The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was founded on 4th October, 1962 as a vision of the then Premier of the Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello of blessed memory. Looking at the size of the land of the university, it was obvious the Sardauna’s intent was not just for that moment alone considering how many of the population of those years were really interested in attending schools. Behold, the vision has today manifested through massive education of the northern populace through that institution from inception till date. Visions are usually long term in nature and this is very instructive to note.
One cannot also refuse to recognize the free education policy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Western Nigeria. The idea couldn’t have been for that moment alone as evident by the dominance of the South West region of Nigeria in the economic, judicial and educational sector of the country today. Visionary leaders build shades they may never rest in.
Since the demise of the people I highlighted above and their ilk, Nigeria has run short of visionary leaders who have practically demonstrated an understanding of what it takes to be visionary. However, after a cursory analysis of the movements and leadership style of Dr Isa Ali Pantami, the current Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy (a name that he christened the ministry), it was obvious another leader in the realm of the Sardauna’s, Awo’s and Zik’s had emerged and he meant business.
Before I delve into the crux of my subject matter, let me remind us that most Nigerians of today have totally forgotten that in governance and policies there are short, medium and long term expectations and it was only through such understandings that we could appreciate the efforts of leaders and also rate them appropriately. Majority of the citizens nowadays expect magical wands to the fixing of the issues of the society and that has never been obtainable anywhere and will never be around here. Let me borrow from the words of the musician Drake who says “we are dealing with a generation that is lacking in patience” and that cannot be farther from the truth. These problems are however compounded in our climes by the absence of awareness like this one. The media and civil society can do more in this regard.
So then let’s move to see the short term imperative of Dr Pantami’s digital vision for Nigeria. Even though it had been long overdue for Nigeria to get into the queue of recognizing that the world had since fully recognized and embraced digitalization as the new normal, that awakening actually had to become Pantami’s short term goal as he quickly rebranded the ministry and mobilized the agencies under it to understand a need to come together and work towards a similar goal which was that of entrenching Nigeria’s digitalization. Pantami’s short term goal has been fully achieved as Nigerians now fully understand the importance of digitization and that there was full policy direction towards consolidating on perhaps the few gains that had been achieved through personal and accidental tendencies.
Further to the short term goals that had been laid of the vision, the minister had been on his toes trying to reach out to all the stakeholders of the ecosystem so as to gain their confidence to come and invest in the sector or better still improve on their current investments. Some of this improved interest in the sector was the recent launch of the TD Africa Tech Experience Center by the Honorable Minister on October 1st in Lagos. Also you would remember how there had been improved mentorship to startups by the OIIE sector of NITDA which even led to the Chiniki Guard Startup becoming top of the Startups at the GITEX Global event in Dubai, 2019. All of these efforts are in the medium term.
More of the medium term efforts are those of the provision of the infrastructure necessary for the provision of the digital skills to the populace. This is evident through the massive provision of intervention for ICT Hubs and Centers especially to Tertiary Institutions by the NITDA. Similar interventions have also been provided by USPF and NITDA to secondary schools and organizations that have indicated interest. With the pace and quality of the provision of these infrastructure, so much will be achieved in the time of his administration that will guaranty the security of Nigeria’s digitization agenda. Juxtapose this with Nigerian’s ingenuity and imagine the outcome in years to come.
Ultimately, the outcomes of all the efforts above will be the long term emergence of a digital savvy populace that was capable of providing breathtaking solutions to the problems of the universe. The recent $200m buyout of Paystack by Stripe will be a child’s play compared to what Dr Pantami’s vision will birth in the long term.
Let me use this opportunity to call our attention to the recent protests in the country and how they relate to digital economy. Remember that part of the efforts of Dr Pantami is to get all the Ministry’s and Departments to become digital compliant through the E-Government Enterprise Architecture. These efforts will eventually involve the security agencies so that everyone then understands the reality of the moment which is that of the age being a digital one. So for example, if one is digital savvy it will be easy to understand most people nowadays will carry laptops for their businesses be it Blogging, Social Media Influencing, Comedies, Movies, Music and so many other digital trades. It will also be easy to use digital means to track down online fraudsters without necessarily having to make physical contacts.
Finally, while I applaud President Muhammadu Buhari’s democratic handling of the protests, I strongly believe that Dr Isa Pantami would have to be central in the efforts that the government is going to initiate for reforms in the security and even the youths angle because at the end of the day all the issues revolve around digital issues and the expert and visionary Pantami will be a key in finding a lasting solution.
Nigeria is a great nation!
