It is a known fact that Engr Abdullahi A. Sule is a person who holds the conviction that it is a moral responsibility which rests on the shoulders of current generation of Northern Governors to immortalize the legacies of the late Premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello, so as to influence the performance of public officers in the entire country, especially politicians in the North.
In-fact, many years ago, at the time Engr Abdullahi A. Sule was President of Zumunta Association in the USA, he was the first to lead his Executive Council to bring to Nigeria and donate to Arewa House, (domiciled within the premises of the late Sardauna’s house), the very first set of computers to ever enter Northern Nigeria.
It therefore was no surprise that last year, when Engr Sule received the Flag of Sardauna on the 8th of January, 2022 in Kano, as a symbol of acceptance to host the 2023 edition of the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Lecture in Lafia; he immediately set about organizing a befitting and “unique” Annual Memorial Lecture that would immortalize the name and legacy of Sir Ahmadu Bello, and at the same time, make a resounding ripple in the political spectrum of Nigeria.
Sule resolved to ensure that the 2023 Edition of the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Lecture should stand out as a consequential event that will mark the closure of his first term in office, by re-echoing the mantra of his administration: “Exceeding All Expectations” and recapitulate the intrinsic values of his leadership style, which he modeled after the ethos of Sir Ahmadu Bello, which extolled fear of God, patriotism, peace-building, transparency and inclusion.
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By selecting the vociferous Professor PLO Lumumba to cast a scorching beam of light on the topic: “Credible Elections As A Panacea to the Search for Quality Leadership in Nigeria,” in the forthcoming memorial lecture in Lafia; it’s clear that the aim of Engr A.A. Sule is to reappraise the paradox and complexities of democracy, for the greater good of our country.
It is said that it is far better to dare mighty things, and to win glorious triumphs than to remain on the sidelines of history and live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat; especially when people are faced with a moment that can make or mar their destiny.
Not by accident of circumstances, but by deliberate intent, Engr Abdullahi A. Sule has taken his stand in the unfolding annals of history.
The Governor of Nasarawa State has taken the bold and unprecedented step to invite the renowned erudite scholar, Professor PLO Lumumba to come from Kenya and deliver a most relevant and timely speech on the topic: “Credible Elections As A Panacea to the Search for Quality Leadership in Nigeria” at the 13th Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Lecture, which holds on May 6, 2023 in Lafia.
The academically and scholarly accomplished Professor Patrick Loch Otieno- “PLO”- Lumumba, who was at one time the head of Kenya Anti-corruption agency is a man of letters and an unbridled orator, who has spoken at various global fora on the vexed subject of leadership and how Africa can improve her circumstance through leadership.
We expect Professor PLO Lumumba not only to render his usual shock treatment on the Nigerian electorates, but also to jar and instigate even those citizens to finally rise from their slumber and take ownership of the fledgling democracy of this country.
Indeed, the 2023 elections has come and gone, but the patriotic zeal and timing of Engr Abdullahi A. Sule to host the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Lecture and use it to bring value and enrich the discourse on democracy in Nigeria, will resonate for generations through time.
Eng A.A Sule: A man of Integrity
When the Kaduna based Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation conferred Engr Abdullahi Sule with the Sardauna Exemplary Service Award in January 2022, it was not because of his position as one of the 19 northern governors, but because Governor Abdullahi A. Sule has displayed an upright and exemplary character that mirrors that of the late Premier of Northern Nigeria.
This is why, the Chairman of Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation Board of Trustees and former Governor of Niger State, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu stated that: “The Sardauna Exemplary Service Award was conferred on Engr Abdullahi A. Sule for displaying an upright and exemplary character which made him, along with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and Sultan Saad Abubakar III to be God-fearing leaders who are generous, sympathetic, selfless and transparent!”
As exemplified by Sardauna’s leadership antecedents, Governor A. Sule of Nasarawa State is a rare breed among the current crop of politicians in Nigeria, especially those from the northern region. He has proved to be one who values the lessons of history and believes it is a moral responsibility to the current generation of northern governors to immortalise the legacies of the late Premier, so as to influence the performances of public officers in the country.
