By Yakubu Lamai
The mantra of the new administration led by Governor Abdullahi A. Sule in Nasarawa State is EXCEEDING ALL EXPECTATIONS! On May 29th 2019 after being sworn in as Governor, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule stated 14 items in his inaugural speech to be undertaken within the first 100 days of his stewardship.
First, the governor began by conducting ministerial briefings with departments and agencies, so as to acquire a firsthand grasp of the factual situation in government ministries from 13th June to 1st July 2019. He then constituted a committee of technocrats to restructure and reform the Nasarawa State Public Service and within two weeks, the work of this committee was done. The Governors approach to reforming the state civil service was predicated on attracting a competent workforce, reintroduction of training and concerted efforts to build the middle management level cadre for efficient service delivery, while stimulating fiscal discipline and transparent revenue generation on behalf of government.
In his first contact with the organized labour in Nasarawa State, Governor Abdullahi A. Sule affirmed to them that he considers the payment of monthly salary as a sacrosanct responsibility! Engineer Sule asserted that everywhere he worked, he had never been owed his monthly wage, which is why it is an innate commitment and a natural instinct for him to treat the welfare of civil servants in Nasarawa State as sacred! Furthermore Engineer Sule added; everywhere I work, people dont work for me because they fear me, but because they love what they are doing! That is why my first task as Governor is to find competent people, employ them, train them and pay them the adequate compensation they need, such that they will work effectively and find it unnecessary to be corrupt!
This is the prevailing valueset that exemplifies Governor Sules personal conviction that working for any government out of fear erodes the very foundations of morality. To Engineer Sule, morality rests on treating the ordinary citizens you govern, as possessing the conscience and integrity to contribute their own quota to the development of their society on the basis of patriotism, without being coaxed or influenced by any undercurrent of ethnic, religious or political sentiment.
This three month old governor whom people refer to as, The Engineer of Nasarawa State wakes up and goes to the office at 8.30am. The latest time you will find Governor Abdullahi A. Sule behind his desk at government house Lafia is 9am in the morning. Aside from rising to the hallmark of personal example, Governor Abdullahi A. Sule also believes in “delegating responsibility to his subordinates! This is because as an experienced corporate manager, who was one time MD/CEO African Petroleum and Group Managing Director of Dangote; he believes that no competent worker likes to be micromanaged by his principal, as it indicates to such a worker that the boss he serves does not trust his abilities. Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule has fast cut a niche for himself as the sort of Governor who invests trust in his aides and allows them the freedom to take risks, be imaginative and accept that they will fail sometimes.
The result is that Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule is gradually unleashing unbridled creativity and bold innovations into governance in Nasarawa State. This is in tandem with the truism that: A great leader is a teacher and a coach, not a dictator!
As promised within the first 100 days of his stewardship, Engineer Sule hit the ground running by conducting medical outreach across the three senatorial zones, providing eye surgery to ordinary citizens at no cost. He then quickly inaugurated the all important State Investment and Advisory Council, while simultaneously committing funds to complete critical projects embarked upon by the previous administration like Lafia Airport and the historic UAC-Shinge-Command Science-Kilema road also in Lafia.
In the days after May 29th 2019, Governor Sule also plunged headlong into the early completion of the Lafia Institute of Technical Education (LITE) so as to propel governments agenda of skill acquisition and vocational training for youths, and then he flagged-off the upgrade and construction of blocks of classrooms in all primary schools across Nasarawa State beginning from Kokona, Wamba and Awe local government areas from 23rd July 2019. He broke protocol to take a group photo with the school children at Kokona because they waited for him in the rain and sang a very touching “welcome song, which spurred Engineer Sule to instantly promise a transformer to the small community. In exactly one week, Governor Abdullahi A. Sule had delivered on his promise and restored electricity to the people!
Almost three months in the saddle, Governor Abdullahi A. Sule has breathed a new lease of life into the doldrums of youth empowerment in Nasarawa State and ignited a chain reaction of public enthusiasm for sports. He lit a spark of hope in the hearts of youths, when he made it a matter of policy to initiate a vigorous hunt for new sports talents from Nasarawa State. By Sunday 28th July 2019, when he clocked two months as Governor, the renewed passion for sports which he had inspired in the citizenry, reached its crescendo as the Nasarawa State female football team, Amazons defeated Rivers “Angels” of Port Harcourt in the final of the AITEO football championship in Kaduna! A day to the finals, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule had issued a passionate charge to the entire citizens to stand with the Amazons and see the finals of the AITEO football competition as a metaphor for the collective struggle of Nasarawa State to rise above petty primordial differences so as to improve the living conditions of all her people.
Abdullahi A. Sule might be an Engineer by training, but he is without doubt poised to revive sports, arts, culture and tourism in Nasarawa State; as he has already granted funding for the organization of the first ever Nasarawa Cultural Festival NUCFEST 2019 and while hosting the national body of the Actors Guild of Nigeria in Lafia; he unveiled his ambitious plan to build a film village beside Farin Ruwa Waterfalls in Wamba, (reminiscent of Victoria Falls in South Africa) that will catapult the creative energy of Nasarawa youths to foray into filmmaking, adventure sport, tourism and the hospitality industry.