TERRAIN, TECHNOLOGICAL INCOMPATIBILITY AS THE CAUSE OF POOR QUALITY ROADS IN NIGERIA By Hashim Suleiman
Let me start todays piece with a little story of a road around the locality I live in in Kano, northwestern Nigeria. The road links Maiduguri Road through CBN Quarters to Zaria Road and the then governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau had given a contract for the rehabilitation of the road around 2007 and before we could say Jack Robinson the road had gone bad again in just less than a year. Same happened to the road that served as a shortcut from Bypass through Zakirai to Hadeijia in Jigawa State, northwestern Nigeria. As a professional I was pained by this obvious waste of scarce resources and I had to start to make some research over the possible cause of the quick failure of road infrastructure in Nigeria other than the procurement of incompetent contractors as well as their incompetentsupervisors.
With the above matter in my mind, I had to always pay attention and initiated some sort of research over why Nigerian roads do not last. This exercise was in my sojourn through working in various construction companies in all the geopolitical zones of the country and I believe I found a fair understanding of such problem which was nothing more than a lack of research on the Geology of Nigeria, technological incompatibility and incompetence of the supervising government agencies.
I got prompted to write on this matter after the incident of the rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna road which was initiated after the closure of the Abuja airport runway, the road is back to worse than it was in just under three years, if this is not enough to annoy any genuine patriot then I don’t know what could be more. The dualization of the Abuja-Lokoja road has also resulted in the lanes that had been freshly constructed to retract and form some sort of curly undulations on the road which leaves one driving careful to manipulate them not to cause damage to the bottom of the vehicle.
What it means here is that in a couple of years to come, Nigeria will not have a choice but to re-budget huge amount of scarce resources to reconstruct these major roads again when the funds could have been utilized for other pressing issues if the roads were properly constructed ab initio. The only elements of the road that can be said to have been constructed well are the culverts and bridges, thanks to them been a product of mixtures that can be said to be universally same.
For the road however, they are structures that are placed on the surface of the earth which is said to be a natural occurrence and could differ in structure from terrain to terrain. The Geology of Nigeria is unique and one that requires proper research in order to understand the terrain with a view to formulating a technology that will match to form a solution. For example, in Nigeria road construction today, we use the British Standard and sometimes the ASTM as Quality Control/Quality Assurance benchmarks but I have argued that the weather and geology of the UK or the USA cannot be the same with the Nigeria’s and the results of the research that resulted from such terrains cannot be superimposed on the Nigeria terrain.
Therefore, as a way forward, the Nigeria Institute of Building and Road Research must initiate ways to begin to formulate our Nigeria Standards (NS) which is expected to set out the criteria for Quality Control of local materials for construction. The Nigeria Standard is expected to replace the British Standard which is currently in use and which seem inefficient to guaranteeing stable roads. The proper delineation and understanding of the geology of Nigeria on terrain basis is equally very important in the formulation of such standards because as diverse as the country is so is its terrains.
After the formulation of standards, there then needs to be a rigorous training and retraining of the Nigerian engineers to obtain the required skills at understanding the peculiarities described above. Those in the bureaucracy have to see a need to properly supervise contractors building roads and indigenous engineers in the private sector also have to be encouraged to develop indigenous firms that have the requisite capacity to construct roads in line with formulated standards and that will stand the taste of time. This cycle will usher us into a regime of development in the road infrastructure which has gulped so much resources so far with little development.
Researches allow us an opportunity to provide specific solutions to problem, it also allows us an opportunity to develop local content and professionals that could solve local problems. Such is also required in all sectors of our national being.
ON #ENDSARS AND ONDO ELECTION
The #ENDSARS protests have held around the country in the past couple of days and my takeaways from it is the sort of waking up of youth from their slumber and docility especially over lending their voice to national discourse and participation in democratic processes. If such is sustained with strategy and peace, a youth takeover and sanity of the political space is still in sight.
As for the Ondo election which is currently underway, the hope is that the atmosphere that played out in Edo is repeated and continued with in all other elections that are to come. All is well tat ends well they say. The campaigns were well executed by both the APC and the PDP and it culminated in debates which made it difficult for pundits to predict a clear winner. May the wishes of the people prevail.
God Bless Nigeria
Nigeria is 60 years as a nation now and there are more than enough to be glad and encourage optimism in those citizens who have chosen the path of reality, positivity and patriotism. The major achievement in recent times is the reemergence of democracy which has so far appeared to have stabilized and one that we must work very hard to consolidate upon.
