Penultimate Saturday, the SEC 23 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, threw a luncheon for one of them, Umaru Ibrahim, the outgoing Managing Director of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).
They are a group of Nigerians, then at the top rung of their careers who were privileged to participate in the one-year long intensive course, reclusive to Kuru. NIPSS was established in 1979 and therefore SEC 23 were those that participated in the Senior Executive Course in 2001, in effect the 23rd year from the first year of inception. As you would expect the event was presided by the President of the alumni, country-wide, MD Abubakar, a former Inspector-General of Police, alongside the Monitor-General of the SEC, Eng. Mohammed Gambo Umar, a former Managing Director of FAAN.
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The atmosphere at the venue was convivial as the occasion brought together not only the celebrant and his friends, but many members of the alumni whose friendship over the years had been forged over the one-year crucible in Kuru. There was a sprinkling of relations of the celebrant as well as the presence of two former directors of the National Institute, this columnist who was briefly Secretary/Director of Admin during SEC25 & 26 and Professor Ibrahim Bashir, the Director of Studies for a much long period. It was an opportunity for laughter and gaiety as well as solemn discussions on national issues that were high on the horizon.
Professor Bashir had a slot in the program to give a talk on one of the burning issues he must have thrashed with the former course participants in Kuru. He chose the issue of socio-economic implications of depletion of the waters of the Lake Chad Basin, a subject matter that is very current now due to the insurgency persisting in the area. The Lake Chad is said to have shrunk in the last many years to only about 10 per cent of its original size, thus putting the lives of millions depending on its largess to jeopardy. The economic and social deprivations arising from shrinking of the lake are some of the key factors fanning the sustenance of the Boko Haram campaign of terrorism. The World Bank, the UN, the AU, Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and all the countries surrounding the lake are united on the need to recharge the lake with waters from rivers around and they have identified the River Congo as the best source. Large sums of money have been set aside for the project year in year out with little progress on the ground.
Professor Bashir in the talk he gave to the distinguished group wondered why all these group of government agencies shut their eyes from other worthwhile alternatives and instead concentrated on River Congo with all the attendant repercussions of wars along the river course, border problems and immense distance. He proposed the option of looking at the possibility of recharging the lake with waters from River Niger coursing through River Hadejia with all the advantages of irrigation farming all the way and the prospect of helping to reduce perennial flooding associated with the banks of River Niger. A guest I spoke to after told me that all the possibilities had been looked at over the years before choosing the River Congo option. But that is Professor Bashir for you – always ready to think out of the box, and say it!
As the luncheon wound down, encomiums were poured on Umaru Ibrahim for his leadership qualities and his great achievements which include, among others, overseeing the corporation’s critical failure resolution interventions in the banking sector that saved thousands of depositors from the loss of their funds. The outgoing MD had spent over 30 years of his public service career in the NDIC which he joined as a foundation staff in 1989 on transfer from Kano State government. Born in Gaya, he had the unique privilege of attaining the peaks in both Kano State Civil Service where he got to the position of permanent secretary and the NDIC where he steered the affairs of the corporation as managing director for 11 years.
One of the striking testimonies I heard came from Dr Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, who recently retired as Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance. He paid a glowing tribute on Umaru Ibrahim saying that out of the myriad of agencies his ministry supervised, the NDIC was outstanding in the implementation of its mandate towards contributing to the stability of the financial system. He added that, NDIC remained the most compliant in terms of corporate governance and excellence, and in service delivery as opposed to some agencies that were constantly grappling with numerous internal disputes and challenges. He gave the example of an agency where they had to send security agents to save the chief executive from his workers due to violent disagreements. He said there was nothing of the sort throughout the tenure of Umaru Ibrahim due to his sagacity and deft handling of events in the NDIC.
The kidnapping industry
At the weekend I visited a friend to commiserate with him over his recent abduction in broad daylight near Gwagwalada while returning from the farm. I will share his story with the readers to underscore the dangers we are all exposed to, by this growing industry. Keep a date with this page.