By Ali Abare
Nasarawa State was created alongside six others on October 1st, 1996. The state is known as the home of solid minerals because of the huge mineral deposits that abound across the state, even though, the state’s economic mainstay is unarguably, agriculture.
This sector makes up over 80 percent of the means of livelihood of the people of Nasarawa State. From the yam hips in Assakio, to the pyramids of melon and sesame bags in Mararaba Udege, Nasarawa and Keffi; everywhere in the state, it is quite obvious to notice the industry of the proud people of Nasarawa.
Majority of rural dwellers across the country however, live in near abject poverty and lack necessary infrastructure such as hospitals, roads, schools and markets, just to mention a few, that gives meaning to life. In Nasarawa State, rural dwellers who have suffered years of near total neglect, are now beginning to enjoy from the inclusive policy thrust of the Engineer Abdullahi Sule administration.
Since coming onboard therefore, the administration has keyed into sustainable development strategy.and has not relented in its effort to better the lives of rural dwellers across the state, through deliberate policy thrust and initiatives, aimed at bringing succour and hope to the people at the grassroots, as well as rejuvenating economic activities of rural farmers and dwellers.
Realising the need to spread development across every nook and cranny of the state, the Engineer Abdullahi Sule administration, embarked on multidimensional approach towards alleviating the plight of the majority of the population living in rural communities.
First, Engineer Sule created the Nasarawa State Bureau for Rural Development, charged with enhancing the livelihoods of rural dwellers, through the creation of conducive environment for economic activities at the grassroots.
The bureau was purposely established to takeover the responsibilities of the then taskforce handling the construction and maintenance of rural feeder roads across the state. Other responsibilities of the bureau include managing all rural roads, electricity supply, as well as ensuring supply of water to rural areas across the state.
The Nasarawa State Bureau for Rural Development was specifically charged with the responsibility of identifying and selecting rural roads to be constructed, upgraded and the maintenance of feeder roads.
Before now, rural communities in Nasarawa State lack access roads which makes it difficult for goods and services to be transported across markets in urban centres.
However, with the coming of the Engineer Sule administration and the establishment of the bureau for rural development, people at the grassroots are being factored into the development initiatives of the state government.
So far, the bureau has proposed to construct close to 1000km of rural roads across the state, as recently disclosed by the Director General of the agency, Mustapha Yahuza Musa II.
According to him, the main function of the bureau is to ensure adequate improvement of rural infrastructure for further economic emancipation of rural dwellers. That is not to say that other economic factors are not being considered.
Lamenting that rural dwellers across the state have been abandoned for a long period of time, the director general said most rural communities lack accessible roads, with such communities left to use motorcycles as means of transportation because vehicles could not ply such areas.
According to the director general, since the inception of the Engineer Sule administration in 2019, the Nasarawa State Government has so far, constructed over 150km of rural roads, to bring succour to rural dwellers who have been neglected for decades.
Yahuza Musa II, said his agency, was established early last year, to ensure improvement in rural infrastructure, as well as enhance economic emancipation of rural dwellers.
He identified three major ongoing projects undertaken by the bureau, namely Keana/Abuni, in Awe Local Government, 27km, Kofan Gwari/Bakin Ayeni, in Kokona, 15km and Andaha/Rinze, 17km in Akwanga.
The director general listed among the roads already completed by the bureau to include Shabu/Doka/Anigba/Alakiyo, 10km, Agwade/Shepe/Atabala/Obi, 21km, Kanje/Abuni, 27. 9km, Kagbu/Atsoko/Kagbu Wana, 6km, Masaka/Luvu, 5km, Mama/Farin Ruwa, 16km, Nasarawa/Ara, 14, Ribi/Jangwa, 12km, Assakio/Obi, 27, Angoro Junction/Bassa, 54km, Gudi/Anguwan Dorawa, 1km, Baure Grazing Reserve in Awe, 19km.
Others are Akurba Power Substation, 2.2km, Sabon Garin Salawo/Tudun Wada in Keffi, 3km, Kaibo Fulani-Kaibo Mada, 3km and Keana-Abuni, 27.9km.
Also, the Kofan Gwari/Bakin Ayeni/Amba, 16. 9km, Rinze/Ngare/Ancho/Ancho Babba/Andaha, 13. 4km and Alushi/Wakama, 5km are presently ongoing.
In explaining the criteria for selecting which road to construct, Yahuza Musa II said his agency is guided by the spirit of equity and fairness.
The Nasarawa State Bureau for Rural Development is meticulous and fair in selecting which project to embark upon, having evolved a criteria for fairness and equity, as well as even spread across the 13 local government areas of the state.
With this determination, the advantages of opening up the rural communities with roads are enormous chief among which are creating environment where goods can be moved faster, as well as people needing medical attention could be evacuated quickly.
Abare is the Special Assistant on Media to the Nasarawa State Governor.