BY YAKUBU LAMAI
Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule respects the views of every citizen as a critical resource to inclusive governance; but it is only when the views expressed by people is fair, accurate and objective; that it can help to resolve an impasse between two parties who may be at loggerheads.
Our attention in the Directorate of Strategic Communication has been drawn to the opinion piece written online by Ayuba Umar entitled: MANY SINS OF GOVERNOR SULES STEWARDSHIP WHICH CULMINATE IN CURRENT LABOUR CRISIS where he raised questions about the root cause of the labour crisis in Nasarawa State, and in conclusion posited some rather puerile allegations against government without giving any proof or iota of evidence to substantiate the alleged sins of Governor Abdullahi A. Sule.
Indeed Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule welcomes constructive engagement from citizens and well-meaning individuals to resolve the current impasse with labour in Nasarawa State, but we also believe it is equally important to set the records straight on the basis of facts, for the sake of posterity and also to discourage the spread of fake news especially in this age of social media, when it is easy to merchandize sentiments so as to score cheap political points and peddle rumors, half-truths and weaponized propaganda that paints government in bad light and does not help to resolve our ongoing dialogue with labour.
For starters, Ayuba Umar first made 4 CLAIMS that Engineer Sule met:
Pensioners on life support for non-payment of their entitlements.
Local Government Employees on percentage salary.
Civil Servants with unpaid arrears.
Demands for implementation of minimum wage.
And Ayuba Umar stated rather dramatically, “Governor Sule did NOTHING!” to remedy the situation. This assertion by Ayuba Umar is a barefaced lie because with regard to CLAIM ON PENSION: Abdullahi Adokwe Ladan, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners in Nasarawa State said in his own words: Prior the coming of this government, there was a time when pensioners were on percentage payment of varying percentages of up to 25% for over 52 months because of lack of funds. When the present government came under the leadership of Engr A.A Sule, he made pronouncement during his inauguration and immediately stopped percentage payment for pensioners!
The IRREFUTABLE FACT is that in the last two years, pensioners in the Nasarawa State Civil Service have been receiving 100% pension, while Engineer Sule has continued to complement the effort of local government authorities to pay pension of local government retirees by augmenting their limited funds from state government coffers and also from SFTAS grants received from the World Bank! According to Abdullahi Adokwe Ladan, the PRO of Nigerian Union of Pensioners in Nasarawa State: we erected a billboard in honour of Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule calling him THE MESSIAH OF PENSIONERS for the revolution going on in pension administration in Nasarawa State and as a historical monument to remember what he is doing to further encourage the Governor!
On Ayuba Umars multifaceted claim regarding NEW MINIMUM WAGE; it is again lie that Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule DID NOTHING because Governor Abdullahi A. Sule inaugurated two committees on Tuesday 7th January 2020. The first committee was mandated to develop a template that will ensure THE IMPLEMENTATION OF A NEW NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE SALARY STRUCTURE, while the second committee was tasked with the mission to improve IGR: INTERNALLY GENERATED REVENUE.
As at last month June 2021, Nasarawa State under Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule started implementing New National Minimum Wage of N30,000 for civil servants on grade level GL1-06. Nasarawa became the 4th state alongside Ekiti, Benue and Cross River States to implement the new minimum wage for civil servants on cadre GL 01-06, while Lagos and Kano have implemented the new minimum wage across board.
Ayuba Umar proceeded to make 2 CLAIMS that the Ministry for Local Government & Chieftaincy Affairs as well as the Ministry of Education were both embroiled in “financial mess” and that Nasarawa State House of Assembly had “uncovered stolen billions and identified the looters!
We are aware that a Governor is the sole repository of the executive powers of any State and he is also head of the executive branch of the state government; BUT while Governor Abdullahi A. Sule is constitutionally obligated to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” in Nasarawa State, the constitution does not give him the right to condemn, deride, demean or pronounce any citizen of Nasarawa State as being guilty of looting just because he is the Governor; or because simply because there is hearsay some rabble rousers want Engineer A.A. Sule to play to the gallery! NO! Engineer Abdullahi Sule will not call anyone a looter until a court of competent jurisdiction convicts, adjudge and pronounce such a person guilty.
