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Opinion: Of competence and Olaiya’s inclusion in Tinubu’s cabinet



Opinion: Of competence and Olaiya’s inclusion in Tinubu’s cabinet

By: Kemi Daniels

Professor Abideen Olaitan Olaiya is a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) that secured the victory of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President -elect of Nigeria. His political trajectory dated back to the mid 90s. He contested for the position of APC National Secretary in 2022, he was the running mate to Late Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala in the 2019 gubernatorial race in Oyo state.

He hails from Oke Oluokun, Ibadan and bagged his Ph.D in Agronomy from the University of Ibadan in 2006.

His political experience dated back to 1995/96 when he contested for Chairman of Ibadan South East Local Government through the Zero party platform and subsequently under GDM and PDP. He contested for the Oluyole Federal seat in 2007 under Labour party with Former Governor Rashidi Ladoja as the leader.

He joined ACN in 2010 under the leadership of Chief Lam Adesina to produce Late Chief Abiola Ajimobi as Governor of Oyo State. Professor Olaiya together with Otunba Alao-Akala rejoined the APC in a political merger in 2019 to support the party in Oyo State. He has since contributed to the development of the party in all ramifications.

Olaiya, 56, lectures at the Department of Plant Physiology and Crop Production, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.

Tinubu’s Government of National Competence and the overwhelming choice for Ministries Lead

A few days after the ‘almighty’ 2023 Presidential election was won and lost, some individuals called Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to form a government of National Unity to persuade the aggrieved and chart a call for unity in the country. This statement caused a swift flashback to the fearless statement of MKO Abiola where he promised the then Abacha’s Military Junta to form a Government of National Unity in an effort to reclaim his mandate of June 12, 1993. Were the circumstances similar in 2023? Of course, NOT. Did we need a Government of National unity? Yes, but we need to even step more further. And here the concept of competence sets in.

A Government of National Competence; first or second agenda?

No doubt, one of Asiwaju’s unique selling points is his talent for hunting talent. No one in the history of Nigeria’s political success has achieved better than him in regard to building a strong team and mentoring them to become leaders. To date, his Commissioners back in his governorship years is super relevant after 20 years. So, one’s attention was drawn to a statement credited to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that he would form a government of national competence, this is a welcome development as against the proposed government of national unity.

An author once said “The secret behind the success of Dubai is in its leadership. Dubai Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed knows what he wants, and it is impossible for these projects to happen without his consent and personal supervision. It is obvious that he is giving men and women in Dubai full powers, but, at the same time, he holds them accountable for the outcome and the promises they make.” On this premise, it is certain that the first task for Asiwaju is not forming a government of National competence, rather, it is to have a clear understanding of what he wants for Nigeria. Thereafter, getting the team to deliver comes next.

Renewed Hope: Action Plan for a Better Nigeria

In answering the question of what Tinubu wants for Nigeria, let us take a quick look at what Tinubu’s plan entails as contained in his manifesto for Nigeria entitled Renewed Hope . The 80-page action plan is fully loaded with beautiful thoughts. It’s an action plan that needs a serious-minded team to execute. In some cases, these plans had their goals and intended solutions. Of all the plans, the flawless plan’s vision for Agriculture in Nigeria is superb. It’s actually fascinating, to say the least. The promise to bring back the commodity board which had been abandoned for so long, the creation of grain reserves and food storage, rural infrastructural development, irrigation, access to finance, farm cooperative among others are well thought out.

That’s just on agriculture, he still have unambiguous plans on national security, economy, power, oil & gas, education, and health care among other very important sectors.

The cabinet formation and list of competence
It is an open secret that the race for appointment in the Tinubu’s government has begun. The struggle is in two categories, presidency and ministerial. Under the presidency, we have the following as offices to be filled – Chief of Staff, CoS, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Special Advisers, SAs, and Senior Special Assistants, SSAs.

The name of the likes of Nasir El-Rufai, Abdullahi Ganduje, Femi Gbajabiamila, Babatunde Fashola, James Faleke, Wale Edun, Dimeji Bankole, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Bayo Onanuga and several others are all over the media space.

Flowing from names being touted in the media, it is expected that the bulk of people that will work in the presidency and in the cabinet are Tinubu’s core loyalists and competent members of the party.

For ministerial lobbying, this area comes with many complexities, scheming, and state political peculiarity. Notwithstanding all these, Asiwaju must look deep for productive personalities and not replicate a retirement benefit for former governors or political big-wigs.

Oyo State and her long list of ministerial aspirants

Oyo state stands out amongst others being a pacesetter with regards to Ministerial nomination permutations. It is going to be another form of battle royale reminiscent of internal intense party primaries. The scheming, no doubt, is similar in many other states as well.

