Buhari’s Visit: Looking At Nasarawa’s Future Under Engineer Sule

By Ali Abare

President Muhammadu Buhari will from tomorrow, Thursday, 24 February, 2021, begin a two-day working visit to Nasarawa State, Already, the state is agog to once again, welcome President Buhari to his second home. Elaborate preparations were put in place to make the president’s visit not only remarkable but exceptional.

Like his other visits to states like Ogun, Imo and Lagos, President Buhari is scheduled to commission projects executed by both the Federal and Nasarawa State Governments, with his visit presenting a golden opportunity for the people to have glimpses of the new Nasarawa State, under the leadership of His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule.

The visit by President Buhari presents a window of opportunity for the people of the state, as well as Nigerians, to catch a glimpse of the future for Nasarawa State, a future being brought to reality through a leadership that radiates effective communication, embrace change, implement priorities, develop detailed plans of action, envisioned in an operating model, the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS).

The visit is also coinciding with the completion of legacy projects executed by the Engineer Sule administration, which the president will equally commission. These milestones in the history of the state, include projects initiated by His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, as well as those he completed having inherited them from the immediate past administration.

These projects to be commissioned by President Buhari include, the 330KVA Akurba power substation, new Central Bank of Nigeria, Lafia Office, the completed Federal Secretariat, the Lafia Vocational and Technical Institute, Karu and Lafia Mega Bus Terminals, Lafia Cargo Airport, Keffi Neighborhood Market and Keffi Square, as well as the Shinge/Kilema intercity road.

What is remarkable about the projects to be commissioned, is that these are manifestations of Engineer Sule’s vision to further develop Nasarawa State and make it less dependent on federal allocation.

Like Eleanor Roosevelt posited, the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams and certainly, Engineer Sule believes in his beautiful dream for a better Nasarawa State.

From what the president will commission tomorrow, it is safe to say that the people can actually predict the future of Nasarawa State from what the Engineer Sule administration is now putting in place.

The significance of the projects to be commissioned by the President have great potentials to transform Nasarawa State and to place her among the top five states in the country, because the only way you can predict the future, is to build it. And the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step.

The Akurba power substation: The project, which was a federal government intervention through the National Integrated Power Project ( NIPP), constructed by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), is meant to link Nasarawa State to the national grid. Since the creation of the state in 1996, Nasarawa State got its power supply from neighbouring states. Though the project was started during the immediate past administration of Senator Umaru Tanko Al-makura, on coming onboard, Engineer Sule, took it upon himself to see to the completion of the project. The reason is not farfetched. With his industrialization thrust, it was obvious that without a steady power supply, the vision of turning Nasarawa State into an industrial state, would have been dead on arrival. Knowing the significance of power supply in achieving this dream, Engineer Sule literally took over the project. He diligently followed up on all issues hindering the smooth completion of the project, visiting critical agencies and government departments responsible towards ensuring that the Akurba power substation comes onboard. With steady source of power now, Nasarawa State can actually look forward to becoming an industrial hub. Already, the administration has attracted major commercial agricultural companies into the state such as the Dangote Group, Flour Mills Nigeria Limited, Azman Rice Limited, among others and as such, commissioning the Akurba power substation will be a great boost to the vision of the state government to woo industries into the state. Steady power supply will certainly ginger indigenes of the state to embark on business ventures that will bring improvement in the economic growth of Nasarawa State.

Lafia Vocational and Technical Institute: This institute is dear to the Engineer Sule administration. Being a trained engineer who has strong believe in education for self-reliance, Engineer Sule’s vision for this technical institute is all encompassing. First, this institute is expected to impact necessary technical skills on the youths, as well as graduates of universities and polytechnics from other fields of study, who will be trained to become self-reliant. Secondly, the institute is expected to produce technicians that will be employed by factories that will spring up across the state. Thirdly, the institute will be a centre for innovations, manufacturing spare parts to be used by industries from within and outside the state. From here s experience while he was Group Managing Director at the Dangote Group, Engineer Sule saw need to train on-demand qualified technicians to feed industries in Nasarawa, as well as other parts of the country.

Lafia and Karu Mega Bus Terminals: This is a bold step taken by the Engineer Sule administration to tackle the low internally generated revenue in the state, as well as address the perennial traffic logjam along the Keffi-Abuja expressway. This multibillion naira project, will completely revolutionise the state’s transport scheme, as well as provide employment to teeming people. It’s worthy of note that in order for the administration to maximally utilise these projects to the benefit of the people, the Engineer Sule administration only recently concessioned these two facilities to a private firm, Diamond Stripes, who will manage both the Karu and Lafia bus terminals. This is accepting change by an administration that has vision to further develop the state. Unlike in the past, the state government, having realised that government has no business running business organizations, handed the terminals built entirely from public funds, to a private firm for effecient and effective management.

Keffi Neighborhood Market and Keffi Square: The N1.6bn Keffi Neighborhood Market project was undertaken by the Engineer Sule administration as another bold step towards improving internal revenue generation, with the facility boasting of over 500 lockup shops, while the square will have more than 1,400 capacity seats.

The Keffi Neighborhood Market and Keffi Square are both expected to boost socioeconomic activities of the people.

“I am not just fulfilling the campaign promises which I made to the people of Keffi, but it is also a dream come true.

“The Keffi Square and the neighborhood market are to enhance the socio-economic activities of the people of Keffi and the state at large and improve their standard of living,” he the governor stated while flagging off the project.

Lafia Cargo Airport: This project was started by the previous administration of Senator Al-makura. Engineer Sule inherited the project, promising to see to its completion. Engineer Sule made some adjustments on the design of the facility, expanding the runway to be able to accommodate bigger planes. The vision of the airport was essentially to serve as alternative to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. It’s primarily a cargo airport, where importation and exportation can take place, especially to feed the growing industries and commercial entities around the FCT, North Central geopolitical zone, as well as across the country. Because of the pragmatic nature of the administration, government saw the need to find specific use for the airport before it can assume it’s real purpose. To this end, Engineer Sule contacted the federal authorities, which saw to the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) taking over the facility. The Lafia Cargo Airport is also being used as landing base for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and for military purposes.

These projects when commissioned, will mark a departure from what obtains in the past, where government has sole responsibility of managing such facilities. The new concept introduced by the Engineer Sule administration, where government will use public funds to build critical infrastructure but will hand such to professionals from the private sector, will not only improve the return on investment, but will ensure sustainability.

The projects that will be commissioned by President Buhari tomorrow are not ordinary. They rather serve as inklings of the vision of the Engineer Abdullahi Sule administration towards taking Nasarawa State to higher heights. The initiative is a concept that is uncommon and demonstrates the willingness of the government to embrace change in the implementation of its policies and goals.

Indeed, as Malcolm X pointed out, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” And indeed, Engineer Sule is preparing for a better, greater Nasarawa State. This is but a start with the chips expected to fall in places in the coming years.

Therefore, as President Muhammadu Buhari visits his second home tomorrow, it’s only pertinent for the people of the state to support this uncommon vision of the Engineer Sule administration, by turning up enmasse to accord a rousing welcome to the august visitor.

Abare is a special assistant on media to the Nasarawa State governor.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s