However, all of these positives and improved potentials have been less appreciated and understood by the citizenry owing to the very less information and awareness that relates to the proper understanding of situations and the processes associated with nation building. You cannot underestimate the importance of understanding the history of developed nations and how they achieved development after all the world is a global village as they say.
In my experience with compatriots over conversations related to national status and development, the prominent opinion that has become more of a cliché is comparing Nigeria to America and this is the most unrealistic comparison I have had to deal with in my little understanding of the history of America and how many years it took them to achieve what we see as a developed nation today. The journey was not devoid of major challenges that threatened the fabric of their existence.
The major of such challenges was the civil war in 1861 which lasted for four years and became about as a result of certain differences between the northern and southern states over slavery, states’ rights vs. Federal Government rights as well as westwards expansion. Certain southern states gathered to form a Confederate States of America as a result of their feeling of being economically superior to the northern states. The war was fought till 1865 when they gave up the secession after being conquered. If one does not read to know about this history, you would never have imagined that America of today went through such challenges to become what it is today.
The above illustration amongst other challenges America has had to overcome to become what it is today is enough to make every Nigerian to have a rethink when making comparisons. It is alright to have America and other developed nations as models and benchmarks rather than expecting every process and activities to be as exact as it’s been dispensed in America or any other place; it’s unrealistic to say the least. It is also important to note that while these nations can serve as models, the processes of our growth cannot be exact owing to differences in terrain and culture.
Therefore in our 60 years of existence as a nation and about 21 years of democracy compared to the over 200 years of America’s democracy, it was safe and fair to say Nigeria has done very well managing itself and many more promises are rife only if such kinds of awareness are increased with a view to redirecting the minds of the citizens to be more realistic in terms of their expectations as well as to increase patriotism.
Furthermore, it was important to let Nigerians know that as much as we see our divisions to be only peculiar to us, America has got its fair share of diversity with the recent #BlackLivesMatter as a pointer to such. Therefore, rather than amplifying such divisions, the American dream has been developed to be over and above mediocrity and it was such dream that led to continuous efforts of nation building which culminated in the America of today. Such kind of dream is what is required to be developed for Nigeria after which all energy will be directed toward building a nation we all desire.
There has to be an enhanced mentality of identification and appreciation of progress so that people can be encouraged to do more for national development. It is demoralizing when citizens condemn every big and little progressive effort simply because it does not fit into the citizens expectation of Nigeria becoming America overnight. Some other expectations are those of ‘stomach infrastructure’ and all these mentalities are unrealistic and unfortunate.
While Nigeria’s democracy is developing, major developments have also resulted from it and many more potentials are abound, the only thing missing is awareness, critical thinking, positivity, patriotism, spirit of hard work, love for one another and fair understanding of our level in the comity of nations and all of these will appropriate our expectations at per time.
There are more than enough reasons to celebrate our nationhood and I implore us all to gather with friends and neighbors to give some toast to a renewed spirit of belief in our nation knowing full well that it is only us that can develop our own nation and not America. Don’t forget to observe social distancing while you are at it.
Happy Independence Anniversary to my dear nation, Nigeria.
We may recall my article of 4th November, 2019 where I portrayed Dr Isa Ali Pantami as a near perfect fit for the 2023 permutations. In same article, I pointed out how victories in upcoming elections will be largely dependent on strategies and even at that the elections will become predictable but the best strategy will win at last. I still remain unshaken on my advice to APC that come 2023, whatever candidacy there has to be for the presidency must have Dr Isa Pantami in it for assurance of victory and reasons for this will continue to unveil as we move ahead.
From yesterday when I saw how the PDP has set up a situation room that was well equipped with real-time equipments, I knew the game was over for APC simply because they were never prepared and did not take the elections seriously as is customary with them until late hours. I also saw lack of enthusiasm from the online supporters of the APC especially those at ground zero, they were not in touch with what was going on, in fact they were not infested. The PDP clearly understands more about strategy and they did so by employing sharp young men to sell their narratives and it eventually paid and will always. Kudos to the likes of Mr Jack Obinyan and Anthony Ehilebo et al for a job well done.
People like Oshiomole, Ize-Iyamu and Asiwaju Tinubu can’t still be running campaigns at this age and time. The least is for them to coordinate a well recruited young strategists that could deliver results. Such has to be echoed for the purpose of future elections. There has to be deliberate efforts at employing key and qualified strategists with so much energy and zeal to deliver.