The mere fact that Teslim Folarin of APC was unable to unseat the incumbent Seyi Makinde of PDP during the March 18 governorship election in Oyo state had made the ministerial contest even more competitive among the gladiators. Folarin has a national political war chest within the APC, and many had speculated that he may be compensated for losing the Guber race by a ministerial nomination. But this reminded me how Sunday Dare was appointed minister and Adebayo
Adelabu of APC who lost to Makinde of PDP in the 2019 governorship election was not compensated. Sunday Dare, the current Minister of Sports got the slot instead as an Asiwaju’s boy, and so he can’t be written off too in the new dispensation. The likes of Sen. Soji Akanbi, Prof. Adeolu Akande, Adebayo Shittu, KK Raji, Prof. Abideen Olaiya, Engr.Rauf Olaniyan, èrstwhile Deputy Governor to Seyi Makinde and many others are names on the radar.

Of all the names being bandied around, Prof. Abideen Olaiya stands out going by his credential in politics and profession as a good catch for Asiwaju’s passionate drive for Agricultural revival and food stability. Olaiya has the pedigree to do the magic in the agriculture ministry especially at this critical time when Asiwaju needs extraordinary performers and technocrats. More importantly, the Ministry of Agriculture had been managed by all kinds of non-agricultural experts since 1999. Aside Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who had his degrees in Agricultural economics, no other minister till date can be said to have background in core agricultural discipline.

Ministries of Finance, Power, Education, Petroleum, Health, Foreign Affairs, Labour, and Employment are also ministries that deserve expert and committed individuals.

Olaiya preference stemmed from the fact that he is a loyal member of the party that have severally sacrifices his ambition for party success. He stepped down for APC governorship candidate in 2019 in Oyo state without any compensation . He was also asked to step down for national secretary at the last APC convention with the promised of refund not yet fulfilled till date by the party.

Olaiya was a strong supporter of Asiwaju presidential project, belonging to several support groups and PCC.

He is sincere and dedicated advocate of good governance with an NGO, Political Awareness Group (PAG) formed to his credit.

He is a competent professional in the field of agriculture, education, value reorientation and Youth development.

Olaiya is not just an ordinary Academic farmer but has personal farms scattered around Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Ondo States as well as supplying farm products and practical trainings/consultancy services to the farming communities.

Prof Olaiya was also involved in the establishment and management of private educational institutions from basic to tertiary levels, contributing immensely to attainment of millennium development goals in educational sector.

For competence in all ramifications and well suited personality for any presidential and cabinet position, Olaiya towers above his peers especially from Oyo state with intimidating credentials and academic excellence that fits in into Asiwaju’s Renewed Hope agenda for Nigeria.

Kemi Daniels , a public analyst, writes from Ibadan.

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Bola Aganaba @60: A Legacy of Impact, Faith, and Generosity



Bola Aganaba @60: A Legacy of Impact, Faith, and Generosity

Bola Aganaba, a man of exceptional character, dedication, and commitment to excellence, celebrates his 60th birthday. With a decade-long career as a civil engineer and pastor, he has not only left an indelible mark on Nigeria’s infrastructure development but also touched countless lives through his kindness, generosity, and unwavering faith. As we honour his milestone birthday, Senator Iroegbu weaves the threads of his remarkable life, which has built bridges, left footprints of love, and strengthened faith.

A Tapestry of Integrity, Kindness, and Unwavering Faith

In a world where perfection is elusive, Pastor Bola Aganaba stands out as a rare gem who excels in multiple realms of life. As we celebrate Aganaba’s milestone 60th birthday, we honour a man who has not only excelled in his family and profession but also in his spirituality and societal duties. This rare feat is a testament to his exceptional character, dedication, and commitment to excellence.

With a career spanning decade as a civil engineer at the Federal Ministry of Works, Aganaba has not just left an indelible mark, but a legacy on Nigeria’s infrastructure development. His contributions to road maintenance and safety are not just well-documented, but a source of immense pride. As a devoted husband, father, and pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), he has touched countless lives with his kindness, generosity, and unwavering faith. Having recently retired from the Federal Civil Service at age 60, his contributions to national development and life of impact and service are rightfully honoured.
From the first encounter, it is evident that Aganaba wears no masks. His honesty is refreshing—a beacon in a world often clouded by pretence. He speaks his mind, stands by his convictions, and means every word. His transparent heart shines like a polished gem in a world of guile. Aganaba’s family tree sprawls like an ancient oak, its branches reaching far and wide. But he doesn’t merely embrace blood relations; he extends his arms to friends, acquaintances, and anyone who crosses his path, especially members of his congregation. His home is not just a sanctuary, but a haven where warmth and laughter flow freely. Once you are part of his orbit, you are forever welcomed.

James Bond may have shaken martinis, but the engineer-turned-clergyman stirs life with unyielding calmness. Challenges come and go, and storms rage, yet he remains anchored. Living a Christlike life is embedded in his ethos. As Jesus assured his worried disciples during a stormy boat ride, Aganaba’s faith always whispers, “God is in control,” and he lives it. The wrinkles of worry never etch his brow; instead, he wears a perpetual smile—the kind that defies life’s storms.

