…says Sule will replicate same principles and devt strategy in NEDS 2
Ibrahim Adamu Abdullahi is a Trade, Finance & Investment Lawyer with multifaceted advisory experience. He doubles as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nasarawa Investment and Development Agency (NASIDA). In this interview with The EYEWITNESS he outlines the achievements the Nasarawa State government has made in its investment drive and steps taken by government to boost further investment anchored on revenue generation.
Can we know the core mandate of your and your track record as regards your effort to fulfil that mandate?
Our mandate as Nasarawa State Investment and Development Agency are purely four broad based mandates.
First and foremost is Investment promotion and facilitation and that is inviting investors and positioning Nasarawa State as a top investment destination both for domestic and foreign investments.
On investment management, as an investment vehicle for the State, we also look at how to optimize State assets, State resources, to get more revenue for government, for tax payers and for citizens.
Third is Improving the State business environment by looking at barriers to doing business in the State and how we will remove those barriers, how we will remove the bottlenecks, also how we will improve investors interface with government service providers and also citizens interface with government service providers.
Finally, we serve as delivery unit, as holding the implementation of the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy, NEDS, which is really anchored on improving private sector participation to revitalize the economy of the State.
Those are the key functions, simply put, were the one basic function is for doing business in the State, whose cardinal objective is to revitalize the economy of Nasarawa State for private capital and private expertise.
Can you give us an idea in specifics as to what government has been able to attract through this agency?
There are a lot of investments. The work we do is that we make the State more attractive for people to come and do business, as you can see the state has changed in the past four years, there have been in flock of visitors, well meaning individuals coming into the State do business, we are very pleased with the in flock of visitors coming into the State.
Government has assets and government has specific interest in specific sectors, so we have gone into joint venture development in this regard, either to the use of government assets that has been redundant and we’ve done few of this kind of joint ventures across different sectors. Projects like the peninsula housing, that for many years has not been keep up with but now, with this joint venture development for peninsular and it to happened over a period of a number of years, it is purely private sector driven. Also the Nasarawa technology village which is really coming out so fast. The idea of technology village is to build an infrastructure that has housing and also technology and Internet to be able to help the teeming youths develop skills in computing and software development and to use Nasarawa, specifically Karu, as a hub for talent development within the technological space, that is also private sector driven.
We have the join venture called Nasarawa Technology Village that is all also driven by our investors, we also signed the Nasarawa Agro Commodity Company project which is really for communities, but we structured this project championed by the Governor about two years ago, as you know the way projects are conceived and the reality of implementing projects in this country.
So we are moving on with that project as you can see the economic situation of the country demands and call for Initiative like that, so in Nasarawa State we have been ahead of the call to do that, we are already discussing the acquisition of land for the introduction of that project which means that by the time the production picks up teeming youths will be employed within those communities and their environs.
We have also been to Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital and supported it to do some Private Public Partnership, PPP. For instance, to develop functional laboratories, now there are functional labs through PPP. Before then, if you wanted to do a test or something at Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital you have to go outside of Lafia but now you can do it in terms of public private project.
So also is radiology unit of the same hospital and mortuary . You can see even the PPPs have extended to the health sector and these are typical examples the sort of progress that we made.
Today our assets such as the Nasarawa House in Abuja, at Central Area, is fully optimized the state is getting revenue from it, the VIP Guest House that was turned to Nasarawa Luxury Hotel, government is also getting revenue, this is an example of PPP that are going on in the State.
Can you take us into NEDS, the first four years have passed, can you give us an assessment and what you are seeking to consolidate in the second face of NEDS as times goes on in the next four years?
The NEDS is a four year development plan for the state, the life circle of the NEDS ends ending of this year’s development plan for the State, the life circle of the NEDS ends, in the same principles the governor would replicate the NEDS 2 applying the same principles, the governor would replicate the NEDS 2 applying the same principles but just scaling up where we see improvement then strategy is made.
The NEDS development plan is currently ongoing through cross review so as as to lunch more actual plans for the State.
We’ve made tremendous progress in achieving the NEDS objectives, we’ve had major setbacks such as the breakout of Covid-19 pandemic.
It was a major set back despite that the State health sector has improved significantly, our general outlook as a state has improved significantly, there is hardly any development initiative that is conceived of or thought about in Nigeria that Nasarawa State doesn’t get on the table, these are one of the developments that the Nasarawa Economy Development Strategy has really brought about, you may recall that before the NEDS we have never really had development plan curated and lunched and implemented in the history of the State, so even that itself, the presence of NEDS, it serves as policy statement as policy documentary and is really commendable and kudos to the visionary Governor that has really said , I must come to the State with a plan.
You earlier mentioned creating enabling environment for Nasarawa State for investors to come in, now some of the bottlenecks are multiple taxation and security, how did you scale through and how where you able to achieve that so that these investors will come in their large numbers, what were the challenges you had and how where you able to overcome?
Truly thanks to the governor, the security Strategy of the State includes traditional rulers and leaders of the grassroot and a lot of times you see the governor having expanded security council meetings, the traditional rulers are at the forefront because they are the ones at the grassroot, so they form a critical part of our security architecture of the State
Nasarawa is relatively safer than a lot of places in Nigeria, in terms of taxes, or interface with regulatory bodies, we have through business made MDAs to digitize the process of doing business so now you can obtain your business premises registration online or you can get your consultations online, we also ensure that the information for this service are published, even within the premises of MDAs. There is an improvement with the way we interface as government entities as you can see, the process is even coming to this office, to show how government is, so these are critical government factors for us in Nasarawa, we currently also have a network of reform champions in each MDA, that relate or interface with businesses, there is an office that is called the reform champion that the responsibility of that officer is to look out duely how to improve the services, how to unblock the barriers that impede businesses coming in.
Now that oil has been discovered in Nasarawa State, using your your office as the anchòr for development, how does Nasarawa State fit in to take advantage beyond normal 13 percent derivation?
It is a development that we must prepare for so there are different factors to it. We must do intensive Human Capital Development. Already the State is very keen on human capital development because we must develop the skills among our young people for us to be able to tag into the jobs that can be created out of the oil boom in the State, because there will be jobs and we will need to position our youths to be able to participate and take advantage of those job opportunities.
More investments will come into the State, so we need to continue to sanitize and improve our business environment so that we don’t loose those sort of small businesses to Abuja that is just nearby, Benue or Plateau, so our tapping into the opportunities lies in our preparedness for this economic boom and as you can see the government is working hard from the front to ensure that we are adequately prepared, the communities are well sensitized about this development, we will intensify our human capital development effort. You see the State scholarship board is getting a face lift so that more and more of our skillful young people can benefit from the scholarship schemes and get well educated, so it just really very exciting time to be from Nasarawa and to be in Nasarawa.
Can you give us an Idea of where the State earn in terns of revenue accruals and what it’s able to generate now from different platforms?
Within the first one year in office, we grew our revenue by over 100%, I remember when the revenue grew from about N300 to N400 million to about a billion a month within the interval of a year and it is because technology was applied, leakages where blocked and so on.
So at the moment now is it still at the level of about over a billion per month.
Well I think you should ask the revenue board they will have the information readily available.