The APC has disrespected people for too long and this has to stop. They have never seeing reasons to compensate loyalty and you can’t win elections with disgruntled lots. I has given you and example of Hashim Ubale Yusuf of Jigawa State who has worked and is still working for the party but no one feels like calling and acting to appreciate the efforts. So many of them exist in such class. There are so many people in the administration who have neither intellect nor political capital to bring to the table, you can’t be working to win future elections like this.
Remember also that even though the policies about subsidies removal are very important for the country, there has not been a deliberate effort at working so hard to get the buy-in of the people. It appeared like the pope pls have just resorted to not protesting anything but paying back at the ballots. It was a shame for the APC for the USA to have slammed visa ban on elections that were held in states where they clearly struggled to win at all costs. This cannot be allowable in such a political party with goodwill capital as much as that of Buhari, if it is not deliberately consolidated upon, them it will be a big shame to the party leaders.
The APC as a party also has to be wary of the so many enemies within. Those who are APC in body but PDP in souls. There is so much work to be done and the time to start cannot be farther from now. This is a time to identify true lovers of party and get empowering them to sell the narratives of the party at grassroots level. More energy has to be injected into the political party because there seems to be a waning one. Young strategists and writers have to be engaged in all fronts so as to reinvigorate the so many positives that there are to put out there.
The culture of grandstanding has to give way for robust engagements. The older generations cannot feel entitled to every thing that must happen in the party. They must create space for younger politicians to come on board and when we say younger politicians we don’t just mean there children and relatives, we mean those who have distinguished themselves. I saw recently how the Jigawa State governor was encouraging the young politicians in the state by bringing them closer to him. This was observed during the commissioning of some empowerment items at the Gumel emirate by the member of the House of Reps from that zone. People have noticed the increased closeness between him and Kashifu Inuwa, the DG of NITDA. It should not stop at just photo ops, it has to advance into critical political inclusion and engagement for the future of the state. It is only through vices like this that the party could be looking to make any headway for the future.
Some of us have found it worthy to issue out such observations for the mere fact that we have people we respect and look up to in the APC fold and only critical thinking and respect for party members and apologists can guarantee bright fortunes.
A word they say should be enough for the wise.
As is customary with Nigerians over negativity that we are working hard to curtail on a daily, the well advertised and chosen Logo by popular vote from Nigerians was again put to criticism by naysayers and I found that most unfortunate to say the least.
Those who accused the portrait quoted Alrosa to have said that “The Dynasty is the largest polished diamond with the best clarity characteristics throughout the Russian jewelry history,” they also quoted President Muhammadu Buhari to have said that “he was informed that the selected option depicts our togetherness; a country of over 200 million people, whose natural talents, grits and passion glitter like the precious diamond we are,” shortly before unveiling the logo. What on earth is the difference between the portrait and the intent it was meant to portray as was highlighted by the President.
Furthermore, worthy of note is the fact that the logo was a popular choose from Nigerians and a democratic setting will only respect such choice and a well intended one for the good of the nation. Attempting to spite Nigerians over their choice of what they considered the most appropriate to showcase who they are as a nation only goes to show how much some of the elitist class are hell bent on setting a narrative of nothing works around here and they have always failed and have failed again this time around.
What will bother someone even more is the fact that some of these naysayers are the masters of copy and paste whether through their social media handles or the number of times they have had to apologize over publishing inappropriate stories et al. The choices of the majority cannot be subject to ridicule by a hypocritical minority who are themselves not any better. Some of us will stand to speak for such emptiness.
We are in a digital world and a simple search for a word like ‘best diamond’ could produce the image of the diamond in question which has been touted to be the largest polished diamond ever. How on earth is such a honest intent a crime if not in Nigeria where we love to politicize anything and everything no matter how cheaply. If the honest Nigerians and their choices could be a little vulnerable with such misleading stories, the reasonable elites should be made to understand better.
In saner climes, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy should be given a thumbs up for letting the choice of what we are to celebrate to be conducted in a democratic manner where our true picture of ourselves will be depicted. Such has been done, the message has been passed and the intention was sincere for the love of nation.
I have always clamored for continuous conversation over national issues so that cheap issues like these can be discussed and curtailed for the sake of deterrence. We must as a people be seeing to be promoting oneness and unity and not disseminating information that will further divide or diminish love for country while the blame will be apportioned to Buhari whose intention is as noble as letting Nigerians choose what they feel best depicts what they see themselves to be after 60 years of nationhood.
The politicians should sheath their swords once again, 2023 is still a little far away. Now is time for nationhood and celebration of 60 hearty years of a diamond of a people that we are and that was well captured in the Logo for the 60TH anniversary celebration.