Behold Bola Aganaba—the man who defies time. His style transcends mere fashion; it’s an attitude of perpetual youth. With each passing year, he insists he’s a year younger, and the mirror obliges. As a man thinketh in his heart, he remains—a testament to the power of positive self-perception.

Bola Olotu Aganaba is a name that resonates with dedication, resilience, and unwavering commitment. Born on May 18, 1964, in the vibrant city of Kaduna, Nigeria, his life journey has been remarkable. He hails from Odi in the Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government area of Bayelsa State and is the youngest of seven siblings, with four sisters and two brothers. On September 16, 2000, he married Anita Aganaba, and their union produced one child, Charmaine Aganaba.

A Journey of Excellence and Service

Aganaba resonates with honesty, generosity, and an unshakable spirit. As we celebrate his 60th birthday, let us weave together the threads of his remarkable life—a life that has touched hearts, built bridges and left footprints of love.

A firm foundation on education and sportsmanship

Bola Aganaba stood out from his early years. His academic brilliance was matched only by his unwavering character and sporting prowess. Aganaba’s educational voyage began at the Elizabeth Fowler Memorial Primary School in Surulere, Lagos, where he imbibed the values of discipline and curiosity. His secondary education at Baptist Academy Lagos further shaped his character, laying the groundwork for an excellent future.

Pursuing knowledge, he embarked on a path that led him to the Rivers State University of Science & Technology (RSUST). He honed his intellect here, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1987. But Bola was not merely a scholar; he was also a sportsman. His excellence extended to the hockey field, football pitch, and track and field events, where he proudly represented RSUST. Representing his school and Lagos State in hockey, he left an indelible mark. His talent extended to the athletic field, where he excelled in the long jump—a skill that could have taken him to international heights had he pursued it further. His love for football remains undiminished. Whether playing or watching, the beautiful game stirs his soul. But beyond sports, his compassion knows no bounds. He despises injustice and champions the cause of those who suffer.

A career forged across Nigeria

Aganaba is a road warrior, and his professional journey mirrors the diverse landscapes of Nigeria itself. As a civil engineer, he crisscrossed the nation, ensuring that Nigerian roads were motorable and leaving his mark in states such as Lagos, Sokoto, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Kano, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). His work ethic and expertise caught decision-makers attention, leading to his appointment as the first Chief Maintenance Engineer for Rivers State under the then-newly established Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) in June 2003.

Aganaba’s trajectory didn’t stop there. In July 2009, he ascended to Executive Director (East Operations), a testament to his leadership and vision. His contributions to infrastructure development reverberated far beyond the highways he meticulously maintained. His goal was clear: to make a difference wherever he found himself.

Remarkably, his tenure in the Federal Ministry of Works was more than a job; it was a calling. His exemplary service to the nation reverberated through the highways he meticulously maintained. However, his role as the first Chief Maintenance Engineer for Rivers State under FERMA showcased his commitment. Notably, he ensured that the road leading to the Federal Government College Odi remained impeccable—a gesture that endeared him to the people of Odi.

His integrity was unshakable. Contractors marvelled at his refusal to accept bribes, preserving the family’s reputation. Aganaba’s benevolence extended beyond bloodlines; he touched lives within and outside the family. His heart radiated love, compassion, and generosity, leaving an indelible mark on those fortunate to cross his path.

A beacon of faith, family, and community

Beyond engineering, Aganaba’s heart beats for service. He served for years in the Follow-up and Evangelism Department of RCCG Kings Palace, Port Harcourt. His diligence and commitment earned him the endearing moniker of the “Kingfisher”—a symbol of tireless effort in church planting committees. Rural parishes in Rivers State owe their existence to his unwavering dedication.

Since December 2014, Pastor Aganaba has been the guiding force behind RCCG Holy Ghost Arena in Utako, Abuja. His pastoral role extends beyond the pulpit; it permeates the lives of those who seek solace and inspiration within those hallowed walls.

Aganaba’s ministry transcends pulpits. He’s a soul winner in the marketplace—a living epistle read by all. His faith isn’t a Sunday garment; it’s woven into every step he takes. As a pastor, he doesn’t merely preach; he lives the message. His heart beats for lost souls, and his hands reach out to lift the fallen. His life is a living sermon—a testament to God’s grace.

More importantly, Aganaba’s personal life is a canvas painted with love and family bonds. He shares his days with Mrs. Anita Aganaba, his partner in life’s journey. Together, they are blessed with a daughter named Charmaine Aganaba.

As a husband to Anita, a senior executive at the giant oil firm ENI Nigeria, and a father to Charmaine, Aganaba exemplifies love in action. His unwavering commitment to God and family sets a high standard. Anita’s words echo the sentiment shared by all who know him: “He is an extraordinary, loving, selfless, kind, humble, unassuming, generous soul, totally sold out to God.” Bola’s love transcends mere words; it is a symphony of deeds that resonate through the lives he touches.

