It was while on his way to KEFFI from ABUJA that he received a text message from the people he was meant to meet with, that the head of their group was indisposed and will not be available for the meeting scheduled for later that evening, but will definitely be available the next day.
It meant he had the whole day to burn, unfortunately he had gone so far to turn back to Abuja to meet with another friend of his that had got wind of his presence in town earlier. He had made arrangements to stay with a friend in Keffi rather than staying at a hotel, and he got a warm reception from him and his family, even the kids (who had just returned from school) when he arrived. When his hosts offered to take him out for sightseeing, he couldn’t but oblige them even though he was tired from been too long on the roads. They weren’t indigenes of Keffi, nor of Nasarawa State, in North Central Nigeria where Keffi is located, but like other Nigerians have come to make Keffi home, even owning their own home and building another and putting it up for rent.
They, and many others like them, could do so because of the popular saying amongst the locales, that makes Keffi and by extension Nasarawa State a fast growing metropolis that may overtake Lagos if things remain the same, talk more get better. The maxim by which the people live is found in the words, “NAGARI NA KOWA” in the HAUSA Language, which translates literally to mean, “EVERYTHING IN THE TOWN BELONGS TO EVERYBODY”.
This is so very unlike the states you will find in the North, where regardless of the years you may have spent, or even been born and bred there, speaking the Hausa Language fluently, even being a Muslim (which is the predominant religion amongst the majority in the North West and parts of the NorthEast) cannot buy you indigene-ship and the perks and privileges that come with it. Due to the conviviality and geniality of the people of Nasarawa State, for Nigerians from other parts of the federation and even non-Nigerians from other parts of the world, it hasn’t suffered the fate of states bordering capital cities like Ogun State which borders Lagos State, which was formerly Nigeria’s administrative capital, now Commercial Capital; and that isn’t because Ogun State is insular, far from it, as many who work in Lagos (like those who work in Abuja live in Keffi), live in outskirts of Lagos bordering Ogun State, even into Ogun State where rent is cheap and cost of living is low, but unlike Keffi and by extension Nasarawa State, the level of development in Shagamu, Sango Ota and parts of Mowe in Ogun State isn’t at par with that in Keffi or neighboring Akwanga, especially in the areas bordering Lagos State, where government presence appear almost nonexistent.
He adduced that to the fact that many of those who work in Abuja but live in Keffi, earn far more (though they may not be able to pay the high rent charged in the city centre) than those who live in Ogun State border areas like Shagamu, Mowe even some parts of Ikorodu and the likes who work in Lagos. Many of those who live in Keffi but work in Abuja live in their own tastefully furnished country homes built (on plots of land that presently costs between =N=400,000 to =N=650,000 per plot of 100 by 100Ft and rising by the day- compared to Lagos or Abuja where you’d get only half of that for multiples in price- as more people take advantage of the new REAL ESTATE VISTA opening up in the area, especially in Villages that are fast becoming towns like GAUTA, to middle of Keffi town, where cost of land becomes pricy) with the money they could have used to rent apartments within Abuja city itself, while in the case of those in Ogun, they moved because of the high cost of rent in Lagos, but cannot afford to own their own home in Ogun State, the only advantage being the low cost of living, and the huge disadvantage- the lack of government presence translating to lack of social amenities. The ease with which land can be procured in Keffi may also have contributed to the rapid growth and boom that the Real Estate Sector is currently witnessing in the state, unlike in Lagos and now even Ogun, where land speculators and their thugs masquerading as LAND OWNING FAMILIES also known as “Omo Onílè”, (sometimes with the active connivance of bureaucrats in State government secretariats who make it easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for prospecting land owners to get genuine Title Deeds to their properties) hold sway making it very scary even to death for those “Not Strong” to venture into.
Keffi also benefits from a better power supply regime like Oshogbo in Osun State in Southwestern Nigeria where a major power transmission infrastructure is located, unlike many other parts of Nigeria where the bit currently enjoyed by the aforementioned locations remain a mirage. It is only people who hadn’t been to Nasarawa State or other parts of Nigeria, that will continue to hail Babatunde Raji Fashola, former governor of Lagos State for being a pacesetter in terms of infrastructure projects embarked upon and completed (for which he left a debt of more than =N=400 Billion and an unfinished Monorail project, Housing Project amongst others for his successor, in the face of an ever burgeoning Internally Generated Revenue running into billions of Naira monthly, besides the federal allocations, bonds and loans from the local and International Financial Corporations), though his impact on the infrastructural development of Lagos in his early days in government cannot be overemphasized.
Unlike Fashola, Tanko Al-Makura fondly called “TA’AL”, who just won reelection as governor of Nasarawa State, on the platform of the ALL PROGRESSIVES’ CONGRESS, APC as Fashola, does not just build State Roads, but venture even into streets in and of many areas, putting Nasarawa actively on Nigeria’s map, not just as a neighboring state to the East of Nigeria’s administrative capital, Abuja. You would see the hand of the government in almost every sphere, no matter how little the intervention is. He was particularly impressed with the “TA’AL MODEL E-LIBRARY” he saw in Keffi with solar panels on some parts of the
roof (unlike the roof of the Shehu Yaradua Centre in Abuja that covered all of the roof, providing the power that runs the building solely), of which he was told that there are replicas in all the major towns in the State, as well as model schools also named after the governor, something he frowned at, noting that governors should look for better ways to establish legacies and means of immortalizing themselves beyond just putting their names on projects executed with funds belonging to the state.
It is no wonder that TA’AL won reelection mainly because of his performance, though much of that victory is due to disunity amongst his opponents, majorly of which two were from the predominantly EGGON Tribe, of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, to his FULANI, though his running mate is also of the Eggon stock. Since the return of civilian rule to Nigeria, this scenario had always played out, though an attempt by the Eggon to stamp their presence on ground in the past few months, following the brazen attack on a convoy of policemen and States Security Servicemen on the prompting of the governor, and their subsequent killing at the hands of suspected members of the OMBATSE CULT group as the former made to arrest the groups’ spiritual leader led to what many considered as the governor invoking his “PLAN B”, which involved the invasion and attacks on certain communities inhabited by the aborigine Eggon People by Fulani Herdsmen, leading to deaths and subsequent displacement of victims that managed to escape death by the whiskers.
Many felt that that incident will blight the governor’s chances but he managed to secure victory, especially because he had strong allies and unalloyed support from his minority Fulani Stock and some support from amongst the Eggon, infact the tale is told about a powerful politician and former governor of Nasarawa State (and strong supporter also of the incumbent), who on election day in Keffi voted for his opponent for senatorial seat, and showed to the crowd watching his voting sheet, saying he did so to encourage his opponent. By the time the tally was in, the former governor and senatorial aspirant had beaten the nymph by a landslide.
Hence, the sore point with Nasarawa State is politically related and associated violence, which has so far not affected Keffi in recent times because of its near and growing cosmopolitan nature. He wondered if it wasn’t wise for him to relocate his business to the warmth and ambience of Keffi, over the crazy hustle and bustle of Lagos, especially seeing that there are many fields and businesses for which one can be a pioneer. He hoped that his meeting the next day could be a precursor to a future engagement with Nasarawa State.
When they returned late that night, after sightseeing, he managed to waltz into the bed in the room allocated to him to rest his bones. He still had a deal to seal the next day and needed all of him intact for what lay ahead.
The official rate at which $1 exchanges to the Nigerian Naira is =N=198 as at today.