With a sterling character of grandeuer, filled with selfless commitment, modesty, sacrifice and sheer hard-work, Governor A.A Sule can also be likened to the late Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, whose down-to-earthiness and self-effacing political persona was blessed with integrity, humility and piety. Today, the governor of Nasarawa State is one of the few Nigerian governors who is mostly at his office by 8.30am; setting an example in discipline, commitment and integrity. This is also why in 2021, Arewa House; a centre for research and historical documentation which is affiliated to the Department of History at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, recognised the Nasarawa State Governor as “The Face of Integrity!”
Dr. Salmon Salami, who led the Arewa House delegation to Government House Lafia, had stated; “Arewa House recognized Engineer Sule because of his striking resemblance in character to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is generally perceived to be a man of integrity.” He stressed that President Buhari won his election in 2015, not through the use of money, but because ordinary Nigerians believed the president to be a very honest and God-fearing individual.
Clearly, Governor Sule has continued to prove that he is an honest man and it is in this vein that on the 26th August, 2022, he again stood out for his honesty by being the only governor ever and the only committee chairman appointed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to return surplus funds back into the coffers of his political party. While submitting the report of the committee on Media & Publicity Subcommittee of the APC Special Presidential Convention which he chaired, Governor Sule had said, the committee had been given N120 million in which about N100 million was spent and so, he had returned the remaining N20 million surplus to the party.
This action, according to the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu is a sign of integrity, commitment as well as transparency and accountability. While commending the efforts of Engineer A.A Sule’s committee, Senator Adamu had said: “I did say when we were receiving the report, we appreciate the level of integrity the committee has shown from the point of leadership provided for the good job they did. And they have been so transparent and accountable to the extent of declaring some surplus. A few others have submitted their report before today and I did mention that when I was given the report, that you have set a good example.”
It is also worthy of note that the World Bank has for years initiated and sponsored SFTAS programme which focuses on strengthening fiscal sustainability, transparency and accountability among the 36 states of Nigeria and in this vein, Nasarawa State, under Engr Abdullahi A. Sule has on numerous occasions received SFTAS Awards for Transparency and Accountability. On one occasion, Nasarawa State received the highest windfall of $15.7 million (ahead of second-placed Kaduna which received $9.6 million USD), from the World Bank, so as to encourage the Sule administration not to relent in fighting corruption and enhancing transparency in the use of public funds.
And in the last quarter of 2022, just as the National Primary Healthcare Agency gave Nasarawa State the award for “Best State in Vaccination,” the World Bank, again, gave Nasarawa State the awards for “Best State in Transparency & Accountability” and “Most Improved State in IGR (Internally Generated Revenue)!”
There is no doubt that Governor Sule’s leadership qualities and character of being incorruptible, just as that of Nigeria’s first Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who had an unblemished legacy, will take him far. No wonder, a man of such leadership qualities was announced as “Co-winner” of the 2021 Zik Prize for Leadership by the Advisory Board of the Public Policy Research & Analysis Centre, chaired by Senator (Prof) Jubril Aminu (CON). For an award he jointly shares with Governor of Lagos State, the PPRAC confirmed that they had recognized and applauded Engr Sule’s “creative and all-inclusive approach to governance, people-oriented reform programme and his rapid transformation of Nasarawa State from an agrarian state with vast untapped potentials into one of Nigeria’s leading Investors’ Haven!”
Strategically situated in the north central region and sharing boundary with the Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa State is a miniature Nigeria with a multitude of ethnic nationalities. To this end, His Excellency, Engr Abdullahi A. Sule has felt the need to strengthen the bond of unity and extoll values of tolerance, inclusion and acceptance of all the people in the state. Inspired by this noble intention, Engr Sule constituted an Emblem Development Committee under the distinguished chairmanship of the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe, to undertake the historic assignment of evolving an acceptable and befitting emblem for the people of Nasarawa State. And after an intensive research, screening and consultation with all 74 traditional rulers of the state, a final version of the new Nasarawa State Emblem was unveiled and is undergoing formal gazetting, as an Executive Order by His Excellency, Engr Abdullahi A. Sule.
