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OPINION

Re: The legend of Buratai: Why history can never be wrong! By Philip Agbese 

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“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots;” – Marcus Garvey.

Everywhere in the globe, great nations, societies and communities have had their today elegantly defined by history. History is today’s teacher and tomorrow’s fortifier against the mistakes, pitfalls and inaccuracies of the past. History is kind to everyone and very silent, but speaks a thousand immutable words of wisdom to a whole generation.

But mischievous persons seek to destroy history and there are no limits of perpetrating this act. It’s easy for people with such mindsets to twist history and everything under the sun insofar as it serves the purpose of damaging a noble cause. It is to such debased minds Marcus Garvey; a famed Jamaican publisher is warning in the insightful caution.

In an article by Charles Ogbu, titled, “Re: The legend of Buratai; Memo to the Army Chief,” the author sought vainly to vilify and demean the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and remarkable ombudsman of the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria.

Ogbu attempted so generously to amputate historically time-tested and incontrovertible facts about the current leadership of the Nigerian Army and the stout battles Nigerian troops have launched against Boko Haram Terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria in the past three years.

Unmistakably blinded by an inexplicable self-consuming anger, the author went on a senseless and apparently envious, but unrewarding voyage against the Army Chief. Freedom of expression in Nigeria is a Constitutional right; but it precludes the spewing of gibberish, spurred by a clannish or sectional anger or some personal grudge.

The author’s angst is instigated by the planned presentation of a published book on Gen. Buratai, titled “The Legend of Buratai,” to school children at the Federal Capital Territory library, Abuja. The contents of the book mainly about the exploits of the Nigerian Army over insurgency and insurrections in Nigeria under the leadership of Gen. Buratai in a fictional style narrative of children’s literature, authored by a renowned scholar, Dr. Abubakar Mohd Sani.

Ogbu faulted the book and its presentation to school children by seeking to falsely re-write the history of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria under the previous regimes and what is obtainable now under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The namby-pamby article saw the author displaying a pathetic and eclipsed knowledge of the success story of the three-year counter-terrorism battles under the Buhari Presidency. He further sought to undermine Gen. Buratai’s leadership of the Nigerian Army and the successes Nigerian troops have recorded at the warfront against Boko Haram insurgents.

The obviously dazed, the article author gleefully forgot yesterday’s history on Boko Haram in Nigeria. He is experiencing the difference today, but lacks the competence to interpret or blend it with history. So, he decided on an easy escape by dissolving the cherished history of triumph and defeat of Boko Haram with his wayward idiosyncrasies’.

It is his type former American President, Dwight D. Eisenhower counsels that “Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.”

The author betrayed his mindset by crafting and peddling visible lies on this simple conviction of inappropriate timing. But facts are sacred and history cannot be obviated by a mere wish. First, the article author is devoid of procedural knowledge of the deployment of soldiers. So, he failed to understand that it is not the primary duty of the Army to jump into quelling insurrections; but that of civil security agencies.

The Army is only concerned when the proper approval has been granted by the President and Commander-In-Chief. Thereafter, soldiers launch specified operations in the areas concerned, but do not remain in such areas forever.

But irrefutable records have shown that across Nigeria where the Army were drafted to quell insurrections, they have posted positive results. The article author deliberately failed to understand that the Army tackled the armed banditry and cattle rustling in the Northwest region at different times with “Operation Sharan Daji” and “Operation Harbin Kunama I.”

These Army operations ended the reign of armed banditry in the region and it only resumed a long time after soldiers were withdrawn to other places and political leadership failed to sustain the peace and security. The Army has been re-ordered back to Northwest for a month’s battled tagged “Operation Harbin Kunama III” and results also speak for itself in pluses.

Soldiers also conducted “Operation Harbin Kunama II,” “Exercise Ayem Akpatema” and now, “Operation Whirl Stroke” to arrest the menace of herdsmen/farmers clashes in the Middle Belt region. Ogbu should research or investigate properly, Governors of Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateaus have made public statements in the media thanking Mr. President and the Army for the prevailing solace over herdsmen killers in their states.

There were similar problems in the South-South with bile militancy and the illegal/ armed secession struggles in the Southeast spearheaded by Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB. But the different operations of the Army in these regions have ended such “madness,” as peace and security have been restored courtesy of the Nigerian Army. Seeking to blight this history of the Army under the leadership of Gen. Buratai cannot annihilate the facts.

