By Mukhtar Wakeel
Nasarawa state, in the North-Central geo-political zone of Nigeria, was created on 1st October, 1996 with Lafia, a fast urbanizing town along the Northern Benue valley as its state capital.
The state has an area of 27,117 square kilometres, an estimated population of 3.1 million with thirteen Local Government Areas and sixteen Development Areas. It shares a boundary with the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
This proximity to Nigeria’s fast-growing capital has steadily guaranteed a fast-moving market for various agricultural crops and products from the state and has facilitated the pace of the state’s economic growth. However, the corresponding influx of people has put enormous pressure on the available social infrastructure.
It has about 35 ethnic groups, with Islam and Christianity as the two main religions. The state has vast agricultural resources and is richly endowed with large deposits of solid mineral, such as coal (with good cooking properties), barites, limestone, kaolin, salt, and marble.
Expectedly, Nasarawa state is referred to as the “Home of Solid Minerals”. The state’s rich natural endowments are complemented by a large reservoir of human resources.
Nasarawa state is heterogeneous in nature with over 30 ethnics groups and languages scattered across the local government and development areas among which are Alago, Arum, Agatu, Afo, Akye, Bassa, Buh, Eggon, Egbira, Fulani, Gade Gbagyi, Gwandara, Hausa, Jukun, Kantana, Kakuri, Kulere, Koro, Mada, Mighili, Nyankpa, Ninzam, Rindre, Tiv.
Available statistics have shown that Nasarawa state is a poor state and has one of the least revenues both in terms of Federal Allocation and Internally Generated Revenue, IGR.
The pragmatic approach by the present administration of Engr. A. A. Sule to raise the revenue base of the state through concerted efforts of making agencies of government in the state to declare their revenue and key into Central Billing System (CBS) will in so small way open windows of opportunity for the State to raise her shoulder high and compete favourably with other states that brag of high revenue profile that fetches them increase in Federal Government Allocation and respect as productive and economically sound States rather than posing as a dependent and parasitic state with its attendant consequences.
Without doubt, there are immense potential for the development of Nasarawa state. These include the rich agricultural and water resources of the state; availability of solid minerals, especially precious stones; the proximity of the state to the Federal Capital Territory and the city of Abuja; its central location in Nigeria where traffic from North east, South, East, South-South, North-Central, cross-cross and also pass to Abuja; its hospitable climate in the guinea savannah with good vegetation; the numerous tourist spots and cultural festivals which are ready tools for servicing the industry and ecotourism.
Governor A. A Sule’s uncommon achievements in the areas of Infrastructural and Human Capital Development, Industrialization and Social Transformation, Security of life and property, Healthcare delivery, Education, Agriculture and Food Security, Transportation stand him out as an articulate, vibrant and quintessential technocrat with the needed qualities and impeccable credentials to superintendent the affairs of Nasarawa State. Every leader must face challenges and learn to deal with them in some way.
It may seem like “challenges” is another word for “problems,” but that is not necessarily true. Sometimes positive situations present the greatest challenges, testing how well you can use your opportunities. A challenge is an invitation to rise to another level, to test yourself and improve in the process, to show that you can accomplish something that may seem difficult, or even impossible. It is important to appreciate that there are very few born leaders, almost all leaders are made by recognizing, learning from, and rising to the challenges of leadership.
The challenges of leadership are really of three kinds: external, coming from people and situations; internal, stemming from within the leader himself; and those arising from the nature of the leadership role.
Anyone who lives and works in Nigeria and particularly Nasarawa State knows that excellence is in everyday use when assessing leadership. Excellence denotes qualities superior to any known degree or standard, qualities stronger and more positive in concept than any other. Since the word excellence does not itself indicate perfection, it is usually modified by proceeding intensifying adjectives as in managerial excellence, technical excellence; and when its adjectival form is used, it describes an action, idea, product or survives etc. as in excellent moves, excellent management, excellent service.
The rapid environmental changes have no doubt presented incessant challenges for leadership in Nigeria, so also in Nasarawa state with the attendant effects of the good, the bad and the ugly situations.
Leadership exists not only in human kingdom but as well as in animal kingdom. In the animal kingdom, leadership belongs to the strong and valiant, to the daring and courageous, but behind these attributes, is always the need to protect the weak of the clan, to hold and defend territory, to feed and train the young and to promote discipline and well-being among the herd.
Whereas in the human society, the burden of leadership naturally falls upon a charismatic, selfless and service driven individual whose power is rooted in the transparent determination to use individual strength and wisdom, unity of purpose and the entrenchment of group order for the benefit of human race.
The human being has impacted negatively or positively on this social balance by the manner in which he applied his innate endowments to his environment. A wicket and roguish disposition produces despots and tyrants.
A sensible, compassionate and judicious inclination yields the charismatic type of leader and cultivates a loyal and loving following. An inept, lack-luster and passive leader erodes confidence and elicits ridicule and opprobrium.
The gregarious nature of man underscores the constant interplay of human forces and interests in the unending search to fill the leadership roles. Leadership is therefore not anything anyone is born with or anything thrust upon anyone.
Authentic leadership in the human society is not anything to be obtained through conquest or by the use of available instruments of coercion. Authentic leadership is something to merit and earn, something that carries with it certain basic qualities accruing from latent and discernible abilities.
The good leader bears an acute sense of sacrifices and always shows a bias for the care and concern of the people. The good leader has an uncanny sensitivity to people’s needs and a veteran’s ability to manage the people’s resources. In time of crisis, the good leader is an agent of reconciliation, one who shows unlimited commitment to reconciling disparate and contradictory forces.
The good leader does not demand loyalty but is one whose charisma, candour and moral standing attract popular acclaim. A good leader does not predicate his reputation on propaganda nor on the patronizing efforts of sycophants and hire lings. John Kenneth Galbraith, U.S economist, in his, “The Age of Uncertainty” posits, “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common. It was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership”.
God has answered our prayers by providing us with Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule who is the right man for Shendam Road Government House , a man with proving integrity; a tested man with track record of service to humanity; a brilliant man that can think outside the box to make Nasarawa state a better place for all; a man that has all it takes to influence federal and foreign investments in Nasarawa state; a man that will use his influence to turn over challenges to greatness in a very short period of time; a man that will see farmers as kings and not slaves; a man who knows Nasarawa State in and out as-well-as its peculiarity.
It is a common adage that “Rome was not built in one day, so Nasarawa State cannot look like London in one year. At least, common sense will tell a right thinking person that from 1st October, 1996 to 2020, Nasarawa State is more developed than most of its peers and even a few of older States.
This is an indication that successive administrations played their own parts to take the state to where it is today. Nonetheless, with the commitment, resilience, doggedness and selflessness, qualitative and people-oriented leadership of Engr. A.A. Sule and his excellent team, no one is in doubt that Nasarawa State will be a shining example for other States to copy. For those who have the checklist of his campaign premises, a lot has been achieved, more will be recorded soonest and all will be accomplished in his first tenure. In his second coming, by the grace of the Almighty the giver of Power, Nasarawa State of our dreams will become fait accompli.
Mukhtar Wakeel, is a Public Affairs Analyst, based in Lafia.