Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State recently inaugurated an Investment and Economic Council to attract investments to the state as well as harness the numerous resources for the benefit of the citizens in particular and Nigeria generally, writes Goddy Egene
In line with his industrialisation agenda, the Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, who came from the private sector, recently inaugurated a 14-member Nasarawa State Investment and Economic Advisory Council. The council has as chairman, Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi, a leading Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Managing Partner of Olaniwun Ajayi LP, a leading law firm in Africa.
Ajayi has over 35 years experience in banking, project finance, capital market, power infrastructure among others. He has played a key role in the Nigerian banking sector reforms, as well as the power sector privatisation. The council also has a former managing director of Nigerian Export Import Bank, Mr. Robert Orya as member.
Others are: Abubakar Balarabe Mohammed (SAN); Dr. Adeyemi Dipeola; Chief Gen. Ahmed Abdullahi Aboki (rtd), Dr. Faisal Shu’aib;
Dr. Lazarus Angbazo; Dr. Kassim Hussein; Adamu Aliyu; Hon. Imaan Suleiman Ibrahim; Dikko Tahir Bala; Dr. George Manuike, Dr. Rosaline Kela while Ibrahim Abdullahi Essey will serve as secretary.
To many observers and stakeholders in Nasarawa State, the establishment of an investment and economic council is not only timely but also is part of fulfillment of promise of the governor to harness the huge natural resources in the state and make it a leading investment attraction.
Only recently, the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Festus Daudu, was quoted to have decried the non-existence of industries in Nasarawa State despite the large deposits of natural resources, such as salt and solid minerals.
He was said to have expressed displeasure that opportunities in the salt sub-sector were untapped while local producers were still using old methods of processing in modern day and time.
But he was, however, quoted as having welcomed the industrialisation agenda of the Gov Sule, saying it would guarantee employment for the teeming youths and consequently reduce vices perpetrated by youths in the state.
Nasarawa targets 5 percent GDP growth, to be among 3 leading states by 2023
Speaking the inauguration ceremony, Sule said the council would serve as the fulcrum to enable the state to achieve a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth target of five per cent and be among the three leading states by 2023.
He emphasised that the setting up of the council said it was in fulfilment of his solemn commitment to make Nasarawa State a hub for investment opportunities and sustainable development, with the state adopting a robust investment policy and economic objective that will be structured on interim, short, medium and long term arrangements.
The governor added that his administration would establish a one-stop shop Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), “to process, regulate, manage and also drive our investment initiatives,” with the state poised to explore the public-private-partnership (PPP) approach to finance special infrastructural initiatives, as well as deploy strong political will to provide incentives to willing investors.
Accordingly, Sule said there was the need to evolve new strategies that will make the state more economically viable, necessitating the constitution of the economic advisory council, with members expected to leverage on their experience and network to unlock any possible constraints that might hinder the progress of the economic potentials of the state.
“It is in furtherance to our commitment to transform the state into a high pedestal of development that we consider it imperative to set up the Nasarawa State Investment and Economic Advisory Council to appraise the state economic potentials, including the sources of revenue generation and advise government on appropriate policies,” the governor stated.
He noted that the council has 13 terms of reference, including supporting and implementing the Nasarawa State Economic Development Strategy (NEDS).
The NEDS, he explained is a well thought out economic strategy, would focus on five game changers namely, employment and wealth creation, accelerated industrialisation, infrastructural development, human capital development and urban renewal and sustainable housing development.
The chairman of the council thanked the governor for his sincerity of purpose and for assembling a cross section of patriots bound together by their excellence in creative disruption.
He commended the governor for assembling a team representing the finest and best from across the country, all in the pursuit of the economic advancement and development of Nasarawa State, in order to make “this basket of raw talent and opportunity, not just one of the largest economies in the nation but also one of the best states with social mobility, economic advancement, educational process, peace and security.
This move of the Sule is therefore seen as timely and forward looking. The governor, who is a former Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Technology and a Master of Science Degree in Industrial Technology, both from Indiana State University, USA, and a Certificate in Information Technology from University of Houston, Texas, USA.
He had a highly successful professional career spanning over 35 years both in the public and private sectors.
In the private sector, he was a Managing Director of African Petroleum (AP) Plc,(now Forte Oil Plc).
He held various managerial positions in Dangote conglomerate, rising through hard work, dedication and commitment to the position of deputy group managing director and later the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc.
Before coming to Nigeria, Sule also worked with Tetra Technologies, Houston, Texas, USA, as director of Business Development and later Country Manager for Nigeria. He was also a Director of Business Development for Africa and the Middle East of Osyka Corporation, an independent oil and gas company among others.
The governor had assured the people of Nasawara state that he would leverage on my net worth of investors, local and foreign, to attract their capital for the industrialisation of the state.
“A world-renowned Agri-business company, Olam Nigeria Limited, collaborated with the state government to usher in agricultural revolution in the state this is highly commendable. I wish to note the partnership of the state government with Dangote Group to establish the integrated sugar refinery in Tunga area of Awe Local Government, the largest in Africa. These projects, are no doubt a road map for the industrialisation and economic development of the state. We will be committed to sustaining these partnerships for the benefit of the citizens of the state,” he said.
Sule said relying on their natural endowment which forms the four pillars of Nasarawa State (land, solid minerals, location and labour, an economic development plan will be established to create employment and lay the foundation for increased internally generated revenue (IGR) to augment federal allocation.
“We will also establish the state development council which will meet periodically to advice Government on topical issues of governance in the state. We will establish Small Medium Scale Enterprises (SME Ambassadors) to empower 3,000 women, youth and physically challenged persons annually by identifying and attracting intervention funds to support them,” Sule said.
According to Sule, the government will partner foreign urban based development companies to create industrial zones in each of the three Senatorial Districts of the state.
“Similarly, we will partner with both local and foreign ventures to embark on owner-occupier mass housing schemes in each of the senatorial district. In partnership with cooperative societies, cottage industries will be established under a small business assistance scheme for local communities. We will establish a Diaspora Desk in the state capital, Lafia, to encourage Nasarawa State indigenes in Diaspora to invest in the state,” he explained.