Igbawase Ukumba reports that in Nasarawa State, Governor Abdullahi Sule flagged-off projects construction to mark his one year in office.
Governor Abdullahi Sule received the mantle of leadership as the 4th elected governor of Nasarawa State on May 29, 2019 amidst high expectations from the people. The economy of the state and the overall wellbeing of the people was the main thrust of his campaign. He has spent the first year of his four year term.
Although it is difficult to say if one year is enough or not for him to do anything substantial to address the challenges confronting the state’s economy and the wellbeing of the people, given his experience and what he was exposed to by his predecessor, Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, one year was enough to understand the direction and aspiration of his administration.
Considering his background, exposure and wealth of experience in the private sector as well as his numerous attempts to govern the state in the past, the expection on him to, at least, deliver a greater good to a greater majority of the people was justifiable. More so, given the foundation that his predecessors had built and what they exposed him to, the least the people expected of him was to exceed all expectations.
In his inaugural address, Sule pledged to focus on Security, Power, Education, Healthcare, Business and Industries, Economy and Agriculture. Other areas of focus according to him include infrastractural and rural development, Youths and Women, traditional institutions as well as civil service and labour relations.
This was even as he declared that he would give priority to completing projects left by his immediate predecessor, Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, rather than embarking on new projects. Abandoning such projects, he said, would not augur well for the state.
Some of the uncompleted projects left by his predecessor included Kilema – Shinge road, Lafia International Cargo Airport, General Hospital – B.A.D road, Agyaregun Tofa road, Kwandare – Keffi road, Fertilizer Blending Company, among others.
However, the heartrending result is that one year later, there are mixed feelings among residents and indigenes of the state on the development efforts of Governor Sule. Many thought that the election of Sule in 2019 would have changed a lot of things in the first few months.
To many in the state, the policy direction and focus of Governor Sule’s administration is still unclear to the people of the state. This, no doubt, earned the governor names like “One Tenure Governor.” Such pessimists believe that Sule is unable to complete some laudable projects embarked upon by his immediate predecessor, Senator Al-Makura.
However, Sule at a meeting with the media to mark his first year in office revealed that if he had inherited much funds from the previous administration, he would have performed better.
Sule, while responding to a question on how much he inherited from the previous administration said, “That would have really been the ideal question for the last administration. But I will tell you one thing, if I had taken a lot of money, I would have done a lot of things. But the people who handed over to me, I think some of them are still here as commissioners, so you can ask them.”
On allegations being thrown at him in public places by most that they were dissatisfied with his performance so far that he would only be in the government house for one term, Governor Sule responded by expressing joy, whike praising God for giving him the privilege to serve his state, as Governor for a four year single term.
“What a rare opportunity given to me by Allah the Merciful to serve in this capacity for a single term. I am indeed very grateful,” he maintained, making light of the situation.
In fairness to Sule, if not for the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, the Nasarawa state government had planned to celebrate the one year anniversary in office of the Governor Sule in an elaborate manner in order to show case the giant strides recorded within the year. In accordance with the dictate of the times, the first anniversary of the Sule administration was low-key.
The deputy governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe, disclosed at a press briefing in Lafia that, “it was customary to celebrate the one year anniversary in office of the governor in an elaborate manner in order to show case the giant strides recorded within the year. But the state has decided to celebrate it in low key due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak which will not permit an elaborate celebration. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, government intends to undergo some activities order to show case to the world our modest achievements in the past 12 months.”
Consequently, Governor, Abdulahi Sule performed the ground breaking ceremonies for the construction of the 25km Mararraba-Udege feeder road, as well as the Keffi Square/Neighbourhood Market, all valued at N3.6bn and N1.6bn respectively as part of activities marking his one year in office.
Performing the ground breaking ceremony for the feeder road in Mararraba Udege, in Nasarawa Local Government Area, the governor said with the area endowed with lots of minerals, vast potentials for agriculture, as well as tourism potentials, the project was expected to provide enabling environment for harnessing these endowments, for socio-economic benefit of the communities along the axis, the state and indeed Nigeria as a whole.
Sule recalled when performing the ground breaking ceremony of the road project that his administration made elaborate provision in the 2020 budget for the construction of a number of roads across the state, in line with the government’s policy of creating interconnectivity in rural communities for economic activities and empowerment of the people. He pointed out that the Mararraba – Udege 25 km stretch, was the second major project to be undertaken by his administration, with the other one being the 15km Sisin Baki – Farin Ruwa road awarded last year.