Let me start this piece on remembrance of the Amazon Dr Dora Nkem Akunyili who died of uterine cancer in 2014. Her popular saying of “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” still resonates with so many compatriots. She was indeed a great loss to Nigeria.
Dora Akunyili was a professor of Pharmacology from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, she worked with Muhammadu Buhari’s PTF as a zonal secretary for four years where she was an integral part of the PTF’s medical programme and he excellence in such activities led to her recommendation to Olusegun Obasanjo for appointment as NAFDAC Director General in 2001 where she served till 2008 and since then Nigerians understood what NAFDAC stood for and the drug manufacture and retail industry has had sanity till this date. Her contributions to that sector were legendary, her management skills over erudite professionals and aides like Pharm. Hashim Ubale were awesome and they formed an exemplary synergy that saw to the success of their mission for the benefit of nation.
Stories like that of Dora form a perfect preamble for my topic of today which seeks to showcase excellence and individuals who make a major mark in societies by planting trees whose shades they may never sit in. Dora met an existing Agency and injected energy and vigor for the actualization of its mandates. Isa Ali Pantami originated a brand new ministry and formulated its agenda and has since taken over the governance space within a span of one year, if this is not genius then what could ever be. It is actually the absolute definition of Game Changer.
In the past, the Game Changer slogan had been used to classify an individual who formulate strategies for winning elections by political parties albeit through the wrong means and that has been an unfair utilization of such an awesome adage. Well, now that we have found someone who suites into the definition of the adage, Nigerians would appreciate better what it means to be a Game Changer.
Before the emergence of Dr Isa Ali Pantami as the minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Nigerians including me only regarded the ministry to be somewhat duplicating the responsibilities of the Ministry of Information, but he was brought to the fore to make us understand otherwise. The only visible activities were those of NCC and NITDA and the latter’s activities were also courtesy of the Game Changer’s role as the Director General of it. There was no coordination between the various parastatals or any agenda over any item that relates to the mandate of the ministry.
As soon as he was unveiled the minister, he quickly sought the approval of the President for the reengineering of the ministry to align with its core mandate and today an average Nigerian can quickly describe what the ministry is about and what it stands for. The various tertiary institutions are appreciating the importance of digitalization and are keying in to his digital policies by embracing the various interventions he created while at NITDA while others are demanding for the deployment of the interventions to their institutions. The industry players in the telecom sector now feel the pulse of regulation around their nerves and they feel more need to be serious more than ever. I am sure your mind can picture how a game has been transformed over here.
Pantami has also changed the game of leadership by institutionalizing the spirit of teamwork. All the parastatals in his ministry move with him as a team and that has helped in articulating and synergizing his agenda amongst all of them and such has visibly led to the increase in ICT’s contribution to GDP for three quarters in a row. The camel breaker was the inclusion of the Nigerian Identity Management Agency to his roll of parastatals which finally made us understand how serious he was of truly setting an unprecedented stage for Nigeria’s actualization of digitization for economic prosperity. If you’re looking for a definition of game changer, look no further.
Progressive governance stories are meant to be brought to fore in such time when the citizenry have found it hard to differentiate between rent seeking and participation in government policies. For example, the subsidies and free services are not sustainable and funds need to be freed for the provision of the so many infrastructures that are being worked upon amongst others. Young people then need to understand to take advantage of the digital sector that has been rejuvenated. It seeks to create wealth through ingenuity. People like Dr Isa Ali Pantami should inspire hope that government is working to make a brighter future for the citizenry but the buy in of the citizenry is also paramount. We have to quit laziness and get to work.
Next time you’re confused about the meaning or understanding of a Game Changer, I have provided you a case study here.
God Bless Nigeria.
The last week had been agog with the El-Rufai/NBA saga, an event which further exposed the realities and depth of the fault lines that are existent in us. As soon as the dis-invitation came, the matter took a religious coloration with the core northern Muslim lawyers calling for boycotts of the NBA conference, on whether their boycotting the conference would or had any effect on the success of the conference is a conversation for other times.
Whilst El-Rufai was busy assembling the former Emir of Kano to clarify his non bigoted nature, his kinsmen did not stop in anyway to continue to push the narrative that the matter was an entirely religious matter. In fact, some headlines have it that the core northern Muslim lawyers have formed a parallel New Nigeria Bar Association ( NNBA). Again, whether such an association and its proprietors have what it takes to grow it to the statutes of NBA is another analysis we could come to in times to come, perhaps.
