Special Adviser to Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, on Investment and Economic Planning, who is also the pioneer MD/CEO, of the Nasarawa State Investment and Development Agency (NASIDA), Barr. Ibrahim Adamu Abdullahi, in this Interview with Tobias Lengnan Dapam, the youngest political appointee in the state, said the state will be one of the top most competitive states in the country by 2023. He also spoke about their plans to woo both local and foreign investors in to the state. Excerpts:
Sir, do you see your current position as a challenge or a burden?
For me, this appointment is both a challenge and a burden. It is a challenge to deliver and to write my name in gold and to make impact. It is also a generational burden because if I success, I will open a lot of doors for young people; but if I fail, I will also close doors for them. Currently, there is an apparent distrust in the capacity of young people to get involved in government and private sector. When you are a young person, you face these challenges. But the best thing is to strife to rise above the challenges. I am grateful to the governor for considering me worthy to be part of his team at this challenging times. I assure you that I will not fail the people of Nasarawa state. I will continue to work hard to help this administration achieve the best for our people.
What are you doing to attract investment in the state?
Well, I am working in line with the vision of the Governor of the state, to implement his vision. We are working under the blue print called; the Abdullahi Sule plan of the Nasarawa State Development Strategy. The first step we have taken is to improve the business environment. Under this blue print, we have what is called; the Enabling Business Environment Framework. We are working to improve ease of doing business in the state, interface between business communities and government and to facilitate and permit necessary for business and other necessary documents.
We are also organizing road shows, and engaging with business moguls to woo them in to the state. Interestingly, the governor has been at the fore front of this campaign of attracting investors into the state. So far, we have received positive responses from potential investors who are ready to do business in our state.
There used to be agricultural show in the past, what happened to that programme?
I do know about that, but we have other plans and approach to achieving results. We are focusing on the private sector led economy. And what we are doing is to improve the business environment for private sector to come into the state, especially in agriculture. So, we are working to bring some of the best players in that sector to invest in the state. As you know, Nasarawa state is one of the pilot states of the National Livestock Transformation Programme, the state is also keying into the African Development Bank (AFDB) special Agro processing zone project. There are other initiatives and we believe that our businesses climate will be favorable for investors. We will still have the road shows also to showcase what we have and what we are doing.
Is the government thinking of revamping some of the sectors that are moribund?
The current government is working towards uptimizing government assets, and transfer the risk to the private sector as a better manager of risk. All of these states enterprises have either been concessioned to a competent private sector investor, or are in the process of being concessioned, so that they will be better managed. Doing this will help the state to get more value because more competent people in the industry will manage those assets.
Don’t you think the current security challenges in the country is a serious threat to achieving your objectives?
The security situation is worrisome and I am sure, the government is working assiduously to bring it to an end. As it stands, Nasarawa state is one of the safest states to do business in the country. But largely, we pray for the whole country to get safer so that all of us will enjoy. The federal government and the security agencies are on top of their game and I am sure that the whole country will get more safer for business. Also, Nassarawa state is placed in the middle of the country, and that will help us to attract investors from all parts of the country.
Are there any plans to woo foreign investors?
We are focusing on wooing them as well. Our drive for investors cuts across oceans. Currently we have investors from all parts of the world coming to do business in Nasarawa state. We are making all efforts to make them enjoy investment in the country. We have people coming from Europe, America and Asia. These people have interest in various sectors of our economy that they want to explore. Lately, the area of rail and ranch are being discussed with some of these investors. We hope that very soon, all these will take proper shape.
What are your major challenges?
As a state, we would like to have more money to improve the sector and infrastructure for business. There is also a culture shock because our governor is from the private sector and he is driving a lot of reforms; from civil service, financial management system, land reforms and a lot of others. We are inspired by leadership of the governor. It won’t be easy for a sector that was not used to any of these, but all of us will benefit from these reforms.
What do we hope to see differently in the next 4 years?
Nasarawa state will be one of the top most competitive states in the country by 2023. We hope to improve our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). The governor is targeting that the state will fend for itself. We are also starting the Nasarawa Infrastructure Fund to help save for the future, and generate more funding for critical infrastructure. I think in four years we will be much better.