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NIGER - The Power State of Nigeria.
Transparency, Accountability, Integrity
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Public Private Partnership: Niger State Leads Northern Nigeria By Mr. Y. S. Muhammad, Kaduna, Nigeria - January 21, 2008 

For the very first time, Niger State, one out of Nigeriaís 19 northern states has squarely taken the bull by the horn. The state government has introduced an innovation tagged public private partnership, PPP. From now on, the guiding principle in this dominantly agriculture-based society is, while government is committed to enhancing the lots of its people, using the meager resources at its disposal, it has put in place structures that will encourage the private sector to supplement its efforts, through bringing part or all the finances needed to develop public infrastructure.

 

According to the Chief Servant of Niger State, Dr. Mu‚zu Babangida Aliyu, PPP offers a long term, sustainable approach to improving social infrastructure, enhancing the value of public assets and making better use of tax payersí money. Governor Aliyu also pointed out that the concept of PPP was developed in part due to financial shortages in the public service.

 

Under PPP, as envisaged by the present administration in the state, both the government and private companies put their monies together to develop public infrastructure. The government believes that PPP will transform Niger State to join the league of top three state economies in Nigeria by 2020. According to Nigerian government estimates Niger state is ranked first, with a land mass covering over seventy six thousand square kilometers.

 

Agriculture, water resources, transportation, housing, waste management, tourism and hospitality are some of the keys areas of the local economy that are touted to entrepreneurs and businesses for investment. With a population exceeding four million people, Niger state is ranked the 18th in terms of human resources out of the 36 states of Nigeria. The overall population estimate of Nigeria is placed at between 120 and 150 million people.

 

Observers believe that by the time this concept of public private partnership come to fruition, the state will become cosmopolitan, in the class of states like Lagos, Kano, Rivers and Kaduna. The PPP unit in the governorís office says it has been receiving applications from businesses both home and abroad, asking for details about the kind of partnerships available to them and in some cases some businesses are asking for land to commence development projects.  

  

Indeed in addition to its proximity to Abuja, Nigeria capital city, its several touristsí attractions, including several dams, waterfalls and handicrafts, Niger State has consistently been identified as one of the most peaceful states in the country.

 

Broadly, PPP application in Niger State today is all about enhancing governmentís capacity to provide infrastructure, halt infrastructure decline and decay. In essence therefore, wide spectrums of activities have been marked out. These include services, like tourism and hospitality, infrastructure, like transportation and housing. Others are water resources, which covers damís construction, water distribution and marketing. On environment, government is now taking about waste management, sanitation and conservation.

 

The point has been made by critics of PPP that it is businesses that invest inNiger State, under PPP who will reap the benefits and who will cart their profits to their homes. Seemingly the state government under the PPP arrangement is concerned about live and let live. Right from the word go, the government has made it clear that PPP will fast-tract development in the state. And no matter what happens, some of the monies that will accrue to the investing companies invariably will be spent in the state. This could take the form of tax, vehicle registration, physical development of offices and other structures, et al.

 

Governor Aliyu has always said that even the food and other consumables that these businesses will buy in the state is a big boost to the local economy. But much more than that, hundreds, if not thousands of Nigerlites will be recruited and gainfully employed.

 

Now while the goal of introducing PPP is to fast-track infrastructure development, and service delivery, government is also concerned about carrying the people along. One key area under the PPP arrangement is housing and urban development. Here government is projecting, within the four years of the administration, construction of 5,000 housing units, construction of road networks, house/street numbering and management.

 

All these will gulf a lot of land. In the short run, government has embarked on sensitization, using the media to convince the citizen on the gains of this development projects. Already ambitious proprietors have started putting in their monies on developing housing projects. At the last count, work has commenced and in the next several months up to 2000 housing units will be in place.

 

Similarly in the tourism and hospitality sector, mass mobilization is on to encourage locals to allow private companies to develop touristsí villages around several sites in the state. These include the gurara water falls, shiroro dam tourists resort, kainji lake national park and the famous zuma rock near Abuja.

 

The dream of Niger State government is to transform this agriculture based economy to compete with states like Lagos, with its towering industries, multi million Naira companies and numerous sources of internally generated revenue. The thinking in the state today is PPP is the goose that can lay all the golden eggs that are needed for the metamorphosis.

 

 

Yusuf Sarki Muhammad

Freelance journalist

Kaduna, Nigeria

ysmuhd@yahoo.com