But in all of it, the events showcased our realities and an inkling to what could be expected in the 2023 election permutations where religion will be the biggest player. The saga above was a litmus test towards buttressing how much religion will play in the selection and combination of candidates for the 2023 elections.
Mr Yakubu Dogara had been readmitted into the APC weeks ago and the nation predictably assumed it to mean an arrangement for his becoming a vice presidential candidate to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for religious balancing. The suggestion came preemptive from the people, another point to buttress how much the 2023 elections was all about religion and balancing. The Dogara matter went so loud that the man had to come out to denounce vice presidential aspiration as his reason for rejoining the APC.
Remember also that the People’s Democratic Party is by the corner waiting to see the possible religious arrangement by the APC so they could arrange theirs with religion also forming the crux. Atiku Abubakar had since endorsed the launching of the Atiku TV brand as well as the Atiku Kawai 2023 and these are signals that he will certainly seek the candidacy of the PDP at least to go into primary elections with other candidates. Situations like these leave the APC with more thinking to do regarding the religious balancing because a Muslim northern candidate from PDP makes the combination from the APC who are likely to go for a South West candidate very difficult. Perhaps if it is going to be a Muslim south westerner, then his VP has to also be a Muslim northerner and one with strong standing.
It was out of deep thought that I presented Dr Isa Ali Pantami as near perfect fit for the 2023 presidential permutations and the above situations could provide a further insight plus being happy for the vindication on a daily. 2023 elections are going to be so tough that predictions will be very difficult and strategies especially the religious balancing and utterances will have to be top notch. It is advisable for the players to employ knowledgeable and strategic individuals who could have very little room for mistakes.
It was not a mistake or a fluke that Abiola a southern Muslim was paired with Kingibe a northern muslim in 1993. The decision was out of critical research on the demography of the nation vis a vis religious considerations. As for Asiwaju Tinubu, it even becomes easier because he will becoming into the game with performance and progressive capital as well as ample presence of Christianity in him with Deaconess Remi Tinubu being one and same as him. Should he choose to become a king maker and anoint his loyal man Pastor Osinbajo, Dr Isa Ali Pantami will be appropriate in all the situations. Perhaps, Dr Isa Ali Pantami ascendence in religious and governance affairs have a date with destiny, time shall tell.
As for PDP, their best bet at coming close to clinching victory is the presentation of a northern Muslim candidate for president with a sound Christian deputy from the south who could be able to neutralize Ashiwaju’s hold to some extent. Even at this, with an Isa Pantami’s vice presidency, the calculations will be a little tougher for them, time again shall tell.
Political pundits like us wish to bring all these realities to fore in order that politicians and other compatriots can understand the need to reduce emotions in dealing with issues and accept reality and objectivity. For me, a Muslim- Muslim or Christian- Christian combination may be an opportunity for us to find our unity again as a nation. We have defeated some insinuations with the fact that Buhari has not yet Islamized Nigeria and will never do. The same religion combination could be an opportunity to finally bury some of these insinuations that are devoid of research and analysis on people’s antecedents and capabilities.
In the entire situations, all will be well that ends well.
May the best team emerge for the benefit of the nation.
Let me refer to my September 16, 2019 article tagged ‘Pantami, Kashifu and the beauty of vision” where I had identified KashifuInuwa as an individual who had understood clearly the vision of Dr Isa Ali Pantami and had equally chosen to fly with it to fruition. It is also a practical knowledge that people could actually be good carriers of vision and supportive but may not make good leaders, however, Mr Kashifu has today proven to be good in both fronts having stayed a year in office as the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
What Kashifu has showcased from transition to becoming DG till today sits very well with our expectation at #30PercentOrNothing because while were asking for a 30% affirmative action for the youth, we were also very clear as to the sort of youth that should be brought on board if the expected youth excellence and energy were to manifest, we therefore thank Kashifu for vindicating our message which was borne out of critical research.
I was pained the other day when I was having a conversation with an elder brother and I accused his age group for failing to provide mentorship to us and thereby leading to a scarcity of critical youths who can measure up to the leadership gaps that are being created on a daily. He responded to me by mentioningcertain youths who have held leadership positions in recent past and have not done well enough to satisfy the expectations of a youth. I had to explain to him how the recruitment process mattered a lot, it never meant that simply appointing a youth was synonymous to performance but rather the careful selection and appointment of youths who have had personal history of zeal, vision and hunger for success. In this area again, Mr Kashifu has measured up and has in fact provided a template for such kinds of selection going forward in order that the big deficit being created in leadership in Nigeria and Africa can be bridged.
