Exploring new partnership between Nasarawa state and British government

Nasarawa state and British government have agreed to collaborate in the many sectors of the state with a view to boosting the economy of the state. MOHAMMED YANGIDA reports on this and other recent developments.

The administration of governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa state is embarking on a deliberate policy to stimulate the economy, develop the people, create wealth, jobs as well as put in place an industrialisation process for the wellbeing of his people especially in agriculture. This is just as the British government on the other hand said it would support the state to realise its vision.

The envoy’s visit

Recently, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, paid a two-day official visit to Nasarawa state. During the visit, she gave her words regarding the opportunity to see at first hand information what is making the state a prosperous one where one can live, work and invest.

She therefore made a commitment that the United Kingdom would support the state in its quest to boost the economic potential of the citizens specifically in the area of agriculture, manufacturing, mining infrastructural development and education.

According to the British envoy, the practical results of Governor Sule’s policies and vision excited her hence her visit to the state.Laing said because of the rich mineral potential in the state, the British government is willing to partner the state to developed the sector as well as help to improve the living conditions of people of the state.

She said, “I saw the amazing mining potentials of Nasarawa state during a presentation at the African Investment Summit and for this, I am excited to partner with you to develop the sector.

“British government came up with the decision to partner Nasarawa because the state possesses many potentials which if put into use, would better the lives of its citizens.”I am here to see for myself the determination and innovative projects going on for the benefit of the citizens of Nasarawa state”.

The British High Commissioner also lauded Governor Abdullahi Sule for the construction of Keffi- Abuja road to ease gridlock on the highway which according to her, is impressive. More so with the presentation on the achievements of the government in the areas of security, agriculture, transportation system and decongestion of the traffic in Mararaba, Karu local government area.Laing commended the state governor for constituting a team that is helping him translate the vision of his administration into practical results.

According to her, “Experience has shown that a big challenge confronting states in Nigeria is translating vision into practical results.She described Nasarawa state as one having comparative advantage due to its proximity to the FCT, particularly with the administration’s ability to tackle practical reforms and putting in place appropriate enabling environment which saw to the rise in status of the state to number three in the country.

Gov Sule lauds the collaboration

Responding, Governor Sule welcomed the UK-government collaboration in those areas, saying that the government is committed to transforming the economy of the state, create wealth and job opportunities for its people.

“The UK government’s collaboration in the areas of agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure and education would bring development to the state.”

He expressed the willingness to enter into various partnerships with a view to developing the state, adding that all the laws necessary to facilitate such partnerships are already in place.Governor Sule said that Nasarawa and Nigeria as a whole would continue to benefit from the wealth of the British government and its people, particularly in the area of poverty reduction, healthcare, human capital development, among others.

He also told the UK envoy of the commitment of his administration to implement practicable economic transformation strategy as encapsulated in the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS) and to also engage the best Public Private that would deliver rapid industrialisation and growth.

It could be recalled that the state has developed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework through which Nasarawa secured infrastructural projects in the areas of mass housing, agriculture, mining, transport, health and education.

Also speaking, the managing director/CEO, Nasarawa Investment Development Agency (NASIDA), Barrister Ibrahim Abdullahi, said since the coming of Governor Sule’s administration, the thrust of government has been geared towards economic transformation by opening up the state to private sector participation.

He said within two years, Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy has already begun to yield fruits with the state ranked number three as a top investment destination in the country, having attracted investments worth over USD350m as well as recorded significant improvement in IGR, among other indices.

He said the state government is putting considerable amount of time, effort and resources in preparing projects, whether these are going to be financed directly by government through budgetary allocation or its going to be some kind of concession.He said the administration has so far executed five PPPs during the last quarter of this year and would sign more in the course of the year.

Royal reception for the envoy

As part of activities marking the visit of the British envoy, she undertook tours of selected local industries within the state capital. Also a mini durbar was organised in her honor by the Emir of Lafia, Rtd Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad 1 at the Lafia Square with decorated horses and traditional dancers aa well as the horse riding.

She lauded the royal father for honouring her and spoke about the need to continually celebrate and uphold history, culture and tradition.Consequently, to bring to  bear the much-needed ease to farmers who have continued to suffer as a result of poor yield due to unavailability of needed equipment, poor enlightenment on farming techniques, poor harvest and post harvest losses in the state, Governor Sule has passionately sought for the setting up of a National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) in Lafia, the state capital.

As a result of the request by the governor, the federal government has approved the establishment of the Agricultural Equipment and Machinery Development Institute in Lafia to serve as the North-central geopolitical zone.

The executive vice chairman of National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) Professor Sani Haruna disclosed this recently while delivering the president’s approved letter to governor Sule in Lafia.

“After rigorous assessment, monitoring peace, progress and commitment to agriculture, among other indicators, the presidency decided that the one of North central should be hosted in Nasarawa state,” he said.

He said unlike other institutes under his agency, the Lafia Agricultural Equipment and Machinery Development Institute is a specialised institute that would ease agricultural trades, food processing, preservation and innovation, in all the value chain of agricultural practice and would soon commence assembling certain equipment locally and in collaboration with other NASENI centres.

“Its intended that all the equipment needed in the agricultural sector beginning from small to heavy machinery would be produced locally and here in Lafia.”

Governor Sule however thanked the president for the approval of the institution in Lafia which is the centre, saying it would serve big commercial agricultural enterprises operating in that state, especially Dangote Group located in Awe local government, Olams in Doma local government, Azman rice and Flour Mills Nigeria Plc which all produce sugar, rice and cassava in the state.

“I am so excited about this idea; it’s going to afford training for our youths in Nasarawa state,” Sule said. He said already two sites have been identified for the immediate kick-off the newly approved institution among other interventions.