By Ali Abare
This piece was inspired by a remark by one of the prominent, erudite traditional rulers of Nasarawa State, the Esu Karu, HRH Pharmacist Luka Panya Baba, who while delivering his short speech at an event for the distribution of relief materials to internally displaced persons, in Karu Local Government Area, called on the people to vote for development in this year’s general election.
Specifically, the Esu Karu, said as the general election approaches, the people of Nasarawa State cannot afford to make a mistake. According to the royal father, if indeed, the people desire progress and development, then they must vote for His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, who he said, is keeping faith with his promises to the people.
“If we desire progress and development, we must do the right thing. We should not make any mistake in 2023, we must vote for development, we must vote for economic enhancement, we must for social emancipation of the people,” the royal father stated.
This statement couldn’t have come from a better individual than the Esu Karu, who though not into active politics, but remain the guardians of the society, who are in better position to assess the progress or otherwise of the society.
With every sense of conviction, His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has kept faith with the promises he made to the people when he came into power on May 29, 2019. A sincere, honest and detailed review of the Governor’s stewardship during the past three and a half years, will reveal that, indeed, Engineer Sule is keeping faith with his promises.
Certainly, there has never been a human system or creation that is perfect, without blemish, however, devoid of any sentiments and ulterior motives, which is a common feature in the country’s pattern of democracy, the Engineer Sule administration is delivering on its mandate, through deliberate and carefully initiated strategies that is moving the state forward in leaps and bounds.
For an administration that came on the mantra of good governance, as the mainstay and defining essence of democratic governance, the Engineer Sule administration has effectively harnessed both human and material resources, to drive its policies and programmes in the quest to actualize the collective aspirations of the people of the state.
For an administration that upholds good governance as cardinal principle, Engineer Sule has deliberately and positively established systems, processes and institutions that are continously enhancing transparency, probity and accountability in the management of the state resources in line with international best practices.
Except for the unperceptive, burblind, the All Progressives Congress (APC) government under the leadership of His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has evolved systems and processes that is enhancing probity and accountability in public resources management, thereby minimizing corruption and mismanagement, the twin evil that have constituted a stumbling block to the development aspirations of the people at the various levels of government.
The Nasarawa State Bureau of Public Procurement (NSBPP), was established on the 23rd of May, 2020 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.
The NSBPP was specifically mandated to formulating policies and guidelines relating to procurement, as well as certifying all procurements prior to, during and after the awards of contract, with its scope of operation to include the state government, local government councils/development areas and MDAs, tertiary institutions and all other Nasarawa State Government entities which are procuring entities in the state.
The law, based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) model, underlines the outcome of a research conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which identified public procurement as one of the government activities most vulnerable to corruption.
According to the OECD, because of the volume of transactions and the financial interests at stake, corruption risks are exacerbated by the complexity of the process, the close interaction between public officials and businesses, and the multitude of stakeholders.
Obviously, there are those who, out of their past experiences, or even share mischief, may chose to deride every government intension, however, the establishment of the NSBPP by the Engineer Sule administration, has sanitized the procurement process and drastically reduced the incidences of mind-boggling corruption in managing public finance.
Another key Intervention by the APC administration is in the area of tax and revenue collection and generation reforms. Is it not amazing that from 2019, the reforms introduced to guide the activities of the Nasarawa State Board of Internal Revenue Services, has led to the generation of over N16bn in 2022?
Not only that, and according to the Chairman of the Nasarawa State Internal Revenue Services, Alhaji Ahmed Yakubu Muhammad, the board recently generated the sum of N40bn following an introduction of the new Point of Sales machines developed by the board to ease revenue collection in the state.
Muhammad explained that since he was appointed into office in March 2018, he had undertaken deliberate steps to reposition the board, inspite of the challenges associated with the operational vehicles, inadequate staff and uncondusive working environment.
“So far, the board has recovered an unprecedented N40bn, with another 8 to 10bn in the process of being recovered. We have increased the monthly internally generated revenue from N500m when I was appointed to N1.4bn as at September this year.
“We increased the revenue by introducing new taxes such as pools betting and casino, gaming development levy, individual capital gain tax, property tax,and withholding tax on rents,” Muhammad, who doubles as the Yan Dakan Lafia, stated.
He specifically commended His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, for introducing the broad reforms that is assisting the board generate more IGR, particularly the passage into law of two major enablers, the Nasarawa State Central Billing System, as well as the state harmonisation and administration law.
In these two instances only, the benefits of the hindsight informing the policy thrust of the present administration to establish the NSBPP, as well as embark on sweeping reforms at the NSBIRS, are visible to see, even for the most politically jaundiced mind. Nasarawa State can now pay salary of workers without having to wait for the almighty federation allocation from Abuja!
Prior to the coming of the Engineer Sule administration, Nasarawa State never participated in the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability – Program-for-Results (PforR) Project for Nigeria, aimed at strengthening the fiscal transparency, accountability, and sustainability in the participating states. However, with the establishment of the state Bureau for Public Procurement, the state not only became a participant but won various awards that translated to huge sums of money.
First, Nasarawa was, for the first time in the history of the state, enlisted among states in the country that benefitted $10 million each from the World Bank Fiscal Transparency Grant. Another $15.7 million also accrued to the state from the Federal Government, as an encouragement to the state’s fight against corruption and enhancing of transparency in the use of public funds.
Certainly, these are the development the Esu Karu was referring to when he asked the people of the state not to make a mistake but to vote for development. There are several such other laudable interventions like the ongoing search for oil in Keana, amongst several others, for which time and space may not all for an exhaustive review but it suffice to say however that, the Engineer Sule has kept faith with the promises he made to the people of the state back in 2019.
This year and a few months to come, the people of Nasarawa State have the opportunity to chose between development like rightly observed by the cerebral Esu Karu or pander to sentiments and crude manipulation of selfish individuals who don’t have concern for the welfare of the people but who merely seek power for the sake of power.
Voting for His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule to continue for a second term in office, is not only necessary but an obligation, if indeed, Nasarawa State must develop its true potentials.
Abare is the Special Assistant on to the Governor of Nasarawa State.