Indeed, and without a doubt, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule is a rare breed amongst the contemporary politicians in Nigeria. He believes the best way to immortalise the legacies of northern Nigeria’s first and only Premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello is through action; by providing leadership at its best to the people, peace and unity, providing quality service through the building of institutions as well as rapid economic growth for industrialisation.
A lasting legacy in infrastructure
As the fourth democratically elected Governor of Nasarawa State, who ascended the mantle of leadership on the 29th of May, 2019, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule, had during his inauguration made a commitment to build on the legacies of his predecessors, while at the same time beginning the new task of transforming Nasarawa State. This, he assured will be guided by the principles of transparency, accountability, probity, due process and prudent management of the state’s meagre resources.
And so far, he has done this and much more. For a country faced with over 19,000 abandoned federal projects, according to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) in 2016, and at a time when many state governors have equally failed to complete past projects, Governor Abdullahi Sule didn’t hold back, despite the lean financial resources of Nasarawa State. He made it a priority to complete past and abandoned projects notable among them, the Farin Ruwa Hydroelectric Power Generation Project in which the Federal Government has now invested N8 billion and awarded the contract to resuscitate it, and it is currently at the point of completion.
Before then, records showed that the first democratically elected governor of the state, and current national chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu had in 1999 taken a bold step to construct a Hydroelectric Power Generating Project at the Farin Ruwa Waterfalls in Wamba LGA of Nasarawa State. However, owing to technical and financial constraints, the project could not be executed. This however changed when on assumption of office, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule committed over N2billion of the state finance and constructed the Sisin Baki-Kwarra Road at the cost of N2, 495,264,499.38 which leads to the foot of the Farin Ruwa waterfalls. It was this initiative that impressed President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the N8b investment by the federal government. As it is, this is only one among the many abandoned projects completed by the current government of Nasarawa State, under Engineer A.A Sule.
In an effort to leave a lasting legacy in infrastructural development across the state, the governor undertook the challenge of completing the Aliyu Akwe Doma Banquet Hall which was abandoned for 10 years. Initiated by the former Governor of the state, late Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma (OON) to be a world class Banquet Hall within the axis of the Government House in Lafia, Governor Sule did not only revive the project but remodelled and upgraded it as soon as he mounted the saddle of leadership. The once abandoned building, now completed, is in use and still named after the former Governor of the State, late Aliyu Akwe Doma.
Known for his administrative doggedness while in office, which earned him the name, “the Architect of Modern Nasarawa State,” the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Tanko Al-Makura had equally left some critical projects uncompleted at the expiration of his second term in office in 2019.
These projects were picked up by the present government of Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule and prudently expanded, elevated, improved and completed. Noteworthy among such projects are; the Presidential Lodge, Lafia Airport and Lafia Vocational and Skills Development Centre, all of which were commissioned recently by President Muhammadu Buhari. Other projects include the Disease and Diagnostic Centre, Lafia, which was commissioned earlier by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, amongst many other critical projects.
Governor Sule’s rapid economic transformation
As one with a vision and keen awareness of the untapped potentials of the private sector for economic transformation, job creation and poverty reduction, Governor A.A Sule sought out to fully harness the economic potential of Nasarawa State, by focusing on and integrating the agrarian economy of the state with national and global markets. Coming from the private sector and in line with his industrialisation agenda, Governor Sule’s administration is today harnessing the competitiveness of the state, so as to ginger economic growth, generate employment and create wealth.
In the last three years, the Governor has revolutionised Nasarawa State to a state where Ease of Doing Business became the signature and sinequanon of government. It was gathered that through this, prospective investors have been supported by the government with the implementation of transparent, inclusive, predictable and efficient policies and regulatory practices.
Through the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS); a key strategy and blueprint for realising the ambitions of Nasarawa State as a financially responsible and truly prosperous economy, the economic and social wellbeing of citizens through jobs, business, and investment opportunities have been improved.
