By Ali Abare
Many theories abound seeking to define the purpose and objective of government. There are those who consider the primary purpose of government to be the provision of essential services, fulfilling fundamental duties of safety, prosperity, and justice, ensuring the rights of each human and protecting the state so that its citizens, businesses, and organizations have the ability to pursue happiness, live a healthy life, and chase opportunities.
On the other hand, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission defines governance as the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented. According to a World Bank Report in 1991, governance is the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a state’s economic and social resources for development.
Also, the erstwhile Nigeria Vision 2010 document stated that, good governance means accountability in all its ramifications. It also means the rule of law and an unfettered judiciary; that is, freedom of expression and choice in political association. Good governance means transparency, equity and honesty in public office.
Good governance therefore means that the process of decision making is good; that the process by which decisions are implemented is good. Good governance is connected with elements such as dependability, transparency, accountability, prosperity and development.
Looking at the trend of events in Nasarawa State and since his assumption of office as the Executive Governor, His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has demonstrated exceptional ability to further entrench and propagate the concept of good governance, both in words and actions.
It’s evidently clear, right from the onset, that Engineer Sule came prepared and ready to deliver. He is by no means, an accidental politician but a leader who has come to salvage his state and people from decades of slow, reluctant development. He came to institutionalized purposeful development.
The Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS), is the blueprint conceptualized by the Engineer Sule administration to take Nasarawa State out of economic doldrums, to a state that will be able to stand on its feet and prosper.
Recognizing that the administration has only its first four years to achieve its mission, Engineer Sule hit the ground runing by embarking on deliberate policies aimed at delivering quick solutions but also laying the foundation for the future growth of the state.
Indeed, Engineer Sule came to power prepared, with his years of experience gained as a top player from the organized private sector giving him the impetus to exceed all expectations as his administration work tirelessly to build a solid foundation for sustainable development in Nasarawa State.
Thus, every decision, every policy thrust initiated by the Engineer Sule administration is geared towards securing the future of the state and to make Nasarawa State self subsisting and to depend less on federal subvention.
To achieve this noble objectives and more, the Engineer Sule administration embarked on an elaborate reform that saw to the downstreaming of the MDAs, restructure and reform the state public service, adopted the Treasury Single Account policy (TSA), as well as established the Nasarawa State Bureau of Public Procurement, under the Nasarawa State Public Procurement Law, 2020 (NSPPL, 2020), with the objectives of ensuring probity, accountability and transparency in public procurement throughout Nasarawa State.
Recognising the need for a robust private sector for economic development and revitalisation, the Engineer Sule administration developed an effective Public-Private-Partnership framework that allows for long-term private sector participation. This has aided in the establishment of a favourable and enabling environment for increasing private sector investment, which has resulted in the creation of jobs, revenue, and overall economic development in the state.
With the state geographic information services already in place, the Governor ensured the passage of laws establishing the state urban development board, the mortgage foreclosure authority, as well as the establishment of the Nasarawa State Investment Development Agency (NASIDA), all in the bid to further enhance the ease of doing business in Nasarawa State, which will soon take its proper position in the ease of doing business in the country, in line with the NEDS.
A little peep into the immediate past would reveal that, at some point in time, previous administrations, particularly that of the late Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma, were forced to borrow money from banks, just in order to pay salary of workers. They borrowed money not to build roads, hospitals or schools, but to pay salary of workers only!
When the immediate past governor, Senator Umaru Tanko Al-makura took over power in 2011, he stamped his feet by refusing to borrow money just to pay salaries. Towards the end of his second tenure, Al-makura encountered difficulties paying salary of workers following the global economic recession occassioned by the fall in oil prices. Instead of resorting to borrowing like many states are wont to do, Senator Al-makura negotiated with the workers leading to the historic percentage payment of salary.
