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Gov Abdullahi Sule at 62: ‘Of life and birth’

By Yakubu Lamai On July 30, 2019, at the Tony Elumelu Forum, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo remarked that: “No matter how young or old we…

By Yakubu Lamai

On July 30, 2019, at the Tony Elumelu Forum, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo remarked that: “No matter how young or old we might be, our lives are essentially stories that are being written and revised every day.” And on the occasion of the Vice President’s 63rd birthday, Engr Sule described Osinbajo as “a dutiful man who is honour-bound and for whom piety is a way of life”.

Indeed, the stories of life range from what we are born into, to what our reality is and to what our life can become. To Engr Abdullahi A. Sule, he understands that for a political leader to be ascribed to being “dutiful”, he has to perform the tasks expected or required of him by his people with a sense of complete loyalty and implicit dedication to secure for himself a permanent place on the sands of time.

Today as Engr Abdullahi Sule clocks 62 years old, there are many critical lessons to learn about his life. According to Jack Welch: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others!” This attribute of “Growing other people” is what defines the politics and leadership style of Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule in Nasarawa State. 

To him, being a governor is not about himself or his relatives and political cronies; leadership to Abdullahi Sule is about the people he serves and others he comes across and builds in this brief journey of life. That is why Engr A.A. Sule is making governance in Nasarawa State more responsive, more people-centered, more human capital-focused, more compassionate, and more inclusive. 

On Saturday 15th JULY, 2019, about six weeks after he became Governor; Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule was invited to discuss the Almajiri Phenomenon Nigeria Television Authority during the 9 pm Weekend File. 

Engineer Sule was shockingly blunt and condemned the situation where parents mostly from northern Nigeria, will give birth to numerous children and send them far away from home to live under the care of Islamic teachers. He was not evasive, diplomatic, or politically correct. Engineer Sule simply spoke from his heart and stated with resounding clarity that the concept of Almajiri is a noble idea where young boys are sent off as scholars to go and seek Islamic knowledge in distant lands and experience the vagaries of life along the way, thereby being tempered by the vicissitudes of life’s challenges and learning as they grow to be compassionate, broad-minded and accepting of all humanity. 

However, after hundreds of years, the noble Almajiri scholarly system has been bastardized to the extent that the current form has condemned millions of children to a life of penury, or even worse, of crime, especially with extremists’ religious groups waiting to conscript them when they are left hapless, vulnerable and prone to diseases as they beg on the streets. 

Engr Abdullahi A. Sule thereafter signed the Nasarawa State Child Protection Law of 2019 which provides for the “safety, security, wellbeing, care, good health and education of a child,” after 14 years since the Executive Order for the Protection of Children was enacted in 2005. 

History has it that private sector practitioners like Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule, who was the immediate past Group Managing Director of Dangote Sugar, often come into public service with a history of experience in corporate governance and a culture of discipline. What is usually left to be seen is whether they can successfully transmit and infuse corporate culture into political governance.    

Taking his place as the 4th democratically elected governor of Nasarawa State, Engr A. A. Sule coined the mantra of his administration to be: “Exceeding all expectations” which he said was not just a slogan, but a prayer.

In his words: “I entered politics to serve and to make an impact in the lives of the people of Nasarawa State.” For indeed if politics was a religion and Abdullahi Sule was its prophet, he will stand out as “an apostle of open government” and one who believes that citizens have the right to access the documents, processes, and proceedings of the government to allow for greater transparency, accountability and effective public oversight.

To most political leaders, the terms “accountability and transparency” are mere political slogans or empty catchphrases used in campaigns to entice the electorate. Engr A.A. Sule on the other hand is a straight arrow who is upright, resolute, and a worthy example of probity and fiscal discipline, and one who easily rises over and above the banality and fickle materiality of “chop I chop politics.” 

It is now over two years and by dint of his humane, humble, and God-fearing value-set, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule adequately qualifies to be called a “servant leader” i.e. ‘one who leads by serving others.

The Nobel Prize winner in Literature, George Bernard Shaw who lived to be 94 years old, also reiterated that one person can make a difference in the life of a community and move an entire people forward, “when the main goal of the leader is to serve.” This is what George Bernard Shaw meant when he said: “one man that has a mind and knows it can always beat ten men who haven’t and don’t!”

Sule came into office as Governor of Nasarawa State holding a document in his left hand called NEDS: Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy which encapsulated his vision and economic blueprint and on his right hand, he held firmly to a sincere fear of God and a deep abiding love for Nasarawa State.

In only a few months of stewardship, the people of Nasarawa State began to see and hear how Governor Sule will quote verses from the Bible and recite the glorious Qur’an at public functions, where he reminded citizens that he is well aware that someday he will stand before the Almighty Allah and account for his leadership. Sule was so brazen at the National Qur’anic Recitation of 2019 which was held in Lafia to declare that ‘no governor has any reason to steal given the surplus legitimate benefits which come with being a governor. 

The fact remains no other political leader in Nigeria of recent memory has repeatedly said how he is keenly aware and conscious that God will be the ultimate judge of his actions as a governor. 

For years, people have seen Nasarawa as a poor semi-rural state of peasant farmers. Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule has been working tirelessly in the last 30 months to move Nasarawa from the backwaters of poverty to the forefront of economic prosperity which is rapidly manifesting in the Karu Mega Bus Terminal Sule is building, the Farin Ruwa Waterfalls which he is developing to boost tourism, filmmaking and power generation; the 13,000 hectares of Industrial Mega-City located on the fringe of the FCT around Karu-Gurku-Kabusu, as well as the towering presence of Agro-allied giants in Nasarawa State like Dangote Sugar, Azman Rice, Flour Mills, and Olams mega-farms as well as a swath of technology hubs and world-class universities fit for a great place that is people-friendly, affordable and inclusive.  

Without a doubt, His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule has instilled pride and value to his people, as Nasarawa State is increasingly getting recognized not just as being ‘Open for Business, but also as a secure centre for peacebuilding and diplomacy, as well as a national capital for culture, arts, and entertainment.

It is said that it is when a leader caters to the needs of his followers the way Engr Abdullahi A. Sule is doing that he becomes great in their sight. As Mahatma Gandhi once asserted: “Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men!”

Engr Abdullahi A. Sule is a recipient of the Zik Prize for Leadership and just like the revered Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Engr Sule also exemplifies political will! The Great Zik of Africa had the intellectual resonance to be futuristic and he stood for equity and social justice. Engineer A. A. Sule governs with the fear of God in his heart, which is why Arewa House, the center for research and historical documentation, affiliated to Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, also recognized Engr Abdullahi Sule as “The face of Integrity”.

The leader of the delegation, Dr. Samuel Salami, stated that Arewa House chose Engineer Sule as ‘The face of Integrity” because of his striking resemblance in character to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is generally perceived to be a man of integrity.

The name “Abdullahi” in Islam means “Servant of Allah” and it is clear to friends and foe alike that Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule is sincere in doing God’s work as Governor of Nasarawa State. That is what gives men of goodwill within and outside the state the reason and deep joy to say “Happy 62nd Birthday Your Excellency!”

Yakubu Lamai is Director General, Strategic Communication & Events Management to the governor

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