New Telegraph

Nasarawa: X-raying Sule’s industrialization drive

CHEKE EMMANUEL reports on the industrialization drive of the Abdullahi Sule administration in Nasarawa State, which has endeared him to the many people in the state given the results the initiative has yielded within two years

In his speech during his swearing-in ceremony as governor of Nasarawa State on May 29, 2019, Engr. Abdullahi Sule promised to industrialize the state in order to put it on the path of sustainable economic growth and development. For the governor, industrialization doesn’t just mean building of big industries factories or companies, but attracting big and small scale investors as well as entrepreneurs to the state to invest for economic development and prosperity of the state.

To match his words with action on his assumption of office, Governor Sule wasted no time and developed the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS) to drive the industrialization policy of his administration to put the state on the path of sustainable economic growth and development through job creation, business and investment opportunities for his citizens. Known with its acronyms “Home of Solid Minerals,” Nasarawa State was created in October 1996 by the then Military Head of State, General Sani Abacha.

The state is blessed with abundant mineral potentials such as Barites, Tantalite, Coal, Gold, Salt, Uranium and host of many other untapped mineral deposits yearning to be tapped. Sadly, the state suffered under development in the hands of its successive leaders due to their lack of industrialization – driven vision leading to weak economy and lack of industrial presence with low Internal Generation Revenue (IGR), rising debt burden and nearabsence of investors and its population sharply divided along political, ethnic and religious lines until the coming of Governor Sule.

The popular agricultural programme introduced by the late Aliyu Akwe Doma administration “Bada Koshi” to stimulate economic growth, increase income generation and agricultural production capacity of groups and individual farmers in the state was fraudulently mismanaged, which led to the eventual collapse of the programme without achieving its desired objective.

In the same vein, the youth empowerment programme meant to alleviate the suffering of the youth and make them self-reliant was politicized and brazenly hijacked by politicians without achieving the impact of the programme which was designed for.

The situation was not different during the administration of Umaru Tanko Al-makura, whose administration paid more attention on massive infrastructural construction excluding rural development at the neglect of human capital development and without industrialization pursuit. The Al-makura administration did not only succeed in weakening the economic growth of the state.

The state largely described as a civil service oriented state was plagued by extreme poverty, hunger and communal strife and killings during the period until the coming of Sule. Although the Al-makura administration build markets in parts of the state, his administration was lacking in human capital development and visible absence of industrial development. With his vast experience in the private background, Sule on coming on board, noticed that Nasarawa State, which is strategically located within the North Central zone of the country given its proximity to Abuja and blessed with abundant mineral potentials with vast arable land for agriculture, but lack in industrial growth and development.

So, Sule did not waste time by formulating the industrialization policy and initiated other reforms to achieve the industrialization drive of his administration. In his 100 days in office, the governor constituted the Nasarawa State Investment and Economic Advisory committee headed by a renowned academic, Prof. Konyi Ajayi to come up with some innovations that would attract investment and industrial growth of the state.

The governor also went ahead to create business environments by formulating what is today known as Ease of doing business in Nasarawa State to encourage both big and small business owners to invest in the state thereby breaking hitherto bureaucratic bottlenecks hindering ease of doing business in the state.

The role of the State Investment and Economic Advisory Council is to advice the governor on policy Issues, particularly, on issues relating to economic development of the state, promote business environment and to advice government on development of the state. Other functions of the council is to advice the government on incentive, policy frameworks required to economic growth and sustainable development and promoting and continually enhancing image of Nasarawa State as a proactive place to invest, relocate, establish new businesses amongst other things. Speaking at a meeting with a forum of former councilors at the government house, recently, Governor Sule said: “I want to be a governor that is thinking and doing, I want to bring investment, I want to bring opportunities and I want to bring people who will come to Nasarawa to catapult employment opportunities and provide revenue for the state” There is no doubt that two years down the line, the governor has been working hard to improve the economy of the state using the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS) to create non-oil jobs, raise Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), employment and encourage both big time investors and the medium and small scale enterprises.

Interestingly, Sule introduced Registration of Business Premises to ventilate the business premises and create sanity in the business space to improve income generation of the state thereby building confidence in entrepreneurs and private investors to do business without stress in the state.

These and other policies and reforms introduced by the Sule All Progressive Congress (APC)-led administration in Nasarawa State is paying off because the industrialization policy, ease of doing business and other reforms have attracted huge investment of various kinds in the state ranging from agriculture to trade and commerce, mineral exploitation, tourism and Information Communication Technology (ICT) as well as stimulating the growth of medium and small scale industries.

These investments no doubt would not only promote business investments in the state alone, but would create employment for the youth as well as well as stimulate the economy of the state thereby reducing restiveness among youth and enthroning peace in the state.

Today in Nasarawa State, there is appreciable growth in the economy as a result of steady rise in growth and number of investors coming to invest in the state compared to the past as a result of the positive impact of the industrialization policy and reforms initiated by Governor Abadullahi Sule, despite the biting negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic. In his recent state broadcast to climax activities that marked his two years in office, Sule said: “In furtherance to our commitment to engender economic growth and development of Nasarawa State, we constituted the Investment and Economic Advisory Council under the leadership of Prof. Konyi Ajayi.

Let me state that our administration is poised to initiate policies that are economically viable through professional guidance. “In our determination to open vistas of economic opportunities through the provision of basic infrastructure, we constructed the Shinge Ricemill- Kilema road. We have constructed the Mararaba-Udege 25km road and 15km Alsphalt Sisinbaki-Kwarra road project in Nasarawa and Wamba Local Government Areas, considering the potentials that abound in those areas and numerous other rural roads.” Also speaking during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the management of the Flour Mills Nigeria in Abuja, Governor Sule said the event was in line with the trust of his administration, to create employment, as well as turn the state into an investment haven.

According to him, signing of the MoU was also in line with the policy trust of President Muhammadu Buhari on local food production as well as meeting the sugar consumption of the country. Besides, Governor Sule introduced land reforms to remove bottlenecks in ease of doing business in the state having recognized land as a major requirement, when it comes to access for development. Speaking with stakeholders in land administration from the side of government as well as members of the Nasarawa State Investment and Economic Advisory Council recently, the governor expressed the hope that with the state Geographic Information Services in place, laws establishing the state Urban Development Board, the Mortgage Foreclosure Authority, as well as the establishment of the Nasarawa State Investment Development Agency (NASIDA), the state will soon take its proper position in the ease of doing business in the country in line with the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS). Speaking virtually during the stakeholders meeting, Chairman of the Nasarawa State Economic and Advisory Council, Prof. Ajayi, said: “Mortgage foreclosure has been a big problem across the country. Many banks are unable to give mortgages because of the mortgage law.

Where banks give mortgages, people are unable to use the land as much as they would like to.” Chairman of the state chapter of the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), Chief Samuel Baba Akpa, who spoke on emerging developments in Nasarawa State, said: “Engr. Abdullahi Sule is the first governor in Nasarawa State to come up with industrialization policy and medium and small scale entrepreneurs in the state are already enjoying the impact of the policy. Because of the enabling environment provided for investment in the state, we can now do business without any difficulty.

What we want the governor to further do for us is to establish a state micro finance bank to enable our members to assess loans easily. Doing so will further boost business and economic activities in the state.” Also commenting on the industrialization policy of Governor Sule, chairperson, Market Women Association in the state, Hadiza Sabo Jibrin said: “The industrialization policy of Governor Sule has attracted big and small investors to the state. This will create wealth and employment opportunities for our people in the state and beyond.”

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