Muhammad Sani Abdullahi is a Development Economist and Public Policy Specialist with significant experience in development policy, finance and project implementation in addition to holding several positions of responsibility within Nigeria and abroad.
Academically, the newly appointed Commissioner for Budget and Planning of Kaduna State has an MSc in Development Economics and Policy from the University of Manchester, a second Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and studied Public Finance at the London School of Economics, Sustainable Development with Columbia University in New York and Advanced Project Management at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
Having arrived Kaduna after a position of Policy Adviser at the executive office of the United Nations Secretary General in New York, in which role, he was a member of the Secretary General’s core team designing the next global development agenda seeking to end poverty, transform economies and enhance shared responsibility across the world. This agenda, named the SDGs, will be launched in September this year and will replace the MDGS having significant impact in the architecture of development across the world.
Prior to his position at the United Nations, he was an Economist and Deputy National Program manager in Nigeria’s Presidency where he was tasked with supporting the design and coordination of MDGs projects across Nigeria. He was subsequently appointed economic adviser of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum where He interacted with the country’s 36 elected Governors on issues of development policy. These positions provided him with valuable experience not only across the world but particularly around Nigeria having visited and implemented projects in deep rural areas in at least 25 of Nigeria’s 36 states including several hundred project locations in Kaduna.
We all agree that the situation in Kaduna today is not ideal. By his own personal estimates, if Kaduna State continues with business as usual, the state’s economy would’ve shrunk by a further 30% by 2017 doubling the current level of unemployment and poverty notching up towards 80%. The state would have been unable to fund the operation of any hospitals, schools or even supply water by 2018. This situation would have rapidly degenerated into societal tensions exacerbating the security situation and testing the capacity of already overstrained forces.
For starters, it means Government must design credible, reliable and realistic budgets that bring our promises and priorities to reality. We must go beyond design and ensure these budgets are actually implemented. Over the past 10 years, Kaduna budgets have not been worth the paper they are written on. In the past 3 years, budget implementation has never surpassed 30%. In simple terms, this means critical infrastructure has remained un-built and unmaintained, government services have suffered and the state has failed its most vulnerable people. We can see clear evidence of this even today, and in the words of the Commissioner, “for us to deliver change, this must change”.
The Kaduna state development strategy has become an academic exercise involving only privileged government officials and a few consultants who sit in a closed room to decide the future of the state. This too must change. For development to be truly sustainable, it must be owned by the people. Already, the restoration master plan of this government encapsulates input from across the length and breadth of this state, this is a process that must continue to ensure everyone has a say in determining the greatness they want to see in Kaduna.
According to Muhammad Sani Abdullahi, “We must improve coordination and coherence across ministries, departments and agencies across the state. My short experience with the APC Kaduna transition committee exposed significant waste and duplication with overlapping mandates and weak procurement systems across government agencies. Finally, for us to deliver change, these too must change and a significant amount of technical work must be done in the background to bring this change to reality”.