By Our Reporter
In a bid to woo investors to the state, Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule has finalized arrangement to move officials of the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, as well as that of the Ministry of Lands, to Lagos, in order to facilitate the signing of agreements with the Dangote Group and Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC.
The Governor disclosed this on Tuesday while hosting counsellors from across the 13 local government areas of the state, under the aegis of the Forum of Counsellors, who paid him a courtesy call at the Government House.
According to the Governor, it has become necessary to move the officials to Lagos on Friday in order for the parties to sign agreements that will see the Dangote Group acquiring 50, 000 hectares of land to set up rice plants in Doma and Nasarawa local government areas, while the Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc will also acquire 10, 000 hectares to set up cassava processing plant in Wamba Local Government Area.
“When I talked to Dangote, he said we are trying to check our schedule, when we do, we will get back to you. For the Flour Mills- for the past three weeks we have been trying to look at our schedule.
“I said what, we don’t want to wait for your schedule. On Friday, this week, we are taking the Ministry of Local Government and Ministry of Lands, we are coming to Lagos, we are following you so we can sign these agreements, so that we can finish it and move on,” Engineer Sule explained.
He said it has become necessary to inform them not necessarily to draw their commendation but to buttress the urgency and necessity for them to initiate ideas on how to generate revenue in order for the local government areas to be able to become self-subsisting and to go beyond paying salaries only.
Engineer Sule described the state as being among the most disadvantaged in terms of federal subvention and internally generated revenue, while at the same time burdened with three major debts that have to be settled.
The Governor said the economy of the state is facing serious challenge with the dwindling federal revenue even as it contends with settling three major debts namely, excess crude account debt, bailout funds and budget support, all collected between 2015-2018.
While challenging elected council officials to start looking for ways to raise revenue to execute projects, Engineer Sule warned that it does not make sense for elected officials to sit in the office and worry only about paying salaries.
“I’m challenging you to start looking for ways to raise revenue to do other things than paying salaries.
“We cannot be a state that is making money and you have to struggle to make money only to pay salary and then go back and fold your hands,” the Governor said.
According to him, “there are certain LGAs when they say they can’t pay salary, they don’t have revenue, it scares the hell out of me. With all these availability of resources that you have, it’s just for you guys and your counsellors to sit down and think like human beings and see how you will be able to generate revenue. So that we don’t have to go and sit down at every end of the month and thinking how to pay salaries.
“That’s not the kind of work I want to do as a Governor. I want to be thinking and doing, I want to bring investment, I want to bring opportunities, I want to bring people who will come to Nasarawa, provide employment opportunities and provide revenue for Nasarawa state,” Engineer Sule stated.
Earlier, in his opening remark, Chairman of the Counsellors’ Forum. Uba Ahmed Arikya, said they were at the Government House to celebrate with the Governor for marking his first 100 days in office, as well as for the successes recorded at the various election petition tribunals both within the state and the Court of Appeal in Makurdi.
Arikya in particularly, commended Engineer Sule for being among the first governors to implement financial autonomy for local government areas in the state.
While acknowledging that 100 days is not enough to describe an administration, the counsellors said they are however convinced that the first 100 days of the Engineer Sule administration was enough to measure his mission and vision for the state.
The forum described the Governors foray in rural road construction, rehabilitation and construction of schools under the SDGs, free medical outreach for the less privileged, among other initiatives, as a testimony of the Governor’s good leadership.