Last week I reported that early in the month of May, the former president, Muhammadu Buhari was quick to appoint a new board and management to the North East Development Commission (NEDC). It was, from my perspective, a deft and merciful move as the life of the earlier board was about to expire. If the appointments were left undone the newly elected hands that were coming in would take their time before considering what to do with the vacancies in the NEDC. That would have been calamitous for the commission which is involved, on a day-to-day basis, in many life-saving projects aimed at ameliorating the deleterious effects of the Boko Haram insurgency.
In a letter to the Senate, the former president appointed Bashir Bukar Ba’ale to lead the 12-man board as chairman, and Eng. Umar Abubakar Hashidu as CEO/MD among others. The Senate had a crowded itinerary that May, which happened to be also their last month, and did not seem in haste to confirm the president’s nominees. In any case, and in fairness to the Senate, they had a loaded trolley and the president’s letter only arrived in their hallowed chambers on May 3, when they were already up to their necks with momentous issues affecting the financial health of the nation.
Considering that the delay could have disastrous consequences, the president then directed that the board should immediately go ahead to take over pending the eventual Senate confirmation.
None was surprised when the managing director, assumed office immediately and hit the ground running. Besides taking collateral effect of the head office along with the executive directors, the managing director has been moving about, visiting projects, especially those around Maiduguri, to acquaint himself with the task ahead.
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From the reports I saw, the MD, alongside the chairman of the commission, had inspected the construction of the Alau Dam in Konduga LGA, the Labour room and IVF Centre at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Faculty of Engineering at Borno State University and the remodeling of the state office of the NEDC.
These frenetic activities of the MD are said to be typical by those familiar with his background. He is reputed to be a project manager par excellence and that is precisely why he was headhunted for the job of leading the commission. Eng. Umar Hashidu has actively been on the ground in the region as the Managing Director of Yola Electricity Distribution Company whose fortunes he reputedly turned around for good.
We should be excited about what plans he has for the commission. I have it on good authority that he has promised to use the commission’s master plan to stabilise, develop and turn around the North-East geo-political zone. The master plan contains over 500 programmes and schemes that would promote and facilitate the physical and socio-economic development of the zone to be implemented in 10 years.
While they are actively engaged on the job, there is a need now to regularise the appointment of the board with another letter emanating from the Presidency to the Senate for confirmation.
A conclave of the National Assembly in the State House
I did not quite notice it until someone pointed out the novelty of having a conclave of national assembly members as the new powers that be. Then it became clear to me. The president, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, has had the appellation attached to his name for the past 30 years. He became a senator in the 3rd National Assembly of 1992.
The Vice-President is Senator Kashim Shettima, a two-term governor of Borno State who won election into the Senate in 2019. The Chief of Staff is Femi Gbajabiamila, the immediate Speaker of the House of Representatives. He has been in the National Assembly since 2003 and had served as Minority Leader from 2007-2015, Majority Leader from 2015-2019, and Speaker from 2019. He was a ranking member having been elected six consecutive terms to represent his Surulere 1 constituency of Lagos State.
The Deputy Chief of Staff is Senator Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia. He was the deputy governor of Jigawa State in two instances (2001-2007) and (2015-2019). He also won election into the Senate in 2019. The Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF) is Senator George Akume a two-term governor of Benue State, a three-term senator, and a former minister. To cap it all, the First Lady of the Federation is Senator Oluremi Tinubu who had been in the National Assembly since 2011.
For the first time, the government is being led, both in the office and the home front, by politicians albeit with solid public engagement backgrounds. Our democracy, it seems, has come around to a full circle. We started with politicians in the First Republic, later military men broke in, here and there, until now that we have bid them bye-bye with the last of them, Muhammadu Buhari leaving. Henceforth, there would be no retired military man in the vicinity of the State House to blame for any failures again. We are now entirely in the hands of politicians, for good or bad. But I hope it is for the better.