As we celebrate Bola Aganaba’s 60th birthday, we honour a man whose life is a testament to excellence, service, and unyielding faith. His journey continues to inspire and uplift all fortunate to know him.

Testimonials: Celebrating a Life of Love, Service, and Faith

Aganaba’s life is a testament to the power of love, service, and unwavering faith. As we celebrate his 60th birthday, we are reminded of his profound impact on countless lives.

Anita, his wife, beautifully captured the essence of his character: “He is love in action… sold out to God.” She praised his selflessness, kindness, and humility, which made their marriage a joyous journey. Aganaba’s commitment to his faith is unwavering, and his love for God is evident in every aspect of his life. His sisters, Powei Horsfall and Ebi Obaro, echoed similar sentiments, describing him as gentle, caring, and kind-hearted. They praised his generosity and willingness to assist others, always ready to lend a helping hand. His youthful energy and handsome appearance belie his 60 years, a testament to his vibrant spirit.

As an engineer, Bola has built bridges of connection, leaving a lasting legacy in his field. As clergy, he has nurtured souls, guiding countless individuals on their spiritual journeys. As a father and husband, he has woven a tapestry of love and compassion, a true patriarch of his family. His embodiment of love, kindness, and generosity has inspired many, and his dedication to integrity, humility, and purpose has made him a true leader.

His brother, Justice Nayai Aganaba, praised him, saying, “Bola is an embodiment of love to those who have come close to him. Sometimes, I wonder how he does it. I pray that God will continue giving him the strength, resources, and longevity to remain relevant to his people, society, and humanity.”

In the same vein, Steve and Panebi Oboh admired his dedication to integrity, humility, purpose, contribution, and impact. Synthea Cameron-Odu, his sister-in-law, commended him for being a fantastic person who deserves God’s blessing, describing him as kind, caring, and warm-hearted.

Furthermore, Stephanie Daukoru, another sister-in-law, appreciates his welcoming nature, saying, “You have been an amazing brother-in-law, welcoming everyone with kindness and warmth. May we continue to enjoy your grace for many more years.” Calvin Odu, his nephew, fondly calls him “Uncle B” and lauded his calm and supportive nature, saying, “Uncle B is very calm, accommodating, very supportive. He loves God a lot and always makes Sunday service fun.” Weri Jaja, family, and friends wish him a life of hope and love.”

Also testifying to his impact, Tokoni Aganaba, his niece, lauded him for inspiring and encouraging many to achieve greater heights, saying, “Dear Uncle B, thank you for inspiring and encouraging so many people around you to achieve greater heights. Your gentleness and empathy have changed several lives for good.” Jubilee Ephraim, a friend, described him as a peacemaker, saying, “Bola is the definition of ‘peacemaker.’ Through the grace of God upon his life, Bola lifts the downtrodden.” Ebiti Udo, his sister-in-law, appreciates his kindness and empathy, saying, “Uncle B, you have been a great in-law, big brother, and confidant.” Another sister-in-law, CY Uba, thanked him for his support and kindness, saying, “Your life story would never be complete without mentioning how God used you to sustain me for years.” Florence Edward, his niece, thanks him for being a pillar of support and strength.

From the clergy community, Pastor Dennis and Pastor Mrs. Grace Epelle wish him God’s blessings beyond measure. Pastor Edmund and Pastor Joy Oseahon from Port Harcourt wish him the best of years, while Pastor Tony Amos, a friend, described him as a “good man and Christian”. Elder Japan and Deaconess Christy Omu prayed for God’s infinite mercy and blessings, saying, “We continue to pray that God in His infinite mercy that has seen you through service to your country will cause your latter years to be greater and sweeter than the former.”

In the same vein, the family of Renmi and Sunbo Sola-Philips, co-pastors and friends, congratulate him on his milestones, saying, “Heaven’s best is all we pray for you in Jesus’ name.” Nnamdi and Tukeni, his sister and brother-in-law, fondly describe him as a shining example of kindness, a perfect gentleman, and a devoted family man. They express their immense pride in him, wishing him a joyous birthday surrounded by loved ones.

Members of the RCCG Holy Ghost Arena, where Aganaba shepherds also testified to how great, dedicated, reliable, and compassionate their pastor is. Mr Debo Ikuesan, a church member, shares a heartwarming testimony of his kindness. After a terrible car accident in 2015, Aganaba selflessly offered help and support, standing by him throughout the ordeal. Debo prays that the Clergy’s large heart will continue to be a source of blessings, opening doors of favour for him. Deacon Victor Mayomi, a church elder, offered a heartfelt prayer for the celebrant, asking God to continue blessing him, lifting him, and enabling him to bless generations. He prayed for a long life, prosperity, good health, and a sound mind for him and his family. Etumudon Mike Osaro and Mrs Christy Adeniyi, ministers in his Parish, wished their pastor and his family abundant blessings and an increase.
A Prayer for the Journey Ahead
As we celebrate Bola Aganaba’s 60th birthday, we join the chorus of gratitude, praising God for his life and legacy. May God grant him strength, wisdom, and boundless compassion, empowering him to continue inspiring future generations.

