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Nasiru el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, says his administration has stopped sponsorship of pilgrimages while slashing overhead costs by 60 per cent as part of measures to rescue the state from its precarious financial situation.
In a broadcast to the people of the state, el-Rufai said Kaduna was broke and had a debt burden of more than N74.297 billion, comprising N28.840 billion domestic and N45.44 billion foreign debts.
He said that the administration had also taken radical steps towards reducing costs of governance, shoring up its internal revenue and blocking all revenue leakages.
“It was obvious that running Kaduna the old way is a recipe for disaster. One of the steps we took was to cut overheads spending by 60 per cent. I therefore directed the state accountant general to release only 40 per cent of budgeted overheads as we strive to improve liquidity and prioritise spending for public goods,” he said.
“However, our efforts in this regard are not on the expenditure side alone. As we cut costs, plug leakages and reduce wastes, we need to grow our revenues and have more realistic budgeting in the state. We are therefore focusing on strategies to rapidly increase our internally generated revenue.”
He said that the reduction of ministries from 19 to 13 and the 50 per cent salary cut for himself and the deputy governor were also targeted at reducing the cost of governance. He emphasised that the administration will no longer spend money on gifts, feeding and pilgrimages.
“In 2014, over 2,000 pilgrims were sponsored to the Hajj by the Kaduna state government and the 23 local government areas. Out of the 810 Christian pilgrims, 800 were sponsored by the same governments. “All these cost the governments nearly N1.5 billion in just one year. Our state simply cannot afford this expense any longer.”