To use the wishy-washy contents of the article to berate and malign our soldiers over the nebulous and criminal activities of its assembled armed gangs under IPOB who embarked on extra-judicial killings of those opposed to their ideology is very uncharitable and a disservice to Nigeria. It is not surprising all together that Ogbu generously sided armed criminals masquerading as secession agitators, because it is innate with some Nigerians to support evil against their country.

The article author continued with the historical distortions and falsehood when he exhumed the treated and buried attacks on the convoy of the COAS by armed Shiites in Nigeria in December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna state. It is completely standing against logic and somewhat silly for quoting isolated accounts of submissions during Public hearings of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry(JCI) set up by the Kaduna State Government, instead of the official report or its White Paper. It implies this armchair analyst is merely scouting for dark spots to blame Gen. Buratai and the Army.

Likewise, the author feels defaming the personality of Gen. Buratai or tainting the image of the Nigerian Army as an institution would be believable by forcing the stale belief that whatever Amnesty International (AI) reels out is gospel truth. But AI is suspected to be foreign agents supporting terror sects or groups to destabilize the country and cause its disintegration. Year after year, AI has been unable to substantiate or provide evidence against numerous allegations it keeps levelling against the Nigerian Army at lawful probe panels.

The author of the worthless article dabbled into the Boko Haram insurgency, which by all ramifications of his accounts are strange to him. He disgraced himself as someone who is ignorant of the intensity of insurgency in 2015 and the impacts the Gen. Buratai led troops have brought to bear through the counter-insurgency operations.

But where were his likes who feign ignorance now when Gen. Buratai stepped into the trenches with troops to know Boko Haram had full control and foisted their Jihadi flags in 17 LGAs and had partial control of another seven LGAs in the Northeast? Under Buratai’s leadership of counter-terrorism operations, all the LGAs have been reclaimed. The feared Sambisa forest has been demystified and has assumed the status of an international tourists attraction site. Can this history be distorted or countenanced by Ogbu too?

Aside the 276 Chibok Schoolgirls in Boko Haram captivity, over 20, 000 Nigerians, comprising the young, the old, women and children were under Boko Haram hostage in various insidious camps in the Northeast. They were subjected to forced labour, sexual abuse and other dehumanizing treatments. Under Gen. Buratai’s leadership of the Army, over 105 Chibok schoolgirls; 107 Dapchi schoolgirls and over 16,000 Nigerians formerly under terrorist’s captivity have been rescued. Is this fact too controvertible?

To advertise the author’s ignorance, he convicted himself by claiming Nigerian troops are poorly equipped yet, they have been able to reclaim all Boko Haram seized territories, confine their activities to remotest parts of Lake Chad Basin and halted terrorists’ atrocities in other parts of Northern Nigeria.

And about two weeks ago, troops successfully repelled the insurgents attempted attacks on Damaturu, at Maiduguri, where scores of insurgents met their waterloo and weapons confiscated by Nigerian troops? It means this sort of “poor” equipment of Nigerian troops as hyped by the article author is best for Nigeria.

Perhaps, to Ogbu and his co-travellers, it is important to know Nigerian Army or troops have never protested over unpaid salaries and allowances under the Buhari Presidency or Gen. Buratai’s leadership. The only time soldiers attempted a protest at Maiduguri airport some two years back was spurred by the incitement and hesitation to redeployment to other areas by some soldiers. May be, the article writer should wait, when he becomes the COAS, he can allow his troops dictate to him preferences in posting locations for official assignments.

It’s understandable that in Nigeria, everybody is an expert in every field, but master of none! The writer misplaced his thoughts with the claim that Gen. Buratai “…has continued to grant suspicious pardon to “repentant” Boko Haram terrorists amidst reports of secret recruitment of these so called “repentant” terrorists into the Army.”

This is thoughtless propaganda. From the outset, Gen. Buratai made it public his adoption of the “stick and carrot,” approach in dismantling Boko Haram. It has seen the voluntary surrender of hundreds of Boko Haram foot soldiers and top commanders, who are de-militarized and de-radicalized over a period of time in designated military camps.

It is some of these repentant and de-radicalized insurgents that are absorbed into the Army and it is done openly, with the media buzzing with the news. A popular axiom says, sometimes, you use a thief to catch a thief. Why would this split anybody’s head?

No matter how hard the efforts to unfairly excoriate Gen. Buratai , the records will exonerate him. Its senseless to claim a COAS who probed and dismissed soldiers on election duty for professional misconduct and compromise of the electoral process will turn around to promote same. In the 2019 general elections, soldiers on election duty in some parts of the country rather resisted the temptation of financial inducement by politicians.

