Engr. Mohammed Wada Yahaya is the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport. He spoke to newsmen on the occasion of this year Democracy Day and six years of Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura’s administration.
Six years since this administration assume power in the state, what has it achieved?
First and foremost is the improvement on education. This government rehabilitated and renovated so many primary schools, provided furniture, built new primary and secondary schools in all the 13 Local Government Areas of the state. For the tertiary, a Visitation Panel was constituted for the University to ascertain its performance and to improve its condition. The work of the Panel led to the recent convocation which did not take place for many years before this government came on board. The same thing goes for the State Polytechnic, Lafia and College of Education, Akwanga where there was not convocation for 12 years. The governor initiated and developed special schools for people living with disability and these were constructed in the 3 Senatorial zones of the state located at Lafia, Keffi and Akwanga. The one in Lafia is 100% completed and furnished with the state of the art awaiting commissioning by the president, while Keffi and Akwanga are at about 70% level of completion. In the area of health, this government renovated most of the general hospitals which is going on in phases. The ones in Awe, Akwanga and Toto Local Government Areas have not only been renovated but upgraded, with new ones being constructed alongside three Specialist Hospitals one in each of the 3 senatorial districts of the state. The one in Lafia, for the Southern zone has over 200 bed capacity, Akwanga and Nasarawa for Northern and Western zones respectively have 160 bed capacity and are at 75% level of completion. The Government recently donated land for the construction of World Bank support laboratory that would have the capacity to carry all researches on medical issues, the government donated a complex of Dalhatu Araf specialist hospital, Lafia for the establishment of University Teaching Hospital, over 300 primary health care outfits have been constructed in collaboration with the MDG’s in all the nook and cranny of the state, a medical store has been constructed for the storage of medical facilities here in Lafia, a multipurpose warehouse have been constructed in all the 13 local governments meant for storage of all sort of things that are meant for the benefits of the common man. In the area of provision of water, Gov Almakura has approved the turn-around maintenance for Mada Water Works which has not been carried since its construction in 1996 at the cost of over N1B. When completed, this will improve water supply in Keffi and Akwanga axis. Also, new Water Works have been constructed in Nasarawa Eggon and Daddere, with additional new one ongoing in Nasarawa to complement the existing one. Work is ongoing in Wamba too while the ones in Keana and Toto have been rehabilitated and upgradedin addition to motorized solar boreholes that have been constructed across the state. All these are efforts to improve on water supply in the state. This administration is working out modalities at improving water system within Lafia metropolis. The design has reached an advance level of completion. In housing, this government has completed and distributed to civil servants the abandoned 500 Housing Units it inherited and is planning as provided in the budget to collaborate with private investors to develop more Houses for civil servants and non-civil servants in all the Local Governments in the state. The State Government is also collaborating with the Federal Government in the area of Housing. Nasarawa State is the first to take up the new Federal Housing Scheme by donating 13 hectares of land at Agyaragu to the Federal Government to commence the project which is at 65% level of completion. The government has earmarked 13 hectares of land for housing development and is providing land to developers through Sites and Services arrangements. As for transport, before the coming of this administration Nasarawa Transport Service was dead. The Governor procured 40 units of Buses and rehabilitated the place, however, due to inefficient and ineffective management the place is grounded. We are now looking into partnering with experts who are willing to collaborate with us to resuscitate the place and make it more effective. When this Government came, Lafia, the state capital had only motorcycles as means of transportation largely due to poor road network within Lafia, this administration constructed roads and made it easy for vehicles to use and also provided tricycles for the youths to use on a soft loan basis to improve on the transportation system within the town. The Governor also resolved the lingering crisis among the transport unions and supported them where and whenever necessary. We are also working on the establishment of motor vehicles administration agency which will improve on the services of V.I.O. and other traffic agencies within the state. Likewise, we inherited only 3 fire service outlets but we succeeded to construct 5 additional ones and as I’m talking to you, they are all functional. This administration also recorded unprecedented achievements in the area of massive road construction as Chinese proverb says “development follow road”. We have been able to construct over 300 kilometers of township roads and across all the Local Governments in the state. We have also succeeded to construct over 300 kilometers of intercity roads that is the roads that link one local government to the other. Another important aspect is Power. Nasarawa state was the only state whose state capital is being fed with 33kVA line and with the coming of this administration, the government have been able to provide relief transformers and extension of power to various communities where hundreds of transformers were installed to improve power supply in the state. In an effort to ensure that the power situation of the state is improved, the governor has been able to lobby and succeed recently as the federal government has approved the dropping of 330kVA power line that passes from the East to the North. This is a great achievement among so many other giant strides of the administration.
How much does all of this cost the state in terms of financial implication?
It will be difficult to mention but some substantial amount of money has been spent by this administration in the area of road constructions from 2011 to date. One thing I can assure you is that, if you compare the amount of money spent on road projects in the state and the roads themselves, you would not believe it because we constructed our roads at the cheapest cost courtesy of the governor prudence, commitments and experiences in business. The same thing applies to our investments in other areas where the state has been addressing. One thing I also want to add is the Governor’s determination to move Nasarawa State to a higher level by attracting necessary investments and exploiting all the development potentials within the state and that is what informed his decision to construct airport in the state. Since he came on board, he has been trying to draw investors to come to Nasarawa State and invest. Some of them do not have time to travel all this long distance to Nasarawa and you can see the investment he attracted from Dangote and the Olam Farm which is an outfit that can employ not less than 50,000 people so with the construction of the airport now we will be the closest airport to Abuja and with what happened recently, Nasarawa state would have been the alternative airport to FCT. We are also talking with the Chinese company for a concession from where this road will link up that is around Keffi straight to Abuja through Gurku and that will also be about 45 kilometers so you have less than one hour from the airport to Abuja. you can imagine what the government is doing to bring development and investments to the state and hence re-write the state’s history but some noise makers and myopic thinkers are opposing it.
But there is the concern that the administration is failing in its responsibilities to pay salaries of civil servants in the state with others being paid an insignificant fraction of the take home every month…
Today we are experiencing a situation where over 90% goes to the recurrent where do you have money for the capital projects and mind you whatever is being done on capital projects is benefited by 100% because even people outside the state will benefit and when we look at the civil servants and their numbers they constitute less than 2% of the population and if the civil servants constitute 2% what is the percentage of working class in the state?
Most people accuse Almakura of being responsible for the current leadership tussle rocking the state chapter of NLC as the government identifies with one faction. What is your take?
I don’t believe that and I will never believe that but what I believe is that most of the civil servants know the situation. Yes of course, if there are two, you must align yourself with one and you must align yourself with those you flock together. They said birds of the same feather flocks together so you don’t leave to deceive yourself. Why should you identify with your enemies when you have a friend?
The recent decision by the state government to demolish Breeze FM 99.9 is seen as a move aimed at silencing the opposition. Do you think the demolition is justified?
Why are people emphasizing on the issue of Breeze FM? But this is myopic thinking. The question people should be asking is was only the Breeze FM that was demolished. The property of Sarkin Kwandare who is the governor’s elder brother was also demolished. If the police station and police business outfit and business premises of the poor man who is earning a leaving is affected why people are making issues out of it.