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President Tinubu Must Hear This!

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By Abiodun Komolafe

All through history, finding and keeping round and square pegs in their respective holes has never been a Sugarcandy Mountain party. It’s a tough job for experts and committed people! Therefore, President Bola Tinubu must keep working round the clock, looking for leaks and blocking same.

Take a look at the Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), which, at its inception, was with its spectacular fanfare and related brouhaha. OFN was with the notion of an idea whose time has come; but the intangibles waited patiently for it. As fate would have it, the scheme’s promoter eventually became its albatross. The man wasn’t a farmer. In other words, he became a farmer by accident – a disastrous accident at that! And the nation paid dearly for it! OFN was destined to feed the nation any day! But where’s it? As things stand, Nigeria, more than ever, is in need of OFN, but should she go to ‘Operation Feed the States’ or ‘Operation Feed the Local Governments’ for agriculture to have a meaning? How much is a crate of eggs in ‘Obasanjo Farms’, how much is it in Kaduna and how many people can afford it?

Tinubu urged Nigerians to tighten their belts in the face of the biting socioeconomic reforms; that better days lie ahead! But they are groaning and grumbling that the presidency and the legislatures are swimming in opulence and maintaining empty, needles and expensive shows. They are complaining about the high cost of governance and that they want it moderated. They are saying that many of the president’s friends and political functionaries are milking the state through multiple pensions as former governors and ministers. Since time and things have changed, Nigerians want to practise large-scale and massive farming to stimulate production and regulate education and private school operation. These are the issues and these are tasks the Tinubu administration must not leave undone. When initiating policies and programmes, the president must bear in mind that the favourable creation of favourable conditions does not mean that people will have to suffer before they start reaping the dividends of democracy. If they must, then there should be appropriate palliatives for all and sundry.

The president must work assiduously at redefining, redirecting and reconstructing his administration’s policies and programmes along the line of equality, liberty and solidarity. He must take a cue from Presidents George Washington whose tenacity, patriotic devotion and ability to make decisions during difficult times made him lead America to become a success story; and Franklin Roosevelt, whose ‘New Deal’, encapsulated in the combination of confidence, political savvy and strategic analytical reasoning, helped in setting ‘God’s own country’ back on the path of national economic and growth.

When Amartya Sen talked about development as freedom, these are parts of the issue! Indeed, freedom is development, especially, to the individuals. The ‘japa’ locution is the seeking of socioeconomic freedom for an individual; and, once there’s an inhibition, there is nothing else that society can offer as a substitute. Life is good in London! Life is good in the USA! Unfortunately, the 9th National Assembly attempted to erect a psycho-sociological barrier at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, insisting that a certain class of Nigerians shouldn’t go out of the country in search of a good life, which Nigeria could not offer. Wasn’t the government asking for trouble?

This again boils down to suppositions and assumptions. For example, people jump into projects without realizing that the end product of a project is not about its narrative; that it’s just a calculated projection; that calculated projections are always fraught with unimaginable interferences from nature and allied factors; and that expertise and management are needed for a projection to come to reality. Of course, that’s why dictators are typically ruthless. As a matter of fact, dictatorship has to be discussed for people to make up their minds on what to actually hate.

What are we saying? As long as foreign countries continue to mentor their economic programmes to reflect certain economic indices which also reflect in people’s standard of living, ‘japa’ will continue to happen to Nigeria. Even if it’s to reflect the world’s economic dynamics, man will always move in search of greener pastures. Hunger is a driving force. Likewise, opulence is as inviting as it’s a rock-hard motivation. So, those who think mere legislation will stop Nigerians from leaving the country had better understand that pragmatic laws which disregard the position of stomach infrastructure will always collapse like a pack of cards. It’s therefore unfortunate that our men at the legislative chambers could remove the people from their considerations and still hope to be relevant.

