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An ode to General Ibrahim on Unijos honour – By Toby Prince

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Unpretentiously, commitment and hard work in public service pays handsomely. Feasts of garlards brighten up your day from unexpected quarters. It confers on the recipient, more sense of responsibility and the patriotic feeling of self fulfilment to really hear resonations of eulogies vibrate everywhere.

The honouree is usually excited because humanity has found a breather through him and society covertly and overtly appreciates his sacrifices. There is nothing more profoundly enduring like contributing to the elevation and development of one’s country. Nation- building is a task for everyone, and obligatory to perform in everyone’s small space.

This is the proud and enviably recognized posture of the Director General, National Youth Service Corps ( DG- NYSC), Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim. Sentiments apart, Gen. Ibrahim is a loveable personality, not only by his innately gifted bundle of talents, but his rare capacity to utilize it for public benefits of mankind.

Someone once described Gen. Ibrahim as a soldier of the finest breed, an intellectual/ academic don, classic administrator, innovator, reformer, goalgetter and an amazing pacesetter. Nigerians have attestably encountered Gen. Ibrahim in these neons in the various military establishments where he has served. Now, as DG- NYSC, Gen. Ibrahim has marketed himself in spellbinding excellence on the job.

Therefore, a few days back, at an event, his alma mater, the University of Jos (UNIJOS) Alumni Association feted this crack military officer, with an award of excellence in Abuja. The association accurately assessed and endorsed the decision in recognition of Ibrahim’s tremendous achievements as the 18th DG- NYSC in barely two years on the saddle.

The plethora of ecomia on the NYSC boss yawned loudly with the exceptionally positive feats and accomplishments of Gen. Ibrahim as head of the scheme. It is palpable that his choice for the award was not a mistake.

Of grippling relevance, the Chairman, Unijos Alumni, Abuja Chapter, Mr. Joseph Chukwu uttered something unique about the persona of Gen. Ibrahim as the alumni association mulled with the idea of an award to him, a man of solid credentials and unbeatable records of performance anywhere. Chukwu exclaimed to the audience that Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim’s name came topmost and got thundering ovations when he was nominated for the award.

Its difficult for Nigerians in any congregation to collectively agree and endorse anyone for honor without some protest voices. But Ibrahim broke the jinx in an association comprising professionals of different ilk, ideological persuasions and creeds. This general acceptability in itself is the first big plus and loud testimony of his credible performance in public service.

Did the University of Jos (UNIJOS) Alumni Association actually make a mistake by conferring on Gen. Ibrahim the prestigious award of excellence and a good ambassador of the varsity? Has Ibrahim really lived up to public expectations in his assignment as NYSC boss by repositioning the scheme to the status of a focal catalyst in the overall quest of Nigeria’s national development?

The answers are handy from an independent inquest of Gen. Ibrahim’s leadership of the NYSC scheme. Its needless to trumpet that Gen. Ibrahim met an NYSC scheme which was grossly underutilised, with potentials of serving corps members largely unexplored!

But he dexteriously turned around the fortunes of the scheme and changed dormant narratives to now a vibrant and beneficial scheme for serving corps members and their post – service years. Even public perception of the scheme has positively changed. Gen. Ibrahim has also excitingly laid the path of achieving finanacial independence for the scheme which will assume full effect in the nearest future. He is already partially successful in this regard.

Therefore, Ibrahim has upgraded the existing NYSC’s Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneural Development programme ( SAED) and ensured the one month training in different vocations impact on the quest for more knowledge on all corps members. Some of them actually begin to utilize such skills in their places of Primary Assignment ( PA).

And thinking out of the box, Gen. Ibrahim has gone ahead to partner with multiple financial institutions to empower corps members with start-up capitals towards self- reliance through personal investments in the post- service years. Today, Nigeria is a nation, where some corps members have become employers of labor after the mandatory service year because of the skills through SAED and the financial backing of some institutions partnering with NYSC to finance their business proposals. The Central Bank of Nigera (CBN), Bank of Industry (BOI), Heritage Bank, (HB) and Access Bank among others can attest to it. These benefits are a product of Gen. Ibrahim’s leadership ingenuity.

Furthermore, the NYSC boss has accepted, adopted and is implementing President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy and initiatives on agriculture and food security. Similarly, the NYSC under Ibrahim’s guidiance has also partnered agric-based institutions and other organisations to sponsor training of serving corps members in farming techniques, cropping and mechanized agriculture.