Gen. Buratai, a leader who has made these priceless sacrifices and accomplishments for his country is not qualified to be dubbed a Legend, who else on his present seat, stretched this far in the past? Unknown to the likes of Ogbu, a prophet has no honour in his village, but Gen. Buratai is celebrated both at home and abroad, as he has bagged the Brazilian highest military award for his daring punches on terrorism in Nigeria.

Another former American President, Harry S. Truman, reminds the likes of the bewitched critic the embodiment of history in Gen. Buratai thus; “Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better”.

Agbese is a researcher in international humanitarian laws and wrote this piece from the United Kingdom.

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OPINION

Festus Keyamo: Amazing story of his journey to the top

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One of the major problems the Nigerian nation is facing is the PhD syndrome. In Nigeria, everybody is a PhD holder. By this, I mean Pull Him Down syndrome, once you have access to a dilapidated computer and you’re able to manage its keyboard, then the coast is clear to indulge in self gratification by yelling some nonsense down a hole. Like they say, Nonsense is so good, only, because common sense is so limited.

It is the twilight of another democratic assembly and again, as expected, errand boys, employed by political opponents have began the usual mudslinging games. Some attention seeking political jobbers, in a bid to impress their paymasters have started throwing gauntlets, looking for victims where there are none, just to steer the body polity-a case of kettle calling pot black.

A typical example is a fictitious article making the rounds where a self-harm writer of an article titled, ‘Keyamo’s Reward’ spuriously conjured his deliberative polling on one of Nigeria’s gifted young men with exceptional intellectual ability, Barrister Festus Keyamo, SAN.

The sad thing is, the problems of this generation are its dramatic personae. We don’t ever see anything good in ourselves. The writer, though gave credence to the brilliance and intellectual capacity of the legal luminary, Festus Keyamo, like all hatchet men, he didn’t forget the primary briefs from his sponsors- to weigh-in, undermine and subvert the sterling and exemplary career status the young man, Festus Keyamo has laboured to build over the years.

Maybe he should be reminded that excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.

Those who have followed the footsteps and career mastery of the youngman will not be surprised the way he has emerged so far. He, is a product of dedication, doggedness and gradual result of always striving to be better, in actual fact, excellence, to Keyamo, is not a skill, it is an attitude. His likes are rarely found and more rarely valued.

The writer did not forget how he has nurtured a blossoming career from that super genius youngman who hails from a humble background and how he was able to walk tall amongst scores of brilliant legal team at the late Gani Fawehinmi’s chambers to earn himself the ‘Gani Boy’. If the dead do look back for real, the late legal icon, Chief Fawehinmi will be proud of what he has become at the moment and if it’s that easy, the mischievous writer too should have been able to step into the shoes of the famous Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Shoyinka but obviously, wicked and envious people never see anything good in greatness for envy is pain at the good fortune of others.

He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration, the youngman has prepared himself for this job long ago right from his civil rights activism days to his relentless battle at the legal field.

His sins must have been his willingness to accept to serve his fatherland and they’ve forgotten that, the worst disservice to any nation is the act of winking in the dark. We now live in a world where politics has replaced philosophy, there’s no way you can make a difference if you continue to bark from behind.

Leadership is the ability to have a compelling vision, a comprehensive plan, relentless implementation, and talented people working together. It is however, not by chance that the C-in-C, President Mohammadu Buhari had had the vision to choose someone whose cerebral influence, oratory prowess and over bearing personality was able to break the enemy’s camp without fighting during the last presidential election.

There’s no doubting the fact that, guided missiles from misguided men are expected at this point in time, from those cowards who now play victims to circumstances they created.

Jite Usman Writes from Akoko Edo, Edo State Nigeria

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OPINION

Ministerial Nomination: Godwin Jedy Agba, best man for petroleum ministry

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Godwin Jedy Agba

One of Nigeria’s very experienced energy administrators, Mr. Godwin Jedy-Aba, is a minister-nominee of President Muhammadu Buhari. And there is, understandably, song and dance in the quarters of those who know the capacity and experience of the nominee in the oil and gas sector. But for those who crave the enthronement of mediocrity to aid and abet the culture of incompetence or the regime of laissez faire in the management of the petroleum sector, the prospects of Jedy-Agba emerging as Buhari’s choice for the critical sector cannot resonate well with them.

Regardless of the prognosis of possibilities or otherwise, Jedy-Agba is one of the few “technocrats” in a list that has been largely dubbed “political” by critics. Notwithstanding his previous temperate, restrained and strategic foray into partisan politics, his accomplishments and exploits as an astute administrator have not diminished a bit. His administrative savoir faire and legerdemain had been writ-large in his public service trajectory from which he retired at the NNPC.

