Nasir El-Rufai, the Kaduna State Governor, who described Kaduna as the third largest State in Nigeria in terms of population, has said the administration has in the last three years, attracted more than $500 million worth of foreign direct investments to the state.
He said the state was able to achieve this despite being a largely agricultural settlement and in spite of the security challenges in the state.
He said acts of banditry across the country by “herdsmen” should be treated as a national insurgency situation and confronted like Boko Haram.
The governor who spoke during the ‘Direct Investors’ Summit’ in Abuja on Tuesday, said banditry, cattle rustling and kidnapping by herdsmen mostly of Fulani extraction are some of the challenges his administration was facing in attracting investors to the state.
“Since coming to office, there have seen mostly ethnic and religious clashes in Southern Kaduna, which have now been contained. But, the challenge of banditry in northern Kaduna is of concern now. We have cattle rustlers and kidnappers who are mostly of Fulani extraction engaging in banditry.
“Honestly, if the situation of banditry by people referred to as herdsmen, but are not, because they do not have cattle, ought to be addressed as a national insurgency situation and confronted the way Boko Haram was confronted,” he said.
Mr El-Rufai said in the last few weeks, what has been happening in Birnin-Gwari area of the state, where people go in to burn down an entire community, steal nothing and kill anyone they can find, was definitely an insurgency situation that must be handled as such.
In the last two years , he said, what used to happen was having to deal with bandits that would only steal cattle, food or kidnap and go back into the forest, rather than the banditry and criminality today.
Based on representations by the state government to the federal government on the issue, he said ,the military has since deployed its personnel to the area.
He expressed hope this would help sort out the situation and create the environment for investment.
The governor said realising early that Kaduna State was in trouble, having to compete not only with 35 other states of the federation and FCT, but also with the whole world in attracting investment, his administration took steps to ensure the state became one of the easiest places to do business.
One Stop Shop
Some of the steps taken included the creation of a one-stop shop called Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency (KADIPA), whose main job was to interface between prospective investors and government in handling issues ranging from land applications, permit for construction to tax clearance certificates.
“No investor is expected to do anything other than meet with KADIPA, that will process all the documents required to set up business in the states with all government departments and agencies,” he said.
The governor said KADIPA, headed by his deputy, holds weekly ‘ease of doing business sessions’ with all the agencies, departments and ministries involved in approvals of all documentations required to set up business by investors.
The meetings, he noted, were to enable participants review their processes to remove all unnecessary policies to de-bottleneck the processes and make them much easier for investors.
Consequently, the governor said requests for technical drawings for construction of projects get approved within 21 days by the relevant agency to allow for early mobilisation to site by contrctors.
Also, Mr El-Rufai said, the state’s land registry has been computerised to allow applications for land allocation to get them approved within 30 days and certificate of occupancy issued.
The only exception, he pointed out, was when the projects involved huge land acquisitions for agricultural purposes demanding negotiations with communities.
Other steps included training of a pool of technical and vocational skills to provide readily available labour for different sectors, preparing over 850,000 resumes of university graduates any investor looking for workers can draw from.
Consolidation of tax laws
He said the state’s tax laws have been consolidated into one document to make it easy for investors to know everything required to guide them make tax decisions.
“All taxes are paid to Kaduna Internal Revenue Service only. No payment is made in cash. Every payment is online or through the bank. No one is allowed to collect any government revenue other than Kaduna revenue agency.
“Multiple taxation has been eliminated. Local governments are not allowed to mount road blocks and collect tax. The state collects all the taxes on their behalf and remit to them, making it easy for investors thinking of multiple offices and agencies coming to make one tax demand or another,” he said.
On resolving conflicts, he said his open communication policy encourages citizens and investors to talk directly to the governor using all communication platforms, including social media.
This, he said helps remove a situation where an investor would be so aggrieved to the extent of going to court.
“We believe going to court is totally unnecessary, because all issues could be resolved at the investment promotion agency level or directly with the governor,” he said.