By Muhammad Hamisu Abdullahi
The present administration under the leadership of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in Kano State has initiated new policies aimed at strengthening good governance in the state.
Such initiatives should be pursued to local conclusion. This is the view of participants at a ‘High-Level Sensitisation and Technical Session on the state Debt Management Office Law 2021.’
The participants also discussed extensively on ‘Sustaining Gains from the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS)/ Public Financial Management (PFM) Reform.’ The event was held in the state capital between Tuesday and yesterday.
The participants were of the view that the administration should try its possible best to actualise the total realisation of these policies so that it would continue to carry the credit.
They noted that a lot of policies used to come on board, but they eventually die with the administration that initiated them despite the fact that they are of immense benefit to the entire governance of the state. The participants opined that such policies should remain permanently in view of their relevance in governing the state.
During the occasion, which the state Ministry of Finance collaborated with Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) through its supported programme of Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) under its Accountable, Responsive and Capable Government (ARC) pillar, a lot of discussions were made around the subject matter. In his welcome address, the state Commissioner of Finance, Alhaji Shehu Muhammad Na’Allah Kura, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Lawan Shehu Abdulwahab, said the exercise came at the right time.
He said the debt management office law had since been developed in order to guide the performance of public service in the state.
He said the reforms formed part of the annual SFTAS self-assessment that enabled the state to identify actions to be taken to adequately achieve the Disbursement Linked Indicators (DILs) and advance the course of good governance for improvements in the delivery of public goods and services to the citizenry.
He added that the self-assessment also enabled the state and its stakeholders to determine the status of its performance in the areas of increase in fiscal transparency and accountability, strengthening domestic revenue mobilization, increasing efficiency in public expenditure and strengthening debt sustainability from 2018 to date.
Alhaji Kura said the present administration was committed in the provision of enabling environment for better financial management in the state. He expressed gratitude to partners that is PERL, for their roles in enhancing good financial management practices in the state.
It would be recalled that, being a child of the Ganduje administration, the law, which came into being in December last year, was passed to improve attention to the debt profile of the state.
It is worthy to note that the passage of the law has also met the requirements of the World Bank SFTAS programme as verified in the 2020 annual performance assessment conducted in February this year. While giving the objective of the occasion, a consultant with PERL, Mr. Adam Aikuta, urged that there should be high level commitment on the part of the administration to ensure full operation of the law in the state.
Mr. Aikuta, who noted that in most cases, there is a shortcoming in the way and manner such an office is handled, especially on the appointment of people to handle it, stressed that implementing the law remains the key point in the state.
He drew the attention of top level executives in the state to understand the importance of implementing the law, urging them to do whatever is required towards ensuring the realisation of the law, going further to suggest that the state government should as well understand the importance of the debt management office.
Some goodwill messages were passed at the event. With this, the state Head of Civil Service, Alhaji Usman Bala Muhammad, represented by the Director, Human Resources, Alhaji Abba A. Danguguwa, said his office has keen interest in such initiative, saying that his office would do all possible best to ensure the success of the new debt management office.
Also speaking, PERL Partner State Facilitation Manager, Malam Auwalu Hamza, who said they celebrated their 20 years of support in some states last year, to include Kano and Jigawa among others, added that what the government officials should take away from the partnership should be more important.
He noted that PERL has more documents on all the process of governance than even the state government itself. According to him, such information can be accessed digitally and internationally, noting that as they worked around debt management over the years, they noticed that there are always one or two government officials who retired from the service, thus leaving a vacuum difficult to fill.
While reiterating that PERL has so much information to be accessed for the betterment of governance in the state, Malam Hamza hoped that the debt management law would succeed in the state.
He further urged government officials in the state to take advantage of the opportunity, reminding them that it would be so easy for them to take away the skills, remembering that they once worked with some civil servants who now happened to be consultants in the various fields of human endeavours.
He said: “Our success depends on how much human resources are utilised to make great impact in the various spheres of governance.” “But where the problem lies is lack of utilisation of the opportunity or taking its advantage by government officials,” he lamented.
In his presentation on ‘Implementation of the State Debt Management Office Law (December 2021): Overview of the Requirements for the Effective Implementation of the New State Debt Management Office Law,’ the PERL consultant, Mr. Aikuta, stressed the need for the law to be effective in the state.
He called for a conscious effort on the need to establish the new office as an agency so that debt management could be carried out effectively, urging that appointment into the office with a Director General in place, should be based on merit, saying that somebody with experience or professionalism should be appointed to manage the office as it is charged with numerous responsibilities to include providing report and taking it to the state assembly for its scrutiny, among others.
He also talked on statutory duties of the Debt Management Office; the requirements for the establishment of an effective office and its implementation timeline.
Responding, the Permanent Secretary of the finance ministry, Dr. Abdulwahab, reiterated the commitment of the state government to actualising the debt management office, saying that very soon machinery would be put in motion towards implementing the law effectively in the state.
In his closing remarks, the Permanent Secretary promised to convey the message to the commissioner for onward passage to the state executive council for approval, thanking PERL and the consultant for a job well done.
Day One featured some activities on ‘High-Level Sensitisation on Operationalising the state Debt Management Office Law,’ in the morning session, while in the afternoon session, activities were centered on ‘Developing the Debt Management Office Law Implementation Plan.’
Its objective was to sensitise highlevel officials on the provisions of the state debt management office law and expectations for its effective implementation in the state.
Day Two activities centered on ‘Overview of the state SFTAS Performance from 2018 to date,’ where a structure and workable arrangement for sustaining the SFTAS/PFM reforms among other things were developed.
The day also featured ‘Consolidation of the Implementation Plan for the Debt Management Office Law.’
Day Three featured activities around ‘Identification of Key PFM Reform/Publications to be sustained’ with the session having its objective on developing a strategy that will guide the state in sustaining the gains from PFM/SFTAS reforms from over the years as well as to consolidate the implementation plan for the state debt management law.
Participants at the event included public servants from various ministries, departments and agencies; civil society organizations and the media among others.