Linus Oota, Lafia
Immediate past Group Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Refinery, and Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, has explained how he will tackle insecurity in the state.
Nasarawa state is ranked among the highest in kidnapping, assassination and armed robbery, especially in Karu Local Government Area of the state which shares boundary with Abuja. How do you intend to handle this?
Coincidentally, when you talk about insecurity, the worst case is not Karu Local Government where you have the influx of people, Karu becomes the second most populated council in the state after Lafia Local Government, but it has become the highest with diversity in the state, yet that has not resulted in making the council the worst in terms of insecurity as you mentioned. From what you have seen and what you are hearing like you rightly mentioned, Nasarawa Local Government in the state today has become the major challenge, especially around Udege area. We have also seen recently the amount of insecurity going on in Akwanga, Obi, Keana,
Doma and Awe local government areas. One of the issues that we have continued to preach is the fact that without security, there won’t be development especially with my policy thrust of industrialisation, no investor is interested in going into any environment that lacks security, so security is actually our requirement number one, so what do we do about how to improve security, we are working more towards preventing security rather than addressing the issues once it comes in.
One of the biggest challenge in Nasarawa State which resulted into high crime rate is actually lack of what to do by some of our youths, so I want to approach insecurity from the area of providing employment to the youths, providing certain people with what to do even those that have retired, sometimes they want to engage in one economic activity or the other, it is said that an idle man is the devil’s workshop, so we are trying to engage the people in doing things that they should be doing, in that way, they may not think too much of going into crime.
How will that be achieved?
We will build on our commercial farming, take Doma for instance, in Lokobi, today you have over 2000 farmers that have been engaged by a company called Orlam, and this is only about 4000 hectares of land, by the time you increase it from 4000 to 10,000 hectares of land, you will be talking about 5000 youths to be engage in commercial farming and this will drastically reduce insecurity, because those who will be security risk will now be employees. So these are the kinds of things we want to do all over the state, and for me, that is a preventive measure that will be put in place rather than arresting the youths for crime.
The farmer/herdsmen clash is another major issue that has threatened the peace of the state, how do you hope to handle it?
It goes back to the same problem; number one is the fact that there are a lot of allegations made and perceptions based on the fact of what is happening in the neighboring states. Today, in Taraba, the people are having some conflicts, it is not between Fulani and farmers, and it is actually between Jukum and Tiv people, so none of them is a Fulani. Most of these insecurity issues are usually as a result of perception, and the general perception is that Fulani are not allowed to operate in Benue State; therefore there is influx of a lot of Fulani into Nasarawa State. When they come into the state, they also go into certain farms that the people don’t agree with.
At the last governor’s outing we had, I had the opportunity to discuss this with the governor of Benue State and I explained to him that I don’t care whatever relationship he had with the outgoing governor that I want to have the best of relationship between my government and his government. The reason is we are neighbours, whatever affects Benue, affect Nasarawa State and what affect Nasarawa, affect Benue State, he was very impressed, and he came and embraced me and said that he was very happy that I spoke the way I did. If there is a state I will like to visit first, it will be Benue State. I want to visit the state and Plateau, I want us to sit down together to find out our common interest and concerns and see how we can address them, so that is number one understanding, the second part is for us to understand our limit, everybody has a role, the biggest problem is the one politicians feed us with, the information that you have no right here, you are not a citizen here, you are not an indigene. The moment you begin to do that, you send some feelings into the minds of the people. Everybody has a right by the constitution of
Nigeria to move freely within Nigeria so long as you are a Nigerian, you can decide today you don’t want to live in Nasarawa State, that you want to go and live in Enugu or Anambra state, you have the right to do that, but you must understand the limit while you are there, and there are certain things you will not even do without being told.
You are coming in with a major policy of industrialisation, how will your cabinet look like to achieve this?
My cabinet will be manned by competent people, you have competent politicians, you have politicians who are competent and you have other competent people who are not politicians, so there is a role for everybody and 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 you talk about industrialisation, with all sense of humility, I am one of those who are highly respected in the area, so I think that those are the kind of things you are going to see. In a nutshell, what I will tell you is that every department will be managed by the numerous competent hands, so if there are politicians who can best handle certain ministries, they will do that, if there are other technocrats that can best handle certain ministries, they will do that, but one important thing is that we will do our best to ensure that we have square peg in a round hole, we are not going to pick people that are not competent to handle certain positions in my government.
How would you describe your transition from private sector to public service?
No, the private sector is not alien to the system, it is actually part and parcel of Nigeria, the outgoing governor of the state has done well, he came from the private sector, he didn’t come from the public sector, and with all sense of respect and humility when it comes to development in the state, I think so far, he has done the best for the state. You also have to understand that Nasarawa State is a civil service state, we don’t have too many industries or private institutions in the state and your biggest partner as a government is actually the civil service, so you must find a way to work in harmony with them because of the fact that the state is dominated by the civil service and in doing that we must reform the civil service and ensure that the people who are there are competent.