In this interview with DONATUS NADI, the Senior Special Assistant on Development Control to Nasarawa state governor, Arc. Stanley Buba, speaks on Umaru Tanko Almakura’s smart city initiative and how it stands to impact on the economy of the state
Governor UmaruTankoAlmakura recently appointed you as his Senior Special Assistant on Development Control, what Is Your Schedule Like?
Governor Almakura is ensuring that Nasarawa Sate’s development is in compliance with global standards. Thus, my duty requires me to provide impetus to the state’s urban development priorities and renewal, building regulations, environmental sanitation and slum upgrade, by interfacing with relevant ministries and agencies, Karu development committee and as the Executive Governor directs.
How will you describe Governor Almakura’s urban development policy and priorities?
It is not in doubt that the TAAL administration is a government that ascended power in Nasarawa state from an opposition platform. It polled a lot of votes from both the rural and urban voting blocs in Nasarawa State. It should be noted here that it is only in urban centers that people can demonstrate, test the will of government, comment on social issues and even react to contemporary issues. Inadequate public services and failure of the exiting PDP government in key political battle grounds and townships like Lafia, the state capital and other major townships where decisive factors in 2011 elections all to the political gains of opposition which won elections there.
For me, Governor Almakura has demonstrated that democracy offers the best chance to tackling socio-economic problems and you will notice he started and continued with the provision of infrastructural services like power, road networks, markets, site and services schemes, a world class land and geographic information system, smart street lighting, a cargo airport and now 29 new districts with a smart city in-view just like the Silicon Valley in the USA, slated for Kabusu, very close to Abuja with provision for 5G internet service under consideration.
So, clearly you can figure out a defined framework by Governor Almakura that would stimulate the growth of an evenly developed Nasarawa state now and into the future if well managed. This is a legacy. Almakura’s development strategy aims to position Nasarawa state as a global destination for investments, industrialization and tourism.
Apart from academics, do you have what it takes to provide the impetus for achieving this ambitious urban development stride?
First of all, I will say I am privileged to be coincidentally appointed again by Governor Almakura, because I recall when the merger of APC was on course, I started a group called Secure Nasarawa State Organization with the aim of sensitizing and mobilizing our populace to join the merger. I never knew I will end up as pioneer chairman of the party courtesy of Governor TankoAlmakura. Now on your question, as a student on attachment in 1992 at the PIPDC, I was part of the design team for greater Karu Master-plan. When I worked with EDC Consultants in Kano, 1996, I was part of the team that worked on the NDA Kaduna Master-plan, upgrading PHC centers in all LGCs of Borno State and Kano International trade fair complex (PTF). I have also in 2000 Chaired a sub-commie of NIA, Nasarawa State chapter that advised the state government to develop its urban development laws and development control regulations and standards as Nasarawa was then still using that of plateau state. We advised on developing one similar to Abuja’s own due to our proximity. I delivered a paper at the state polytechnic Lafia on housing in the middle-belt region. My B.Sc. thesis was on housing and development policies. I was on Nasarawa State government team to a World bank summit on infrastructural financing 2004, I have served in Nasarawa State government’s committee on construction of palaces, 2005, committee on Lafia and Doma markets fire incidence, 2008, committee on land crisis in Karu, LGC 2010, and committee on contract verification 2012. House of Representatives sponsored me to a world conference on tourism in Kenya, 2006. I served on the boards of German technical organization, GTZ, and the Polish chamber of trade and investments in 2006-2007. I have also made written inputs to the Abuja satellite down development initiative in 2006. I have consulted for USAID in 2012 on procurement laws for all LGCs and government agencies in Niger State, consulted for the NJC on planning research and statistics, in 2016, and same year for the Nigerian senate on establishing economic planning boards for LGCs in Nigeria to enable the LGCs participate in development activities of their states with office of the Vice-president and the bank of infrastructure (Former urban development bank) participating. Also in 2016 did a presentation to the national office on technology and acquisition promotion (NOTAP) on science and technology for economic development. You can see why I said I am privileged courtesy of Governor Almakura, for graciously appointing me again to do what I have gathered a lot of experience on.
So how do you intend to put to use this wide range of experience you have gathered to galvanize the development policies of Governor Almakura?
Basically, as my job specification requires, I will plan, strategize advice or coordinate Government programs and development policy objectives for the Executive Governor as directed. I will aim at achieving development priorities and targets set out. I am expected to be efficient by way of definite monitoring, evaluation and execution of directives. To this end, I will be using experiences I have gathered by creating an information base aimed at sensitizing, mobilizing, building capacity and articulating policy frameworks of government and providing re-orientation that relates to cooperation within relevant agencies on development. Also complementing or collaborating where the need arise under a defined and proper term and condition with the private sector, other government bodies outside the state, so as to consolidated on objectives of the government. I will develop a swift, efficient and smart feedback mechanism for His Excellency to rack development activities in the state.
In what specific areas has Governor Almakura excelled in the past six years?
The Good news here is both for now and for the future. I see him rather building a foundation for greater Nasarawa State both for now and the future when our localities will become urbanized. There is a balance between the rural-urban infrastructural development programme in terms of road networks, schools, power, hospitals, and markets as well as land administration. Maintaining peace, law and order is one very good area the Governor has done well.
How will Almakura’s Smart City initiative impact on the economy of the state?
Pundits and industry insiders expect smart cities to become a sizable market, with projections of nearly $40 billion spent on smart-cities technologies by 2016 around the globe. And real estate experts predict that smart cities will in the future be attractive to the educated work force and will therefore become real-estate gold. All reasons enough to get on the smart-city bandwagon who knows? Maybe Kabusu city could crack the top 10 rankings in the world. Smart City generally is ICT driven. And ICT is an enabler of economic development. The term “smart cities” are cities that use information and communication technologies to deliver services to their citizens. Smart cities use information and communication technologies (ICT) to be more intelligent and efficient in the use of resources, resulting in cost and energy savings, improved service delivery and quality of life, and reduced environmental degradation, supporting innovation and the low-carbon economy. Clearly that is how Nasarawa state will be impacted.
As pioneer chairman of the APC in Nasarawa state, don’t you think the party has been too quiet now and even nationally?
There is time for everything. Now is the time to work and not to talk and make noise. That Job is for the opposition and they seem good a i. Apc spoke loud and clear during the election and I won. The losers are now he noise makers. Now for the APC is time to work, fulfill campaign promises and concentrate on the act of governance to fix the years of misrule, corruption and rot in the system by the PDP. I assure you that there will enough to talk again when elections come around, showcasing our achievements in the fight against corruption, degrading bokoharam, and infrastructural development and definitely the Opposition will be silenced once and for all.