While the likely portfolio that would be assigned to the Prince of Obudu from Cross River state is not the subject of this piece of writing, it is, however, not in doubt that Buhari has made up his mind about using the few “technocrats”-like Abubakar Malami (SAN), Sunday Dare (journalist) Osagie Ehinare (consultant physician) et al, in his list to man some specialized ministries to demand value for knowledge and experience.

And, if this is the intendment, then one does not need a crystal ball to guess where Jedy-Agba, a former Group General Manager (GGM), Crude Oil Marketing Division (OMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will likely be assigned: perhaps, not far away from the petroleum ministry. While it is unlikely the President will hands off his direct control of the Petroleum Ministry, as the substantive Minister-in-charge, he will need a brilliant and effective minister of state who can be saddled with all the basic responsibilities of the ministry without caving in.

If the politics of administration is played with humility and wisdom, a minister of state can enjoy the privilege of full control with the confidence of the President to boot. Nothing suggests to the contrary that Jedy-Agba cannot be trusted to deliver on a presidential mandate with tact and precision. That will be in spite of the salacious narratives by detractors and traducers who are on a voyage of upending a luminous epoch that beckons.

With President Buhari’s commitment to consolidating on the achievements of his first four years in the saddle, attention is focused on experience. The president appears unprepared to gamble with “untested hands”. He is greatly seeking to make a better impression in his second term of office. To do this, he cannot afford to put square pegs in round holes. Buhari cannot afford to deploy a learner who cannot take the pressure off him in the administration of the critical petroleum sector.

Besides, time is of the essence. While the nation is waiting to see the ministers hit the ground running, critics are also waiting to feast on the administration’s mistakes.Viewed from any angle, Jedy-Agba is a good pick who could help the administration to weather the storm in the entire oil industry. That is why the malicious media campaign against him has been thick. His traducers know that he cannot be stopped when he gets cracking in delivering on any mandate.

Sadly, we are in a season where traducers who masquerade as critics, are wont to sacrifice everything – knowledge, capacity and accomplishments – at the altar of contrived criticisms in the guise of seeking the promotion of perfection in the land of sinners. This is not unexpected. However, the ninth Senate is urged not to entertain needless distractions in the screening and confirmation hearing of Jedy-Agba.

But of course, while the law must take its course where and when it is activated to do so, a phony media campaign to smear someone who has never been questioned or prosecuted by any anti-graft commission, must never be dignified as something worth scrutinizing or countenancing. President Buhari was an appointee of the late General Sani Abacha. Hundreds of millions of dollars that were taken out of Nigeria during that regime have been recovered from the late dictator and his family; but, this cannot, in anyway, qualify or translate as an indictment, simply because Buhari served under Abacha.

Unfortunately, the merchant of the smear campaign against Jedy-Agba cannot grapple with the fact that he was a top official of the NNPC, who could not escape working with a Minister of Petroleum. It is therefore disingenuous and wicked to think that everyone who has anything to do with Deziani Alison-Madueke, in the line of duty, is guilty as opined in the media. This is distasteful and uncharitable. This concern is not just about Jedy-Agba alone but it is also inclusive of everyone who had previously worked with Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Interestingly, in all the corruption cases filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) involving Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, there is not one in which Jedy-Agba has been listed as a party, whether separately or jointly with her. This is a matter of judicial records for anyone to verify. In addition, the sponsors of this narrative about his involvement in large scale corruption under Diezani Alison-Madueke should also have known that the security agencies must have subjected the nomination of Jedy-Agba to due diligence checks before the final pick.

This nomination, for Jedy-Agba, is a spring board for bouncing back to a familiar terrain of service, having worked for several ministers as a Personal Assistant and in different other capacities between 1985 and 1995. He is perhaps one of the most versatile nominees with requisite administrative experience, who once worked at ministerial level. For decades, he had acquitted himself creditably and meritoriously without scandals. He is indeed a great addition to the Buhari’s team. It is going to be difficult to cut shady deals on his watch behind the government, whether or not he is sent to the petroleum sector.

It is therefore not impossible that the people behind the smear campaign against Jedy-Agba are among the notorious oil mafia and cartel whose deep backend activities and shady deals are threatened by this strategic nomination. Jedy-Agba knows the oil industry like the palm of his hand, and his likely headship of the sector or as a minister of state to Buhari is bound to ruffle feathers and put an end to some underhand dealings. The level of opaqueness in the management of public finance in the oil industry in Nigeria has continued to be worrisome. This could thus be another tough call for an administration that has committed itself to fighting corruption.