Today, the previously moribund NYSC farms across the federation have come up alive and new farm plantations have sprouted. NYSC alone has cultivated over 60, 000 hectares of rice fields as at 2021. The harvested rice is processed for consumption in the scheme’s owned ricemills and the investments are still being consolidated. Undoubtedly, this is an enormous contribution of corps members to food availability in the country .

The NYSC boss is not resting on his oars. Gen. Ibrahim has revitalised NYSC investment ventures across the country, such as garment, bread and table water factories, which are functioning at maximum productivity. They also double as
training avenues for serving corps members.

Its shocking and indeed novel that the NYSC under Gen. Ibrahim has started to generate and remit revenues from these investments into into the federation account. In 2020, the NYSC paid N280 million into FGN coffers and in 2021, a sumptuous sum of over N.5 billion was remitted, with plans to keep increasing its revenue generation.

And the big bang! Gen. Ibrahim has conceptualised and vigorously pursuing the establishment of the NYSC Trust Fund. He is working towards the future. Sensitization campaigns on this initiative have gone virile and received favorable endorsements from a wide spectrum of Nigerians.

When the NYSC Trust Fund comes into fruition, it will provide a wider range of corps members more access to start-up captals to finance their private business ideas as they blissfully exit the year of service to fatherland. The expected impacts of these laudable initiatives in the nearest future are truely tremendous! Gen. Ibrahim truely deserves more than the award of excellence from Unijos alumni, but a national honour.

Prince is a journalist and wrote this piece from Guzape, Abuja.

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Opinion

Gambo: The Uncommon Naval Chief Making the Difference – By Philip Agbese

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The announcement didn’t come as a surprise. It was greeted with widespread jubilation in the Naval Headquarters. They sang and praised him to the high heavens. Even though not much was known about this gentleman officer in the public space, there was no doubt that a new sheriff was in town in the Naval headquarters.

Vice Admiral Auwal Zubairu Gambo, the Chief of Naval Staff, is a man of few words but plenty of actions. He walks the talk and abhors mediocrity. His penchant to work is infectious. I recall several instances when our paths crossed at several fora. He always painted a picture of an introvert.

He would make comments in passing and leave it there. But to my astonishment, most times, the recommendations or takeaways from such stakeholders gathering would manifest in a week or weeks in the operations of the Nigerian Navy. That was how responsive and proactive he has always been.

The primary responsibility of the Nigerian Navy is to protect the nation’s maritime environment of about 84,000 square nautical miles. The nation’s maritime area of interest includes the entire Gulf of Guinea (GoG), about 574,800 square nautical miles spanning 2,874nm from Senegal to Angola.

It won’t be out of place if the Chief of Naval Staff is labelled a silent achiever. His style is different and a departure from the past. He is uniquely different in his style. This much has been responsible for the successes recorded in the operations of the Nigerian Navy in securing our waterways in recent times.

For example, the efforts of the Nigerian Navy in the protection of our waterways have been outstanding. It is on record that the smuggling, Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF), insurgency, hostage-taking, human and drug trafficking have been reduced to the barest minimum.

Given the sustained operations and exercises the Navy has continuously carried out against the numerous maritime illegalities, the latest piracy report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recorded a drastic reduction of piracy in Nigerian waters and the GoG.

According to the report, piracy in the GoG and Nigerian waters is now on a record low, as pirates’ activities in the first nine months of 2021 are the lowest reported in 17 years. And this bears testament to enhanced maritime security and response coordination measures adopted by the Nigerian Navy in recent times.

In my opinion, this is in line with the renewed operational policy of the Nigerian Navy that emphasises “leveraging all factors of national location, technology, training, teamwork and synergy to re-energise the Nigerian Navy and enhance her as a well-motivated and ready naval force in the discharge of her constitutional mandate and other assigned tasks in fulfilment of national security objectives”.

On record, the Nigerian Navy had contributed tremendously to the freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Guinea by strengthening coordination in the fight against insecurity for socioeconomic activities among member states to thrive.