It has been said that ‘any politician can become a governor, but not every Governor exhibits true leadership qualities’. In the aspect of peace-building and security, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule took the first step to reach across the aisle and travel to Benue State in a diplomatic effort to mend broken fences and renew ancestral ties with the nearest neighbors of Nasarawa State and by his singular commitment to reconcile, rebuild and repair relations with Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Niger and Kogi States; Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule has picked up the gauntlet and positioned himself as a drum major for peace and a torch bearer for security in the north central region of Nigeria.
The Governor has been consistently proactive not only in peace-building and fence mending, but also in reaching out to places where he can get quick gains for Nasarawa State. When he assumed office as Governor, the first place Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule visited was the Ministry of Solid Minerals where he discovered that over 416 licenses had been issued to mining companies to exploit solid minerals in Nasarawa State, but there was no effective financial return on these licenses!
Governor Abdullahi A. Sule is aware that the number of policemen in Nasarawa State is less than 5000, while the state itself is rated No 20 in revenue generation. Meanwhile adequate security attracts investments and bolsters business, which is why the Governor is seriously working with the Nasarawa State Traditional Council of Chiefs to reintroduce the age old concept of Sarkin Daji (Chiefs of the Forest) whose task will be to infiltrate the deepest reaches of the forests and report infiltration by strangers, insurgents or nefarious characters.
All of these the governor is doing in a meticulous, well planned and orderly fashion, in order to pave the way for success in his administrations five key areas of focus namely; generation of employment, wealth creation, accelerated industrialization, infrastructural development and human capital as well as urban renewal and sustainable development.
To achieve these, Governor Sule recognizes that Nasarawa State is blessed with 2.7 million hectares of land; out of which 1 million hectares is arable and suitable to any form of Agriculture. That is why he has positioned Agribusiness as the key driver to his administrations unique approach to industrialization, creation of jobs and empowerment of youths in the state. Already Engineer Sule has resolved lingering land compensation issues which were stalling progress at the Dangote Sugar Refinery in Tunga Awe and on 23rd July 2019, he commissioned a fully automated, agro-processing and aggregating export commodity company in Keffi, Newpal Nigeria limited, and has entered into a partnership with NIRSAL (Nigeria Incentive Based Risk and Sharing System for Agricultural Lending) to hold a two day technical session from 20th August 2019 in Lafia, where suitable agribusiness models can be thoroughly discussed to see how opportunities can be put to use by youths in Nasarawa State with NIRSAL providing the finance, agricultural equipment and technology.
TO EXCEED ALL EXPECTATIONS means to go beyond and above the call of duty, and to set an elevated bar for performance. His Excellency, Governor Abdullahi A. Sule has embarked on a mission to industrialize Nasarawa State on the basis of building enduring systems and business models that will tackle the root causes of poverty in the State. His aim is to catapult Nasarawa State to become one of the top three most competitive states in Nigeria by 2023.
Governor Abdullahi A. Sule conceived a bold, untested and futuristic document called NEDS: Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy and then he sought 15 through-bred global economic players and conscripted them into a think tank called Nasarawa State Economic and Investment Advisory Council tasked with the singular mission to bring to bear their wealth of experience and ginger the implementation of Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS) and unlock all constraints which may have hindered the inflow of investments into Nasarawa State in the past.
He has exhibited unfettered political will to grant local governments their complete financial economy, closed ranks with stakeholders across party lines, dipped his fingers into the hot fires of Almajiri phenomenon by insisting that government must be at the forefront to end the systematic abuse of almajiri children and ensure their rights to childhood. Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule has exhibited uncommon political will by fully implementing the TSA: Treasury Single Account and embracing the RUGA project initiated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
While immediate past Governor of Nasarawa State from 2011 to 2019, Umaru Tanko Al-makura brought stewardship that was pragmatic and evidenced based going by his mantra of Seeing Is Believing, His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule has elevated governance in Nasarawa State to become more people centered, futuristic and economically driven on the basis of global best practices and the building of institutions. This is in line with the vision of the World Health Organization which defined a healthy society in 1986 during the Ottawa conference as: A healthy society is one which possesses the nine key elements of Peace, Shelter, Education, Food, Income, Sustainable Resources, Social Justice, Equity and A Stable Ecosystem!
To understand THE NEXT LEVEL where Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule is taking Nasarawa State to; Professor Koyinsola Ajayi SAN, chairman of the State Investment and Economic Advisory Council has said of the Governor that; this is a man whose sincerity of purpose and fidelity to the national cause is without blemish! EINSTEIN said that Imagination is more important than knowledge because while knowledge can help you identify things and also make you understand things; it is imagination that will make you SEE THE WORLD and SHOW YOU HOW YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!
Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule is blessed with both knowledge and imagination. This is a Governor who rises above the banality of politics and is poised to disrupt the status quo in a way that is not merely incremental but transformative for the greater good of Nasarawa State and the entire country. That is why the new Governor of Nasarawa State will undoubtedly EXCEED ALL EXPECTATIONS!
Is Director General: Strategic Communication & Press Affairs
To His Excellency, Governor Abdullahi A. Sule of Nasarawa State!