I have big plans for Nasarawa — Gov-elect, Engr. A.A Sule reveals during an interview section.

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Engineer Abdullahi Alhaji Sule is the Governor-elect of Nasarawa State Engineer Abdullahi Alhaji Sule is the Governor-elect of Nasarawa State. In this interview, he discloses his plans for the state, including reaching out to neighbouring states after he assumes office on May 29, 2019. You have been going round with the outgoing Governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura; so what are your plans for Nasarawa in concrete terms?


It has been a very good learning process for me; I have been able to relate practically what I am seeing in writing and what I see physically. I have been going around with the governor to see the various projects that are ongoing and those that have been completed. I am being briefed on the handover processes; the stages of the projects. This is where we are and what we are doing. It is impressive with the amount of work and the vision of Gov. Umaru Al-Makura. What is your expectation based on what you have seen?


Some of the areas have gone beyond my expectation. As I mentioned, the handing over process has been impressive, I am still learning everything as far as what is happening in my state and what this government has done. Just yesterday, we had an opportunity to go through the valedictory meeting with the executive and I saw the relationship between the governor and his political appointees and had the opportunity to learn from there. In a nutshell, the government of Umaru Al-Makura has done the best for the state; it is left for us to come up with our own vision to continue moving Nasarawa State to greater heights. Air Marshall Alex Badeh was killed in Nasarawa State and there is influx of people in Karu, what do you think should be done to improve security as the state is a gateway to many states? Coincidentally, when you talk of insecurity, the worst case is not in Karu Local Government Area; which is the second most populated local government area after Lafia. But it is the local government with the highest diversity in the state. We have serious security breaches in Udege Town in Nasarawa Local Government Area; they have become a major challenge. So also in Akwanga, Obi, Keana, Awe and Doma local government areas. One of the issues that we keep preaching is that, without security, there won’t be any development in the areas of industrialisation, as no investor would be interested in going into any environment that lacks security. Enhanced security is my priority number one. To improve it, we are working towards preventive measures rather than addressing the issue with reactive means. We don’t want to look at security only when we have other problems. We will like a situation where we approach a problem before it happens. And a good example is when we have intelligence report; we approach the community, we put them on alert, we send more security to the area to go and take care of that. One of the biggest challenges in Nasarawa State is actually lack of work for the youths. We want to approach insecurity from the area of providing employment to the youths; providing opportunities even to those who have retired. Sometimes they want to be engaged in one economic activity or the other, to avoid the adage, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” We want to engage people to be active so that they will not think of crime. By the time you provide industrialisation in an area, you have engaged the community into commercial farming, you grow the out-grower system. Nasarawa is an agro-allied state. Example, Olams Farms in Rukubi Town of Doma Local Government Area has engaged 2,000 farmers on about 4,000 hectares, and if it is increased to 10,000 hectares, they will engage 5,000; and those people will not engage in crime because they are earning income and will shy away from crime. That is the preventive measure, it is better than arresting criminals.


What is your plan for the recurring farmers-herders clashes in the state? There are a lot of allegations based on what is happening in the neighbouring state. Today in Taraba, the crisis is not between Fulani and farmers. Fulani are not allowed to graze in Benue, but they are welcomed in Nasarawa, they go into certain farms and the people don’t agree with that. During the governors’ retreat, I discussed with the Governor of Benue State. I want to have the best of relations; we are neighbours, whatever affects Benue affects us, and vice versa. He was impressed and he embraced me. If there is a state I will like to visit, the first will be Benue or Plateau. We will sit down and find out our common interests and differences and then see how we can address them. The second is to understand our limit. The biggest problem revolves around citizenship; indigene and non-indigene. The moment you begin to do that, you send some feeling into the minds of people, but everybody has a right by the Constitution of Nigeria to move freely within Nigeria. As long as you are a Nigerian, you can decide to leave Nasarawa and relocate to Enugu State, but you have to understand that you have a limit as to what you can do. There are certain things they tell you to do and not to do so that you are safe; you will stay off limit and say, “I am not supposed to do that.” Once we understand this; that is the first step. We would resolve our issues with the neighbouring states, we would sit down with the Fulani and the farmer and let them understand each other. Fulani have the right to operate in Nasarawa and the farmer has the right to operate. Everybody knows their rights and limits. Those who refuse and go beyond their limit will be punished. If we see people who don’t want peace, we would not continue to entertain them. Anybody that does not want peace should leave Nasarawa and go and leave somewhere else. That is the way I approach my life and I think that is the way we should handle it. You are coming in with a policy of industrialisation. To achieve this, you need an able team. Are you thinking of bringing in technocrats or politicians? My cabinet will be manned by competent people, we have competent politicians; we have competent people who are not politicians. There is a role for everybody; there are those who are politicians and there are certain ministries that are going to be best managed by politicians. Today I am a politician, but when we come up with industrialisation, with all sense of humility, I am one of those that will be highly respected in that area. Every department will be managed by the most competent hand. If there are politicians who will best manage that, we will do that. If there are technocrats that are best to manage certain ministries they will do that, but one thing is, we will try to as much as possible to have square pegs in square holes, round pegs in round holes, we are not going pick incompetent people to manage places by the grace of God. You were in the private sector and you are now in the public sector where the margin of assessment varies. So what is your vision? The private sector is not alien, but a part and parcel of Nigeria.  The current governor came from the private sector; he did not come from the public sector. With all sense of responsibility and humility, when it comes to development in the state, I think, so far, he has done the best for the state. But you have to know that Nasarawa is a civil service state. We don’t have too many industries, we don’t have many private institutions, our biggest partner as a government is the civil service, so you must find a way to work in harmony with civil servants and the state is dominated by the civil servants, but we must reform the civil service and ensure that the people who are very competent to do job a certain job are given the chance. That is one of the areas that we have to look into.

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