His legacy will ripple through generations, a testament to a well-lived life. With honesty and integrity, he has worn no masks, shining like a beacon in a world of uncertainty. His heart, an open book, is filled with kindness, generosity, and unwavering love.

As a footballer, he danced on the field, leaving footprints of grace. But beyond the game, he played life with the same elegance, building bridges of connection, nurturing souls, and weaving a tapestry of love and compassion.

May his journey continue to inspire us all. Indeed, Bola Olotu Aganaba, born May 18, 1964, is a man whose legacy transcends concrete and asphalt. He stands tall as an embodiment of excellence, service, and unwavering faith, inspiring us to leave our footprints on the sands of time.

We celebrate his life at 60, unravelling the threads that compose this remarkable man—a blend of engineer, clergyman, father, and husband. May his journey continue to inspire us all, and may he be blessed with many more years of good health, happiness, and fulfilment. Cheers to a remarkable life!

Bola Aganaba @60: A Legacy of Impact, Faith, and Generosity

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Why Zulum wants permanent military bases in troubled spots in the state



Why Zulum wants permanent military bases in troubled spots in the state

Bodunrin Kayode

Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum recently called for the establishment of permanent military bases in Sambisa and other known troubled spots in the state. The call was obviously one aimed at ending the insurgent war which has eaten over 15 years of the GDP of the once commercially vibrant state which should have grown more than it is now. Borno should have been competing with Kano if not for the destruction of the state by Boko Haram.

For keen observers of the insurgent war in the north east of Nigeria, “known” means that the insurgents are still milling around specific areas of the topography of the state and residents see them and avoid their locations. They have obviously been cleared from a large chunk of Borno State but still loiter around the Tumbus islands for instance. The islands are so many that nobody has record of the exact number of them since God put them there with loads of fish and crude oil underneath. The Nigerian Navy has equally not been able to make much impact progress either because of the massive thickness of hyacinth on the top of the water or lack of the right equipments which itself is a major challenge. Some security observers who spoke to this reporter on anonymity feel the navy is just being lackadaisical because it’s a lake and what if it dries up one day? But these are not tenable excuses for them not to be able to dominate their environment from Baga to the last island on the Nigerian border.
And that is why a permanent base of the Nigerian Navy must be built that will dominate the environment long after the war has ended. There presence in Baga is still very skeletal compared to the work load ahead. One agrees with Governor Zulum on this because the Nigerian section of the islands must be well secured if tourists must come in long after the war is put behind us.

The insurgents really don’t have the guts anymore to barge into the capital Maiduguri neither do they disguise and visit relatives regularly like before as sources tell us they still do in Ngamdu, Jakana and Kareto. Even the relatives some of them visit before are under watch by the intelligence services making life difficult for such relatives who used to get gifts and phone calls from them. But going by the observation of the civilian jtf boys who fight along with the troops, they are still inside the density of the savanna at alageno forest. But more noticeable is their presence on the Mandara mountains which has given them cover for a long time sending discomfort to the people of Gwoza. They always go back to Sambisa even after being chased out which is why one of the biggest permanent barracks must be built inside the place for elite forces as soon as possible.

Zulum made the statement during the last Chief of Army staff conference which took place in the 7division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri Borno State. Even though the Army top brass did not make any open acknowledgement to the suggestion, it obviously may have rang a bell within the ranks of defense policy makers and the Commander in chief of the Armed forces, President Bola Tinubu who were present during the occasion.

The establishment of a special forces military base in the Sambisa forest for instance will assist in ending the lingering insurgency which has paralyzed development in the entire Borno State and North East Nigeria. As a matter of fact, this is exactly where special forces trained for counter insurgency should be asked to pin down now before the war ends. There are so many natural resources placed under the ground by God apart from oil which has been confirmed in adjoining areas for troops to be pinned down permanently under the 7 division of the Nigerian Army, the Airforce and Navy components. Imagine the Airforce with one of the biggest bases in the country on the Mandara mountains which can enable them to see anyone entering the country on espionage mission. By the time the right resources are put together to mount sophisticated platforms, a complete surveillance of the border territorial areas can be guaranteed.
Nigeria’s hundreds of porous borders will begin to get special attention to ward off the next set of aggressors.

Looking back with hindsight, even though the military has been able to retrieve a large chunk of the nation’s territory from the hands of the insurgents in Borno Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states, it is obvious that it is not yet uhuru for the ordinary resident because the insurgents keep tormenting them by instilling fear and making life difficult for them in the hinterlands. That is why it is difficult to predict when the war will end even after 15 years of this lingering asymmetric war. A war that has caused so much pains for Nigerians and our troops. Hundreds of our troops have paid the supreme sacrifice in the last 15 years and the counting continues. And that is why it makes sense for the three arms of the military to take over these sensitive territories and pin down permanently. That to me is what Zulum meant by the creation of bases in the comfort zones of the enemy and pitching our elite troops against them once and for all. After they must have been cleared the expansion of the base with all the sophistication of a modern army will begin to fall in place.

