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Better prospects in Nasarawa as Al- Makura opens markets

The reliance on funds from the federation accounts – the proceeds from oil revenue – distracted attention from the gold mines that lie in the…

The reliance on funds from the federation accounts – the proceeds from oil revenue – distracted attention from the gold mines that lie in the commerce sub-sector in the state. But the current administration of Umaru Tanko Al-Makura is considering ways to pilot a new agenda to stimulate commerce and industry taking an aim at robust revenue that will flow into the state.

“Governor [Tanko] Al-Makura is a product of commerce and industry. He is from a family of one of Northern Nigeria’s successful merchants. He cut his teeth from there and has carved a niche for himself in this sector. In government as the chief executive, commerce, is therefore top on his agenda of development,” Ahmed Mohammed Wamba, Commissioner in charge of the sub-sector, said recently.

The commissioner played host to officials of the Nasarawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NASCCIMA), led by its president, Mallam Ibrahim Safiyanu. The group within the same week, met with Abuja Markets Management Limited (AMML), a private firm. Officials from NASCCIMA and AMML, visited to seek partnership with the state on the ambitious business concerns that lie ahead in the years to come.

The ministry, first, presented an ambitious budgetary proposal showing a revenue forecast of N124, 880, overhead cost proposal of N163, 374, and a projection for capital expenditure standing at N1.6 billion. The commissioner who spoke to Sunday Trust on the present administration’s intentions, said the governor’s overall policies for the subsector are target driven with far reaching economic development impact, aimed at salvaging the state from the clutches of over a decade of backwardness.

“We intend to pursue aggressively, the stimulation of economic activities,” he said, explaining that government is not just looking at income to fetch into the public purse, but will have to first, build confidence in businesses through the provision of social infrastructure and formulation of policies to boost entrepreneurship from where Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) will be enhanced.

Sunday Trust recalls that days after he assumed office in 2011, Al-Makura said the administration will take advantage of the proximity of the state to Abuja, as he disclosed plans to turn around the state, especially the Karu axis, by recovering it from infrastructural decay.

The area, because of its economic potential has become strategic to the state as a result of which previous governments carved it out as Greater Karu Area, for the purpose of giving it a big infrastructural development equal to that of Abuja. The blueprint entails the running of infrastructure in the area commensurate with the growing influx of residents, developers and businesses there generally.

Al-Makura said government will fully develop the area and implement the Greater Karu Area masterplan by running infrastructure there, from which the state can tap from the economic potentials that draw down from developers and other investors.

He said he is worried that the area was abandoned to suffer neglect and by extension, deny the state of revenue. He therefore, promised to turn the area around by assembling resources to provide the basic infrastructure including roads, water, electricity, and the general provisions that will attract serious investments to the state.

“I will take complete revolution of the area, make land available, and develop it so that it will not look different from Abuja. Every aspect of the Greater Karu Area will be put to use…We will give amenable conditions including tax holidays to attract investors there,” the governor expressed.

Only last week, the commissioner for Lands, Survey and Town Planning, Sonny Agassi, disclosed that the ministry got approval of the governor which saw the designation and classification of certain areas within Lafia and Karu urban centres as Central Business Districts (CBD) namely: UAC Road, Doma Road, Abuja Street, Jos Road and Makurdi Road in Lafia, while Karu has Mararaba Gurku as its CBD.

“This is strategic for revenue generation. But we are not looking at just income; the government is going to run big infrastructure commensurate with the revenue anticipated from these business zones,” Agassi said.

He said, “In June, the Karu International Market will come alive”, explaining that government has entered into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with a private firm to induce functionality in the abandoned facility. He said the Keffi Modern Market, started by Abdullahi Adamu but abandoned years ago, will be completed to usher in traders.

It would be recalled that Engr. Wada Yahaya Mohammed, commissioner for works, had said government has already approved the payment of the contractors, who worked on the abandoned Keffi market, with 10 percent variation for them to complete the market in three months time.

The commerce commissioner added: “There is also going to be a big market in Akwanga and all the urban centres to boost commercial activities. You already know that the Lafia modern market has been commissioned by the governor and of the plans to put it to use through PPP.”

The executives of AMML, the Abuja based private firm who visited the commissioner recently, are already in talks with the state government over the Lafia market. In what appears to be an endorsement of the technique of market management in the FCT, the state government declared its intention to hand over all markets in the state to AMML.

Al-Makura said during a meeting with AMML that the plan stems from his administration’s commitment to add value to state facilities and their users through optimal utilization of available state assets. This he said could be achieved by instituting maintenance culture and the use of professional facility management, noting that upon assumption of office, his administration observed that despite availability of shopping facilities around the state especially Lafia, there was no properly managed market. Instead, business activities are carried out indiscriminately without regards for order and decorum, constituting nuisance to the environmental ambience of the state capital.

The governor therefore urged the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to conclude discussions with AMML so that together with the state’s traders’ association, shop allocations could be concluded without rancour, to give way for the market’s commissioning which took place recently.

Managing Director, AMML, Abubakar Usman Faruk, in thanking the governor for the opportunity to deploy the company’s expertise in management of state–owned markets, assured that the company will not let the state down. AMML is registered with the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), leading facility managers across the world with headquarters in Houston, USA.

On their part, members of NASCIMMA are exploring ways to partner to bring development.

The commissioner assured of the ministry’s attention especially in areas to resuscitate moribund companies, with the support of NASCIMMA, as well as provision of a platform for the body to organize a trade fair within the year.

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