Under the present administration of Engineer Abdullahi Sule, in spite of the challenge posed by the outbreak of the corona virus pandemic, workers in the state continue to receive their salary promptly and in full. Not only that, as can be attested in the past four months or so, workers in Nasarawa State now receive their salary on the 25th of every month and even before the Almighty Federal allocation is shared.
Aware of the significance of peace in the development aspirations of the state, Engineer Sule rightly picked up from where his immediate predecessor stopped, especially on the aspect of community based conflict resolution mechanism, where his administration continues to integrate and synergies with the traditional rulers and community leaders, towards ensuring enduring peace across the state.
Coupled with the enduring partnership with the Federal Government, the Engineer Sule administration has effectively negotiated for the setting up of various security outposts spread across the state, with key military bases established to further enhance security. Even the Lafia Airport, earlier established as an auxiliary cargo airport to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, has been renegotiated and handed over to the Federal Government.
The inroads recorded by the administration in various spheres of the economy of the state, such as the health sector, where tremendous efforts were put in place during the peak of the corona virus pandemic, aimed at safeguarding the lives of care givers and the general public, which earned Nasarawa State the recognition as the best state in immunization coverage in the country.
Coming from the private sector background, Engineer Sule knew that, for his administration to actually make the desired impact, there is every need to diversify the economy of the state. Rejigging the revenue drive of the state and reforming the revenue payment and collection system, achieved through the passage of the Nasarawa State Harmonization and Administration of Revenue Law 2020.
The reforms in the internal revenue board led by Alhaji Ahmed Yakubu Mohammed, saw the Nasarawa State Board of Internal Revenue Services, generate N16.8 bn as internal revenue in 2021.
A core policy thrust of the Engineer Sule administration is industrialization, aimed at not only generating revenue but also creating employment opportunities for the teeming youths and women. Attracting investors into the state is being pursued aggressively, with big time investors, who see the Governor as dependable ally, seize the opportunity provided by the secured environment coupled with realistic business enabling environment, to invest their resources in the state.
“This event is perfectly in line with our investment resolve to create wealth and employment for our citizens as well as to transform the state into an investment haven where industries can be easily set up and as well be efficient in production operations”, Engineer Sule stated while signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth over USD with the Floor Mills Nigeria Limited.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the Kolmani oil field in Gombe State, marking the beginning of the drilling of oil in Northern Nigeria. The significance of such landmark discovery is yet to settle when Engineer Sule told the world that the oil reserve in Keana, is even bigger than the reserve in Kolmani.
With most of his private sector experience derived from searching for oil globally, Engineer Sule is better prepared to chaperone the discovery of oil in Nasarawa State, which will further catapult the state into the league of oil producing states.
Investors are flocking into Nasarawa State mostly because they trust and believe in the leadership qualities of Engineer Sule, confident that, as a key private sector player, he will create the conducive environment for investment to thrive. For instance, with companies such as Moselex Nigeria Limited, a company that produces marble in Akwanga, Nasarawa State under the leadership of Engineer Sule now produces 30 percent of the marble in the country.
Thus, and as 2023 approaches, it’s safe to say that Nasarawa State is in no better hands than now with Engineer Sule at the helm of affairs. Nasarawa State has no better alternative than the man in the saddle, who will require another term of four years to consolidate on the successes so far recorded.
Indeed, this is not the time for experimentation or a season of promises. This is a time for collective action. This is the time to make concrete the collective yearning and aspirations of the people for sustainable development. Certainly, there are no quick fixes and what Engineer Sule is putting on ground today, may take years to come to fruition. But Nasarawa State will never be the same. Nasarawa State doesn’t need politicians who will revert to taking loans only to pay salary of workers.
Sure, other politicians can try their acceptability in a democracy but the fact remains, Engineer Sule is the best thing that could happen to Nasarawa State right now and through the next four years. He is better suited, better prepared and possesses the requisite knowledge and experience to take Nasarawa State to the advanced level of development.
Abare is the Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Nasarawa State.