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Dissecting Nasarawa@24: The vision, the challenges so far

From Francis Nansak,Lafia

Nasarawa state fondly called the home of solid minerals, was created 24 years ago. This means that by 1st October 2020, which is few weeks away, the government and its citizenry will be counting the gains of the state since creation.

Carved out from old Plateau from the north and a little to the southern part near Benue state, just as it is to the west and close to Kogi state, Nasarawa is centrally and strategically located to the Federal capital territory by way of proximity.

This was achieved by the collective efforts of the state stakeholders,who during the reign of late general Abacha, went through painstaking meetings and proposal for the creation of the state with its administrative headquarters in the old Lafia local government area then under Plateau state.

Administratively, Nasarawa state began the journey of its Independence under the control of the military, who ruled for four years before democratic governance was again restored in 1999.

The military governors , had in their respective administrative inputs, introduced a working policy for civil servants of which the majority were from the old Plateau state, aided in putting some finishing touches for what is today developed into a full blown community with the basic infrastructure for better living.

Nasarawa state has about 37 ethnic groups across its 13 local government areas with an estimated population figure of 7 million who are predominantly farmers.

The state has a fertile topography for agriculture. It is also endowed with huge mineral deposits. Sadly however, these potentials are yet to be fully harnessed to drive the economic boom that will make Nasarawa state become a fully Independent state that can comfortably fend for its citizens outside the monthly Federal allocation that is continuously dwindling.

Since the exit of the military, Nasarawa state has had four successful elected governors who have contributed in no small measure in shaping what is today called the home of solid minerals.

On the roll call of the elected governors since 1999, was Dr Abdullahi Adamu,who was elected under the platform of the PDP. He spent two successive tenures of 8 years. He handed over to Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma in 2007 on the same political platform ,but could not scale through a second chance as he was defeated by Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of the defunct CPC in 2011. Al-Makura thus, became the third elected executive governor of the state untill 2019 after a successful 8years in office. He handed over the mantle of leadership to ,Engineer Abdullahi Alhaji Sule, the incumbent governor ,who marked his first one year in office on 29th May 2020.

The impact so far created by the above personalities which has made Nasarawa state what it is today, starting with the first elected governor,now senator Abdullahi Adamu,is that as a pioneer democratic governor,he contributed immensely in ensuring that education and rural development were top priorities during his tenure as governor.

As a result of that policy, bottlenecks hitherto, encountered by Nasarawa indigenes in securing admissions were tackled.

Today, apart from tackling the academic deficits ,the state can now, not only boast of having its citizens at the top echelon of education but has befitting tertiary institutions ,like the State University in Keffi, State polytechnics in Lafia and both schools of Nursing and that of Health technology were established during his time.

For his tenacity for rural development, Senator Adamu also created 18 development areas, exalted some community leaders with first class and second class staff of office in their various chiefdoms to mention but a few on how he led the state out of the woods.

Then came the second elected governor,Dr Aliyu Akwe Doma, of blessed memory.

Akwe Doma succeeded Adamu in 2007 and focused on Agriculture and rural development.To this end and given the little time he stayed in office, he is regarded as the best governor as far as the grassroots are concerned.

At this point and backed by his drive to harnessing the potentiality in agricultural investment, he introduced a Farmer delight programme”BADA KOSHI” a hausa word that simply means get them satisfied.

Using this programme,farmers in Nasarawa state were again energised and encouraged to return to the farm as the program offered them the opportunity to market their produce locally and internationally.

Baba Doma, as he was fondly called, took advantage of the enthusiasm demonstrated by the farmers in the state and seeing that yam production was successful,entered into a bilateral relationship with countries like the USA and UK for the exportation of yam from Nasarawa state.

He did not stop at the successful boosting of agriculture,but was also known for rural roads creations in some local government areas,to enable easy transportation of their farm produce to the urban communities.For the short time he stayed in office, Doma,was not dormant.

For Al-Makura, within a short time upon assuming office in 2011, precisely in his first 100 days, transformation had begun in earnest and by the time he marked his 1 year at the Shendam road Government House , Lafia, Muhammadu Buhari ,as the presidential flag bearer of the CPC ,had no choice but to join Umaru Tanko Al-Makura in marking his one year in office ,which saw to the commissioning of projects-a good omen for dividend of democracy,which the people attested to.

It was evidently clear on the minds of the people of Nasarawa state,that the change they had long waited for has finally come. Today, Al-Makura”s legacy projects which earned him the name ‘The Architect of Modern Nasarawa,’ spans through asphalt constructed roads network of 3 kilometres in each of the 13 local government areas and indeed intercity link roads within the Lafia metropolis.

Senator Al-Makura delved into transforming swams and gullies, that had an unfortunate history of drowning children whenever it rains into a well landscape drainages that cost millions of Naira.

Primary and Secondary education buildings for the first time were renovated,upgraded in structural outlook into upstairs. He constructed hospitals across the three senatorial zones to cater for the health needs of the people in addition to the existing general hospitals and also re-equipped over 700 PHCs primary health care for people living in the rural areas.

Senator Al-Makura, view sustainability of his legacies and the advancement of the entire people of Nasarawa state as the highest service he can bequeath them,went through a rough political period to arrive at his choice of Engineer Sule ,becoming his successor.

Last year October 1st, in an event organised to mark the 23 years of creation of Nasarawa state, stakeholders and of course founding fathers of the state,like Alhaji Ari Goska and Alhaji Tanko Baba,threw a challenge on leaders of the state .

According to them and in their separate speeches, Nasarawa state can not be adjudged as being a developed and advancing state,if ethnicity,locality and religion is tearing the unity and purpose of creation of the state apart.

They called on the youth to arise,work as a family and shun the divisive gimmicks of some political leaders,saying untill all the sons and daughters of Nasarawa eschewed bitterness and political manipulation which is aimed at subverting and suppressing the future of others, whatever development that is instituted cannot be of any benefit.

Based on these assertions and as if Engineer Sule is playing their script, the governor has put in so much to the return of peace among communities that are at loggerheads with one another.

Though his first one year has been adversely affected by the dwindling federal allocation and the COVID-19 pandemic as in other states, Gov Sule is not deterred in his pursuit of industrial development which is the bedrock of his administration.

However not deterred by the present challenges, Engineer Sule has Marshalled out a robust plan that with time will spring surprises in the state.

Already the ongoing construction of Mega bus terminal at Karu and Lafia is a pointer that the administration will focus its attention on creating wealth for the state via enabling environments that could allow businesses to thrive.

But while these plans comes to fruition, there is the need for the government to look inward and ensure that citizens of the state are catching up with the advancement which in no distant time will be witnessed.

This will therefore mean that the administration of Engineer Sule must introduce a traffic control policy within the state capital ,a task force that will ensure sanity among road users , especially on the high ways, mop out all road side traders and indiscriminate motor parks. These measures will no doubt, put the state on an industrial footing and higher pedal as far as urban challenges are concerned.

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