WOOING INVESTORS: THE GANDUJE WAY

Salihu Tanko Yakasai

Since his assumption of the mantle of governorship of the most populous State in the Federation, His Excellency, the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR has been preoccupied with the herculean task of evolving strong and enduring institutions towards making the State viable, sustainable and self-reliant. According to him, strong and enduring institutions are more important than a strong leadership because the latter is ephemeral and transient and when a strong leader is no more in the saddle of leadership everything crumbles as the world has witnessed many a time.

That is why since 29th May, 2015 when His Excellency was sworn-in as the Governor of Kano State, his administration has been initiating people-centered policies, implementing programmes and undertaking reforms all in an effort to bring about rapid and sustainable progress in the State through capital and human development for strong and enduring institutions to evolve and take firm roots.

One of these laudable policies is aimed at making Kano State attractive to both local and foreign investors because the State has mineral/natural resources, vast fertile land and a huge population. In fact, the State Government has evolved an investor-friendly policy framework as land is given free of all encumbrances to serious investors in addition to tax holiday and export production zone to serve as other incentives. What the State lacks is enough capital to transform these huge natural and human resources to economic value for the overall development of the State.

As taking loans is not a viable option, the Ganduje administration has switched its attention towards wooing investment from within and outside the country. Foreign direct investment is very important because it pools resources for setting up various businesses in the host country or State thereby creating jobs, generating revenue and transferring managerial skills/technology. But before a country or State attracts investment, there should be an enabling environment for investors to commit their valuable resources to any business undertaking. This is because foreign direct investment can lead to economic development, and economic growth serves as one of the magnets to foreign investors.

These investment determinants include availability of good infrastructures like electricity, roads, etc, absence of risks like economic and political instability, openness of the host’s economy, institutional environment like absence of bribery and corruption, ease of doing business, fiscal, financial, tax and land incentives, a vibrant judiciary to protect private property and good return on investment, among other considerations.

Having realized this, the present administration has undertaken the task of creating the enabling environment for capital inflows into the State like the establishment of the Kano State Investment Promotion Agency (KANINVEST) under the chairmanship of a renowned industrialist, Alhaji Isyaku Umar Tofa, execution of infrastructural projects, land reforms through the creation of the Kano State Bureau of Land Management to check bottlenecks in land administration, strengthening of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, reforming the tax system via the Kano State Internal Revenue Service to replace the defunct Kano State Board of Internal Revenue and strengthening the Kano State Due Process Bureau to ensure transparency and accountability in the award of contracts, among other undertakings.

All these, have manifested into the upward review of Nigeria’s global ranking in the ease of doing business index as released by the World Bank in its 2018 report which indicated that Nigeria had moved up 24 points from 169th position on the 2017 ranking to 145 in this year’s ranking. President Muhammadu Buhari specifically thanked Kano and Lagos for this success.

The administration has also done a lot to ensure a peaceful society through active collaboration with the various security agencies operating in the State. With this unceasing logistical, financial and material assistance to the security agencies, the State has been ridden of the nefarious activities of kidnappers, armed robbers and cattle rustlers especially in the Falgore forest. Also, in the last two years, the State has enjoyed peaceful and harmonious co-existence among the diverse people devoid of any religious cum-communal crises unlike in many other States in the federation.

To be candid, these efforts on the part of the government has started paying up judging by the number of numerous willing and serious investors from within and outside the country that have indicated interest to invest their much-needed capital by setting up service and manufacturing industries in the State.

As at July, 2017, over 30 local and foreign investors from China, Spain, Canada, Italy, USA, Brazil, The Netherlands, India, England and Dubai have expressed serious readiness to set up various businesses in the State such as solar-power plants, tricycle assembly plants, leather works, city bus mass transit, organic fish fertilizer plant, 5-star hotel, modern waste processing plant, modular hospital, housing estate, modern abattoir, textile factory, private university, modern markets and above all the ambitious $1.8 billion electric metro light rail for which the provisional contract has been awarded to EEC-China Incorporated while awaiting the approval of the Federal Government for the project to take off in earnest.

