Governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura’s focus on infrastructure is, no doubt, increasing Nasarawa State’s infrastuctural development effort and placing the state on the pedestal of best emerging investment community in Nigeria. Various multinational firms are now beaming their searchlights and creating avenues for the state to key into the bid by the President Muhammdau Buhari administration to getting Nigeria out of recession.
In the last few years in office, Al-makura has never concealed his passion for an independent Nasarawa. Little wonder he has been reeling out policies that would ensure sustainable development and make life better for the people of the state.
In doing this, the governor created an enabling environment for investment opportunities in all sectors of the economy, spanning from agriculture, real estate, land, to transportation. The idea is to boost the economy of the state in particular and the country as a whole.
Road networks have been meticulously constructed throughout the state to ease transportation and create an enabling environment for investment opportunities as well as to reduce the burden of access to areas of choice by investors who are willing to do business in the state. These efforts have not only succeeded in bringing development closer to the people of the state, but also yielded the necessary result and created the platform for investors to take advantage and do business in Nasarawa.
It is in this regard that, in the last four years, a lot of entrepreneurs and investors, both local and foreign, have been trooping into the state to invest in different sectors of the economy. In the first tenure of Governor Al-makura, Olam farms, one of the largest producers of rice in Sub-Saharan Africa, located in Doma local government area of the state started operation. And just recently, the richest man in Africa and president, Dangote Group of Companies, Aliko Dangote, also jumped into the Nasarawa business arena with a huge investment of over N217 billion in sugar plantation and processing in the state, an amount close to budgetary allocation of the state for six years.
With this investment, Dangote has attested to Governor Al-makura’s effort in ensuring sustainable development and employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the state. Besides, the investment is the highest any state has ever gotten in the last four years. It has also raised the profile of Nasarawa State, not only in Nigeria, but across the globe. Keen observers think so because the investment will surely open up new vista of life for the state and its citizens, especially for the teeming youths.
The Dangote N217Billion investment project is also a proof of Al-makura’s assertion that his administration is on a rescue mission to salvage the people of the state. Alhaji Aliko Dangote who personally visited the state last week said the project is targeted at employing over 40,000 people, including 10,000 out-growers who will be given inputs and all necessary equipment.
The business mogul also said he was hopeful that the investment will improve lots of host communities as primary and secondary schools will be built, those existing refurbished, welfare of the teachers taken care of, as well as provision of water, electricity and an equipped hospital, among other benefits.
According to Dangote, the sugar processing plant which is to be cited in Tunga village of Awe local government area of the state and billed to take off in less than 30 months will occupy 60,000 hectares of land. He explained to the governor that the plant will be the largest in the world and will produce 480,000 tonnes of sugar, which is 27 per cent of Nigeria’s total consumption.
Governor Al-makura who could not conceal his excitement assured Dangote of the state’s total cooperation and support in carrying out the activities that would allow the sugar plant flourish. He said, “Nasarawa State is going to ensure full fledged security networks that will give your workers the opportunity to work without any hindrance, any fear or any tribulation.
“I want to assure you that we will do everything we can to ensure that this seed of wealth that you have planted in Nasarawa State germinates and expand the scope of our prosperity, wealth and well being”. The governor did not stopped at that; he also met with stakeholders of Tunga community 24 hours after the visit of Dangote to strategise on how best to ensure the success of the project.
To say least in the mildest way, the project will, in no small measure, support the ongoing Airport project, just as it will serve as an opportunity for investment groups to use the cargo wing of the airport after completion to either bring raw materials for other projects or for transportation of finished goods to business destinations outside the state.
Few days before the visit of Dangote, the British High commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Akwright, visited Governor Al-makura to discuss business opportunities that would enable the British government partner the state in areas of agriculture, mining, housing and infrastructure, as well as help shore up its economic base.
“The purpose of my visit is to understand more about the challenges in this state, to understand about the opportunities in the state and see what support the British Government can bring to Nasarawa. Some of these opportunities include agriculture, mining, mass housing, infrastructure, and there is a lot of work that needs to be done. I know the governor is getting on with that work and doing it very well”, the British envoy observed.
As it stands at the moment, only time will tell the extent to which Nasarawa will go in terms of business and investment. The state is gradually turning into a new investment haven and a beheeve ofeconomic activities. Already, it is an investors’ pride under Governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura’s All Progressives Congress- led government of the people.
– Tukur is the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Nasarawa State governor.