Also the relaxation of troops seen by observers is like getting 60 percent marks in an examination and just when you want to relax with your pass, you are told that the external examiner is saying that you are not worth more than 40%. A lot of gains were made by the present Defense Chief General Chris Musa while he was theatre Commander. Many more were added when he became the Chief of the Nigerian infantry under the management of Lt. General Farouk Yahaya. Major General Ibrahim Ali who took over the theatre after General Musa also did his best in the kinetic and non kinetic aspects but they all suffered from the same malaise of not having enough boots on the field because there were no strong bases around these strategic locations to assist. Bringing troops from all the way maiduguri is usually a long process when one considers the dangerous roads constantly endangered by improvised explosive devices (IED’s).
Equipment matters in war but when you don’t have enough boots on the ground in some areas, it is a disadvantage in non conventional wars like this. As a matter of fact if there were bases on those three designated areas of lake Chad, Mandara mountains and Sambisa forest, this war would have long been concluded at this axis and the bandits would not have been emboldened at the north west axis of the country by boko haram or Islamic state of west Africa (iswap) within the Bay states. The iswap have more refined rules of engagement but any armed person in uniform is a common enemy.
The north east end of the country is a vital portion which is why the Commander in Chief President Tinubu must listen to this timely call of the Chief security officer of Borno State who is Governor Zulum to establish these bases to end this war once and for all.

Indeed, a large chunk of the boko haram insurgents and their Commanders have been decimated including the notorious Shekau but the inability of the security agents to finish the job has given the insurgents enough operational space to re-strategize and return to vacuums left unfilled by the security forces. Creation of these bases would be done as soon as defense headquarters makes up its mind to do so. As for progress made in the war, one expected the last theatre Commander to have improved on what his last two predecessors did but unfortunately he was very weak in the kinetic and paid more attention to the non kinetic aspect of his job.

Why Zulum wants permanent military bases in troubled spots in the state

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After the damage of Boko Haram: Battling with the battered health sector in Borno state using the partnership model for emergencies



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After the damage of Boko Haram: Battling with the battered health sector in Borno state using the partnership model for emergencies

By: Bodunrin Kayode

Reporting the health sector within the web of humanitarian crisis in Northern Nigeria is my hobby. Health is one of the beats I have chosen to ensure that I contribute to further the cause of humanity before I say good bye to this world and to enhance excellence my calling journalism. Reporting health up here means one must have enough empathy for the people who are at the mercy of the terrorized health sector in Borno state and North Eastern Nigeria. This sector is so important to humanity that each time the insurgents want to plunder primary health centres, they cart away the drugs and skilled workers before bringing down the structure by fire. That is an indicator that even the wrong doers in the bush know the value of health in our shared humanity.

Prying into the Borno Health Partners Forum

I do not attend the Borno health partnership forum to report on everything that is happening but to contribute my quota to the best of my ability to belp rebuild the sector which has been battered by lingering years of insurgency. By this I mean about 14 years of insurgency where almost every infrastructure was destroyed by the insurgent Boko Haram in their trail.
And that I have been doing to the best of my ability especially the guidance of the meeting as a catalyst in the “risk communications pillar.” The subsector where massive enlightenment is given to the people whenever emergencies like sickening cholera out breaks chokes the medical practitioners or the recent diphtheria which has killed over 67 people in its trail. Sadly the ” risk communication” is one of the most badly managed pillar because the bank rolling world partners refuse to allow the Borno State Government to lead as it should. Deciding which path to walk at any given time and even choosing where to go with the permission of the health Commissioner who is equally guided by the Governor of the state Professor Babagana Zulum. Representatives of the two world health bodies have rather decided to turn themselves into a cabal or a caucus who meet separately and impose their decisions on the rest of the partners regardless of the interest of the Commissioner who is represented by the incident manager (IM) at any given time. That itself has created a shaky foundation for that pillar and the mounting of lingering lacuna which strips them bare whenever their own managers are in need of action or solutions in certain ways.

Out of interest, I have seen many non medicals like myself in the house and they all do their best to help out in one way or the other to make things work out. The only pillar which has not existed in the last seven years is that of “security” which will go a long way to act as a liaison between the military, police and the health sector. But I have a belief that with the evolution of the sector over the coming years, we would soon have a sitting security personnel who would be an instant reference point whenever challenges of that nature falls on the table of the IM.

One also realizes that it’s time to begin to analyze on a yearly basis some of the developments in the sector so that the world gets to know those that are behind the heavy toil for the sector to be moved from where it was when boko haram struck capturing 22 council areas in the entire state to the envisaged level of excellence we are trying to take it to. And there are many non medical professionals with like minds whose contributions to crushing emergency challenges over the years have been invaluable to astounding emergencies like cholera which has harassed health managers and kept them on their toes. Looking back into the sector, I remember that there was one year of the cholera scourge that everyone who was a doctor in the ministry had to abandon their files, put on their coats and gloves and were lined up at the muna garage axis ensuring that they helped slow down the mortality rate which was screaming to high heavens. That is an indication that the medical workers both serving and retired have also managed to stay above board at the primary health care level.

