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How Nasarawa Stands To Benefit In Agric, Scholarship From Governor Sule’s Trip To Morocco

 

UCLG is an umbrella international organisation for cities, local and regional governments

 

By Ali Abare

Recently, Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, was selected to be part of the three governors that represented Nigeria at the first edition of the Forum of Regions of Africa, under the eagis of the United Cities and Local Governments.

The forum, which held from 8th to 10th September in Saidia, Morocco, was organised by the UCLG Africa, in collaboration with the Association of Moroccan Regions (ARM), the Council of the Oriental Region (CRO) and the Directorate General of Territorial Collectivities (DGCT) of the Ministry of the Interior of the Kingdom of Morocco.

The UCLG is an umbrella international organisation for cities, local and regional governments, and municipal associations throughout the world that is concerned with representing and defending the interests of local governments on the world stage.

UCLG, as a global network of cities and local, regional, and metropolitan governments and their associations, is committed to representing, defending, and amplifying the voices of local and regional governments to leave no-one and no place behind. Together, members of the organisation are the sentinels of the hopes, dreams, and aspirations held by individuals in communities around the world — searching for a life in which the ideals of the SDGs are a lived reality.

Through collaboration, dialogue, cooperation, and knowledge-sharing, UCLG, as a World Organization, wewalk the walk, working to advance global response and action through ground breaking commitments and agreements that become common threads that transcend borders and tie communities together, to uplift and empower the local level.

The forum in Morocco, which was the first to be attended by Nigeria, brought together for the first time, presidents of regions, counties and federal states of more than 20 African countries that have a second level of decentralised territorial government, including Nigeria, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, etc.

The gathering, themed “The contribution of Regional Governments to the sustainable development and to the dynamics of integration of Africa”, is a concrete implementation of the decisions taken by the General Assembly of UCLG Africa during the 8th edition of the Africities Summit, held in Marrakech in November 2018, as stated by Mrs. Fatimetou Abdel Malick, President of UCLG Africa.

Drawing from his experience, Engineer Sule recognized the significance of such regional relationships, which by far, even surpasses bilateral relationship between two countries, using the opportunity of the forum to sign memorandum of understanding on agriculture and scholarship for Nasarawa State citizens to learn Arabic and French in Morocco.

The MoU which was entered into between the Nasarawa State Government and the Oriental Region of Morocco, will also foster collaboration in the area of mining and solid minerals development as well as tourism between the two sub-nationals.

The MOU will be implemented within the framework of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which promises to increase intra-African trade through deeper levels of trade liberalization and enhanced regulatory harmonization and coordination.

Throwing more light on the outcome of the trip to Morocco, when he hosted the National Vice Chairman (North Central) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), at the Government House, Engineer Sule, said having realized the significance of the forum, he assured himself that Nasarawa State will not come last.

Engineer Sule explained that, the ULCG, with its world headquarters in Barcelona, Spain has been impacting meaningfully only among the francophone countries of Africa, while English speaking countries like Nigeria were left out from the opportunities being created by the organisation.

He said it ULCG provides a golden opportunity for a state like Nasarawa that is blessed with agriculture, to establish with the Region of Casablanca that has high population but with less land, just like Lagos State in Nigeria.

“They want sesame, corn and rice, which they import from Thailand. We can establish a relationship where they can provide the money while we produce the farm products and they can also set up mills to process these products,” he stated.

The Governor said he couldn’t resist the opportunity to approach officials of the Oriental Region, to seek collaboration in the areas of agriculture and education, which led to the signing of the MoU. It’s worthy of note that, realising the significance of Engineer Sule’s engagement, other governors at the meeting seized the opportunity to attract same opportunities to their respective states.

Another fallout of the forum was the emergence of Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, being the Chairman, Nigerian Governors’Forum, as the President of ULCG Africa, a feat that became possible only after Morocco withdrew from the race citing respect for President Muhammadu Buhari.

Other countries such as Niger Republic and Mali, stood firm for Nigeria to lead the ULCG, even as South Africa and Cameroon each struggled to take the position.

Engineer Sule added that a greater opportunity is yet to come from the ULCG, as the Nigerian Governors’Forum (NGF) prepares to sign an MoU on behalf of the 36 states of the country.

Engineer Sule, alongside his Ekiti, Edo, and Sokoto states counterparts, were picked to represent Nigeria at the meeting in Morocco while Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, later joined them from Casablanca.

Abare is the Special Assistant on Media to the Nasarawa State Governor.

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