Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has described the N10 billion used by his predecessors in constructing new Governor’s Office as a misplaced priority. The Governor, who officially began operating from the edifice on Tuesday, said he would have channeled such a huge amount to rehabilitate the collapsed infrastructure in the health, education and other sectors of the state to improve the quality of lives of the people. The office in question was initiated by the administration of Namadi Sambo as governor and completed by the immediate past governor of the state, Alhaji Mukhtar Yero. It was inaugurated by former President, Goodluck Jonathan in February 2015. But speaking while declaring open a summit on the health sector of the state, which was staged at the Conference Hall of the new Governor’s Office, El-Rufai advised participants not to be carried away by the magnificent building because the state is broke. He disclosed that his government has resolved to devote more resources to improving the lives of the people than embarking on projects that have no direct bearing on the welfare of the people. His words, “My colleagues and I recognise health as an important public good, and we have identified it as one of the priority areas of this administration. “Our goal is to deliver for Kaduna State indiegenes better health and longer life expectancy, and in this quest we seek results that will place our state in the top tier for healthcare delivery,” the governor said. El-Rufai, who described the state of health facilities in the state as unacceptable, assured that his administration would do its best to improve the situation.
He lamented that the state has the second highest HIV prevalence in the country, adding that only 36 per cent of mothers have the benefit of being attended to by skilled birth attendants. According to him, “Current coverage of measles vaccine is 56 per cent, reflecting a dismal immunisation coverage for 12-23 month-olds of only 35 per cent. “Latest available date suggests that only a paltry two per cent of under-fives with malaria are treated with ACTs. “In addition, there are about 100,000 avoidable deaths every year which translates to a life lost every three days. “This government refuses to accept fatalism. This government refuses to accept that it is too broke to save lives. “We are committed to devoting more resources to improving the life chances of our people. To free these resources, we are focused on reducing the cost of governance. This is why the Deputy Governor and I have voluntarily decided to donate 50 per cent of our salary and allowances to the basket treasury,” he said. The governor promised that his administration would collaborate with stakeholders in the health sector to achieve its goals in the sector. “We look forward to collaborating with you in achieving our goals in the health sector. But we want to avoid the hitherto uncoordinated, haphazard approach. There is a need to set targets in each of the important indices for measurable outcomes and thereafter create a basket of funds from the different donor agencies to support our government’s health programme,” El-Rufai stated.