By Ali Abare
As the country inches towards the 2023 general elections, it’s to be expected that across most of the 36 states of the federation, including Nasarawa State, the political atmosphere is heavily charged as politicians battle for the available public offices to be occupied.
As is common with every election year, politics is at peak, with both political parties and politicians jostling for the available positions. Usually, the window allows for the electorate to decide the fate of individuals contesting for elective positions.
In Nasarawa State, politicians from across various political parties, are vying for the positions of the governor, three senators, 5 house of representatives and 24 state assembly seats, in a keen contest that many agree, will climax with the election of the governor of the state.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has as its flagbearer, incumbent Governor Abdullahi Sule, who is seeking for another term in office. The leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is fielding Hon. David Ombugadadu. Alhaji Abdullahi Maidoya, is cutting his teeth politically under the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), as well as several other gubernatorial candidates.
While these crops of individuals, who without any doubt, are eminently qualified to aspire to occupy the number seat in the state, assail the electorate with their intentions for the state, it’s imperative that we take a moment to ponder on issues that are germaine to the collective aspirations of the people of Nasarawa State.
The fact remains though, with a question that is begging for an answer readily coming to mind. Is there really any need to change the status quo, especially with the visible, manifest and unprecedented development strides of the present All Progressives Congress (APC) administration under the leadership of His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule?
With every sense of objectivity and sincerity, will any person desirous of the advancement of Nasarawa State and its people, wish for a change in the seat of power, given the unparalleled development strides of the Engineer Sule administration?
There is every need for the people of Nasarawa State to pause, think and remove any iota of sentiment and to be straightforward in their candor towards a realistic, attainable self-determination. It is undoubtedly true that, it will far benefit the state and its people if, for once, politics is set aside, as part of the collective resolve to further entrench sustainable development across the state.
With the coming of the Engineer Sule administration, Nasarawa State has continued to take its right of place among the commity of states. Nasarawa State has always been in the news since the APC took over power from the PDP back in 2011 but as from 2019, Nasarawa has become the new kid on the block as far as progressive governance is concerned.
The style of leadership being demonstrated by the Governor has earned the state a new respect, a new status that if sustained, will see Nasarawa State compete favourably with top five states in the country, in line with the aspirations of the Engineer Sule administration which promised to make the state among the top three most competitive states in the country.
This new status has continued to attract both Federal presence, as well as a high number of private investors, who are desirous of cashing on the improved ease of doing business and exceptional leadership which is bringing about enduring peace that is fundamental for businesses to thrive.
It will be herculean to begin to list all the various initiatives and strides so far recorded by this administration, not minding the claim by the PDP that the APC government only commissioned markets in the last three years. This is but the height of politicizing, which every discerning mind and patriot should necessarily avoid.
Indeed, while politics can be defined as the art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as NasarawaState, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs, governance on the other hand, is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented within a political system.
Politics is also the process by which a society makes decisions about who will have power and authority over them and how power will be used, while governance includes the mechanisms, procedures, and processes by which a society makes decisions about who will have power and authority over it and how power will be used.
Thus, in general, the main difference between politics and governance is that politics is concerned with the process of making decisions about who will have power and authority over a society, while governance is concerned with the process of implementing those decisions.
The people of Nasarawa State have collectively elected Engineer Sule for a first term of four years and so far, they are not only satisfied with his stewardship but insist that he seeks reelection for another term of four years, in order for the Governor to consolidate on the gains being recorded by his administration.
Engineer Sule has brought his hard earned reputation to bear in the administration of the state, remember he singlehandedly brought back the then debt ridden AP from a negative balance sheet to a positive balance sheet, a feet that is now being replicated in Nasarawa State, where instead of borrowing from banks to pay salary of workers, the state is now saving enough to be able to pay salary even before the monthly Federal subvention.
This is a feat no politics can deny. Implementing long standing arrears of promotion of workers, devoting N50m monthly to settling gratuities of retirees. In fact, it was unprecedented that Engineer Sule channeled part of the $15.7 million States Fiscal Transpersncy, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) largess from the World Bank that came to Nasarawa State because the Governor implemented reforms that impacted positively on fiscal transparency and accountability in public resource management.
SFTAS is a programme that encourages and motivates Nigerian states towards improvement of their fiscal transparency systems, processes, and institutions, aimed at strengthening fiscal transparency to help build trust in government, facilitate accountability in public resource management, and ensure sustainability in the participating states.
Nasarawa State received the award of Domestic Revenue Mobilization, Improvement on Original Disbursement Linked Indicators (1-9) and Debt Sustainability. The award was due to the political will and determination of Engineer Sule to reform and reposition the state’s public finance management structure in line with international best practices.
This is also the Governor that approved the release of additional N340m for the payment of gratuity of 1,193 state and local hovernment retirees. Having met a backlog of gratuities for over a period of 26 years, Engineer Sule, who came from the organized private sector and who understands the significance of payment of gratuities to retired workers, immediately set out modalities to alleviate the plight of retirees who were left to their fate.
Already, gratuities of retirees have been cleared beginning from 1996 to 2003/2004. Recall that for the over 53 months before he came into power, pensioners at the local government level received roughly 50 percent of their monthly pension but barely a month after his assumption of office, he took pragmatic steps toward ensuring they get 100 percent of their pensions.
In fact, Nasarawa State has a government in place that is committed to transforming the state for the greater good. Under the present administration led by His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, Nasarawa doesn’t need much politics. What the state requires is but a smooth transition from the administration of Engineer Sule to the government led by Engineer Sule come May, 29, 2023.
It’s pertinent to point out that, politics and government are not the same. While politics is the activity through which people make, express, and pursue their interests, which can be seen in the various activities of politicians from the opposition political parties, government on the other hand, is the institution through which a society makes and implements its decisions.
The people of Nasarawa State are happy and satisfied with the decisions so far taken by the Engineer Sule administration. Nasarawa State has a functional, effective and efficient government led by Engineer Abdullahi Sule. So, let Ombugadu, Maidoya et al, play their politics while Engineer Sule governs Nasarawa State.
This is a moment for sober reflection and not a time for needless assumptions. As far as governance is concerned, there is none among those contesting against Engineer Sule that can achieve for Nasarawa State what the incumbent Governor has so far achieved within the four years of his first term. This is self-evident. While politics is an all-comers affairs, governance is not a tea party. Nasarawa State needs someone with the grit, grasp, capacity and experience like Engineer Abdullahi Sule beyond 2023, if Indeed, the people desire for the state to attain its true potentials.
Abare is the Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Nasarawa State.