Pending challenges to be crushed in Borno state

There are many pending challenges before the health partners working as a team to make things better for Borno state. One of the challenges before them is the inability sometimes to understand the fact that change is the only permanent phenomenon in life and we must all prepare to embrace it. A lot of partners still do not understand why change from the old order of doing things to the new is important. Some so called financial partners want to completely adjust the ideal narrative by wrongly taking the drivers seat in almost every pillar including risk communication and sometimes, the good old surveillance. Two sensitive pillars which are supposed to go together. 90 percent of the time I have sat in that meeting, Abdu Mbaya or Modu Kyari who is the deputy head of the communications pillar in the primary health board are hardly carried along. One little brat or the other in the United Nations international children’s fund (UNICEF) and world health organization (WHO) will stand up to speak for the entire Borno State which they know nothing about. And most times when they speak, they do not impress the IM or the meeting because they talk only about what they understand in their own foreign designed system. They hardly display knowledge on how to solve problems in the 27 Council areas of the state. One particular one, name withheld in the WHO who used to be a tea boy for a previous disgraced communication expert is the most confused of them all because of his obvious limitations of what to do for the good of the state. He parades himself with some air of importance that does not align with his rascally and rude persona badly polluted with the trial and error syndrome associated with road side mechanics.

I don’t blame them completely. Its simply because the state has been unable to sit on the drivers seat all these years in some of these pillars before the advent of Dr Lawi Meshelia. Some of us who should know are equally to blame too because we saw these dysfunctional nitwits play with the intelligence of the state and we did not raise alarms to the Commissioner or the Governor of the State, Professor Babagana Zulum knowing in his disposition towards mediocrity regardless of who is involved. It is change in the old order that will bring about what will benefit the state when it comes to enlightening people on how to get the best out of the web of complex information needed to make the operations at the primary health care get better for instance.

The management of emergencies at the primary care level have seen many administrators on and off the forum of partners and each one, foreign or Nigerian did his or her best to better the system. But that does not mean that they do not have their limitations. One is talking about constraints ranging from management style to low capacity based on background training and sometimes downright timidity in stamping their feet to getting certain things right based on contemporary practices. And that is the reason why some partners used to jump into the drivers seat without permission from the State which is supposed to be the driver for everything as it concerns the building of the health sector and crushing emergencies like the on and off Polio, monkey pox, COVID-19 or Diphtheria as it is announced by the state epidemiologists from time to time.

The numerous interventions of emergency manager Beatrice Muraguri

Most of the partners have done their best. It’s not just bad news all the way because most critics of journalists believe they only do bad news without seeing the good sides of anything. I wish to report to you that we have seen quite a good number of good managers in the system. I can never forget the frantic efforts of Dr Collins Ovilli who jumped into the trenches with other doctors like Mohammed Guluze then emergency manager to ensure that the cholera mortality figures do not scream more than it was then. To us poisoned by insurgency in our backyard 50 dead is noise but 100 is really a screaming figure.
At present, Dr Beatrice Muraguri is one of the good souls of the WHO and has been making her presence felt in all the three states badly influenced by the lingering insurgency. Sometimes I have sat in that meeting hall in Damboa road, watching and listening to all her contributions and they are always for the common good of humanity. Sometimes she used to ponder and literally pressing the state to hurry up and sit tight on the drivers seat to crush these emergency headaches. To her as a clinical epidemiologist nothing is impossible if minds and hearts are brought together. Diphtheria for instance has reached 67 deaths as at the time of writing this report, do we want to wait until it gets to 100 before we deal with the challenges bedeviling the management of the disease? In as much as people are not perfect, Dr Beatrice is one woman who means well for Borno state. I have watched her from my binocular and I have seen her as an extremely transparent professional who has water tight empathy for the people of the entire BAY states. She is a distinguished African woman who understands how to serve humanity using the template of the state or council areas accordingly. She is not one of those whose bosses had questionable records before being asked to leave the WHO because of dubious activities aided by a commissioner name withheld sacked suddenly from the government. We have seen a theatre Commander here who shut down the activities of three non Governmental activities NGO’S when they ran foul of the laws of the land, “so none of them will tell us they are better than the people they met on ground” said General Adeniyi the then TC.