Remember how he was a key player in the piloting of the Dr Isa Pantami’s digital journey in 2017 and there couldn’t have been a better way of consolidating such efforts after the ascendance of Dr Pantami to Minister ship than the eventual appointment of Kashifu as the substantive DG of NITDA which in my opinion is the most critical Agency in the Digital Economy campaign. Because the selection and appointment was right, the performance in one year has also matched the expectation.
From a year after Dr Pantami became the DG of NITDA, commissioning of various completed projects started and they have continued till today and we can lately see how all the other parastatals under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy are working to outdo each other in terms of delivery of projects to be commissioned by the Hon. Minister. Little wonder why during the commissioning of the 11 Digital Economy projects by Dr Pantami on 11th August, 2020, the Chairman of the Projects Commissioning Committee Mr AyubaShuaibu had while presenting the welcome address described MrKashifu as a progressive per excellence and finally referred to him as ‘Mr Progress’. This is an indication that the good things people do resonates in the minds of fair and discerning individuals.
So far, I have not gone into the crux of Mr Progress’s achievements in one year. In the beginning from his first speech to the personnel of the Agency where he appeared in a deep blue suit which was well sewn to fit and matching shoes to present a man well dressed and ready for digitization. The speech also matched dressing by declaring his wish to first turn the edifice into a smart one that was expected of an ICT Agency. Talk is cheap they say but the way to understand a serious leader is he who walks the talk and NITDA is today a smart office that could be presented to anyone as being Nigeria’s ICT regulator talk less of the improved zeal and corporate appearance of the personnel themselves. The Nigerian parlance will tell you the seriousnessof an individual is in the ‘packaging’.
Basically, NITDA has become an Agency that represents a sector which it regulates; there has been introduction of dress code to ensure appearances are in consonance with the building and the ICT sector in general. The commissioning of the rejuvenated smart office structure which was performed by the Honorable Minister Pantami last Monday was well publicized and it was amongst the series of projects that the Hon Minister has been commissioning week in week out.
Further to this, the man has enhanced the Cybersecurityinfrastructure through the commissioning of the new CERRT office which is more equipped to track cyber threats to the nation. Little wonder why NITDA kept alerting Nigerians on various threats and scams that were prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period.
Furthermore, the DG had taken special interest in educating Nigerians about the opportunities the pandemic had presented. He highlighted so much how the new normal was an opportunity for the ICT sector to think outside the box and harness the opportunities to replace the vacuum created with technological tendencies. Such awareness coming from a regulator has permeated the public and has since manifested and the increased utilization of technology for activities is evidently on the increase.
Unfortunately, this space will not be enough to enumerate the ample strides that the young professional has exhibited but the one year milestone was enough for us to see an individual who looked the part regarding the ideal expectation of young people in governance. It also behooves on us to echo such to a public that is in deficit of young leadership that was capable of managing the polity following the exit of the elder statesmen.
We shall continue to be on the lookout for young appointees who have chosen to distinguish themselves by delivering those qualities which are expected of young people especially as relates to performance and shift away from the norm but on this occasion give it up for Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi for admitting himself into the Leadership Hall of Fame with hisstellar performances in a one year milestone that embodies many more to come for benefit of nation.
God Bless Nigeria!
The past week has been greeted with discussions regarding the protests by the RevolutionNow movement over their non satisfaction with the happenings in the country and therefore calling for the resignation of the government. This here is the part I totally disagree with.
We are all in this country when elections come and present opportunity for people to queue behind their preferred candidates and vote and equally work to protect their votes considering realities associated with vote rigging and what have you. Such requires thorough awareness to achieve but what you see during elections by the electorates and those who should know better is brigandage and insults over who one supports as against love for country and national interests.
Some of us have shouted to the heavens that citizens must up their sense of reasoning and ensure criticality and participation in a democracy because once a choice has been made then you’ll have to learn to live with it for a constitutional term of four years because even the process of impeachment that has been provided is a near impossibility. People have voted, their choices have been announced and for anyone to stand up and ask for the resignation of a democratically elected government smacks of mischief and hypocrisy which leaves some of us to wonder what we really want as citizens or whether we could genuinely blame the government over the state of the nation.
The question to ask is where all these revolutionaries have been during electioneering campaign that they didn’t present a candidate for the election or at least create awareness to the citizens in the same manner over the need to vote a candidate they deemed would better fulfill all of the issues they are advancing in their current protests. Better still, they could infiltrate the political parties and influence their choice of candidates at primary elections levels. Protesting for resignation at such a time is nothing but an attempt to shift the goal post in the middle of a game and that is cheating.
