Nasarawa: The making of a new investment haven

Nasarawa state government is not relenting in its drive to taking the state into new frontiers of investment as MOHAMMED YANGIDA reports.

The Nasarawa Investment Summit, the first of its kind in the state, was recently held in Lafia the state capital with the aim of crystallising government’s efforts towards attracting more investors and as well position the state towards its investment destination among the top three most competitive states in Nigeria by 2023. This is in terms of accelerated growth, increased economic opportunities, social inclusion and improved quality of life of the citizens.

The summit was equally aimed at promoting investment opportunities and fostering synergy as well as partnerships between government institutions and private sector actors who are critical players in the socio-economic development of society.
The summit also brought together experienced and tested financial, investment and economic experts that would assist the state in attracting investment opportunities and providing the needed direction for the administration to follow in order to galvanise growth and development.

One might wonder on the manner the state governor, Abdullahi Sule, was able to achieve this in less than three years of his administration. It is no doubt therefore that the governor had cast a vision early in the life of his administration with unshaken political will that would rapidly industrialise his state.

Driven by vision

To this end, it is possible to say that the state has the leadership with the vision and commitment that, even before he was sworn in, was prepared with a clear vision of where he wanted to take the state to. This he demonstrated in the clarity of vision and determination to get things done.

Being an industrialist himself, he focused on the state’s economic growth by re-engineering the state for rapid industrialisation in areas where the state has tremendous potentials especially in agriculture and solid minerals that would however require polishing in order to shine.
The state’s proximity to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is another potential for generation of internal revenue from personal income tax of workers residing in Nasarawa state but work in Abuja.

The strategy adopted

On assumption of office, Governor Sule established the Economic Advisory Council comprising experts and chaired by Prof Koyinsola Ajayi (SAN) which then produces the policy framework document known as Nasarawa Economic and Development Strategy (NEDS) detailing the state’s roadmap to economic growth.
He however, initiated reforms through the instrument of the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS), that sets out a range of reforms covering central billing system and ease of doing business which led to the establishment of the Nasarawa state Investment Development Agency (NASIDA).
The Central Billing System, has boosted the IGR of the state from N12.48bn in 2020 to N20.8bn in 2022 in spite of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, while the state remains one of the few states that saw the need to enact its own procurement act.

Governor Sule said the investment summit would afford his administration the opportunities to strategise on the future of the state’s economic fortune with vigor.
He explained that the state was making progress in its investment quest including tripling of its internally generated revenue.
Sule however, noted that the theme of the summit: ‘Diamond in the Rough: The Making in the New Investment Frontier’ was deliberately coined in the line with the vision and philosophy of his administration.

As expected, the investment summit attracted very important personalities and investors, both local and international including the vice president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo who is the chairman of the National Economic Council; former Ghanian president, John Mahama; President Dangote Groups, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Edo state governor, Godwin Obasike; former CBN governor who is also the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; Prof Konyisola Ajayi, APC national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu; Senator Umaru Al-Makura, among others.

National and international commendations

The vice president, Prof Osinbajo, commended Governor Sule’s vision, political will and strides at industrialising the state.
He commended Sule’s policy of public/private partnership to woo investors into the state.

“Today, it is clear that Engr Sule has demonstrated his political will by implementing the Nasarawa investment policy document that has earned the state a huge investment worth over $500m.”
He particularly commended Sule for entrenching several reforms like the Public Procurement Act, Central Billing System and Ease of Doing Business scheme.
He equally cheered the governor’s determination to boost Internationally Generated Revenue by 66 percent which raised the state’s IGR to N12.4 bn in 2029 and N 20.3 bn in 2021.

The VP however, advised the state government to collaborate with the federal government for the enforcement of regulations on solid minerals development in order to curtail illegal mining so as to benefit tremendously. This is just as he advised the state government to take advantage of its vast arable land to invest more in agriculture.
On his part, former Ghanaian president, John Mahama, commended the state governor for creating investment opportunities to boost the wealth of the state.

He urged the state government to create basic infrastructures that would encourage more influx of investors into the state while stressing the need to invest more on capital projects than on consumption in order to enthrone transparency and accountability.

He urged policy makers to always prepare for uncertainties of the future as well as take into consideration global events that could affect world economies.
The president of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, commended Governor Sule for providing the necessary enabling environment for the investment summit to achieve its goals.

He noted that these enablers include providing committed and focused leadership and well thought out institutional framework that enables the creation of sustainable conducive business and investment climate.
“I can say with confidence that Nasarawa state has in place all the three requirements that promises to guarantee the attainment of the goals of this summit.
“First, I can say with all humility that the state has the leadership with the vision and commitment to achieve it.”
He described Engr Sule as one of the visionary leaders that made the success of the Dangote Group possible.
“As the GMD then of Dangote Group, he has proven this by positioning Dangote Sugar in the top tier of stock in the Nigerian Stock Exchange as the leading sugar company in Nigeria and also Africa,” Dangote stated.

Senator Adamu who is the first executive governor of the state said the state was a rural setting when he assumed office in 1999 so much that the office of the then local government chairman had to be used as a kind of the Government House as a lot of efforts had been put into developing the state as witnessed by its transformation.
Senator Al-Makura, the immediate past governor of the state who is also the chairman Senate Committee on Solid Minerals lauded Governor Sule for organising the summit, saying that it would give investors confidence in the state to invest.