By ZIKA BOBBY
There is a new agenda to turn much of Nasarawa State, especially the area enjoying proximity with Abuja, into a twin city to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and it is driven by a vision to end reliance on the federally generated oil revenue, in what will all sum up to an implementation of General Land Use Budget being promoted by the UN-HABITAT.
“We are targeting not short of a 21st Century city in the implementation of our livable city project called NAGIS. That is the dream of governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makur,” Sonny Agassi, Nasarawa State Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Town Planning said.
A reform programme introduced by Governor Al-Makura in the administration and management of the land use in the state, in what is already endowing the state with investment potentials in housing, transportation, commerce and industries, has seen the initiation of a project called Nasarawa Geographic Information System (NAGIS). NAGIS, Nasarawa State’s biggest project since state creation, 16 years ago, is being implemented by the Lands,
Survey and Town Planning ministry, which commissioner Agassi, accompanied the governor to both Washington DC in the US, and Sands Bay in Singapore, recently, to attract partnership in an implementation that is expected to unlock the fifth generation state’s investment potentials. Agassi said NAGIS, is a 24-month project of urbanization which has three components: Digital Area Mapping (DAM), Nasarawa Geographic Information Services, and the planning of cadastral districts in what will give a detailed planning and development control of three major cities of Karu, Keffi and Lafia, was designed to phase out the growth of slums in these areas.
The project, which execution has reached six months now, is handled by a consortium of firms led by Siraj Consultancy Engineering at the cost of N2.7 billion. The project, which also seeks to regularize and put all of Nasarawa’s land use on the computer, is a habitat initiative which ongoing implementation will sum up to the creation of a livable city with good network of roads, water supply, drainage system, grazing routes and general development control.
In May, Aeropresica Limited, partners in the Siraj contract, according to Roland Klaus, its director, commenced flying with light aircrafts fitted with cameras to capture the images, taking photos of every property on ground in the three first urban centres of Karu, Keffi and Lafia, and processing the images for the computerization of the state land data base. This is part of the implementation of the first component called DAM.
The provision of geographic information services, is the second component, and is being undertaken by GIS Transport, one of the firms in the consortium, has seen the capturing of all land data including titles at the state ministry in Lafia, turning what they inherited from JM Technologies – a firm which first undertook NAGIS in the previous administration – into an information centre at against the facility was nothing more than a hovel with old files litered on the ground.
The firm has also fetched all mutilated land documents including the Intelligent Sheet from where all of Nasarawa’s land use can be traced, and reproduced them into 21st Century documents with computer backups. This component has also seen the introduction of a new Certificate of Occupancy (CofO), for an on-going recertification, which has phased out the old and bogus certification where the governor’s signature appeared in not less than 16 places.
In Nasarawa, as is with many states, land titles are a function of one’s connection with Government House, a development which saw only about 600 CsofO in the hands of privileged property owners in 16 years. But that is being reversed now, with this project, which has seen hundreds with their land titles in only months of the introduction of the reforms. The third component: the creation of cadastral districts is in its third month of implementation, with a team of some Nigeria’s leading town planners executing it.
The town planners, working through a consortium of firms partnering with Siraj, are Pragmatic Solutions Consult Nigeria, Envicons, and National Environmental Design Associates. They have already produced an inception report on the project, which design shows that about 200 square metres of land is available for the planning which will create 10,000 plots out of six districts to run in kary, at the border with Abuja.
NAGIS Project Manager and Senior Special Adviser to the governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Usman Jibril has said the district planners have already being served with about 45 digital data on Peninsula, from where six district are being carved out; as well as New Lafia Modern city, to be carved out of Lafia and parts of Doma, a neighbouring Local Government Area. “They are working strenuously to deliver. Land in Peninsula has already being acquired for the purpose”, Alhaji Jibrin said.
The cadastral districts planning entails the adoption of the General Land Use Budget promoted by UN-Habitat, with an extension to give specifics on arterial roads to connect main roads, residential areas, neighbourhood shopping centres and mini shopping centres as well as schools and other plans. Sonny Agassi, the commissioner and supervisor of NAGIS, had said the governor has already attracted interest of foreign investors from his recent trips to America, as well as Singapore, to partner with the state to run infrastructure in the six planned districts in what will create a landscape of controlled development with facilities that will make Nasarawa an identical city to Abuja.
All of the components will be streamed into, and controlled at the NAGIS centre which project is being handled by A&K Construction Limited at Mararaba, at the gateway into Abuja. The construction has completed the remodeling of the old Theatre House with every fitting in place, just as stringing of wires to link the saver room and computer units, has also being completed. Furnishing will be the next stage, according to Engr. Khaled Chamoun, the Project Manager.
A year after the first talk held between Siraj and Nasarawa State government, there is already much on ground to begin to work with towards the implementation of the totality of NAGIS, from where ambitious revenue is expected to stream through the centre at Mararaba, into government’s purse. The commissioner had earlier told the Good Governance Tour team led there by Information Minister, Labaran Maku, recently, that NAGIS has already started reaping the bid-dream revenue into the public purse.
So far, numbers at the ministry shows a new commitment, which has yielded far more than the revenue projected in land charges alone for the current fiscal year. The numbers show that the ministry hit the record sum of N38, 873,957.08 in ground rents alone, by August, far surpassing the total revenue receipts for the 12 months of 2011, which stood at N34, 810,681.02.
This record, which is also the biggest leap ever since the creation of Nasarawa, also jerked the total receipts for the fiscal year, so far, to over N150 million, surpassing the revenue projection of N111 million from ground rents. A perusal of the records at the ministry showed that the August revenue collection effort also hit over 1,000 percent of the monthly receipts of the monthly collection in 2011.
The records showed that in the last six months of 2011, when Al-Makura took over as state governor, ground rents stood at the average of N1.5 million. The ministry recorded N1.3 million in June, N1.8 million in July, N800, 000 in August, N2.3 million in September, N2.1 million in October, N2.3 million in November, and N2.6 million in December of 2012. Current figures show that the ministry is in the generation of far more than the August numbers.
With a land size of 8,000 square metres, Abuja records receipts of about N1.5 billion. With the right leadership, Agassi’s projection of not less than N5 billion naira rents from the land size of 27,000 square metres – over three times the size of Abuja – is realistic. If the ministry hit this milestone from barely 9,000 titles, realizing this projection will be a child’s play when the certification of land ownership is complete.
Nasarawa’s proximity to Abuja is a goldmine. But that is when the state’s management is aware of its potentials, and when there is a competent, incorrupt and business-minded leadership, driven by a true vision to salvage the state from years of backwardness.