2024: How Governor Sule is placing Nasarawa on path of sustainable development
By Ali Abare, Lafia.
Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State came onboard to change the narrative. He came into power to realign the development aspirations of the state from what previously obtained and to place the state on the path of sustainable development.
Unlike in the past, where the leadership is predisposed to initiating new structures, coping with problems, adapting to continuous change, and striving purposefully and creatively to attain new goals albeit in an unsustainable manner, Governor Sule has come to shift the paradigm towards sustainable development where the society, economy and environment are being harnessed in a manner that would guarantee the future for generations to come.
The Governor Sule administration is working assiduously to meet the needs of the present, without actually compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Little wonder that on assumption of office in 2019, he directed all ministries, departments and agencies to realign their activities in line with sustainable development goals.
While the administration is pursuing its development blueprint as enunciated in the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS), in itself another innovation in the governance of the state, Governor Sule ensures that government is diligently working towards attaining the most of the sustainable development goals namely, end poverty in all its forms, zero hunger, health, education, energy, economic growth, infrastructure, industrialization, inequality, climate action, oceans, biodiversity, forests, and desertification.
It’s evident that in the aspects of especially fighting poverty, health, education, energy, economic growth, infrastructure, and industrialization, the Governor Sule administration is leaving no one in doubt regarding its commitment, determination and efforts to reposition Nasarawa State on the pedestal of genuine sustainable development.
This, the administration seeks to achieve through the balancing of different, and competing needs against an awareness of the environmental, social and economic limitations of the state, focusing on finding better ways of doing things, both for the future and the present.
In the health sector for instance, and to underscore his administration’s resolve to deliver quality and affordable healthcare services to the people of the state, Governor Sule invested hugely in upgrading infrastructures and building of new health centres, provision of drugs and other consumables as well as training and recruitment of more health personnel.
In line with his administration’s resolve to reposition health care delivery, Governor Sule accorded priority to the sector by ensuring that the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, (DASH) Lafia, which is the state’s own tertiary health facility, now handed over to the Federal University of Lafia to serve as the institution’s teaching hospital, served as a referral center..Also, the Hospitals Management Board (HMB) which coordinates the activities of all secondary health facilities in the state and, the Nasarawa State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCD) which coordinates and supervise the activities of all primary healthcare centers, are given all the necessary support to enable them function effectively and efficiently.
It was therefore not surprising when Nasarawa State emerged as the best performing state for Covid-19 vaccination coverage, with the state attaining one hundred percent coverage to lead other states in the country.
In the area of education, Governor Sule has demonstrated uncommon resolve to fight backwardness, illiteracy, as well as improve the quality of education by even surpassing the 26 percent budgetary benchmark set by UNESCO in funding the sector. For example, in the 2021 budget, the Governor devoted 31. 35 percent of the budget and in this year’s budget, the education sector received a whopping 41 percent of the total budget of the state.
Recently, the matriculation of pioneer students of the faculty of engineering at the Nasarawa State University Keffi (NSUK) further underscored the determination of the administration to transform the educational sector towards meeting the demands of the society. NSUK has also started admitting students into the newly established faculty of medical sciences.
In the area of economic growth, Governor Sule is pursuing an aggressive investment drive, wooing private investors to come into the state to invest in commercial agriculture, mining and solid minerals.
A landmark approach of the administration in the economic sector, is the establishment of the Nasarawa Investment Development Agency (NASIDA) which is a special purpose vehicle for attaining the government’s aspiration to attract investors into the state.
Also, in order to effectively harness the state’s internally generated revenue, Governor Sule passed the Harmonization and Administration of Revenue law on Dec. 31, 2020, which provides for the harmonisation and collection of all revenues accruing to the state and local government areas as well as the establishment of relevant administrative structures.
It’s on record that following ongoing reforms embarked by the administration at the Nasarawa State Board of Internal Revenue Services, IGR increased from N7. 1 billion to N20 billion annually.
Also, due mostly to his tenacity and zeal, Governor Sule saw to the exploration of crude oil in the state, which saw the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) drilling the Ebenyi-A Oil well in Obi Local Government Area, with additional discoveries in Keana and Assakio areas, paving the way for the state to join the elite oil producing states.
In the area of industrialization, the administration passed the Executive Order No 2, which mandates investors coming into the state to explore solid minerals resources, to carry out primary processing of such minerals in the state, instead of taking the raw minerals out of the state.
This policy thrust, which is central to the industrialization of especially the mining sector of the state’s economy gave birth to the Lithium Rush, with mostly Chinese companies flocking into the state to set up lithium processing plants.
Recall that only recently, President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, performed the groundbreaking of the 250m USD Ganfeng Lithium Industry Limited factory in Endo community of Udege Development Area in Nasarawa Local Government Area.
With lithium now being used in the provision of clean energy, the President pointed out that the construction of the factory project was in line with his administration’s industrialization policy directed at providing adequate energy for the country.
Indeed, the Governor Sule administration has continued to record unprecedented development strides that is positioning Nasarawa State on the genuine path of sustainable development.
In fact, with the signing of the 2024 budget estimated at N199,879,370,709.43, and especially with the state going into the new year with an opening balance ever seen in the history of the state, the people should expect more innovations and change agents that would further take Nasarawa State to the next level of development.
Abare is the Special Assistant on Media to Governor Sule.