No wonder, just five months after becoming governor in 2019, the State Competitiveness and Good Governance Awards conferred on Engr Abdullahi A. Sule the award of Best Governor in Promoting Industrialisation and Solid Minerals. This reputable national award, organised by BUSINESS-DAY specifically noted that by commissioning the State Investment Economic and Investment Advisory Council, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule has exhibited rare business acumen in tandem with global standards and best business practices.
While inaugurating the State Investment Economic and Investment Advisory Council, Governor Sule had said: “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.”
Like the late Sardaunan Sokoto transformed northern Nigeria and built legacies that survived him, under a sterling “investor-friendly” stewardship, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule has in the last three years turned Nasarawa State into an investment climate by liberalising the state and opening it up in such a manner as to encourage investors and incentivize firms to invest, compete and grow. In turn, this has created productive jobs for the citizens and generated wealth for the government.
Realising the need for a peaceful atmosphere and unity among the different tribes, if the state is to thrive, the governor made peace, security and stability a top priority in his agenda. “When there is total peace and stability, things flourish, opportunities flourish. Investors are looking for where there is peace, where there’s stability to invest their money. In Nasarawa State, we will not go anywhere if we don’t have peace and stability. We are looking at projects that will be revenue-generating,” the governor said, recently when a technical team from the Dangote Group visited Nasarawa State to commence civil works for the construction of Dangote Sugar factory.
The Dangote Group has already acquired 68,000 hectares of land for their sugar refinery in Tunga, which will translate to 400,000 metric tons of sugar, representing one-third of the sugar consumption of the entire country. In addition to generating 96 megawatts of power, as well as 2500 litres of ethanol, the Sugar Refinery in Tunga, will be the largest in Africa and generate employment for over 30,000 people from Nasarawa State.
Again, Olams Limited already sits on 10,000 hectares of farmland, but cultivating 5,000 hectares and has over 2,500 employees while Azman Rice, sits on 14,000 hectares, with the Flour Mills of Nigeria already taking over 20,000 hectares of land in Toto Local Government Area, setting aside 10,000 hectares for rice production and another 10,000 for cassava.
Nasarawa State is ranked No. 1 by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in terms of diversity of various agricultural products, with potentials not only for promoting and ensuring food security in the country, but also for export. This is why the Federal Government has embarked on the pilot National Livestock Transformation project in Nasarawa State after the Netherlands government approved 400,000 Euros for the Federal Government to embark on the project.
Because of its focus and priority on agriculture, the Nasarawa State Government under Engr A.A Sule has keyed into the Federal Government agricultural programmes to benefit thousands of farmers in the state. With the announcement of the Federal Government Programme of Economic Sustainability, for which N600 billion was approved as support for small scale farmers across Nigeria; the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has registered over 78, 000 farmers in Nasarawa State, with another 23,000 registered for the dry season farming covering about 2,400 hectares of land. These youths in Nasarawa State are being engaged for the production of soya beans for export.
The National Social Safety Net Programme was launched by the Federal Government in 2017, with the aim of establishing a Single Social Register for the poor and most vulnerable households in Nigeria. The National Social Register which will be used for the facilitation of Conditional Cash Transfer of the Social Investment Programme of the Federal Government has now been domesticated in Nasarawa State.
With a view to address unemployment and improve the living condition of its poorest citizens, the Nasarawa State Government also domesticated the Social Investment Programme (SIP) as a means of tackling the pervasive poverty prevalence in the state. So far, six selected Local Government Areas in the state have benefited from this gesture, geared towards improving the living condition of the poor, as well as accelerating the economic growth and development in the state and the country at large.
Prioritising Education and Health
In Nasarawa State, the Engineer A.A Sule administration understands the need for an effective and robust health care system across the state, which is why the government has made the development and upgrading of health facilities a government priority. The administration has renovated and equipped primary healthcare centres across the state and just one year after he assumed office, the governor of the state completed the Nasarawa State Infectious Disease, Diagnosis and Research Centre, a multi-billion-naira health facility initiated by his predecessor in Lafia.