Culturally, there is a problem. The way through which the Yorubas view and value education is different from the way others do. While the latter sees only its economic imperatives, the former sees more than that! Economic considerations, why not? But then, social trappings are sociologically more important. For example, should researchers decide to review literature on failed governments and why governments fail, it’d get to a stage where they’d become exhausted and frustrated because nothing practically would be different, or have changed. So, one would begin to wonder what actually went wrong because, in real studies, that in itself is a course for study. But, again, this is Nigeria, where a typical scholar is intolerant of criticism! What we have here is a towering voice out of the lot who wants everybody to reason like him or her, or wants the world to believe that he or she is familiar with the minds and thought processes of others.

In our clime, almost all our policies in education are deliberately structured towards regional, tribal, religious, and family agenda. Quota system is still being adhered to as if we have endorsed institutional limitations. Not only that, the capable is governed by the incapable, with the ideas of the intellectuals being subjected to the foolish elements of quota. Economic opportunities for other Nigerians have also been limited. To make matters worse, we always believe in superhuman above super institutions. The result of such is what we see in the ‘Super Cop’ Abba Kyari, who got consumed by the otiose system he met on ground. 

The major academic challenge which any attentive observer of governance in Nigeria must look into is why Nigeria has not produced another Wole Soyinka since 1986. Soyinka was a smart, ruthless nonconformist. That’s why he reared his head in Nigeria’s murky and suffocating academic environment. Had ‘Kongi’ not discovered himself early enough, he most probably would not have become a Nobel Laureate. While the likes of Chinua Achebe subscribed to the prejudiced thinking of others, Soyinka was so cosmopolitan in his worldview that he destroyed all the cobwebs on his path and … roared. As luck would have it, the ‘Iroko’ had long blossomed before others could wake up from their slumber.

In Nigeria, problems persist at all levels, even in the academic world, which is still suffering from neocolonialism. Generally in the ivory tower, the town has entered the gown. The love of money has ruined the path leads to the truth. Ironically, before now, theories were established by the truth. Nowadays, supposed truth runs around to establish or support a theory. So, the time has come for the Nigerian academia to be totally weaned from piecemeal or spoon-feeding arrangements. President Tinubu has a lot to do in restraining the japa-compliant Nigerians from finding reasons to run away.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

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NIMC TO PAY TWO- YEAR BACKLOG OF PAYMENT TO FEPS IN MARCH – DG  

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The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) says it is ready to clear the outstanding payment owed to its Front-End Partners (FEPs) within the first quarter of 2024.

Director General of NIMC, Engineer Abisoye Coker-Odusote gave the assurance in a statement issued in Abuja, even as she expressed sympathy with the FEPs who have been burdened with running their businesses for 2 years without payment.

She said: “The National Identity Management Commission, under my leadership has conducted a revalidation exercise to review the outstanding payments which the new management inherited with a view to offsetting the debt after going through due audit process to validate the claims made by the FEPs.”

“In the process, we found out that some of the invoices submitted by the FEPs did not tally with the enrolment figures shown on the database thus prompting the revalidation exercise to confirm the true and accurate enrolment information.”

“Notwithstanding, we are wrapping up the audit process, and the activation of the FEPs will be done according to the outcome of the validation exercise.”

“We sympathise with our partners over the delay and appeal for understanding especially as the new NIMC management is just a few months in the saddle and had been working on resolving all inherited debts.”

“Unfortunately, the previous management could not clear the outstanding dues because of lack of funds but we are working hard to source for the funds to clear the debt.” 

“I therefore use the opportunity to reiterate that the revalidation exercise was aimed at sanitizing the system as well as ensuring efficient and effective enrolment processes in line with international best practices of securing citizens’ data.”

The Commission assured concerned Nigerians that payment will be made to the Front-end Partners in the first quarter of 2024 and added that there are plans to hold a stakeholders engagement summit this month.

