President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s state visit to Nasarawa state today presents Governor Tanko Al-Makura the opportunity to showcase his achievements, report Alfred Akwe and Allahnana Attah
From inception, Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura made it clear that his vision and mission in power were motivated by the desire to pursue a holistic development of Nasarawa State. In 2011, he hit the ground running, making concerted efforts at frog-jumping the state from its unenviable backward status of a state lacking in the basic paraphernalia of modernity.
To create a modern state, he embarked on a number of projects that have given the state a new look far more than he met it. Al-Makura met decayed infrastructures which made the state any other thing but an urban city or state. The so-called urban centres looked like a village; the rural communities were in a state of disrepair. Lafia, the state capital lacked good road network, while local government headquarters did not have modern roads. The health care delivery system was plagued with lack of qualified staff, medicals and most of the facilities rippled with decay. The education sector was perhaps the worst as it was simply in comatose.
To address infrastructural deficits, Al-Makura embarked on robust and deliberate programmes, including urban renewal; reviving the health sector and land administration; transformation of education as well as agriculture. These programmes have over the years recorded tremendous successes, culminating in the inauguration of some of them by President Muhammadu Buhari during his one day working visit to the state.
Realising the importance of good road network in the economic prosperity of the state and the social wellbeing of the people, Al-Makura made road construction a cardinal focus of his administration. Before him, most urban and rural communities in the state could hardly be accessed especially during rainy season due to the poor state of their roads. This made transportation of goods and services most difficult. Lafia wore dismal picture of bad roads and for many years since creation, no government made any appreciable effort to construct modern roads befitting its status as a capital city. In fact, no single asphalt drained road was constructed in the state since its creation in 1996.
Al-Makura is slowly but surely transforming Lafia by building modern road networks overlaid with asphalt and line drains. The roads so far constructed by his administration in the past three years within Lafia metropolis alone are UAC-Tudun Gwandara â€“ Kwandare â€“ College of Agriculture loop, part of which is dualised; the Super Cinema New Market Road; the Lubona Junction â€“ New Market-.Lafia East â€“ Government House Road and the Sabon Pegi- Awe Street Road. Others are the Lafia East â€“ Governor Isaâ€™s House Road linking Makurdi Road; Sandaji â€“â€œBâ€ Division Road, Adamu Muazu/GRA Road as well as the Dalhatu Araf â€“Governor Alâ€™Makuraâ€™s House Road. Still there is also the Stanbic Bank Junction â€“ Dakin Kowa â€“ Kurikyo Road.
Other new roads within Lafia Metropolis are the GSS Maina â€“ 16 Mango â€“ Tudun Gwandara Road Link, UBA â€“ERCC Road, ERCC- Shinge Road Link, UAC- Saint James Road, Lafia.
In Doma, Akwanga, Wamba, Nasarawa Eggon, Awe, Obi, Nasarawa and Keffi, several kilometres of standard roads laid with asphalt drains have also been constructed. Today most of the urban centres are wearing new looks from their old decadent state. In all, over 200 kilometres of asphalt drained township roads have been constructed at the cost of N10 billion.
Al – Makuraâ€™s road programme did not exclude rural communities particularly because most of the economic activities especially agriculture are based in rural areas. Over 600 kilometres have been constructed across the three senatorial districts of the state, opening up rural communities. This has no doubt eased transportation in and out of these communities and as well promoted trade and commerce as goods and services are being exchanged. The implication is that this development has helped the rural farmer have value for his farm produce as well enhanced their quality of lives.
The Al-Makura administration has also refurbished and reinstated street light lights on the 16-Kilometre stretch federal highway that runs through the city centre from College of Agriculture gate to Akunza Roundabout on the Makurdi Road exit. All urban asphalt drained roads constructed by the administration have been provided with solar powered street lights.
Considering the strategic location of Nasarawa State in the North Central geo-political zone of the country as well as its nearness to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the state government has embarked on the construction of an International Cargo Airport in Lafia.
A peoplesâ€™ governor, Al-Makura has taken the lead in the provision of modern markets across the state. The development of the market sub-sector of the economy has not only broaden the stateâ€™s economic base, it has also created massive employment opportunities for the teeming population. The markets include Lafia Ultra- Modern Market located along Kwandare Road Lafia, the state capital; Akwanga Modern Market located along Akwanga- Lafia Road, Akwanga; Keffi Modern Market along old Keffi- Nasarawa Road, Keffi and the Lafia Neighbourhood Market located at the former Lafia Market at the central area of old Lafia.
