Jack Welch, a former Chief Executive Officer of General Electric (GE), in his book titled “Winning”, said “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” The above quote perfectly defines the leadership personality of the current governor of Nasarawa state and my neighbour in the North Central Nigeria, Engr. Abdullahi Sule. He has shown that leadership is not just about self but making decisions that bring growth and development to the people with a sense of complete loyalty and implicit dedication.
Just a few days ago, Governor Sule celebrated his 62nd birthday anniversary and there were a lot of positive comments from well-meaning Nigerians and especially indigenes of Nasarawa, where he is ‘Exceeding all expectations,’ the coined blueprint of his administration.
Within his short time as the fourth democratically elected governor in the “Home of Solid Minerals”, Engr. Sule has shown that he understands governance. His administration has been transparent and accountable, responsive and inclusive, people oriented and human capital focused and above all, very compassionate about his people.
It is because of his compassion for the Nasarawa state child and the leaders of tomorrow that the governor had in 2020, signed the “Nasarawa State Child Right Protection Executive Order” into law, fourteen years after the Executive Order for the Protection of Children was enacted in 2005. The bill provides for the safety, security, wellbeing, care, good health and education of a child. The law is to prohibit the bastardized Almajiri system that has left many children vulnerable and prone to diseases and which has condemned many of them to a life of penury and crime. He was angered at the system which has allowed extremist religious groups to conscript the innocent Almajiri children, taking advantage of their hapless situation as they beg on the streets.
As a good governor, Sule understands that the security of lives and property of his people is his major priority. To this end, the governor has always been supportive of the security agencies through the provision of vehicles and other logistics. It is also because of his administration’s efforts to boost security in his state and the entire North Central region that in 2020, he hosted an all-encompassing Security meeting tagged ‘The North-Central Security Summit’ in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital, targeted at mapping out strategies to contain the rising security challenges in the region, and by extension the country. This summit took place after the governor had visited the states of Benue, Kogi and Plateau to get firsthand information on the security situation at the border areas.
At the Summit, discussions were centered on cases of armed robbery, human trafficking, kidnapping, murder, activities of the Boko Haram sect, communal clashes and conflict between farmers and herdsmen, unemployment, drug addiction and Almajiri syndrome. These issues were observed as reasons for the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the hands of unpatriotic elements. It was not only a concern to the security agencies and those saddled with the responsibility of governance, but to all and sundry. It had in attendance, governors of the six states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the region, security experts, traditional rulers, state and federal lawmakers, civil society groups and other stakeholders, whom unanimously agreed to adopt Community Policing Strategy as an effective tool in bringing policing to the grassroots.
Sule, as the governor of Nasarawa state, has shown that accountability and transparency are not just mere political slogans or empty phrases to entice the electorate during campaigns. His administration has proven to be upright, resolute and a worthy example of probity and fiscal discipline that is over and above the Nigerian mentality of “It is our turn, let us take our share and go.”
His Excellency, Engr. Sule, has shown strong political will and sincerity of purpose. His assent to the Nasarawa State Public Procurement Law of 2020 is a direct by-product of transparency and accountability. He has equally established the Nasarawa State Bureau of Public Procurement to serve as an integrity-centred mechanism with the responsibility of managing public supplies and ensuring value for money.
And in his desire to turn Nasarawa state as the new bride for investors, the governor has established new regulatory and institutional frameworks that enables local and foreign firms to invest and grow both domestically and internationally. As a result of these efforts, Nasarawa dtate today is the most investor friendly state in Nigeria. This is in clear contrast to what was the case in the previous years. From being a poor semi-rural state dominated by peasant farmers, Engr. Sule has pushed the state to the forefront of economic prosperity as can be seen in the mega projects across the state.
The projects are all going to be of great economic boost to the state. The Karu Mega Bus Terminal, the Farin Ruwa Waterfalls, the filmmaking and power generation projects; the 13,000 hectares of Industrial Mega City situated on the fringes of the Federal Capital Territory, around Karu-Gurku-Kabusu, as well as the already towering presence of Agro-allied giants in Nasarawa State such as Dangote Sugar, Azman Rice, Flour Mills and Olams mega farms as well as a swath of technology hubs and world class Universities suitable for a great place that is people-friendly, affordable and inclusive for all.
Nasarawa state today, has become a place of pride and value to many due to the tenacity displayed by the workaholic Governor Sule. The state is increasingly known as been accepted across the country/ world as not just a place that is open for business, it is regarded as a secure centre for peace building and diplomacy as well as a theater for culture, arts and entertainment.
And as greatly captured by Harry S. Truman, “Men make history and not the other way round. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”
Sule has brought a great deal of leadership changes and those changes are working for the overall good of Nasarawa state. He is already on track to make a place on the history map of the state. His administration looks promising and it is not surprising that there are already calls and endorsements by various groups in the state for the governor to run for a second term come 2023. A belated Happy Birthday, Your Excellency Sir.
Agbese, a UK trained human rights activist, writes from Mararaba, Nasarawa state.