Governor Sule Has Brought Financial Discipline Into Governance –Accountant General

Musa Ahmed Mohammed is the Account General (AG) of Nasarawa State. He has a PhD in accounting and finance. He was Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly for two terms from 2007 to 2015 after he resigned from the services of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA). He spoke to AHMED TAHIR on how Governor Abdullahi Sule has entrenched financial discipline into governance in the state, the massive investment drive which has put Nasarawa on the world map, among others. Excerpts:

How would you assess the developmental strides of Gov Sule?

Even the blind have the feeling that the development we are experiencing in Nasarawa State is unprecedented; it is something that is worthy of emulation by other states.

Looking at every facet of development: human, capital, infrastructure and the rest, you will see that Gov Sule is having a good bidding that is expected of the government by the people of the state.

Talking about infrastructural development, there is no local government area in Nasarawa without at least one road being constructed or schools being constructed or renovated.

If you take human capital development and youth empowerment, I make bold to say that within one year that I have served in this government, Gov Sule has empowered more than 7,000 youths in terms of employment. For instance, he just gave approval to recruit 4,000 teachers in the secondary education board. Before then, there was an approval to employ more than 1,000 by the Teaching Service Commission. Before that, he approved the conversion of casual staff in every agency into the Nasarawa State Civil Service. Again, there was an approval by His Excellency to engage 1,560 youths in the Nasarawa State Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). If you add up all these you will discover that within this year this government has employed about 8,000 civil servants. This is exemplary leadership; this is something that other states should emulate, because for a government within one year to have done such and not talking about what he did in the previous four years is worth commendation.

So, I want to say that the one year of the second term of His Excellency, Engineer Abdulahi A. Sule, is perfect, apt, unprecedented and something that is worthy of emulation by every living soul in government, and in Nigeria.

 

What specific initiatives or projects has the Sule administration implemented that you believe have had the most significant impact on the state’s economic growth?

You know very well that no meaningful government will achieve anything without relative peace. The first and the best is that he was able to ensure that the people of Nasarawa are living harmoniously in peace. There is nothing that will be achieved without a relative level of peace. Having attained that, there could be some challenges here and there; which is normal. But even at that, he has done the best. Within the Lafia metropolis, there is no area you will pass without seeing one road or the other being constructed. The most conspicuous one is the Lafia Flyover, which we have not seen in most of the North Central states.

So, what can we say for the kind of a prudent and open-minded person that we have in Nasarawa, because his mind is clean, he is the kind of governor that will receive one naira and tell the whole state that, “I have received one naira.” I believe that if every civil servant or public servant is learning the road from Engr Sule, Nasarawa will be a better place for all.

 

As someone who has served in both the legislative and executive arms of government, how do you think the Sule administration has fared in terms of budget implementation and fiscal responsibility?

 

That can be seen even from the cordial working relationship among the arms of the government. You would have noticed that during these five years there was never a time that you heard that he was having issues with the budgetary provisions of the House of Assembly. There was no time he was having issues with the assembly about exceeding the budgetary provisions. That is why most people say, “Gov Abdulahi Sule has exceeded all his expectations.”

 

Some time ago when the All Progressives Congress (APC) gave the governor a national assignment, he returned unspent funds; which the party said was unprecedented. How do you view this?

He’s prudent, he has financial discipline and above all he has the fear of God. I know that in most of our discussions, between me and him, he would say, “Barade (the AG’s title), you know that it is not just about today; it is not just about the world, we shall account for whatever we’re doing in the hereafter.” It is not every person that will be administering the state or the system with the fear of God. He has done the best that he can, he’s still doing the best. I believe that Nasarawa has not seen anything yet as far as this administration is concerned. He has so many good plans for the state. You would have listened to his first year address where he said Nasarawa had not seen the best of him yet. I can attest to that because I know what we have, I know what he intends to do based on the budgetary provisions. The House of Assembly is ready to give the government maximum support to deliver on the mandate.

 

What role do you think the government’s policies and programmes have played in addressing the state’s infrastructure challenges such as road construction?

The role of the government is to serve the people. The people of Nasarawa are seeing what role he is playing in changing the narratives. What he is doing is not just about the urban areas, he is performing even in the rural areas. Today his government has selected about three roads in each of the 13 LGAs. The rural roads are being constructed. This will help in changing the face of development on how those living in the rural areas can bring out their farm products.

How has the Sule administration’s agricultural transformation agenda impacted the lives of farmers and the economy of the state?

Three weeks back Governor Sule paid for the procurement of tractors to increase the output of agriculture. We are expecting more than 16 trucks of fertilizer in the state. Three or four months back we paid for more than 17 trucks of fertilizer and it’s being distributed to farmers in the state.

So, the government is doing everything. Think of any aspect of life, Governor Sule is improving the narrative and the system and this has a great impact on the people.

 

What about the areas of education and health?

The government engaged 1,506 health workers through the primary healthcare agency. He also approved the engagement of more than 300 people at the state’s specialist hospital. These are personnel that will aid health service delivery in the state. He also approved the engagement of health personnel at the hospitals’ management board and provided equipment in hospitals.

In terms of education, schools are being renovated and new ones constructed. So, you can now see that in almost every sphere of life as far as this administration is concerned, he has touched virtually every aspect.

 

The issue of pension and gratuity is one area that most governors have issues with. What is the situation in Nasarawa?

Apart from consistent payment, Gov Sule has been doing so much for pensioners; which they are appreciating. Just last month, he approved N1bn to settle the backlog of gratuities from to 2009 to 2010. You can now see that not just the civil servants that are benefiting from the system, even the pensioners are also benefiting. I know that very soon he is going to take up from 2011 for others to benefit.

 

Recently, President Bola Tinubu commended the governor for driving the solid minerals investment. From 2019 many factories have been built in the state, including the Lithium Company in Nasarawa LGA, where you come from. As the financial manager of the state, how does this impact the state’s revenue?

Apart from other mineral resources that are being extracted in Nasarawa, recently there was a factory that Mr President came to commission. The advantage we have is that they’re not just extracting, but are also going to be processing within. Very soon, in Nasarawa we can be on our own without the federal allocation, and I believe that by the time the resultant effect of the lithium and other mineral resources extracted from Nasarawa begins to manifest, and with good management, we can stand on our own. That is what Gov Sule, the Engineer of Modern Nasarawa is doing for the people of the state.

Recently, Governor Sule came out to tell the people of the state that he received N13bn for NG CARES projects. Just last week, after the council meeting, he again came out to tell the people that he had received about N27bn, also for NG CARES, and all these are for the people of Nasarawa to know that this is what came in and this is what he is intending to do with it.

 

I believe with the recent N27b, the people will see more development projects across the state.

 

You’re a politician that rose to the level of the speaker of the state assembly; meaning you were the number three citizen in the state; how do you cope with your supporters?

 

I have been in service from 1992 to date. I was in the service of the FCTA for 14 years before I resigned and joined politics in 2007, and peradventure became speaker. So, the issue of managing human resources shouldn’t be a problem because my mates that I left in the service; three of them are permanent secretaries, others are directors today. If I were to be in the service I would have three years to retirement. I thank God that I moved to serve my people in politics.

 

So, the issue of managing human resources shouldn’t be a problem, especially as the speaker of the state assembly, I have saw the good and the bad side of administration and politics.

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