Situations like these have made a lot of us to echo our concern over the viability of the Civil Society Organizations and a proper understanding of their roles in the advancement of democracy and development in our country. Have they looked at a need for Quality Control of their activities with a view to taking stock and identifying areas that need to be worked upon for enhancement. Where’s the place of research and development in line with the realities of the current times as well as the mentalities of the citizenry. Not to forget cultural and religious considerations too.
Democracy as a form of government is still a work in progress, there’s not any perfect model for it. Everyone works to perfect it in line with their realities and what works for them. We cannot be attempting to foist borrowed policies or expectations on ourselves, we have to learn to be realistic. To expect Nigeria’s democracy of just about 20 years to be as good as a 300 years American democracy is being very far away from objectivity.
Going forward, the Civil Society can channel more of their energies at trying to engage the various sectors of the government that are not functioning as expected e.g INEC, Security Apparatuses, Regulatory Agencies et al. This also has to be done with utmost professionalism and facts at hand coupled with alternative suggestions including providing human resource if necessary. Further to this has to be engagement of the citizenry over the need to pick more interest in the democracy and participate in it for the right reasons devoid of rent seeking and brigandage. If objective minds can flood the democratic system, there will be less possibilities for emergence of wrong people in all the various classes of political positions and such will guarantee a political space with less likelihood for meaningless and impossible calls that add up to nothing.
We everyday pray for a better and a more discerning nation.
Let me wish my fellow country people a happy celebrations for a well spent Eid-El Kabir in my opinion. I considered it a well spent one owing to the level of well wishing I saw from people of differing faiths both on social media and on personal account. It indicated a great improvement to understanding for tolerance which had always been hoped for through insisting that there can be unity in diversity. Various high placed Christians including pastors, presidential and governorship individuals wished the Muslims a happy Eid and honestly I felt elated.
Even though the positives and the opportunity they afforded us to measure the progress of our unity is enormous, you cannot rule out some flashes of negativity which could also serve as a lesson to future endeavors. On the sallah day, there was a report of kidnappings incidence on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway and it dashed the optimism of those who had thought such was over but again for some of us who have hopes and faith, we shall continue to believe that with a common resolve and love for country, we shall overcome all these negativities that tend to put a spanner on the wheel of our progress.
Let me also drag us back to a recent happening that could be tied to my topic for today which was the appointment of Mr Femi Fani Kayode to a traditional title in Shinkafi emirate and such generated a lot of concern from all quarters which I’m sure also touched Fani-Kayode himself. The incidence went very far in enlightening us over the crass display of bigotry without any cause for it because you could easily get caught in the sort of the web Fani-Kayode was caught in where the same people he demonized choose to pay him back with utmost kindness. We must work as a people to defeat bigotry and usher love and the level I saw during this Eid was commendable and can be improved and consolidated upon.
Again, just recently, the issues canvassed by Mallam Mamman Daura, the acclaimed leader of the PMB cabal over the zoning of presidency generated a lot of concern notably from the Niger Delta and Middle Belt elders amongst others but some people got worried over their silence on the fleecing going on at the NDDC. Could this imply that these elderly people have not learnt much over the years on the need to be more discerning and at-least showcase some level of patriotism and elder statesmanship even if once. In fact I was speaking with a Bayelsa elder brother recently and we got talking about the issue and his response was impressive that it left me speechless. He opined that it justice and equity is what we truly clamor for, then the North Eastern part of Nigeria had never been president both in military and democracy and should then be given opportunity to take a shot at it this time around. But the question is, would such elders and their ilks be ready for such an objective conversation? They should in my opinion.
Finally, let me touch on Mr Presidents comments particularly the one on betrayal of trust by appointees. Some of us have long ago clamored to the President for the appointment of strong and competent characters to critical positions, political compensations to less qualified people can be left to the less critical areas. What’s happening in terms of the betrayal is a result of such negligence and the only way out is to take a stock of the appointees and weed out those who’s performances do not match the expectations of them. The people the president was referring to are those who lack strength in character and never believed in the vision of the president from day one. They don’t even know what to do talk less of attempting to do it, they are excessively greedy to allow the appointment of critical aids who can help them out so they rather crash the ship with their incompetence. Wishes are that Mr President will see reason to take a stock and do the needful so we can utilize the remaining three years to consolidate on the many gains in other sectors which will culminate in writing Mr President’s name in gold in the anal of history.
There are indeed positives and areas to improve upon.
May the Lord make us witness the next Eid with more progress to analyze about. God bless Nigeria.
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