In addition, some reputable local corporate bodies that have demonstrated interest to invest in Kano State include Dangote Group by undertaking a 100 megawatt solar power project worth $100-$120 million within 18 months, Brains and Hammers that will invest N168 billion in the construction of ultra-modern Kano Economic City, which work has already commenced & President Buhari is expected to lay the foundation when he visits Kano, All In One Global Concept Ltd that will invest N9 billion in the provision of a commercial parking area at Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi Market, Sabon Gari and MRB Nigeria Ltd that will commit N1 billion to the construction of 1,000-unit housing estate, among a host of others.

Already, a number of memoranda had been signed between the State Government and these investors specifying the commitments of each of the two parties for the successful take-off of these ventures for their mutual benefits. In fact, upon the fruition of these investments running into billions of US dollars, the socio-economic landscape of Kano State would be monumentally transformed thanks to the foresight and initiatives of His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR.

His Excellency has also undertaken foreign trips to various countries in an effort to woo investors to the State. For example, between 19th and 26th September, 2017, the amiable and far-sighted governor led a high-powered 12-man delegation to the Peoples Republic of China to attend the 2017 Hunan-Africa Local Industrial Cooperation Conference held in Changsha on the invitation of the Vice Governor of Hunan Province, China during his earlier visit to Nigeria last April. During the China trip, the State delegation met with potential investors that indicated willingness to invest in the State and various memoranda were signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji on behalf of Kano State Government and the investing entities. For instance, the Lee Group agreed to invest in rice and sugarcane production, the Ruyi Textile Group, one of the biggest textile factories in the world, will establish a $600 million textile industrial park in the State while the INSPUR signed a memorandum of Understanding with the State Government on cooperation in the development of intelligent grain cloud/taxation cloud/security cloud/cloud data centre/digital cloud and advanced IT personnel training in the State. Kano State has also entered into a bilateral agreement between the State and Shandong Province in China during the trip.

Also, INSPUR will continue talks with Kano State University of Science and Technology (KUST), Wudil in the area of research, training and procurement of super computers and software to enhance the safe city security initiative.

Additionally, the Governor was also at the headquarters of Islamic Development Bank in Jiddah where he held a meeting with the Vice President of the Bank Mr Mansur Mukhtar and his management team over a $200 Million for Agricultural and Water Resources Development Projects in the state, which Kano is expected to begin receiving the funds from January 2018.

Other foreign fruitful and highly-rewarding foreign trips undertaken by the State delegation led by His Excellency in the last two years were to The Netherlands, USA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to mention a few due to space constraints all in an effort to source for capital for the State.

Conclusively, as there is direct linkage between investment (whether from local or foreign sources) and economic growth, the Ganduje administration has been making consistent and deliberate efforts to make Kano State a safe haven for investors through various policies and programmes in order to develop the full potentials of the most populous State in the federation. Economic growth and development are solidly hinged on the utilization of land, labour and capital and since Kano State lacks especially the much-needed capital to spur economic activities, it has to look inward and outward for investment and doing so requires taking some concrete and specific measures to attract and retain both local and foreign investment. Many infrastructures have been undertaken with some completed and ready for commissioning very soon while others are on-going like the Challawa-Gorge and Tiga independent power projects as well as embarking on institutional and governance reforms to make the State magnetic to investors for job creation, revenue generation and development of the local industrial base through skills/technology transfer.

 

Salihu Tanko Yakasai is the Director General, Media and Communications to the Governor of Kano.

ROBERT MUGABE TRAVAILS AND THE LESSONS TO DRAW

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

When one is favoured with longevity, says my grandfather, he must in the same vein contend with one out of these two inherent probables. If the individual is not met with a flood of blessings, chances are that such a fellow may be visited with torrents of afflictions during this extra or ‘injury time’. But unfortunately, I did not for a long time deemed it necessary to unravel what these words of wisdom connotes until recently when Robert Mugabe’s saga burst forth.

A few months back, after reading a piece authored by Mbizo Chirasa, a Poet and very prominent voice in Zimbabwe, of which the content will form the plot of this discourse, I concluded within myself that my dear Robert Mugabe’s days as president of Zimbabwe are numbered. But in the same vein, I neither envisaged it coming this soon nor contemplated it occur via undemocratic means.

Mbizo Chirasa in that piece opined that ‘the revolutionary CADRES believes that change in Zimbabwe must begin by changing the leadership matrix in the ruling party, including laying off their political lotterist Robert Mugabe while adding that c CdeChe and his cabal are tired of the Mugabe hegemony.