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Coker – Odusote:100 Days at the Helm of NIMC

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By Walter Duru, Ph.D

It was Albert Einstein that once said that “setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” That sentiment expressed by Einstein is the primary essence behind the theory of transformational leadership, which requires passion, charisma, and the ability to motivate others. Transformational leaders are usually very authentic, emotionally intelligent, great listeners, results-focused, visionary, and self-aware.

In just 100 days at the helm of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote has ushered in a new era of transformational leadership, leaving an indelible mark on the organization. Her eventual confirmation as substantive Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the Commission did not come to many as a surprise.

She did not waste time to hit the ground running and showed commitment to advancing the NIMC’s mission and mandate.

Coker-Odusote has taken steps to streamline National Identity Number (NIN) registration processes, while addressing the long-standing challenges associated with identity registration in Nigeria. This, she is handling through strategic restructuring and the integration of advanced technologies with a view to significantly reduce waiting time and enhance the overall efficiency of the system.

Today, date of birth and other kinds of modifications at NIMC happen within 48 hours. The several years backlog of date of birth modifications she inherited are almost cleared, as she had given a one-month deadline for the same to relevant staff of the Commission.

Again, responses to issues and complaints, such as those whose National Identity Numbers did not hit the NIN Verification Portal are now resolved within 24 hours.

Recognizing the paramount importance of data security in the digital age, the NIMC CEO has taken steps to enhance data security by introducing robust measures to fortify the protection of citizens’ sensitive information. This includes, but not limited to the adoption of cutting-edge encryption technologies and the establishment of a dedicated cybersecurity team.

Her interest in improving service delivery at NIMC cannot be overemphasized. She has concluded plans to ensure regular training and retraining for staff of the Commission, emphasizing customer-centric approaches, to ensure a more positive experience for citizens seeking identity services.

On partnerships, Coker-Odusote, leveraging her extensive network and expertise, has forged strategic partnerships with governmental agencies, private organizations, and international bodies. These collaborations aim to enhance the NIMC’s capacity, foster innovation, and promote information sharing for the betterment of identity management.

Understanding the pivotal role of technology in modernizing identity management, Engr. Coker-Odusote has spearheaded the integration of biometric advancements and artificial intelligence into the registration and verification processes.

This not only improves accuracy, user experience and ease of enrolment, but also positions NIMC at the forefront of technological innovation in identity management. A typical example is the NIMC Contactless Biometric Solution, which delivers a best-in-class fingerprint and facial capture image output quality, powered by Artificial Intelligence. The new solution was unveiled by the commission at the 2023 Identity Day, held in Abuja on September 16, 2023.

In addition, Engr. Coker-Odusote tackled the existing backlog of unprocessed identity requests head-on. Through a combination of strategic staff deployment and redeployment, process optimization, and digitization initiatives, she has made significant strides in clearing the backlog, demonstrating her commitment to prompt and efficient service delivery.

Recognizing the crucial role played by the NIMC staff in achieving organizational goals, the CEO has developed for implementation, a robust welfare programme aimed at boosting morale and fostering a positive work environment. This includes, but not limited to training opportunities, health benefits, and performance recognition initiatives.

Furthermore, in consultation with in-house experts, elaborate public awareness campaigns are being planned, to ensure that citizens are well-informed about the importance and benefits of identity registration. These campaigns are expected to not only educate the public, but also serve to demystify the registration process, encouraging greater participation.

The NIMC DG has concluded plans to take the ecosystem enrolment forward by taking steps to deepen collaboration with ecosystem implementing partners, supporting to ensure the success and optimal performance of the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) Project, a Nigerian Project jointly funded by The World Bank, The European Investment Bank, and the French Development Agency.

Engr. Coker-Odusote’s strategic vision, commitment to efficiency, and emphasis on technological innovation positions NIMC for a future where identity management is not only secure but also seamlessly integrated into the daily lives of citizens.

