By Ali Abare
Alan Lakein, a well-known author on personal time management defined planning as “bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it.” With the recent inauguration of the Nasarawa State Investment and Economic Development Advisory Council, Governor Abdullahi Sule is bringing a future full of prosperity and hope, to the present with all the accompanying challenges, for the people of the state to do something about it.
Few leaders are imbued with this rare ability to travel through time and to not only visualize the future but also transport this future back to the present, for the people to assimilate, digest and imbibe, in spite of the mountain of challenges they confront daily.
Engineer Sule is the man who saw the tomorrow of Nasarawa State and is determined to attain to that future. A tomorrow heralding great tidings, a Nasarawa State that is less dependant on dwindling monthly subvention from the Federal Government as it turns inward to harness, exploit the abundant natural resources, both human and capital, that God bestowed on the state.
It was indeed a new dawn in the economic prosperity of Nasarawa State after Engineer Sule assembled a dignified array of global citizens, each an authority in his field of endeavour, to constitute an economic advisory council, a new strategy to make the state more economically viable, as well as an effective mechanism for engaging the private sector on matters relating to investment and economic development.
Describing the day as the happiest since the inception of his administration, Engineer Sule saw the inauguration of the economic advisory council as a fulfilment of an earlier pledge encapsulated in his inaugural speech on the attainment of 100 days in office, his solemn commitment to make Nasarawa State a hub for investment opportunities and sustainable economic development.
“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 and frameworks that will enhance the investment opportunities and economic development of the state,” Engineer Sule stated.
Members of the Nasarawa State Investment and Economic Advisory Council are Professor Konyisola Ajayi (SAN) as Chairman, Abubakar Balarabe Mohammed (SAN), Dr. Adeyemi Dipeola, Chief Roberts Orya, Gen. Ahmed Abdullahi Aboki (rtd), Dr. Faisal Shu’aib, Dr. Lazarus Angbazo, Dr. Kassim Hussein, QS Adamu Aliyu, Hon. Imaan Suleiman Ibrahim, Dikko Tahir Bala, Dr. George Manuike, Dr. Rosaline Kela and Ibrahim Abdullahi, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Investment to the governor, while Ibrahim Abdullahi Essey will serve as Secretary.
Guided by 14 terms of reference, members of the economic advisory council, consisting of 15 tested individuals, are expected to leverage on their experience and network to unlock any possible constraints that might have hindered the progress of the economic potentials of the state and facilitate the in flow of domestic and foreign investments to Nasarawa State.
Most significantly, the council is also expected to support and facilitate the implementation of the Nasarawa State Economic Development Strategy (NEDS), a well thought out economic strategy that will not only see the state targets five percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP), against the 3.01 percent target of the Federal Government as captured in the 2019 budget, but also place the state among the top three most competitive states in the country by 2023.
Throwing more light on NEDS, Barrister Ibrahim Abdullahi, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to his Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule on Investment, said with the new strategy, Nasarawa State is ready to compete with topmost states in terms of sustained economic growth, increased opportunity, social inclusion and improved quality of life of the citizens.
“It is not an over ambitious plan but a plan well thought out by His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule that will leverage the advisory council to have increased partnership with the private sector, with donor support globally,” the SSA stated.
He explained further that Engineer Sule has already exhibited the political will to make sure that Nasarawa State becomes the most preferred destination for doing business in the North Central and in Nigeria as a whole.
“NEDS focus on five game changers namely, employment and wealth creation, accelerated industrialization, infrastructural development, human capital development and urban renewal and sustainable development,” said Barrister Abdullahi, who emphasized that Nasarawa must leverage on her proximity to the Federal Capital Territory and create an industrial hub that allows industries to collocate around the state.
As promising as the NEDS favours the quick socio-economic expansion of the state, there are yet fundamental reforms required in order to usher in the desired physical environment to midwife the intended change tsunami.
Reforms in the civil service needed to drive any meaningful development plan, a revitalized civil service that is eager to engage and work on behalf of the state, efficient tax and revenue administration, efficient land administration, robust economic and financial management system, as well as good governance.
“Our competitive advantage are solid minerals, agriculture, power and transport, industry and tourism, health and education and ultimately security,” explained the SSA. “ Government will work assiduously to create enabling environment to allow private sector to thrive.”
On his part, Chairman of the state economic advisory council, Professor Ajayi, commended Engineer Sule for assembling a team representing the finest and best from across the country, stressing that members of the council are happy to take Nasarawa State forward.
“ We are gathered here today in pursuit of the economic advancement and development of Nasarawa State, based on the burning passion of His Excellency to have transformational impact that will make this basket of raw talent and opportunity, not just one of the largest economies in the nation, but also be one of the best states with social mobility, economic advancement, educational progress, peace and security, responsible, responsive public and private sector actors,” he said.
Professor Ajayi emphasized that “everything we do must be about the people, it’s not just about the mission, vision, structures, it’s about the people. Everything we do must transform to making the life of the people enviable.”
Indeed, the state economic advisory council is not just an idea for Engineer Sule but an idea for the entire people of the state. Everybody has a role to play towards visualizing the noble objective behind the setting up of the council. The teacher, nurse, trader, mechanic, doctor, contractor, every citizen and especially the civil servants, each has a role to play in this collective yearning and aspiration for a better Nasarawa State.
For in the long run and according to Anatole France, a Nobel Laureate and French journalist, “to accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream. Not only plan but also believe.”
Abare is a Special Assistant on Media to Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Alhaji Sule.