Co management of the sector with WHO

In spite of all these challenges for instance, since the advent of Dr Lawi Meshelia, a lot of things have changed for the better. Some of them were procedures which had to change even though with difficulty. Lawi drives the system like a task master and some of the partners used to the old system do not likne him for doing the right thing. But Lawi a foreign trained public health specialist like Beatrice is getting tremendous results. Even though I could read from his body language sometimes that he is not happy with the trickles of results he has been having in areas like the risk communication and surveillance pillars which have terribly shaky foundations going by what we see from the cholera and now diphtheria torments of the people. Since Lawi arrived as the incident manager, he has succeeded in gradually changing the old ways of doing a lot of things. Obviously this foreign trained public health specialist understands that emergencies in a system where most of the infrastructure has been destroyed by insurgency you virtually have to be regimented to get results. That means he must step on some toes if he must get results. Emergency is not the “na so we de do am” kind of phenomenon in which obvious mistakes are tolerated as the norm. It must be a near perfect phenomenon and that is what the distinguished university of Maiduguri (unimaid) trained Dr Lawi is tying to achieve. Before his advent, the ministry officials allowed pillar heads to just do what they wanted without proper capacity to back the system. Then came Shafiq Muhammad a Pakistani who for the first time between 2017 and 2018 tried to fix a suitable template in which the emergency system could work without forming themselves into a parallel ministry of health that would be dabbling into non emergencies. That system has stood the test of time till this day because it was a transparent system. But like a disease it relapsed into the old system with the exit of Dr Shafiq because the very foundation was not properly fixed in such a way that pillar heads who are ministry officials will own the system and drive the steering and change gears at their convenience. It was literally in disarray because nobody had dug the right hole for the pillars to be firmly rooted. Safiq learnt very fast from Martinez Jorge and drove the system from 2017 to 2018.By the time Jorge left Safiq was running at a speed faster than he met on the ground but there was a lot to be defined properly. When safiq left, we have had several other managers including Dr Kida who had to act as IM even at retirement. His style was actually different because he tolerated most of the excesses of the partners. Always smiling and not wanting to step on toes. With the advent of Dr Lawi, pillar heads and deputies meet regularly with him to state what they have achieved and he freely directs if he thinks they are driving down the wrong way. This kind of proactive professional on the drivers seat has come at a time when he is most needed. He is trusted by his permanent secretary Mohammad Guluze and Commissioner Professor Baba Mallam Gana a consultant Oncologist. Lawi has an almost regimented managerial style which most of them had not gotten used to. But one believes that as time goes on, they will surely get used to his style and we would wake up one day to discover that all the emergencies are gone with the dry wind of the sahel savanna.

Ex Raying the background of the current IM Lawi Meshelia

Dr Lawi Meshelia is one of those medical practitioners who benefitted from the extension of service years by five years by Governor Babagana Zulum which is why he is still in service. He was equally the arrow head in charge of the primary health care agency when Borno won the best primary health care agency prize money of $1.2m attached to a competition created to bring primary health care under one roof in Nigeria.
He holds a Masters Degree in Public Health (MPH) from Royal Tropical Institute, KIT in Amsterdam, Netherlands. And of course an MBBS from the University of Maiduguri. His exposure and broad mindedness to tolerate people stems from the fact that he did his secondary school at the Federal Government College Odogbolu in Ogun State and has traveled to almost all the states of the Federation. Dr Mshelia has attended courses with certificates in different aspects of public health in countries in Europe, East Africa, West Africa and South-Central Africa. He also attended numerous public health courses across Nigeria to stream line his focus. He has actually brought a semblance of stability and order since he took charge as IM.

Battling the second challenge which is the red tapes in the Ministerial system

I had to mention Lawi’s background so partners understand why he is so suited for the job and if care is not taken you may call him a slave driver because you must do things the right way he wants you to do it. If at the end of the day the results is tremendous, he hardly takes the glory but transfers it like a dutiful civil servant to his superiors in the ministry where he had worked all his days as a medical doctor. Ever ready for emergencies and working towards solving any red take that will stand in his way as long as it is not finance which he does not have power over. By the way, it is this finance that used to make some ngos misbehave and tend to want to take the steering wheel from state health managers.

Handling the first visit of the commissioner and his desires to win the next prize for the best primary health in Nigeria

When the Commissioner of Health paid his first visit to the emergency operation centre EOC recently, it was excitement galore all the way. He obviously never anticipated that so many partners will be lined up one by one introducing themselves and taking it upon themselves to uplift the health sector of Borno State which has been badly battered by insurgency. He came across as a very lively and friendly medical practitioner shaking hands with partners and thanking them for a job well done.
Professor Baba Gana commended the partners for being very supportive in their contributions to moving the sector from where they found it to where it should be. He assured that the molecular laboratory in Umaru Shehu Hospital will soon become a reference lab for the future of the sector especially in dealing with emerging emergencies. That to him will relax the delay in going to competent labs outside the state to get results of suspected cases as at when due. On vaccinations the British trained oncologist said that left to him, the country should begin to develop its own local capacity to produce vaccination which will go a long way in trampling upon stubborn emergencies like Diphtheria, Cholera and measles so that they do not linger longer than expected. How soon that will happen? Only time will tell.

After the damage of Boko Haram: Battling with the battered health sector in Borno state using the partnership model for emergencies

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