On anti-corruption, the NIMC DG has left no one in doubt on her determination to sanitize the system, entrench a culture of transparency and zero tolerance for corruption. Apart from putting systems and structures in place to discourage graft, she is directly involved in ensuring that the cankerworm has no place in the commission.

Just recently, in what one may describe as a sting operation, she paid an unscheduled visit to the Federal Capital Territory office of the commission, where she is reported to have arrested some staff for allegedly extorting money from Nigerians, even as she has maintained that enrolment was free.

Her devotion to supporting the policy direction of the present administration by strengthening the issuance of the NIN for access to service is not in doubt.

Speaking on Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days in office as NIMC CEO, Project Coordinator, Nigeria Digital ID4D Project, Musa Odole Solomon described her as a vibrant, results-focused leader, determined to make a difference in the Commission.

“She has taken steps to build bridges of collaboration between NIMC and partners within the country’s identity ecosystem. These collaborations aim to enhance the NIMC’s capacity, foster innovation, and promote information sharing for the betterment of identity management in Nigeria.”

“The collaboration is also focused on enhancing handshake with institutions involved in the country’s identity ecosystem, with a view to deepening integration with the country’s Identity Management System.”

“In 100 days, she has taken the lead in working with the Nigeria Digital ID4D Project to speed up project implementation process, especially, processes geared towards the extension of NIN enrolment to hard-to-reach areas, women, persons with disabilities, and marginalized groups, thereby fostering inclusion and access to social services.”

“She has introduced some innovations that I consider very progressive, and things are moving very well. The Nigeria Digital ID4D Project is happy to work with her, as she has shown that she has all it takes to assist us succeed.”

Responding to a question on his impression about the NIMC DG’s leadership style and the future of the relationship between NIMC and his organisation, Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra stressed that the relationship between NIMC and NPC has become more robust under Coker-Odusote’s leadership as NIMC CEO.

“I want to say that the National Population Commission has a long and robust collaborative partnership with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in our efforts to harmonize and integrate biometric databases for planning and development of our country.”

“However, this partnership has become more dynamic and robust with the assumption into office of Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote as the Director General of NIMC. She has shown an unparalleled commitment and passion in working with the Commission, not only in registration of births and deaths, but also the upcoming population census. She comes across as a thoroughbred professional and innovator who will give Africa’s greatest nation a deserved identity profile for national unity, security, and development. I am more confident in the future of the Identity Management Commission under her.”

Responding to a question on the new grounds covered at the NIMC ICT, Director, IT/Identity Database of the Commission, Chuks Onyepunuka has this to say:

“Our DG is pragmatic, proactive, result-oriented and visionist. Her achievements in ICT in NIMC in the last 100 days include, but not limited to: “launching of self-modification and enrolments services to ease and simplify the processes for enrolment services; driving the clearing of about 3 million backlog of enrolment records awaiting manual adjudication within 3 weeks; decentralization of operations with objectives of ensuring that we are closer to the enrolees and adequate coverage in the nooks and crannies of the country.”

“Others are improvement in the process of engaging and revalidating our Frontend Enrolment Partners (FEPs); improvement in our ICT policies, processes and procedures; resolution of 95% challenges/issues affecting our window enrolment software (Res-Web) and commenced the integration and harmonization with National Population Commission, Nigeria Immigration Service and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).”

Adding her voice, NIMC’s Director, Business Development and Commercial Services, Mrs. Carolyn Folami described the DG as a thoroughbred professional, committed to resetting the Commission for the good of the nation.

“It has been only 100 days, but it seems she has been here far longer, as within this period, we have achieved a couple of goals towards resetting the NIMC agenda and resettling the NIMC staff for productivity.”

“Starting with the planning and commencement of training of all staff, to the commitment to all Front-End Partners (FEP) to revalidate the business model for fair play and payment. She is very keen on stakeholder engagement and has secured the buy- in of our harmonisation partners for effectiveness. She is professional, thorough, dedicated, and above all, kind to all.

