Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Sule has expressed doubts that the establishment of state police to totally curtail insecurity in the country.
In his view, if the Nigeria Police and other security agencies have been unable to solve security challenges over the years, there is no certainty that the state police would perform the magic.
He spoke at a brief encounter with journalists during the just concluded Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) conference in Lagos.
“The state police issue is one that we discuss a lot at the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and at the federal level too,” Sule said. “But most governors already engage one form of security unit or the other, like vigilance groups. We have the Nasarawa State Youth Empowerment Scheme (NAYES).
Also, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) is very aggressive in Nasarawa State. Majority of the officers in the NSCDC are citizens of our state and so they go to the communities to engage the youth. That has worked a lot. In fact, the Commandant of the NSCDC told me that the most active command they have in the North Central is in Nasarawa State.
“Once the idea of state police is concluded and agreed on, I think it will be adopted by the Federal Government. But I don’t know whether that would solve all our problems. If the different agencies that we have are not solving the problem, I don’t know whether the state police will solve the security problem.”
The governor said his government has been complying fully with the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) directive on local government funds. Unlike many other governors that have expressed strong opposition to the directive, Sule said the local governments in his state were enjoying full financial autonomy.
“Nasarawa is one of the first states that decided to embrace the autonomy wholeheartedly,” the governor said. “When it started in June, we allowed the local government areas to set up their own committees and distribute their funds. We worked with them to do that and we did not touch even one naira of their money. So far, they have been able to pay their salaries for June, July and now August. Not only salaries, they are also paying their pensions 100 per cent as against the percentages they were doing in the past because of their own fault. Right now, most of the local government areas are autonomous and they are now screening their beneficiaries, not only for salaries but also pension. They also discovered a lot of people who were drawing from these two sources and were not entitled to them. They are able to take out what they call ghost workers. So, we welcome the autonomy of the local governments 100 per cent.”
He assured that persons living with disability in Nasarawa State would continue to get education and empowerment from the government. He explained that a special school for the disabled established by the immediate past administration had been giving a new lease of life to disabled persons in the state, even as he added that there were other great plans for the physically-challenged.
“One of our biggest achievements is that the former administration set up a special school for the disabled. The State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) is excited about that. They have said they would build another one for us to complement what the state had done. So, we will end up with two special schools to cater for those who have a disability to ensure that they are being carried along.”
The governor said his administration was also working hard to steer the youths away from embracing crime by ensuring the completion of technical schools and skill acquisition centres started by the past administration. He said a N1.5 billion facility was being expected from the Federal Government to give the youth to grow small scale farming activities.
He recalled that he had promised, during his campaign, that he would launch what he tagged the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises Ambassadors Programme where 3,000 women, youth and physically challenged persons would be empowered. He informed that, already, substantial sensitisation had been done on the project.
“About 48 hours after I was sworn in, we started distributing sewing machines, grinding machines and such things to people, so they could create employment opportunities for themselves and their families,” he stated.
“We are doing a lot for our farmers,” he added. “We sell fertilisers to them at a subsidised rate lower than anywhere else. We buy from the cheapest source and sell to them at 50 per cent of the cost. We support them so they could have a bumper harvest, while attracting major commercial farmers to the state.”
Recently, the convoy of the state deputy governor, Emmanuel Akabe was attacked on his way to Abuja, and four persons were killed. That incident has left many people convinced about the porosity of the security architecture in the state. But the governor dismissed such insinuations, insisting that the incident was an isolated case.
Said the governor: “There was an armed robbery attempt on the highway and the deputy governor’s convoy was on the way. So many vehicles had pulled over, but his pilot vehicle thought it was about three or four persons to one gun, and that was how they ran into the robbers. There were about 50 of them on top of the hill and nearly every one of them shooting from different directions. That was how they ambushed the three policemen there. It was unfortunate. “But with the exception of that major issue, Nasarawa has seen some level of stability in the area of security. For instance, during the last Sallah break, there was no single report of insecurity in the state.”
The governor said he has set up an Investment and Economic Advisory Council, with Prof Konyinsola Ajayi as the chairman.
“The committee has so many prominent Nigerians that are known in the area of economy, including the Special Adviser to the President on Economy. The former Managing Director of NEXIM Bank is also a member. The President of GE in Nigeria, Lazarus Angbazo, is also a member. We have former generals, former governors, former deputy governors and others in the committee. They have agreed to come and serve in the committee because they believe in the economic potential of our state. We have developed an economic strategy for the state and it is named Nasarawa Economic and Development Strategy. That is what we are promoting and that was part of what we went to sell to the Nigerian Bar Association conference.
He said his government was also working hard to harness the state’s waterfall for power generation, explaining that the state was working with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to start the process of constructing a dam at the Farin Ruwa waterfall.
“We have already identified three major areas of power that we would focus on, starting with solar power. Today, all the new solar power facilities that we are installing are the brand new technology of solar where you don’t have the batteries that can be stolen. Also, most of the boreholes we are building at the various primary and secondary schools are solar-powered. But, the major area in the power sector that we are talking about is ensuring that the huge coal deposit that we have in the state would now be converted to fuel and source of power for the coal-fired turbines, and we are working with General Electric on that.”