According to the Governor, “the Mararraba – Udege road project, awarded to the Messrs Tonghyi Group Limited, a Chinese firm, at a total cost of N3.6 billion, is expected to be completed within a period of 12 months. The road which runs for a 25km stretch with a one hour port to Odu, has the following features: pipe and box culvert, drainage channels, bridge, double coat 7.3m surface dressed pavement and single coat 1.5m surface dressed shoulders on both sides.”
Performing similar ceremony at the site for the construction of the Keffi Square/Neighbourhood Market at the location of the Old Keffi market, in Keffi Local Government Area of the state, Sule described the day as special for not only fulfilling his campaign promise to the people, but making a dream come true. The governor pointed out that the project was aimed at upgrading the market for enhanced economic activities.
“It’s against this background therefore, that we conceived the idea of developing the Keffi market into a neighbourhood market and also a square, so that we can release the palace of our royal father as venue for most events. The Keffi Neighbourhood market is designed to be a model market with modern facilities and infrastructure and that when completed, will comprise of 561 locked-up retail and wholesale shops, open traditional shops and covered walkways,” the governor said.
He added that the project was geared towards transforming the economy of the state, which will enhance the internal revenue generation of the state and Keffi Local Government Area.
In the same vein, the governor equally performed a ground breaking ceremony of the 350-capacity Lafia Modern Bus Terminal in Bukkan Sidi area. Flagging-off construction of the 350-capacity modern bus terminal in Lafia, the state capital, Sule recalled the commitment of his administration to build modern bus terminals across the three senatorial districts of the state, noting that the provision of infrastructure was a veritable tool for enhancing development, particularly in the transport sector, adding that the sector, with adequate facilities, was capable of spurring socio-economic development in the society.
“It’s in this connection that it became absolutely necessary to develop modern transport infrastructure, in order to unravel the potentials of this important sector. It has become necessary to build much desired infrastructure for an ordered city like Lafia, in order to enhanced development, which will further complement the status of the state capital. Lafia metropolis is faced with several inadequate infrastructure with attendant increase cost of doing business, which results in lower returns on investment, fewer jobs and less productive labour with attendant negative effects on our economy,” he explained.
He added that government was committed to bringing about infrastructural development aimed at improving the standard of living of the people and also as a wealth, job creating opportunities for the socio-economic development of the state. Sule further disclosed that that explained the resolve of his administration to build modern bus terminals in Karu and Lafia, with plans concluded to construct two other smaller terminals in Akwanga and Keffi.
“The development is critical to the success of the mass transit service delivery, as every terminal will promote good culture of passengers embarking on a journey and arriving at their destinations successfully. Lafia is strategically located as a state capital, as well as its advantage in linking major cities of Benue State and the entire southern part of the country,” he stated.
Giving a graphic picture of the project, Project Consultant for the Lafia Bus Terminal, Architect Shehu Tukur, disclosed that the Bukkan Sidi Bus Terminal will be erected on a 2.7 hectares of land, which will accommodate about 350 vehicles at a time. Tukur added that the facility will comprise a terminal building, drivers lounge, public toilets, a petrol station, service yard, restaurants and ATM points, among others.
Findings by THISDAY revealed that the project, which was awarded at the cost of N1.2billion, was expected to be completed in 40 weeks time.
While delivering a state-wide broadcast in commemoration of the first anniversary of his administration, the governor stressed the resolve of his administration to diligently and selflessly serve the people, through deliberate policies by executing programmes that will bring development to all the nook and cranny of the state.
According to him, “my administration is committed to the continuous upgrade of physical structures, particularly roads, upliftment of educational standard, enhancing agriculture, upgrading of health sector and market facilities, as well as other social services.”
He however noted that the journey has not been all rosy as the administration has had its own share of daunting challenges.
“As you are aware, Nasarawa State is among the least in the revenue allocation chart. I want to caution that there is yet a long way to go,” Sule concluded.
On allegations being thrown at him in public places by most that they were dissatisfied with his performance so far that he would only be in the government house for one term, Governor Sule responded by expressing joy, whike praising God for giving him the privilege to serve his state, as Governor for a four year single term. What a rare opportunity given to me by Allah the Merciful to serve in this capacity for a single term. I am indeed very grateful,” he maintained, making light of the situation