The Karu International Market near the Federal Capital Territory Abuja is perhaps the largest of all the markets in the state and subdivided into two phases. The phase 2 of the market houses the informal section of the market.
Believing that health is wealth, the Al-Makura administration has made concerted efforts at providing quality health care services for the well-being of the people in the state. On assumption of office Al- Makura promptly restored the peopleâ€™s confidence in the sector, by recalling striking workers and paying them their entitlements. Next he renovated and remodelled the general hospitals in Awe and Toto. Other hospitals that benefited from his quick win gesture in the award of construction and renovation works are the general hospitals in Akwanga and Karu. He also awarded contract for the construction of X-Ray and Scanning Unit of the same Akwanga General Hospital even as he has completed the building of the permanent site of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Lafia and ensured the relocation of students to the site along Shendam Road, Lafia.
Meanwhile, his government is determined to end the out â€“of- stock syndrome in drug supply in the state and has provided funds for the procurement of drugs under the Drug Revolving Fund Scheme. It has also completed the multi million Naira Central Medical Store along Shendam Road, Lafia which is expected to house the stateâ€™s medical store and distribution point.
With over 80 per cent of its citizens engaged in agriculture, the Al-Makura administration is without choice than to prioritise and modernize the sector. Therefore, to boost and sustain agriculture as a noble vocation as well reduce dependence on white collar jobs, which are scare to come by, the administration has procured well over 50,000 metric tons of assorted fertilizers and sold same at subsidized price to genuine farmers in the state. Besides the provision of fertilizers at subsidized rates to farmers over the years, government also provided improved seedlings of various crops to boost production. Government has also tried to encourage private participation in agriculture by bringing in foreign farmers to the state.
These farmers are engaged in large scale rice cultivation in Rukubi in Doma South of Doma Local Government Area. They are growing high yield rice on 60,000 hectares of land. Apart from providing employment opportunities to the rural population, it has exposed them to the techniques of modern agricultural practice. The government has also partnered the Japanese government through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, JICA, for the processing of rice for value addition as part of effort to boost rice production in the state. These efforts are aimed at transforming the state into a trade and commerce destination given the vast opportunities that avail in tourism, solid minerals and agriculture. This is further reinforced by the current drive for foreign investors coming to exploit the stateâ€™s vast potentials. Already a large mechanized rice cultivation and processing is ongoing in various parts of the state.
The administration of Al-Makura places high premium on the development of the education sector especially the primary and junior secondary school levels which government considers as the foundation of educational development. Government has also demonstrated a high sense of commitment to the development of the tertiary institutions. For instance the government provided funds for the convocation of backlog of students that graduated which had lingered for over ten years; the construction of road networks in the state-owned university in Keffi as well as the construction of four 250-bed space for students in all the tertiary institutions as well as the Federal University in Lafia.
When he became governor, primary education was in near comatose due to none payment of counterpart fund to secure the release of the federal government fund meant for the development of the subsector. Al- Makura swiftly paid the counterpart fund and that enabled the state to access the fund under the UBEC Scheme.
Presently, primary and junior secondary school education is witnessing real transformation in infrastructural development and provision of instructional materials as well as welfare package for teachers. Besides the building of school structures, the state government in a tripartite arrangement with the SUBEB and the Board of Relevant Technology distributed 63, 000 desks and chairs to primary and junior secondary schools.
Other incentives provided by the APC-led administration in the state is the payment of NECO fees for SSS3 students in all public schools as a way to stimulate studentsâ€™ interest in learning as well as take the burden of payment of the examinations fees off the shoulders of parents. In 2014, Al-Makura introduced free education at primary and secondary school levels.
Realizing the importance of security, the state introduced a robust security measure aimed at securing the people. Some of the measures introduced include among others the provision of well over sixty Hilux trucks to the police, the army, the State Security Service and the civil defence. This, according to the state government is to enable security operatives to discharge their responsibilities with ease and efficiency.
The provision of electricity to both urban and rural communities across the state has remained a cardinal project pursued by this administration since inception. Within his first one hundred days in office, Al-Makura bought and distributed 40 500KVA Transformers plus 3 HT and 8LT spans each to boost power supply in the state. The transformers were distributed to various parts of the state especially Lafia, Akwanga and Keffi. This has contributed immensely to improving power supply to most parts of the state and particularly in Lafia the state capital.
Realizing the importance of good road network in the economic prosperity of the state, Al-Makura made road construction a cardinal focus of his administration.