As a new Youth Corps member deployed to the office of the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Niger state, it was a privilege, witnessing activities and events unfolding in the seat of power at the state level.
The first day I saw the Governor of the state, Abubakar Sani-Bello during a visit of Orji Uzor Kalu, former two-time Governor of Abia state. I could readily see the stress on the face of the Niger colossus; an indication of keeping with a rigorous daily schedule just to ensure the development of Niger state.
Sooner, I watched with keen interest the zeal of the governor to succeed at all fonts. At the Executive Council chamber, he pronounced that his administration was set to double the achievements recorded in the last two years within the next few months! He made the pronouncement at the swearing in of the state new Grand Khadi, Danjuma Mohammed and members of the state Fiscal Responsibility Commission.
He used the occasion to give marching orders to top public officers to come up with more people-oriented programmes, as he was set to increase the tempo of governance.
At another forum, he advised public officers to imbibe the culture of team spirit which has been the guiding force of his administration, counselling them to cash in on the experience of their old colleagues to catch up with the pace and style of his administration.
Though, I am not competent to assess the Governor’s past business successes, available records nevertheless shows that he has been rated by Naij.com as the wealthiest governor in Nigeria due to his family investment in different sectors of the economy as well as his ranking by the Forbes magazine. This is very instructive, in a country where people often go into public office to make money. It is even more instructive, that Niger has a governor who had distinguished himself as a seasoned business man, a character trait that he has brought to bear on the development of the state.
A workaholic who is always on the move to commission projects or flagging-off new ones, he has also used his business acumen to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to the state. His several networks have attracted major investors including the recently signed $450 million jumbo sugar production MoU between the state and Dangote plc, as well as an N18 billion Memorandum of Understanding with a Hungarian investor, Osetertrade Engineering on integrated farming project. There is also the $3.25billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with All States Investment Ltd on fish farming in the state and the UNICEF’s N1.3bn with the state for the provision of basic necessities of life for children and women just to mention a few.
In his bid to grow the state, the Governor took a spirited decision to renovate and upgrade the Minna International Airport during the shutdown of the Abuja airport due to runway repairs, but lost to Kaduna. That singular act has attracted encomiums from the federal government and these major repairs were made to drive investments and open Niger state to the world.
As part of his dogged move in promoting the commercial activities of Niger state and moving the state forward, he recently hosted prominent political leaders, captains of industry, members of the Organized Private Sector OPS, top civil servants, especially those that manage the economy of the state, and people from all walks of life to the Niger State Investment Summit. The purpose of the summit was to fast-track ways of ensuring that Niger becomes very less dependent on federal allocations from Abuja just like Lagos and Kano states with emphasis on economic diversification.
Niger state which is said to have provided almost 70 percent of the land mass that the present Federal Capital Territory occupies, has vast mineral resources which includes Kaolin, Limestone, Granite, Glass sand, Iron ore, Red clay, Feldspar, Gold, Graphite, Cyanite, Silica sand, Quartz, Asbestos, Marble, Talc, Gemstone and many more.
The state government in trying to harness the potentials of these resources has established a Ministry of Mineral Resources which will be exploring the benefits of this abundant natural wealth for its growth and development.
As part of efforts to develop this sector, the governor who was at the Dubai Mining Conference and Exhibition held at the Dubai World Trade Centre, opened discussions with global players in the mineral resources value-chain in the areas of financing, equipment and new technology.
With the foregoing, It’s hope that Governor Sani-Bello will not only continue to diversify the economy of the state but also improve the wellbeing of the citizens.
Gidado Shuaib is a corps member serving with the Niger State Government House