Nasarawa, a State created on October 1, 1996, by Late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, is gradually creeping into becoming the home of sports and sports people in Nigeria.

Twenty-seven years down the line, Nasarawa is one of the States with the fewest number of Local Government Areas, but enjoys a fast and steady growth in both population and development, largely due to its proximity to the Country's seat of power, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and the poise and commitment of her leaders cum citizens in making the State a destination for all. 

While Nasarawa is rich in both solid and liquid mineral deposits, the State is also well-endowed in human resources, churning out some of the best brains in different endeavours that Nigeria and the world continue to witness and benefit from.

One of such brains is Hon. Silas Ali Agara. The story of Agara rising from the scratch of the society to where he currently occupies will inspire every right-thinking member of the society that while patience and loyalty pays, being committed, focused, and alive to the purpose of your creation have a lot to do with what you become in life.

At a young, but promising age, shortly after the creation of Nasarawa State from the old Plateau State, Agara was appointed as Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development by the first Civilian Governor of the State, His Excellency, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, in 2003.

That  appointment opened the vista for Agara's full involvement in sports and sporting activities in Nigeria despite having being a sports person all his life. 

He would later be appointed to coordinate as Interim Chairman of both Nasarawa United Football Club and Nasarawa Amazons Football Club, shortly after their formations by the Governor Abdullahi Adamu's administration in the early 2000s, before the constitution of Managements of both State-owned Clubs.

During the first tenure of the State's third Civilian Governor, His Excellency, Umar Tanko Al-Makura, Agara found favour in the sight of the Governor as he was appointed Special Adviser on Sports Affairs. Along the line, he was also elected as Vice President of the Nigeria Cycling Federation, a position he held for eight years.

During his tenure as Vice President of the Nigeria Cycling Federation, Agara initiated lots of programmes and bought world-class cycling equipment to support the growth and development of cycling in Nasarawa State, leading to a heartwarming performance and better ranking of the State's cyclists at National and International Championships.

The gentle-looking but purpos-driven Agara would also extend his administrative accumen to Judo Sport, lifting its status to enviable position in Nigeria and beyond.

Convinced by the sterling qualities of the Mada-born astute administrator, then Governor, Umar Tanko Al-Makura, picked Agara as his second term running-mate.

Both won the re-election contest and Agara was Deputy Governor for the entire duration of Al-Makura's second term.

As Deputy Governor, Hon. Agara delved into another area of Martial Sport, Karate, where he contested and won the position of the President of the Nigeria Karate Federation, a n office he still occupies till date.

During an exclusive chat with yours sincerely at his Akwanga private residence, some few days ago, the former Deputy Governor said;

"All my life, I have been a follower of sports. Sports is where I feel at home.

"I am more active in grassroots sports development, and my desire is to add value to sports and critical stakeholders, especially the youth of Nasarawa State and Nigeria as a whole."

Described by many as a man with different capacities, Agara is a Federal Commissioner, representing Nasarawa State at the National Population Commission, Abuja.

He is also a Board Member of Bobsleigh and Skeleton Sport Federation of Nigeria.

Only recently, the Board of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, under the leadership of Ibrahim Musa Gusau, appointed and inaugurated Agara as Chairman of the Nationwide League One Board, succeeding the immediate past occupant and Chairman of Nasarawa State Football Association, Alh. Alkali Mohammed. The third tier football league in Nigeria is the largest in Africa, comprising newly 300 football clubs across the country.

Asked how he is able to combine those positions and what Nasarawa State stands to benefit from his achievements, Agara replied thus;

"Yes, I have passion for what I do and that's why even when I carry out numerous tasks at the same time, I don't see it stressful. But I must confess, they all require a lot of resources to carry on. Only that I derive a lot of pleasure giving back to the society that gave birth to me.

"Nasarawa State stands to benefit a lot from all of these. Whatever the benefit at the National or International level, it has a trickle down effect on my State and the concerned stakeholders.

"My presence means Nasarawa State and her citizens have a voice who can speak on their behalf as far as sport is concerned. The athletes and stakeholders are encouraged to key in and promote them by giving them incentives, attracting some sports enthusiasts to support the development of sports in the State.

"The State will also be hosting regional, national and international championships to boost the athletes' development and advance economic prosperity."

He added that his NLO Board has hit the ground running and has initiated plethora of programmes to reposition the league to meet up with global football standard.

"The NLO Board is working on lots of innovations to turn around the fortunes of the league.

"Recently, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with an Organisation in Owerri, Imo State, that will promote and sponsor the league which is expected to kick-off by September this year.

"We are also bringing a lot of changes in the Board in working towards, notably, good officiating, crowd control and reduction in the cost of match prosecution on the side of both the hosting and visiting teams, consideration for an agreed age grade for participation in the league, probably from 15-19 years, unlike where you would see a player of over 30 years still playing in a league that's supposed to be for budding talents in the grassroots.

"In fact, we will stamp all these out and get the real actors to participate in the league."

The ideas and plans of this proud son of Nasarawa State are lofty and would be welcomed by anyone who wishes the growth and development of sports, particularly football in Nigeria.

While the news of his appointment as Chairman of the NLO was yet to die down, the NFF appointed the former Nasarawa State Deputy Governor as Vice Chairman into the NFF's Standing Committee on Youth Football. This further buttresses the confidence and trust the Country's sports handlers place on the former Deputy Governor and Nasarawa State.

It also means to whom much is given, much is equally expected. While Agara alone cannot deliver on the mandates, here is an opportunity for more Nasarawa State's sons and daughters to creep into the sports arena in Nigeria and showcase their innate abilities and competencies.

In borrowing from the words of Governor Abdullahi Sule, "My desire is to create a perfect environment for sports and sports people to thrive. Mine is to make Nasarawa State the home of sports in Nigeria, and provide the atmosphere for foreign investors to find a safe sports haven here.

"We will continue to build infrastructures and empower our young people with necessary supports to be at par with their counterparts around the globe."

The actualization of the cliché,  "Nasarawa to the world", isn't unachievable, from all indications. With the right environment and adequate knowledge of the politics, Nasarawa State will always be in the lead.

Eche Amos is the Head of Public Relations Unit at the Nasarawa State Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, and Fellow, Chronicle Business School, Abuja, and writes from Akwanga, Nasarawa State

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