There have also been collaborations between the Nigerian Navy and other strategic partners to enhance maritime security. For example, in the last couple of months, the Nigeria Navy has brought to bear its dominant status in the West African region by sustaining an aggressive presence in the nation’s maritime environment, leading to the drastic reduction in acts of criminality in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Nigerian Navy has concluded collaboration efforts with the Ghana Navy to combat piracy further, and maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea as plans are ongoing to establish a standing multinational task force in the Gulf of Guinea. The Nigerian Navy recently hosted the maiden virtual sea power for Africa. The symposium brought together 33 African Navies and six other foreign Navies.

Since his appointment, these and many more initiatives were embarked upon by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Gambo. Lest I forget, the contributions of the Nigerian Navy in the war against insurgency in Nigeria have also been commendable.

It is thus necessary to state that the last year has been a beehive of activities in the Nigerian Navy. The various operational reforms introduced within this short period have placed the Nigerian Navy in a prime position to fulfil its constitutional mandate. These are indeed no mean feats. The Chief of Naval Staff has demonstrated that we can make a difference in every endeavour only if we are committed and patriotic.

Vice Admiral Gambo has lived up to expectations by displaying an uncommon commitment to improving the operations of the Nigerian Navy, and some of us are not surprised with the turn of events. I can bet that President Muhammadu Buhari is as much impressed.

I also gathered from reliable sources within the Nigerian Navy that in the annals of the history of the Nigerian Navy, Vice Admiral Gambo has proven to be one of those that prioritised the welfare of naval officers and ratings. Under him, it was stated that there had been a sustained emphasis on training and sophistication of its operations.

For example, the Nigerian Navy recently acquired a new hydrographic and oceanographic research vessel, NNS LANA, to replace the previous one, which was decommissioned ten years ago. The ship is expected, among other benefits, to allow the Nigerian Navy to have a better knowledge of its maritime territory and its exclusive economic zone; enhance coastal and deep-sea scientific research and studies; provide assistance and supplies to other boats, as well as helicopter winching and towing of ships.

It can also conduct geophysical studies, search and rescue operations, and patrol duties. The ship is equipped with state-of-the-art modern survey equipment and a well-equipped 7.6m surface vehicle for shallow water surveys. Furthermore, the vessel has an Automatic Weather Station, AWS, wet and dry laboratories, scientific and technical workshops, and operating and processing rooms for survey data.

Another area worthy of mention is the U.S Coast Guard training exercise with the Nigerian Navy on Maritime Law enforcement, a part of a series of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against piracy. The training explored various internationally recognised techniques and procedures for maritime law enforcement at sea safely and professionally.

To think all of these happened in just one year in the saddle is most notable that one wonders what to expect in the months and years ahead. Be that as it may, I wish to state that Vice Admiral Gambo has been writing his name in gold in one year at the saddle. He has set the navy on the path of progress and helped to ensure that the nation’s territorial waters are not only safe, but economic saboteurs are denied the opportunity of constituting themselves as clogs in the wheels of our progress. This is on the heels that Maritime security has already become a global concern in the present world. Severe threats could be posed if maritime security is jeopardised, as proven by many incidents of such kind.

In conclusion, the Nigerian Navy made significant strides in its operational activities and exercises in the past year under the dynamic leadership of Vice Admiral Auwal Zubairu Gambo. Notable successes were recorded in the number of hours at sea, anti-piracy/sea robbery, anti-COT/illegal bunkering, and anti-smuggling operations, as well as in NN’s contribution to joint operations in the hinterland.

Vice Admiral Auwal Zubairu Gambo is indeed a lesson in leadership. The past year has proven this, and we must give credit to whom credit is due. I say a big congratulations to this silent achiever.

Agbese is a security and human rights expert based in the United Kingdom.

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Yahaya Bello: Recommending a rare gem for Nigeria – By Bishop Charles Obe

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The general elections are due in Nigeria in 2023. And the buildup to the elections is usually electrifying with scheming and political permutations at its best. Also, it’s common to find political parties putting their house in order by reconciling warring factions to avoid electoral misfortunes and guaranteeing electoral success.

The same is applicable for individuals who, by their assessment, are suitable for certain positions in the country, ranging from the president to the councillor at the local government councils. And the list becomes endless. Political jingles rent the air. Billboards are not spared either, and the advertising mediums always smile to the bank because it’s harvest time.

I love the election period in Nigeria; it allows me to see things from a different perspective and hope for better days in the country. For whatever it is worth, elections are good and, at the same time, terrible because it comes with their attendant consequences, not for the now, but the future with regards to those elected in office to pilot the affairs of the country.