Mugabe, in that article, was roundly blamed for the infuriating scorn, the liberation veterans received from the verbal cyclone Grace Mugabe, whose verbal acid burns the fontanels of the eldest liberation strongmen, most of whom are victimized daily in the corridors of power. While concluding that Grace Mugabe has become Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe is now Grace Mugabe. She has tasted more sweetness than bitterness in the power trenches since her meteoric rise to the politburo – the highest decision making Body in the ZANU-PF power structures. Case closed.

Very instructively, the above synoptic gospel marked the beginning of the end of the great Mugabe as the Zimbabwean president. While Mugabe travails have become a pulpit, it is now left for all to listen to what he sermonize. Conversely, Robert himself has learned no lesson from his current situation as he is still brandishing hope against all known logic
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Adding context to this discourse, I will state categorically that I am not in support of his removal through an undemocratic means and will never support any group that gets to power using non-legitimate and undemocratic means.

With the above in mind, it is also pertinent that I situate firmly that the stage for this debacle was set by President Mugabe’s total consecration of himself, his government, and the soul of Zimbabwe to the ‘immaculate’’ hands of Grace Mugabe, his wife.

But In doing that, he failed as a student of history to harness the social responsibility postulations which strictly advised that every freedom must go with a responsibility. This political miscalculation of Mugabe as a person that loves education so much should be enough reason for him to seek further tutelage on managing women that is if he survives this onslaught. And provides a big lesson for all.

This occurred because President Mugabe and his wife Grace were deceived by a barefaced illusion that made them feel more nationalistic than patriotic. A compelling evidence for this claim is that at a point, they viewed Zimbabwe as their personal property thereby affirming indispensability and superiority over other Zimbabweans.

That to my mind was the missing link that landed Mugabe in this sorry state. A situation that should sound a note of warning to our present crop of leaders. The recent outburst by a serving senator of the federal republic that he will spend the rest of his life in the Senate, is a symptom of ‘Mugagbenism’ and need to be reminded that political positions are not ‘hereditary principalities’.

Another factor that the ‘lion’ of Zimbabwe failed to remember as a president is that; knowing when, and when not to, is the victory. Yes, I appreciate his love of education cum knowledge. But in all fairness, I must say that the volume of knowledge acquired wasn’t best applied. If not, he ought to have departed the political stage when the ovation was loudest without waiting for the military to come pushing.

In the same vein, I am well aware that Baba Mugabe as a scholar must have come across the aphorism which says that ‘for one to know about the road ahead, he must ask those coming back’. But on this ideology, Mugabe, again, failed as he deliberately decided not to ask or learn from the likes of Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo.

He did not also remember at any point to seek leadership tutelage from Mobutu Seseseko of Zaire and other African presidents via their biographies. Instead, he banked on his six Degree certificates and on and the ‘grace’ of Grace Mugabe. He brazenly allowed power to move from the corridor to the bedroom.

As a typical African, He overlooked the slim line that separates family -hood from leadership. Mugabe to my mind was a victim of ‘defocused leadership vision and his current predicament, we should draw a lesson from.

Still on the negative side, when the economy of Zimbabwe is peeped into, one will discover without labour that Robert was more of a burden than an asset. To buttress this point, it is on record that Mugabe led administration made virtually all Zimbabweans millionaires but economically powerless occasioned by uncontrollably galloping inflation. Yet, he did not border to carry out self-introspection that will help unravel the damage/disservice he was doing to both the economy and the people.

Comparatively, while Mugabe is bemoaning his current plight, the event though still unfolding has presented a very good learning platform for the current leaders in Africa as well as the leadership novitiates. But failure to draw from a lesson from his travails will definitely lead to the vicious circle of leadership failures and in turn increase the number of causalities.

To the Military, I hope and pray that their role will remain strictly interventionist function.

WHAT THE NATIONAL STADIUM TOLD ME

Jerome-Mario Utomi

That was a few days ago, I was invited to a religious programme at the National Stadium. When queried about the appropriateness of using a sporting facility for a religious function, my friend promptly told me that considering the number of worshipers expected, the national stadium remains the most suitable for the exercise. With this explanation given, I have no reason to probe further

So, capped with my prayer intentions, I arrived the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos that faithful morning for this all-important religious exercise. I had no time looking at the environment as I was slightly running late for the programme. So I made straight to the entrance gate leading to the main bowl. At this point, I had no premonition that something was amiss apart from observing the dusty and abandoned looking gate that heralded us into the main bowl of the ‘national monument.’

