Nigeria, Najeeb And The Need For The Needful
By Bala Ibrahim
Yes, Nigeria is at it again. It’s another day called October 1st and the country is celebrating independence, after being freed from British colonization, some 63 years ago. While independence may mean different things to different people, it always comes with one common thing, Change. Independence tends to open a window from which the independent country gazes at the prospects and opportunities that await it in the years to come. I don’t want to go into the diagnosis of the problems encountered by Nigeria since independence, but I would touch a little, on the common mistakes made by our leaders, especially leaders who come to power with the mindset of grandstanding. They are quick to commit blunders. This attitude tends to poison the prospects and expectations of the people, particularly with regards to the proper meaning of the verb, change, which is expected to substitute one thing or situation with something else, expectedly something better.
When President Bola Ahmed Tinubu pronounced the former Governor of Rivers State, Bar. Nyesom Wike as the new Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the public feeling was of mixed emotions. While some expressed happiness and hailed the decision, saying it is perfect, others have a reversed view, because according to them, it is an extreme departure from the practice of the past, where Ministers of the FCT always come from the north. Although that is not necessarily a justifiable sentiment, the Government must not do things that would give the impression of resentment towards some people, more so, for a Government that came with the promise to renew the hope of the people.
Last week, Minister Wike, sacked 21 heads of the FCTA Parastatals, Agencies, and companies, in a sad development that led to the immediate removal of Najeeb Abdulsalam, as the CEO of the Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company, AUMTCO. This development did not and is not going down well with a lot of people, including yours truly because it seems to be at cross-purpose with the ambition of those who set up the FCT. It also looks at variance with the mission statement of the Minister, i.e. to promote and ensure an investor-friendly FCT, and an efficient city that would meet the needs of the dwellers, in terms of safety, adequate and reliable but affordable means of transportation.
Since then, not only the staff of the company, AUMTCO, who even took to the streets in protest, but my email box and phone have been inundated with private messages, asking me and other members of the media to advance the advocacy, on the need for Nyesom to do the needful, which is to return Najeeb to the saddle. Testimonies about Najeeb’s nobleness have touched me to the point of tears.
Certainly, Minister Wike has his reasons for the sack of these CEOs, and we know in carrying out a reshuffle, sometimes, dissolutions take precedence, where some of the dissolves become reabsorbed, albeit in different portfolios. My hope, and the hope of the multitude, is that Najeeb would be reabsorbed.
Many have sent messages to me about Najeeb Abdulsalam, and all the messages hammer on his satisfactory, proper, prudent and polite behaviour, wondering how a man of such virtues, could be removed while the system is in search of sanity. One of the responses came from a friend, who took a swipe not only at Minister Wike and his Minister of State, Dr. Maryam Bunkure, but our party, the ruling APC. I have edited it a bit, but it goes thus:
“How honest & sincere is your APC/Asiwaju regime, in sanitizing governance, of corruption & unscrupulous characters? Were the government sincere, Wike himself would have had no business at the FCT. And come to think of it, when have Northerners in government, started championing the pursuit of collective good? Is the Bunkure woman posted to the FCT there to protect Kano, or some vested interests? I know Najeeb Abdussalam, a very decent, humble & thorough professional in Urban Transportation. He once coordinated a World Bank project on Urban Transportation, domiciled at the Kano State Ministry of Works. I was astonished by his humility, passion & deep knowledge and grasp of his task. During our brief encounter, he told me how he sponsored himself to attend foreign Workshops, Seminars and conferences, just to deepen his knowledge & widen his grasp on matters of Urban Transportation”.
Another response came from a friend too, who fell victim to similar rash and thoughtless decisions, ironically from the same FCTA, and this is his comment:
“I rarely respond to your writings, but for these two, especially on the issue of executive recklessness of Barr Wike, the FCT Minister, I’m moved to say that some Ministers don’t take lessons from History. Ministers before him had taken a similar policy of sacking staff by mere pronouncement and sending letters to their staff victims, but they failed in the end. At the end of the day, you find that they go to court and they get the verdict in their favour. The court will return them to work and all their benefits paid plus charges. This executive madness will continue until the courts start forcing them to pay such huge amounts from their own pockets. There are explicit procedures for relieving staff and unless it’s followed, we will just be rolling in one place without making progress”.
Indeed the need for doing the needful can not be overemphasized, and in doing so, our leaders must avoid grandstanding and pay attention to history. William Wordsworth, the English romantic poet said,
“Life is divided into three terms which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future”.
May we so guided towards doing the needful. Ameen.