Adding his voice, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Project Implementation Unit, Nigeria Digital ID4D Project, Dr. Emmanuel Akogun argued that Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days in office were characterised by “dynamic, focused and results – oriented leadership,” adding that there is steady progress in NIN enrolment, with “103,500,000 Nigerians and other legal residents captured in the NIMC Database.”

There is therefore no gainsaying the fact that Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days as CEO of the NIMC have been marked by a series of commendable achievements.

At this point, one can confidently say that with Engr. Bisoye Coker-Odusote as Chief Executive Officer, NIMC is in safe hands.

Her recent confirmation as substantive Director General/CEO of the Commission is clearly an act of patriotism by the Nigerian President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

However, as she commences a full tenure of office, following her recent confirmation, one expects that the standard is not lowered.

As she marks 100 days in office this week, the most challenging part of Abisoye Coker-Odusote’s journey as Chief Executive Officer of the NIMC is the need to sustain the successes recorded, remain focused, deepen stakeholder engagement and public enlightenment, check corruption, strengthen systems and structures, be fair to all, while supporting the policy direction of the present administration.

Deliberate steps must be taken to ensure the sustenance of the war against extortion at NIMC.

Again, a deliberate plan should be in place to ensure a more robust stakeholder collaboration, particularly with those involved in the country’s identity ecosystem.

Elaborate, sustained communication and public enlightenment activities are required, taking advantage of the conventional and unconventional channels of communication to inform, educate and mobilize the citizens on the need for all to register for the NIN. This requires a deliberate strategy and strategic implementation.

Finally, a deliberate inclusion strategy must be in place and vigorously implemented to ensure that no one is left behind.

As the DG continues to lead with passion and purpose, NIMC is poised for even greater accomplishments under her guidance.

Indeed, NIMC is in safe hands!

Dr. Walter Duru (Assistant Professor of Communication and Multimedia Design) is a Communication/Public Relations Strategist, Researcher and Consultant. He could be reached on walterchike@gmail.com

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Ministry of Finance Incorporated: Can Takang Deliver?

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Walter Duru, Ph.D

Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has just appointed a new leadership for the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI), an asset holding and management company under the Federal Ministry of Finance, with mandate as the sole manager of all federal government investment interests.

According to a statement by Presidential Spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, former Finance Minister, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman is reappointed as Chairman of a 10-man Board of Directors of MOFI, while Dr. Armstrong Ume Takang is also reappointed to serve as the Managing Director/CEO of the organisation.

The other appointees include Tajudeen Datti Ahmed, Executive Director, Portfolio Management; Femi Ogunseinde, Executive Director, Investment Management and Mrs. Oluwakemi Owonubi, Executive Director, Risk.

The non-executive directors are Mr. Ike Chioke, Ms. Chantelle Abdul, Mr. Alheri Nyako, Mr. Bolaji Rafiu Elelu and Mrs. Fatima Nana Mede.

To describe the team as perfect is an understatement, as, when something is described as sweet, it is also important to state what it tastes like. The crux of this article is the appropriateness of the person of the Managing Director, Dr. Armstrong Ume Takong, saddled with the responsibility of the day-to-day running of the organisation.

In the ever-evolving landscape of finance and governance, the appointment of a CEO/Managing Director plays a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of an organization.

Dr. Armstrong Takang emerges as the ideal candidate for the leadership role at the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, bringing with him a wealth of experience, a proven track record, and a vision for transformative change.

Dr. Takang’s academic background, marked by advanced degrees in Computer Science, Finance and Business exposure/experience, sets the stage for his understanding of the intricate dynamics within the financial, business and investment sector(s). He is well equipped with strategies for exploring progressive solutions to economic challenges.

With an impressive career spanning over decades, Dr. Takang has honed his leadership skills in both public and private sectors. His tenure as the Chief Executive Officer of a leading multinational corporation showcased his ability to navigate complex landscapes, implement strategic financial planning, and drive sustainable growth. These experiences uniquely position him to bring a fresh perspective to the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.

