Nassarawa’s crying need
It can only bode well for the good people of Nasarawa State, Nigeria`s home of solid minerals, that Nigeria`s annus horribilis is concluding with a cabinet reshuffle by their governor, Mr. A. A. Sule. The reshuffle promises to blow a gust of fresh air through the corridors of power in the State.
The commissioners have since been sworn in and on the team is 29-year-old legal practitioner Hannatu Abimiku Bala who has been given the Special Duties portfolio. For neutrals and stakeholders alike, it promises to be an interesting ride, one which bodes well for indigenes and residents of the state from Akwanga to Agyaragu. It may just be the new beginning of the end for the administration and the people.
Recently, gun trotting killers widely suspected to be Fulani herdsmen invaded about 12 communities in Lafia, Obi and Awe Local Governments of the State. In their wake, about 20 Tiv farmers lay dead while a further 5000 people were displaced.
Although violent attacks and clashes in the State are yet to take the worrying dimensions taken in Plateau and Kaduna States, Nasarawa has remained on a knife`s edge, delicately skirting the boundary between stability and instability.
The State is home to many of Nigeria`s precious solid minerals. Its proximity to Abuja notwithstanding, the State remains largely agrarian and poor. Yet, there are vast untapped potentials that can engender the new dawn the State craves if only they can be properly harnessed by quality education and proper human capital development. Regrettably, this has not been the case, especially since the state and the country returned to democracy in 1999.
Successive administrations in Nasarawa State have largely failed to live up to the expectations of the people as over the years as politicians in the state have perfected the art of interfacing with the people during campaign sessions only to discard them like used toilet papers once they assume office.
Like many other states in Nigeria, the State is home to many schools at different levels, yet education in the State suffers from the malaise that afflicts education throughout Nigeria. Many of the higher institutions in the state lack the infrastructure that conduce to proper tertiary education.
For primary school pupils, classrooms without windows and chairs and frequent strike actions by disgruntled teachers are now too common. Like many other States in northcentral and northwest Nigeria where there is a considerable population of Christians and Muslims, the State remains steeped in ethnic and religious tension. This tension colours the politics of the state where a Christian has never been governor.
The current governor who has now reshuffled his cabinet is an engineer by profession. Having lived outside the country for long, he is as exposed as they come and in six years, he has shown that he means well for the State. But that is as good as it will get if the newly appointed commissioners do not get down to the task of rebuilding and repositioning the State. On the newly constituted team is a fine blend of youth and experience. Their collective gifts when properly utilized can set the state upon the path of sustainable development.
But it is a delicate situation. Already, seeing that they have not been given any place on the list of newly appointed commissioners, some ethnic groups in the State have criticized the governor for marginalizing them. The governor must ensure that he carries as many people as he can along in governance so that cries of marginalization in the State can be reduced to the barest minimum.
It is a state of harsh religious and ethnic sensibilities with many different ethnic groups vying for political power and relevance. But more than anything, what the State deserves is a future as solid as the minerals which flood it. The good people of the State deserve a future that is prosperous and peaceful.
The children of the State deserve to know that there is something in the State for them after all. It is the only way the inertia of previous administrations in the State can be wiped off and the people given new slates to script a sensational story for themselves.