“Our government puts people first, supports women” -- Remarks by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, at the disbursement of N200m seed capital of the Kaduna State Women Empowerment Fund, held at the Umaru Yar’Adua Hall, Kaduna, on Thursday, 15th November 2018.
1. It is my pleasure to join you today as the Kaduna State Government further demonstrates its commitment to the empowerment of women.
2. Since 29 May 2015, my colleagues and I have done our utmost to run an equal opportunity government. We have anchored our governance agenda on putting people first, by making lives better and by reordering the priorities of government to privilege human capital development.
3. Crucial to this human capital development programme is our concentration on Education and Health. We are giving the children of ordinary people access to decent education, providing them a platform for social mobility. On behalf of the future of our children, we have taken great risks and made defining decisions. We have spent money to fix schools, providing furniture, better classrooms, water and sanitation. We are rebuilding schools where necessary. It has been a costly exercise, driven with vigour since we declared a state of emergency in the Education sector in 2015.
4. We have invested in teacher training, and we have successfully replaced those teachers that could not meet the standards for teaching our children.
5. Basic Education is free in Kaduna State public schools. For girls, it is free all through senior secondary. By abolishing hidden fees and levies, we save parents in Kaduna State N3bn every year. We have provided uniforms and raised the quality of meals in boarding secondary schools. In selected secondary schools, we are running a pilot programme that involves giving students computer tablets instead of printed textbooks. We will compare the performance of the 15,000 students, mostly girls, using the tablets with those taught with more traditional methods going forward.
6. In Health, we have taken decisive action to improve health outcomes for our people. We are reducing infant and maternal mortality, increasing life chances for mothers and their babies. This progress has been anchored on our project to renovate and equip 255 PHCs, to make them better able to offer antenatal care, and offer safer deliveries. Health care for under-5 infants and pregnant women is free in our hospitals.
7. Since 2017, we have been providing cash cover for treatment of senior citizens for diabetes and hypertension in our public hospitals.
8. For our youths, programmes like KADSTEP, KADAT and KADEEEA offer alternative routes to skill acquisition and financial support for the enterprising.
9. This is apart from our determined efforts to attract investments, create direct and indirect jobs and grow the economy of our state. Our efforts in the Economic Front were rightly recognised in the World Bank 2018 report on Subnational Ease of Doing Business which ranked Kaduna State as the most improved state in the Ease of Doing Business.
10. The point of the foregoing assertions, ladies and gentlemen, is to demonstrate that the Kaduna State Government is not leaving anyone behind. Our policy of putting people first is comprehensive and all-embracing. This explains why we are gathered here today.
11. Across our diverse society, women are rightly venerated but are not as involved, included and empowered as they ought to be. They carry, birth and nurture us all; they uphold the social order, they are the bedrock of families; yet they also work as the providers of often unpaid and under-appreciated labour.
12. Government and society both have a duty to empower our women, to remove the barriers to their inclusive participation and to enable our society to benefit from the talents and energies of half of the population. Excluding women from the paid workforce, from entrepreneurial opportunities and political participation amounts to a society wilfully short-changing itself.
13. Inclusive development obliges us to listen to women, to work with women, to support women, but also to insist on including them at the table, contributing to the evolution and development of public policy and participating in their implementation. We all have a duty to give women opportunities, and also provide meaningful access to politics.
14. That is what we are doing in Kaduna State. We have 14 commissioners. Five of them are women. Even those governments that used to have much larger cabinets did not have five female commissioners. Our Commissioner of Works is a woman. The Ministries of Justice, Women Affairs & Social Development, Environment and Commerce are also headed by women. The two Heads of Service that have so far worked with us are women. The two Attorneys-General we have had are women. The very first Chief of Staff appointed in this government is a woman!
15. Many of our state government agencies are also led by women. Let me give a few examples: KADIPA, State Primary Health Care Development Agency; the Drugs Supply Agency, KASUPDA and KADSTRA.
16. Recently we named a woman, a most qualified person as our running mate for the 2019 general election. In Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, I have no doubt that we have someone who personifies and can further drive our equal opportunity agenda.
17. This government supports women! It is implementing several initiatives to broaden the participation of women. Each ministry has a desk officer on the ReWork Programme, charged to ensure that programmes and policies attain results for girls and women. We are delighted by the strong representation of young women in programmes like the Kaduna Start-up Entrepreneurship Programme (KADSTEP), that teaches business skills and provides funding for viable business plans.
18. Our desire to strengthen our women convinced the Kaduna State Executive Council to approve a N200m fund for the Kaduna State Women Empowerment Programme (KADSWEP). This fund is meant to support women at the grassroots in their entrepreneurial activities which so often constitute the only reliable income for many families.
19. I am delighted to flag-off the disbursement of this fund to our women. It is our hope that it will strengthen and empower our women. We hope that with the support of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, we will budget N400m in 2019, N800m in 2020 and N1bn annually from 2021 to sustain the empowerment of women entrepreneurs and persons with disabilities in Kaduna State.
Thank you for listening.
God bless our mothers, wives and daughters here present!
God bless Kaduna State!!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Governor of Kaduna State
15th November 2018