My focus in this piece is on the presidential election. This is the father of all elections, and it is usually twofold; either we get it right or get it wrong. Experience has taught us so over the years.

So, the 2023 elections have again thrown into the ring political titans. Those who feel that their name is enough to aspire for the highest political office in the land have indicated interest. Those who think they control party structures have also shown interest. Those who feel that Nigeria’s president should have an ethnic or religious consideration have also signified interest. And those whose track records in governance are also present in this hot race that is not meant for the weary.

After a careful analysis of the contenders, I pitched my tent with the aspiration of Yahaya Bello, the governor of Kogi state. Yahaya Bello is a rare being who would be difficult to discountenance in the affairs of Nigeria. He represents a new age, the age of thinking outside the box in proffering solutions to the governance challenge in the country.

I have heard people talk about his age as a factor that would work against him. I have also heard people say he behaves like he is acting in a movie in Kogi state. But I have heard people talk about how he has been able to confront the monster that held Kogi state moribund for several years and how he could give the people a breath of fresh air.

It is understandable if there are misconceptions regarding his stewardship in the state because people are at liberty to believe what they want to think. But I am not sure this sentiment is shared in Kogi state. I am sure any well-meaning individual from Kogi state would pat Yahaya Bello on the back for a well-done job. For some of us who are resident in the state but non-indigenes, we are marvelled at how this man quickly took charge of the state despite the mountain of issues that held the state down like a leprous finger.

Yahaya Bello is brave and one who is a master strategist. He knew from the word go that the road would not be smooth, and he adequately prepared for it. He changed the narrative, and as expected, the cartel who saw the state’s commonwealth as their birthright could not believe their eyes.

I must confess that some of us felt he would run out of steam along the line. But we were continuously disappointed. He not only continued, but he also gathered momentum every passing day. Most people would not realize that he inherited a state in complete comatose, where state allocations are shared without conscience.

The civil service was over-bloated with a backlog of salaries and pensions. The educational sector barely exists on the lips. The security situation was horrible. Infrastructures were dilapidated and with no hope of any revival. The only thing that thrived in the state was gas stations and hotels belonging to government officials. It was so bad that as a public office holder, if you don’t own a hotel or a gas station, you are not viewed as a man of the people for failing to employ people in hotels and gas stations. The situation was so bad that the people lost their senses, entirely preferring the life of misery and deprivation that successive governments in the state legalized.

Yahaya Bello braved the odds and changed the situation slowly but steadily. He addressed the rot in the civil service and restored its glory through laudable reforms. He embarked on an infrastructural revolution without the usual religious and ethnic consideration. He made the state uncomfortable for criminal elements that initially turned the state into their havens.

The security model he introduced indeed changed the situation for good. Today, Kogi is a no go zone for criminal elements hence the nickname White Lion. He is undoubtedly the White Lion that Nigeria needs at this critical point of our existence.

Yahaya Bello is individual that does not brook nonsense. He is very detailed. Little wonder why Kogi state remains one of the states where the cost for executing government contracts remains the lowest because the process is rigorous. You must deliver as at when due, else there would be consequences.

I can go on non-stop on the new Kogi state under Yahaya Bello, and I can’t but wish that he gets the opportunity to lead this country. Yahaya Bello as President of Nigeria would be interesting and exciting. Nigerians would wake up to realize that those things that held us down would be removed in a record time. You might not like his methodology, but trust me, you would love the results that would come around because he would leave no stone unturned. That is Yahaya Bello for you. Those of us that have been residents in the state for decades can attest to his drive, sense of direction and focus. And lest I forget, he can be comical, especially when he hits the gym.

Today, Kogi state works because of a governor who stamped his feet on the ground to insist that it won’t be business as usual. If we are indeed serious about moving this country forward, we must look in the direction of Yahaya Bello. His name might not be as heavy as some of the big wigs that have indicated an interest in the highest office in the country. However, I can vouch that none of them is as passionate as Yahaya Bello. None of them could have achieved what he achieved under the same circumstance in their various endeavours.

At this point, we must be careful not to believe some of the issues peddled in the media with his stewardship in Kogi state. As an insider and one who witnessed Kogi in its shame and glory, I say emphatically that the situation in Kogi state before Yahaya Bello is the same as what Nigeria is experiencing, but on a larger scale. And if he has shown that it is possible for things to turn around in Kogi state, I do not doubt his ability to lead the country most exceptionally.

