Let me start this piece from the year 2014 when I and my bosom friend, Babukar Tanko, through our always interactive and progressive discussions birthed an idea about how we must encourage our young men especially those from the Northern part of Nigeria to imbibe the basics of how leadership comes by through capacity building and integrity.
We basically wanted to encourage the government, private sector and political institutions to engage worthy young men as they were capable of injecting faster and most recent innovations in achieving their goals. Many articles related to these have also been written by me and published in several media fora. This entire idea birthed One Heart Initiative for Equity and Good Leadership which in-turn championed #30PercentOrNothing affirmative action and was coordinated nationally by my humble self. It was a nonpartisan effort aimed at speaking to both youths and institutions to harness one another, the entire aim and objectives is story for another day.
In the course of the above stated activities, we were also very interested in attending preaching classes and motivational speaking events and I remember vividly when Sheikh Zakir Naik came to Nigeria and was at the Ansarudeen Mosque at Maitama, Abuja. We were there at one of the days and his preaching about how the Muslims of northern Nigeria must embrace people of other faiths in the country with the aim of getting them attracted to the faith was aptly in tune with the aims and objectives of our vision and goals.
Subsequently that year was the Ramadan fast and all roads in Abuja led to Annur Mosque where there was a quintessential Sheikh from Saudi Arabia who had come to Nigerian Muslims with a preaching that was very easy to decipher, we attended all of it and in the course we heard it was a young Sheikh from Saudi Arabia who was also a PhD holder and was coming to contribute to the much needed awareness regarding Islam and the general progress of the society as no society can grow without commensurate knowledge and awareness. At the end of the entire Tafsir session for the year 2014, I and Babukar were not the same people again and our vision for youth liberation and involvement in progressive activities got richer by no small means.
Thereafter, we moved on with our campaign for youth involvement by always echoing how the youth must behave appropriately to deserve such honors while the institutions must also select appropriately if they wanted to truly harness the ingenuity we were highlighting in young people.
Remember, the 2015 general election campaigns were also on at that moment and we visited all political parties, support groups, select private sector organizations and esteemed individuals. The entire idea was well received and the lot of it also afforded us an opportunity to understand better the complexity of the problems associated with young people and progress in Nigeria even though some appreciable number of them have done great things in personal capacity e.g Adebola Williams and Jaafar Jaafar etc.
In all of the above however, it was clear to me that if you have vision, then the most potent ingredient you need for it’s coming to fruition is people who will believe in it and fly with, we were blessed to have some of those in our movement and they were always ready to contribute their energy and resources to the success of the vision simply because they were convinced by the idea that the message was carrying. Considering that it was a deliberate effort and self-sponsored coupled with the complexity of the problems and lack of commensurate number of flyers to carry the vision, our activities retracted and we resorted to social media activism and motivational talks. The last major event we attended was the maiden dinner organized by Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari where we categorically told the young men there that they had to switch their social media handles from mockery to advertising government policies as some of those policies could be complex for those at the grassroots to decipher and participate.
With the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari, there were a lot of expectations, promises and the need to do things differently. We watched and observed and made comments where necessary then came an announcement about the appointment of Mallam Isa Ali Pantami as the DG of NITDA and the first thing I did was to reach to my phone and called Babukar Tanko, I said my friend change has come and he replied he was also about calling me. Change had come in the sense that the person we heard his preaching the other time about the sort of ideals that were essential for a new society had joined the team of a change government and again he fits into ideals and vision of our wanting to see excellent young men join the team of the management of the country. Everyone then moved on and there was a new perception from our side regarding the change movement. Further to that again, there was the coming in of people like Tolu Ogunlesi, Mallam Bashir Ahmad, Ismail Ahmed, Ife Adebayo, Abdulrahman Baffa Yola and others numerous to mention. It was generally not bad for us at One Heart Initiative.
Going forward, we began to hear about NITDA taking over major headlines over quintessential performance that were associated with capacity building, saving money related to execution of IT projects by the Federal Government as well as major efforts aimed at ensuring digital compliance by the nation. These news never stopped coming and Mr. President himself attended the e-Nigeria summit for 2017 and because of the content he followed it up with attendance at the 2018 version. There was general acceptance by the public that NITDA had been transformed into an unusual government organization in Nigeria. These achievements and more catapulted Dr Isa Ali Pantami to become the Minister of Communications in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the general acceptance of all Nigerians as square peg in square hole.
Almost immediately after the appointment, there was the filling up of the vacancy at NITDA with Mr. Kashifu Inuwa and a look at his resume revealed him to be the one who has been flying with the vision of his predecessor. This further revealed the wisdom and the secret behind the successes NITDA had experienced all along. More fascinating is how both have formed uncommon synergy to consolidate their already started efforts at rejuvenating the ICT industry in Nigeria which will now spread to the associated communications industries.
Messages like these are essential to be brought to the fore for purposes of enlightening the public in relation to loyalty and belief in credible visions including mentorship and patriotism. Also very importantly to note is how criticism of policies of government must not be based on partisan considerations and bandwagon information. A closer look into events and activities could reveal information enough to make you form an objective assessment of ventures.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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