An Appraisal Of Engr A.A Sule’s Inaugural Address

BY AZIGE LOUIS MACHUE

In a beautifully sewed agbada, Engr. A. A. Sule stood tall with a straight and calm face while addressing his new constituents on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in the magnificent Lafia Square after taking his oath of office and making a solemn pledge to uphold the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and administer Nasarawa State justly and fairly.
The hopes are high and expectations from him are without a limitation. It is common knowledge that Engr. A. A. Sule is well read, disciplined and unique in his own right. The general atmosphere is fair to him and his party, while the people watch to see the difference he will make in the next four years of his administration.
To have a successful and impacting administration, Engr. A. A. Sule must remind himself of every pledge he made to the thousands of people who abandoned their private engagements to listen to him. He must read his address regularly by himself and to himself, and recruit men and women who share the same vision with him to help walk the talk. More so, critics and the general public have a good opportunity to hold the government to account by referring it to its promises in the address.
Security of lives and property is very important in the pursuit of development in every society and rightly too, Engr. Sule made a commitment in securing the state in his address. However, even though he was specific in tackling general insecurity, crop farmers/pastoralists conflict and kidnapping which has been on the increase in the state were not mentioned in his speech with specific strategy of combing them or any strong worded warnings to perpetrators of those crimes.
To promote unity and peaceful coexistence in the state, Engr. Sule promised to constitute a “State Development Council” to advise his government on appropriate steps to be taken in promoting unity. This will definitely be a laudable initiative. However, to make a difference, he must keep to his word of appointing individuals of impeccable character into the Council. Such a Council whose members may not necessarily be on government payroll and are not his subordinates stand a great chance to make huge impacts by advising him frankly and justly too, on how best to carry every group along and manage the state’s fault lines for a better Nasarawa State. He must resist the temptation of appointing people into the Council merely to satisfy equal representation or providing some individuals the opportunity to be included in government.
There is no doubt that with his background and experience, Engr. Sule knows exactly what needs to be done in the educational sector to build a self-sustaining population that can contribute to the overall development of the state. However, aside rolling out policies that will provide “qualitative education especially in regards to technical, vocational and ICT learning,” he must ensure that the manager of the educational sector is committed to the improvement of services in the sector. He must ensure that no matter how little public investment in the educational sector is students and pupils derive maximum benefit. This can be achieved when teachers in public schools are motivated and strictly supervised to deliver on their mandate.
Engr. Sule also promised to revamp the state’s civil service by ensuring the recruitment of only qualified members of the public into the service. He must remain true to this pledge and refuse to return to old and faulty mode of recruitment into the state’s civil service where people are engaged without following the appropriate steps and especially those that are not qualified for such jobs. Until this is done, the service will remain inefficient and unproductive with a larger population of the state bearing the brunt.
In his plan to industrialize the state, Engr. Sule expectedly and emphatically promised to “encourage” small, medium and large scale industries and was mute about establishing or funding already existing public enterprises. By experience, it is best to establish a conducive environment through the provision of access roads, water, energy, security and other infrastructures for private businesses to strive than commit public resources to such ventures that are usually poorly managed and serve as conduits through which public resources are diverted to private pockets; especially here in Nasarawa State where many of those who seek to be engaged in public service are largely looking for avenues of enriching themselves.
For youth and women empowerment, Engr. Sule restricted his plans to ‘encouraging our youth and women to key into various Vocational Skills Acquisition Programmes and Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMSEs) geared towards poverty alleviation, self-employment and self-actualisation.’ He was silent about the role youth and women will play in his government and specifically as it relates to the generation and distribution of resources in the state. It is important to note that previous governments gave young men and women ample opportunities to participate in the administration of the state and learn the art of governance from a practical perspective. For the state to have a formidable population that can secure its future, youth empowerment must go beyond acquisition of vocational skills to include active involvement in governance to learn, offer what is available and be built for the future of the state.
Engr. Sule’s commitment to the improvement of agriculture will yield no result if the reoccurring conflict between crop farmers and pastoralists is not put to proper check. This conflict which is as a result of land resource use exacerbated by dwindling resources which has led to increase in the sizes of herds and increasing population leading to the taking over of grazing routes with farmlands has over the years adversely affected agricultural production in the state. Majority of the local population in the state depend on subsistent farming for consumption and exchange. Therefore, the new government must work hard to protect them and their local trade. This is the surest way to help the local majority population to remain productive and useful to themselves and the entire state.
Engr. A. A. Sule should keep a copy of his address permanently on his table to regularly remind himself of his solemn pledge to turn the state’s ‘adversity to prosperity; our reverses into fortunes; our draw-backs into fall-backs; our trials into triumph and our plight and blight into delight.’

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