By Ali Abare
Since the inception of the Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule administration in 2019, there has been deliberate efforts to usher in sustainable development across all the economic facets of the state, especially with the policy thrust of the Nasarawa State Government to wean the state from over dependence on the federal allocation through diversification of its revenue base.
These laudable strides by the Governor, who already made his marks in the private sector, rising to the enviable position of the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Dangote Group before veering into politics, is manifesting across the commerce, trade and investment sectors of the state, bringing vistas of opportunities to marketers and traders, thus boosting the economic activities of the people.
Businessmen and women, especially traders, are now basking in euphoria as a result of the practicable and deliberate efforts taken by the Engineer Sule administration to stimulate economic activities across the nooks and crannies of the state.
One of the steps taken by the administration aimed at boosting local trade, was to embark on the construction of markets across the state. The Keffi Neighborhood Market, which has about 500 lockups and open shops, alongside the Keffi Square that has more than 1, 400 capacity seat are part of these laudable initiatives.
The Keffi Neighborhood Market and Keffi Square, which together cost the government N1.6bn to construct, was recently commissioned by none less a person than President Muhammadu Buhari essentially because of its strategic importance.
Throwing more light on the Keffi Neighborhood Market, State Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, Hon Salihu Enah Ali, described Engineer Sule as a God sent individual who has tremendous concern for the people, which explains why the Governor on coming into office, embarked on the construction of markets across the state.
According to the commissioner, his ministry, in collaboration with the Nasarawa State Market Bureau, immediately seized on the opportunity to better the lots of the people by allocating the completed shops in the Keffi Neighborhood Market directly to traders, unlike before when middlemen cash on the opportunity to sublet the shops at exorbitant costs.
For a market that has about 500 stalls, 75 percent of this was allocated only to the original owners of shops earlier demolished to pave the way for the construction of the modern edifice, which the commissioner said demonstrated the love Governor Sule has for especially the common people, who previously would have been left out.
The government has completed allocating the shops in Keffi, with the marketers already occupying the facility and engaging in their various commercial activities, thus creating job opportunities for the teeming unemployed citizens, where they are earning their livelihood and to further improve on their standard of living.
With these efforts by the Engineer Sule administration, geared towards boosting the economy of the state, through the provision of conducive environment for businessmen and especially for traders to carry on with their economic activities in a peaceful environment, markets are also being constructed in Akwanga and Nasarawa Eggon.
The modern markets presently under construction in Akwanga, headquarters of Akwanga Local Government Area, now at 90 percent completion and that of Nasarawa Eggon, at 95 percent completion, when fully completed, will not only boost economic activities of these areas, but will address the hazards associated with the old markets precariously perched along the highways.
Being an administration capable of addressing the plights of the people, especially those at the grassroots that have long suffered neglect, Engineer Sule announced an ambitious plan to use part of the money to be gotten from the federal government as refund from the taking over of the Lafia Cargo airport, to undertake the construction of new modern markets in Toto, Nasarawa, Wamba and Awe.
These initiatives when fully realised, will contribute tremendously towards boosting economic activities in these ancient towns, known for their trading and commercial engagements.
This is aside of the proposed Doma modern market to be built in Doma, headquarters of Doma Local Government Area and 500 Housing Estate Neighborhood Market, in Lafia Local Government Area, which have been appropriately captured in the state’s 2022 budget.
Another intervention by the Engineer Abdullahi A Sule administration, aimed at bettering the lots of traders and businessmen in the state, was the recent partnership with the Bank of Industry.
The Bank of Industry Executive Director, Mr. Omar Shekarau, who was in Lafia recently, unfolded the plans of the bank to set up business in Nasarawa State, following which Governor Sule graciously provided the bank with a conducive office environment to commence business in the state.
Most importantly though, Engineer Sule immediately expressed willingness to provide the whopping sum of N500m as conditional matching funds against the agreement to be augmented by the Bank of Industry to provide take-off grants to 200 trained graduates on entraprenureship employability skills as well as marketers associations in the state.
Specifically, Governor Sule said of the N500m counterpart fund the approved, N250m would be dedicated to youth employment, while additional N250m would be made available to support small scale businesses in the state.
This is an initiative that was long overdue, especially with the Bank of Industry already working across 22 states of the country, with its business running into billions of naira, even as the bank also has a N10bn zero interest rate partnership with the Dangote Group, aimed at boosting small scale businesses in the country.
Also, before the advent of the present administration, the trader’s association in Nasarawa State was bogged down by a lingering crisis which has denied traders in the state the opportunity to elect their leaders. However, coming from a private sector background, Engineer Sule saw the need for the traders to come together and to forge a common front. He quickly waded into the lingering crisis and was able to resolve the matter, with the traders now under the leadership of their president, in the person of Alhaji AliyuTuraki Gamji.
Governor Sule didn’t stop at that. Through the agency of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment, the government is in the process of resolving another lingering issue of weight and measures. Since the creation of Nasarawa State, especially with the state’s proximity to the Federal Capital Territory, there has never been an attempt to have indigenous weight and measures, even though the state is largely agrarian.
Realising the significance of having an indigenous weight and measures, especially that consumers in the state are continuously short-changed by unscrupulous merchants, the Governor quickly approved for the ministry to key into the target and policy thrust of the Department of Weight And Measures of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
This initiative is already bearing fruits, which will translate to tremendous relief for consumers across the state, as processes are ongoing for the mass production of indigenous weight and measures, as well as sacks, to be distributed across markets in the state. This way, both farmers and consumers will no longer fall prey to the antics of mindless merchants after quick profits.
With Hon Salihu Enah Ali at the helm of affairs at the Nasarawa State Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment, the ministry is working assiduously towards actualising the goals and visions of Engineer Abdullahi A Sule for the good of the people of the state.
Abare is the Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Nasarawa State.