The centre, which was commissioned by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in 2020 is considered a cutting-edge standard that can compete with any research centre in the world. Engineer Sule had said the resolve to improve on the living conditions of the people through the provision of quality healthcare service is why his administration has committed enormous resources towards the completion of the research centre.
It was gathered that before now, the diagnosis of several infectious diseases, such as Lassa Fever, Yellow Fever, measles, cerebrospinal meningitis, as well as the current Covid-19 pandemic, was conducted outside the state. However, according to Governor Sule: “With the establishment of the centre and its full operation, the perennial diagnosis and management challenges of infectious diseases previously experienced will become a thing of the past and treatments of such ailments will be greatly enhanced.”
This is why Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, while commissioning the world-class infectious diseases, diagnosis and research center, described it as a landmark achievement and as “the first rate, best in class, first of its kind in West Africa, and perhaps even in Africa.”
At the height of the COVID 19 PANDEMIC, Engr Abdullahi A. Sule signed the Child Protection Law to protect children who are left hapless and vulnerable to diseases, to beg on the streets and recruited by insurgents to fuel terrorism and endemic criminality
Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule of Nasarawa State again led his administration to set a benchmark for compassion as Nasarawa State repatriated 788 Almajiri children back to their states of origin.
According to Governor Sule, while bidding farewell to the Almajirai; “We are not returning you back to your states of origin because we dislike you. We are all here because of the love we have for you. And you can return to Nasarawa state when you grow older.”
Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule allocated 26% to the education sector in the very first budget of his administration i.e. “in the 2019-2020 budget” and 32 percent in the subsequent year 2020/2021 Budget and 36% in the 2021/2022 Budget, habitually going above the UN recommended global benchmark of 20 percent of annual expenditure.
The Government of Nasarawa State has also provided various laudable interventions among others in the education sector. Aimed at fast-tracking the holistic development of the Federal University Lafia the government had donated 206 hectares of lands for the permanent sites beginning from the Al-Makura government. But Governor Abdullahi A. Sule has additionally donated the newly constructed Lafia General Hospital to serve as a Teaching Hospital for the Federal University Lafia in view of the introduction of Medical and Pharmaceutical courses in the university.
Additionally, the Nasarawa State government constructed a female hostel at the permanent site of the Federal University Lafia and also constructed the 1.2KM road from the multi-disciplinary research laboratory to the hostel area, whilst providing automatic employment scholarship award to five 1st Class students of the university, including a physically challenged student from Kogi State.
As an engineer, Governor Sule has demonstrated his engineering passion through the establishment of the Engineering Faculty at the Nasarawa State University, Gudi. The project has attained 95 per cent completion as well as the Technical and Vocational College, Lafia.
And now as Sule comes to the end of his first term as governor, the recent discovery and drilling of oil in Keana, Assakio and Obi local government areas of Nasarawa State has marked an indelible imprint and a turning point in the destiny of the people and the entire northern region of Nigeria.
This is the “second dream come true” like the Kolmani Oil field of Gombe, which Sardauna would have lived to cherish, and notably this landmark Nasarawa discovery was made possible by the tenacity of Engr. Sule who ceaselessly prodded both President Muhammadu Buhari and Mallam Mele Kyari of NNPC Ltd, (his university schoolmate in America), to fast-track the drilling of oil in Nasarawa State, given the fact that Engr Abdullahi A. Sule himself has over 35 years of proven experience and global exposure in the Oil & Gas Subsector.
Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule is poised to hoist the flag of Sardauna on the May 6, 2023 in Lafia, when the governor will host the 13th Edition of the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Lecture for the very first time in Lafia. Engr Sule is determined to ensure that Nasarawa State remains front and center, and visible in all and any national discourse on the revered Sir Ahmadu Bello, as Sule rekindles and recapitulates the life lessons of the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, and integrates the values of Sardauna into the civic education of our citizenry!