Ayuba Umar also CLAIMS that Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule does not demand accountability but instead promotes those politicians allegedly accused of looting!
For a politician of the stature of Ayuba Umar who aspired to become Governor of Nasarawa State, we expect a certain modicum of emotional restraint instead of vitriolic attacks on the person of Engineer Abdullahi Sule when you come to terms with the fact that after nearly 25 years since Nasarawa State was created; it took the coming of Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule to exhibit the political will, discipline and fear of God to assent to the Nasarawa State Public Procurement Law of 2020 and thereafter establish the Nasarawa State Bureau of Public Procurement so as to institute a new culture of due diligence and strict compliance in the procurement process and ensure that public funds meant to serve the greater majority of the people is not diverted into private pockets or looted.
Engineer Abdullahi Sule is the Governor who has FINALLY passed a death sentence on looting in Ministries and he has gained for Nasarawa State the much desired respect from global institutions like World Bank which Nasarawa State has yearned for in the last 25 years. This can be attested to through the recent grants running into millions of dollars which Nasarawa State has received from the World Bank SFTAS, just for BEING TRANSPARENT and for meeting the World Bank Eligibility Criteria for transparent and accountable financial transactions!
Ayuba CLAIMS that instead of organizing local government elections, the Governor has now left the local councils on life support. The word integrity is defined as the adherence to moral and ethical principles and the soundness of moral character. Governor Abdullahi A. Sule is clearly exhibiting integrity and respecting the law by allowing the DPMS to hold forte at the local government, while he raises the funds to organize a free, fair and all inclusive election at the local government level.
Ayuba Umar made a cacophony of CLAIMS that the Farin Ruwa Power Project is enmeshed in corruption and that Engineer Sule met Lafia Cargo Airport in financial life support and he simply handed over the Lafia Cargo Airport to the Federal Government, without asking the federal government to reimburse the state. And in this regard, Ayuba alleges that the Nasarawa House of Assembly is blindfolded and busy making merry on the state’s common wealth” which is why the assembly is unconcerned about the lack of accountability on the side of government.
Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule inherited and completed 5 Aspects of Lafia Cargo Airport namely Fire Service Station, Airport Terminal Building, Airport Control Tower, Taxi-Runway, and Fencing of Airport and Road Network around Lafia Airport Axis and Airport Communication Gadget. The distinct cost for each component is in government records because different contractors handled different aspects of the job in order to ensure quality and timely delivery. As regards the Lafia Airport and any other asset where the state resources have been ploughed; the entire citizens of Nasarawa State can rest assured that His Excellency Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule is prudent, business savvy and has plans to get maximum value for money on behalf of Nasarawa State the same way he rescued the Aliyu Akwe Banquet Hall.
In the final analysis, Ayuba Umars submission is that while he believes and supports the stance of Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule that Nasarawa State should “not borrow to pay workers or mortgage the future of Nasarawa”, the caveat by Umar is that the government has to prove that it isnt buoyant. Such analogy is fair and we welcome the objective aspects of Ayuba Umars submission, but we appeal that forthwith, snide comments and derogatory remarks, as well as negative aspersions which Ayuba Umar cast on the person of Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule are needless when you want to intervene and offer constructive financial advice to the Governor.
Abiding by the economic plan envisioned in NEDS: Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy which Engineer Sule brought into office as Governor and this administrations focus on agriculture, minerals development, industrialization and youth and women empowerment, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule is poised to create wealth and generate employment, by putting Nasarawa State securely on the road to becoming Nigerias next best investment destination and among the top five most competitive states in Nigeria by 2023!
Yakubu Lamai is Director General: Strategic Communication & Events Management to Governor Abdullahi A. Sule