosting of the economy of the state.
The governor has also met with the leadership of the major markets in the state aimed at ensuring the strict observation of health protocols after the reopening of the markets on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays for commercial activities to take place in anticipation of the lifting of the lockdown. On its part, the state Ministry of Environment had fumigated all major markets, places of worship and other public places as part of preventive measures against the spread of coronavirus in the state.
Similarly, the state government has met with the Kano State branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Kano State Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (KACCIMA) and other critical stakeholders in continuation of the search for a viable strategy toward revamping business and commercial activities in the state. During the meetings, the governor assured the stakeholders of his administration’s commitment toward ensuring the full pick-up of business and commercial activities after the total lifting of the lockdown while at the same time ensuring the safety and well-being of the people of the state.
In this fiscal year, Kano State government’s main focus has been in the completion of all ongoing projects and programmes for the future prosperity of the state. It has been on record that the Ganduje administration is among the few in the country that has completed multi-billion Naira inherited projects in view of their direct positive impact on the people and initiated and completed new ones in the space of four years. The government has vowed to continue with this laudable policy during its second term. This is a rarity in a society where serious issues that have direct bearing on the lives of the people are either politicized or treated with kid gloves.
As herculean as revamping Kano State economy seems to be, the Ganduje administration remains undaunted and committed in facing the challenge in close collaboration with the private sector and other critical stakeholders. Everywhere, private public partnership arrangement is the norm aimed at moving the society forward and this close collaboration and cooperation between the government and the private sector is what the Ganduje administration is set on pursuing to take the state to the next level especially during the post-Covid-19 pandemic which has brought large-scale devastation to all and sundry. Gov. Ganduje’s work ethics has always been Aiki! Aiki! Aiki! 24/7.
Yakasai is Special Adviser on Media to the Governor of Kano State.