Setting my eyes at the main bowl pitch, my inner self-left my body, my fire-fire prayer and mood all turned contemplative at the sight of the unkempt place. From there, my confines descended into a feeling of desolation, and I became speechless for a moment and my inner self without my consent muted, what a nation.

As if that was the comment the stadium was waiting for, ‘he’ immediately responded to my inner self, saying; this is what I have been going through. Going further, the stadium narrated to me his sorry story of abandonment by his successive parents and guardians.  How he has suddenly become cheerless, how the paint on his body has faded out, how the pitch has become grassless or patches, dotted with potholes and garnished with undulations.

The stadium further painted a picture of how the rodents and reptiles are now the caretakers as well as the tenants of this one-time magnificent edifice. He further expressed his profound gratitude to the religious groups that now periodically comes to know how he is faring as part of their corporal work of mercy.

There he was, silently bemoaning his fate lamented that he would never have believed that his parents would abandon him to this level of misery and decay. He, however, explained that he is not holding it against anybody while adding that I should convey his best wishes to his brothers and sisters whom he listed as – Hospitals, Economy, Schools, Industries and Infrastructures.

That was when I realized the family he comes from. But as a Christian, I started by encouraging him to ‘weep not child’ for he is not worse-off when compared with his brothers and sisters. I explained to him that his eldest brother, Hospital by name is actually in the hospital as we speak.

I informed him that his elder sister called Education has been in the coma for years. I further pointed out to him that the younger brother called industry, is in comatose while his immediate younger brother, Electricity was recently discharged from the accident and the emergency Ward of one of our nation’s teaching hospitals and I now see him indulge in walk therapy on my street once in two days while his twin brother Infrastructure, was declared missing over 16 years ago.

Again, I did point out to him that their mother is now pushing for divorce, separation or restructuring of the family setting. A development occasioned by your father’s high propensity to marginalize. But the most worrying part of this narrative ,I explained is that their ‘last born, Naijade alias Crude Oil, whom God blessed with multiple talents thereby making him the breadwinner of the family is threatening to possess his possessions and possibly pull down the house on all.

He is accusing your father of not doing anything to better their living condition despite all the ‘’chop money’’ he has been contributing. After listening to my litany of challenges facing his family, he queried but rhetorically, ‘Where do I go from here?

Leaving the environment called the national stadium, just by the exit gate. I was again confronted by the statue of the late Sam Okwaraji screaming, Sir, come and listen to his basket full of stories. I immediately replied, no, I have heard enough. He fired back, ok I can summarize it using one sentence. With that addition, I pleaded, please make it snappy. And in a very hush voice but succulently said, please tell Daddy that the onetime ‘Good Boy’ is still waiting.

At the end, I had all my personal petitions granted but still went home sad. Why? Simply because the condition I saw our national monument portrays us as a nation lacking in disciplined actions and culture.

Significantly also, my visit to the stadium on that day has provided an answer to my age long believe that our leaders do not have the intention of developing sports at heart. Again, from the sorry state of our sporting facilities, it will take our leaders the strength of a bulldozer to convince our youths that they have their interest at heart.

I say this ‘with malice to none but with charity to all’. Looking at the national stadium as I saw it, one may be forced to ask if we have ever had a ministry of youths and sports development in this country.

The stadium remains a metaphor for a nation that is lacking in maintenance culture and visible level of neglects which cuts across the board; education, health, infrastructures and so on.

In all, this national monument in desolation speaks volume of what is going on in the other sectors even as we have forgotten completely that we cannot achieve the hypermodern transformation currently preached the world over with this form of laid-back leadership style.

For us as a nation to achieve greatness, we must be holistic in approach. We must recognize that ‘the end is never cut off from means because the means represent the ideals in the making and the end of the process.

 From the foregoing, what we urgently need to begin with is the act of restructuring, not our resources but that of our minds and the right time to start this shift in paradigm is now. Otherwise, we shall continue as a people to achieve the same result and chances are that we may bequeath this inactivity to our youths.

Jerome-Mario, wrote via;jeromutomi@yahoo.com