Ahead of the forthcoming Keffi International Polo tournament in Keffi, MUAZU ABARI writes on how this initiative continued to open Nasarawa state to the outside world through attracting investors and repositioning the state for greatness.
One indisputable fact about Hon Ahmed Aliyu Wadada, a two term member, House of Representatives and founder, Keffi Polo Ranch, is that he has continued to live a life of service to God and humanity.This ex-lawmaker, who is presently the chairman, Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited (PAN), is also the Sarkin Yakin Keffi in Nasarawa state.Prior to his sojourn in politics from the private sector where he spent the greater parts of his life and carved a niche for himself with so many business connections, he was known to be at the forefront of championing the cause of humanity using his connections and God-given resources to bring succour to his people.During his stewardship at the National Assembly, Wadada had always set the pace for others to follow especially in the areas of supporting government efforts, placing Nasarawa in the eyes of the world, employment opportunities, empowerment schemes, community development service, awards of schoolarship, payment of WAEC and NECO fees, among other humanitarian gestures that stood him out.It is therefore not surprising that long after leaving office he has continued to be a beacon of hope to humanity using his God-given resources to assist the down- trodden in his personal capacity and through his charity organisation, Wadada Foundation; hence his decision to go a step further to establish Keffi Polo Ranch which introduced polo game in the state and has continued to organise Keffi International Polo tournament as a charity platform to supports the less- privilaged and education in the state.
The ranch and journey so far.
The idea behind this initiative, according to investigation, is to showcase the state and its potentials to the world with view to attracting investors into the economy of the state and support the less-privilaged, among other objectives. It is therefore not a coincidence that since its commencement in 2015, it continued to move from strength to strength as an international event that always brings investors, foreign nationals, corporate bodies, polo enthusiasts and sport lovers across the world to be part of this history.So far, Keffi Polo Ranch has hosted six different editions of the tournament which brought international polo players and enthusiasts from the UK, Argentina, Dubai, South Africa, among other countries. It has also hosted local professional players like Adamu Atta, Mohammed Babangida, sayyu Dantata, Dawule Baba, Sen Hadi Sirika, Sulaiman Abubakar, Bello Baba, Jamilu mrland, Tanko Ayuba, among many others.This was followed by subsequent editions which continued to attract more countries, players, policy makers and traditional rulers such as the Lamido of Adamawa, Dr Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Mustspha; Emir of Lafia, Dr Isa Mustapha Akwai of blessed memory; Emir of Bauchi, Dr Rilwanu Sulaiman; Emir of Keffi, Dr Shehu Chindo Yamusa; Emir of Lafia, Sidi Mohammed Bage; the then Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; the vice president, Professor Yemi Osibanjo; immediate past governor of the state,Tanko Almakura; speaker, House of Representatives, RT Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; ministers, senators, among other personalities in the country.What attracted the vice president in 2018 as special guest of honour was the decision by PAN to power the tournament and partner with the polo ranch to ensure a hitch-free exercise; more so as there was the unveiling of a new vehicle models namely H6C-19 seater bus and higher ambulance which can be maximally used for mass transit, as school bus and ambulance services.
Impacts so far
Blueprint gathered that since the commencement of the tournaments in 2015, it has continued to impact positively on the development of Nasarawa with so many impacts especially in the areas of attracting foreign investors, assisting the less privilaged and improving the education sector of the state.A critical look at the records of the ranch since its inception in 2015 to date has shown that the proceeds generated from the exercise were used to support orphans by purchasing food items like bags of rice, groundnut oil, palm oil noodles, semovita, drinks worth 20m for orphanage homes within the state. This also includes mattresses, pillows, infant milk, pampers, blankets, among many other beddings distributed to the orphanages.Some of the benefiting orphanages include Evan Victory, Tabitha Home Nyanya Gwandara, Honour Ground Home Auta Balefi, Divine Mercy Home, Gidan Zakara/Tudun Wada Uke, Angwan Jarme Orphanage and three other orphanages in the FCT.In the area of education, the polo ranch also used the proceeds generated from the tournament to print branded exercise books, pencils, biro, chalks and other learning materials worth 10m and distributed them to schools in the Western Senetorial District of the state.In the December 2020 edition alone, over 30,000 exercise books, 30,000 pencils and other learning materials were printed, purchased and distributed to schools across the three senatorial districts of the state worth 10m. This is in addition to various forms of assistance to schools as well as renovations of schools and cash donation of 1m to the entrepreneur department of Nasarawa State University Keffi.
Wadada speaks on this vision
Speaking on what informed this vision, Hon Wadada said the initiative is in continuation of his modest contributions to the development of the state and desire to support the less- privileged. He said it was also geared towards attracting investors and adding value to the tourism sector of the state.According to him, “The proceeds from the tournaments is donated to support education in Nasarawa state and to provide assistance to orphanages across the state.” He stressed that the Keffi ranch project has achieved all its set goals as a charity platform, noting that one of the objectives of the ranch is to take Nasarawa tourism sector to the next level.”I ‘ve always believed in giving back to the society. It is a huge pleasure to champion the birth of polo here in Nasarawa state and use the proceeds to benefit the orphanages and education in Nasarawa state. “I have been lucky that my little efforts are yielding results. Polo has truly come to stay and Keffi Polo Ranch would continue to blaze the trail in education, social and tourism transformation of the state and the country at large.”Keffi Ponys is a team under the umbrella of Keffi Polo Ranch. The ranch is conceptualised to have polo activities, hotel apartments, conference facilities and children park, but at the moment, it is only the polo aspect of it that is operational with a charity perspective.”Charity in the sense that the ranch holds two tournaments in a year; one in support of education as charity and the other one in support of orphans and less privileged. The previous ones we had in support of education, Nasarawa State University benefited, Government Secondary School Yalwa here in Keffi benefited and a host of students who could not for one reason or the other pay their school fees and a number of orphanages within and around the community benefited.”Osinbajo, Gov Sule, Gbajabiamila and others during their respective visits thumped up the efforts and promised supports in whatever way.In what is seen as official endorsements of this intiative, the vice president osinbajo who was special guest of honor in the 2018 edition assured Keffi Polo Ranch of federal government’s commitments to work with them to boost the tourism sector and attract investors into the country. He applauded Wadada’s vision for a prosperous Nigeria. On his part, the speaker, House of Representatives, who was special guest in the 2020 edition, described the initiative as timely and a right steps in the right direction. He assured the ranch of their readiness to work with them for the betterment of the country.
Governor Sule full of appreciation
On his part, Governor Sule lauded the initiative and commended Wadada for his tenacy, zeal, passion and commitments to the development of Nasarawa in his various endeavours. In particular, he commended the promotion of the game while describing him as a pacesetter to be emulated by all. He assured him of his administration’s commitments to support the tournaments and work with the ranch to open the state to investors and make life better for the people of Nasarawa.He added that sports is not only a veritable tool for fostering friendship, national unity and cultural understanding, but also a magnet for international diplomacy and global investments. He said the state is proud to host and support Keffi Polo Ranch and its choice of sport as a way of showcasing to the world that the state welcomes prospective investors.