One of Dr. Takang’s standout qualities is his commitment to transparency and accountability. In an era where financial governance is under intense scrutiny, his track record of implementing robust financial controls and ensuring adherence to international standards is commendable.

This commitment to transparency not only fosters trust but also aligns with MOFI’s mission to uphold the highest standards of fiscal responsibility.

Furthermore, Dr. Takang’s innovative approach to problem-solving sets him apart as a forward-thinking leader. His past initiatives, such as spearheading digital transformation in financial processes and advocating for sustainable financial practices, underscore his ability to embrace change and leverage technology for efficiency gains.

In an era where agility and adaptability are crucial, Dr. Takang’s progressive mindset positions MOFI for success in the face of evolving economic landscapes.

As a leader, Dr. Takang places a premium on talent development and team collaboration. His previous roles have seen him cultivate high-performing teams by fostering a culture of continuous learning and collaboration.

This emphasis on human capital is pivotal for the MOFI, ensuring that it can effectively navigate the challenges of an ever-changing global economy.

Beyond his professional acumen, Dr. Takang is known for his civic engagement and commitment to corporate social responsibility. His involvement in community development projects demonstrates a holistic understanding of the impact businesses can have on society. His previous positions, leadership roles and achievements speak volumes for him.

Prior to being MOFI’s CEO, Takang was the CEO of Growth Alliance Partners (GAP), a pan-African firm focused on providing post-investment value-add services to Private Equity backed businesses. He helped to turn around several businesses to create shareholder value.

His decades-long career in investment consultancy and public reforms traverses the public and private sectors across Africa, and in the US, where he worked at the New York Office of the KPMG.

He was Team Lead for a Private Banking Group, managed the Integrated Financial and Economic Management Information System (IFEMIS) Project in Nigeria, and led the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).

Many do not know that Dr Armstrong was pivotal in designing and implementing several national initiatives like the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the Office for Nigerian Content Development in ICT under NITDA, the ICT component of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)/Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), among others.

He is not new in the political environment, particularly, within the Ministry of Finance. He was Special Adviser to the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, as well as Lead of the MOFI Transformation Team. It is a terrain that he is very conversant with, and this will ease stakeholder engagement, particularly, when there is a proper stakeholder management strategy in place.

Dr. Armstrong Takang’s appointment as the CEO of MOFI is a strategic move toward ushering in a new era of financial leadership, inclusivity, and discipline in managing public investments.

His blend of academic excellence, extensive experience, commitment to transparency, innovative thinking, and emphasis on talent development makes him the perfect fit for steering MOFI towards greater heights.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the leadership of MOFI, as announced, is a perfect combination. The transformations that MOFI has experienced in the last eleven months, under the leadership of Dr. Shamsudeen Usman as Chairman, and Dr. Armstrong Takong as Chief Executive Officer is evident and must not be paused.

As the financial landscape continues to evolve, Nigerians expect that Dr. Takang’s leadership must not only meet the challenges of the present, but proactively shape the future of financial governance.

It is safe to conclude that Mr. President’s decision to reappoint the duo of Shamsudeen Usman and Armstrong Takong is an act of patriotism.

Permit me to also single out Mr. Ike Chioke, the Group Managing Director at Afrinvest West Africa Limited, who also made the list, as a non-executive director.

With the calibre of persons on the present MOFI leadership team, failure is not an option.

MOFI is expected to support the Federal Government’s efforts towards addressing economic challenges, while spurring the renewal of the economy. There is no better time to be relevant.

Expectations are very high, and Nigerians are in a hurry to see results. Let Federal Government’s investments work for the country.

The time to act is now!

Dr. Chike Walter Duru (Assistant Professor of Communication) is a communication expert, researcher, public relations, and stakeholder engagement consultant. He could be reached on: walterchike@gmail.com.

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