By Joy Odor
Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has disclosed that his administration has commenced the payment of gratuity to retired state civil servant, which has not been paid twenty six years ago.
Engineer Sule disclosed this during a meeting of the Mada Development Association (MDA), in Akwanga, on Saturday.
According to the Governor, so far, his administration has cleared gratuities of retired civil servants beginning from 1996 to 2003/2004.
He explained that, his administration deployed funds gotten from the World Bank under the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme, to pay the gratuity, as well as pension of both state and local government retirees.
“All gratuities up to that period (2003/2004) have been cleared. We have continued to sustain the payment of pension at the state and local government levels,” he said.
Engineer Sule recalled that at a point in time, for over 53 months before the coming of his administration, pensioners at the local government received roughly 50 percent of their monthly pension but barely a month after assumption of office, he took pragmatic steps towards ensuring they get 100 percent of their pension, in keeping with the letters of his inaugural speech.
“In my very first month, because of my inaugural speech, we started to look at how to plug the leakages so that we will be able to generate enough funds to pay them 100 percent. I’m happy, we have now gone over three years there has never been a month we paid in percentages,” he stated.
He announced that, mostly due to the steps taken by the administration to curb excessive theft of public funds, transparency and accountability in governance, Nasarawa State has continued to receive funds that are being deployed for developing critical infrastructure.
“A lot of people are equating projects we are presently executing with politics. It’s not true. Previously we lack funds to execute these projects but now, as it can be seen, we have blocked most leakages, especially our IGR, jumping our IGR from 7bn to 16bn. Interventions from NEWMAP, etc. It’s now that Nasarawa State has available funds to execute projects,” the Governor said.
He announced that, his administration has requested the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, seeking for the Abuja-Lafia expressway to be diverted to pass through the centre of Akwanga, for which the state has expressed readiness to foot the bill.
This is just as the Governor said part of the N9.75bn Lafia airport refund will be channeled towards constructing the Nunku/Rinze/Agyaga, Bayan Dutse rural roads, as well as the completion of the Gudi/Moroa road.
While appreciating the Chun Mada, HRH Samson Gamu Yare and other royal fathers, for initiating the meeting which brought together all prominent sons and daughters of the Mada Nation, Engineer Sule however urged for the sustained unity of the Mada people.
He emphasized that, unity among the Mada people is of utmost importance.
“I became one of the happiest people to see one united Mada Nation together. I always get excited. It’s so exciting to see the various groups of the Mada Nation still proud of the nation here.
“I begin to see all this foreign Mada from Kokona, Keffi and the rest of that here, really coming together to be the one people that we are. It gets me very excited. I want to really thank our father and all the royal fathers for this initiative, to be able to bring people together, to understand,” he stated.
Earlier, in an opening remarks, Akwanga Local Government Chairman, Hon. Safiyanu Isa Andaha, described the turn out at the meeting as unprecedented, stressing that with such unity, the Mada land is poised to develop further.
Hon. Andaha called for Mada sons and daughters to forgive each other and to forge ahead.
“If we can work under this same spirit, Mada land will be better. I want to use this opportunity to call on each and everyone of you here, to please forgive one another, commit to the development of your land because posterity will always judge you,” he said.
On his part, the Chun Mada, HRH Samson Gamu Yare, lamented the security challenges confronting Akwanga Local Government Area, calling for the stakeholders to make security issues top priority.
The royal father decried the activities of some hoodlums, warning that the traditional council will collaborate with relevant agencies, to rid the council of bad elements.
“We will never make Akwanga a safe heaven for any criminal or hoodlum. Whoever that is not prepared for peace should relocate elsewhere,” the Chun Mada said.
In an opening remarks, James Bashayi, President, Mada Development Association (MDA), said the meeting was convened to raise funds for the construction of a befitting palace for the Chun Mada.
Bashayi disclosed that, Mada architects are already working hard to develop a befitting plan for the palace, in consultation with the traditional council.
“They are already working. The site plan of this project has been done. I am so glad and happy to see all Mada sons and daughters gathered together like this in unity,” he said.
The MDA president however appealed to all Mada sons and daughters that pledged to support the project, to redeem their pledges.
The meeting, which has traditional rulers, Mada critical stakeholders, as well as distinguished sons and daughters of Mada Nation, was convened to raise funds for the construction of a beffitting palace for the paramount traditional ruler in the area, the Chun Mada.