The choice is before us as we enter the elections. We must have at the back of our minds that our destiny is in our hands. Yahaya Bello has all it takes to lead the country. His central message is that everything is possible only if we believe and work towards it. Ladies and gentlemen, I recommend a rare gem for Nigeria.

Obe is a servant of the gospel based in Lagos.

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Who Is After Minister Rotimi Amaechi? – By Ogaba Ogomola

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The elections are around the corner, and it is expected that the polity would be heated with scheming and horse-trading, all in a bid to gain popularity or achieve electoral success. I am not against politics. But I am against the politics of blackmail and character assassination that has characterized the polity recently.

I stumbled on news items on the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, in one of the dailies. It was every inch a despicable report by the news medium. The headline gave out the story as a hatchet job. However, while I do not have issues with the news medium attempting to sell their paper, I have an issue with how editorial competence was damaged irrepressibly.

As a start, the news item was neither here nor there. It was such an editorial piece that again brought out the rot in the media industry. And the news medium, Aljazirah, has been notorious in this regard on several occasions. I gathered that the staying power of Aljizirah is blackmail. I also learned that the promoters of the medium have been able to sustain their operations thus far through this strategy.

The story of Rotimi Ameachi indicates that those uncomfortable with his perceived presidential ambition are at work. What is more worrying is that there hasn’t been any public pronouncement in this regard. I can guess that the strides recorded in the Transport ministry under his watch might be the reason why some political hawks are out to dent his image and discredit him at all cost. This is a no brainer.

It might also be that Rotimi Ameachi had stepped on some powerful toes in the discharge of his duties, and those affected are out to “serve justice” to him through the instrument of blackmail and character assassination. But the strategy is ill-conceived because of how Rotimi Ameachi has stood out as one of the shining stars of this present administration.

The revolution in rail infrastructure across the country is indeed intimidating. The transformation on our waterways is another laudable leadership stride of Rotimi Ameachi, and many more too numerous to mention.

I want to ask if it is now a crime for Nigerians to be patriotic? In my opinion, the likes of Rotimi Ameachi should not be one of those that should be maligned because of how they have displayed great character and strength in service to the country. I dare say he is one of those who are not afraid to speak power to the truth. He is also one of those that have strived to be as committed as possible to the cause of national interest.

You might not like his methodology, but you can’t question his competence and sincerity of purpose. You can’t also fault the policies introduced and implemented in the transport ministry since he assumed leadership. You can’t also discredit the fact that the transportation sector of the economy has been sanitized with leakages blocked and huge revenue accrued to the government over the years.

I believe the attack on Rotimi Ameachi is from several fronts. From his home state, where he is a stakeholder, to the APC, where he seems to have gained the confidence of Mr President, and from those cartels that have fed fat from the rot in the transport sector in the country. Suppose the attempt to discredit Rotimi Ameachi comes from any of these fronts. In that case, it is understandable because there is always a price to pay, and the price for patriotism is usually heavy, especially in a clime like ours.

I have systematically avoided the rumoured presidential ambition as the sole reason for defaming Rotimi Ameachi because I do not have factual information in this regard, but let us assume he is interested in contesting the presidency; I think it won’t be out of place.

Rotimi Ameachi is a brave heart. This is a fact. And if this rumoured presidential aspiration is behind the ploy to discredit him, I would encourage him to take a shot at it because he is eminently qualified, for he has recorded tremendous strides as a minister of the federal republic and also his previous record as the executive governor of Rivers state indeed tell a lot about the man Rotimi Ameachi and why his perceived presidential aspiration should unsettle some persons.

Therefore, I am not surprised because it’s that period again where those perceived as threats are blackmailed into submission. But I can vouch for Rotimi Ameachi as not one in that class that can be blackmailed into submission. Not even if the whole media space is saturated with stories about him. Yes, he is that brave and one of the criteria we need in a president.

Those that are after him must also contend with some issues; they must try hard to sustain their massage of mischief. They must also strive hard to dig deep into the hole to find incriminating evidence against him, but with a caveat; they should be careful not to fall into the hole when searching deeper.

Those after him should also be ready for him because, from antecedents, he does not suffer fools gladly. Should Rotimi Ameachi indicate interest in the presidency, the odds might be against him on the pages of Aljazirah but not among the generality of Nigerians.

Ogomola wrote this piece from
Karu, Abuja.

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