It could be recalled that Jedy-Agba’s onerous tasks as Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, NNPC had put him in a good stead to manage a complex terrain. He was responsible for liaising with Crude Pricing & Technical Evaluation Section on Price movement and other input data for market reports. He also monitored and analyzed consumption of other energy types, terms of cost availability and relative impact on world petroleum supply/demand balance. Jedy-Agba was simply vast and deep; and was capacitated enough to handle his huge responsibilities.

The campaign of calumny will not be over even after the senate screening and confirmation hearing. To be sure, those behind the sponsored malicious media reports are likely to shift their attack to the specific – calling on the president, not to appoint him as a Minister of State for Petroleum, while playing up their unsubstantiated allegations. Regardless of the shenanigans, Jedy-Agba remains a wonderful pick.

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OPINION

Tasks before Kyari in turning around NNPC, By Abba Dukawa

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ALL eyes are now on Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Male Kolo Kyari in turning around the fortunes of the Corporation and also need to make the company to be runs in very transparent ways.  In view the challenges before him in whirling the NNPC to practice the best norm in the world oil industries.  There is need for Kyari, to focus his attention on the implementation of the findings of the audit reports of the NEITI which has severally indicted the NNPC of operational maleficence. Nigerians were expected see that his nicked mane of Mr. Transparent really translated into the way he will tackle on poor transactional transparency, as NNPC had over time recorded differences in actual volume of crude oil lifted and actual volume of production NEITI stated.  

A recent World Bank report had shown that Nigeria spent N731 billion to subsidizes petrol consumption last year. The report had explained that within the year under review, Nigeria’s oil sector declined in productivity, ending on 1.9 million barrels a day (mbd) production mark as against the government’s hope of 2.3mbd.

In April 2019, Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) in its publication of National Oil Company Database, place NNPC as one of National Oil Companies (NOCs) with record challenges of transparency.   There is need for Kyari to initiate a see-through process in management of the corporation’s operations and also making it more profitable. It’s hardly and even became part of NNPC tradition not disclosed its net income from core revenues; capital and operational expenditures; cash flows from operations; total assets worth to public.

Saudi owned of National Oil Company ARAMCO raked in profits of £85 billion in 2018 as most profitable company making more than Apple and Google combine. Aramco raked in more cash than global ITC giant companies, Apple made roughly $60 billion, while Exxon Mobil made roughly $20 billion). The Wall Street Journal reported. ARAMCO revealed details of its finances for the first time since it was nationalized in the Seventies as part of a push ahead of its first bond sale.

Nigerians expected to see Kyari turning around the fortunes of NNPC into rakes profitable national oil company through openness, transparency and accountability. Establish a concrete economic Diversification plan with a concrete path to a post-oil future for Nigeria, based on emerging global trends.

This plan, akin to the Saudi Arabian government’s economic diversification plan, should include a clear strategy with interlinked policies – trade, industrial, fiscal – and far-reaching structural and governance reforms of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that could include partial privatization (with share listed on the stock exchange for purchase by ordinary Nigerians and not by Government- Related cronies).

The uncanny tasks before GMD are to turn around the nation’s nation feeble refineries remained terribly poor in operation and mostly constituted a deficit to NNPC cash flow. This decades problems placed the NNPC as a mere trader in the oil industry as against its potentials as a national oil company capable of establishing and running profitable ventures in the Upstream  and Downstream sectors of the industry. Finding a lasting solution would in many ways be a plus to Kyari and his team.   Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation recorded losses in the region of N551.46bn between January 2015 and December 2018. The Corporation repeatedly failed to meet projected profits as its subsidiaries, particularly refineries, running cost at the headquarters and other arms left whopping deficits.

 

Things you need to know about Kyari

Male Kolo Kyari was appointed to head production sharing contracts management in the Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD). Also led the team that proposed and managed the Direct Sales And Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangement of petroleum products from 2016 till date replacing the Crude Swap Arrangement. Under his watch, the Crude Oil Marketing Division has recorded noticeable transformation in the management and sales of the various Nigeria’s crude oil grades via an infusion of transparency and automation of the processes.

He contributed to reconcile alleged loss of $48 billion and established actual status of transactions involving NNPC in 2014. Malam Kolo Kyari pursued the determination of the tenure of the Amenam/Kpono carry arrangement with potential savings of over $1 billion; he also revised and initiated the process for the redetermination of the Applicable Fiscal Regime for the Addax PSC with potential shortterm savings of $1.6 billion. As the group general manager, crude oil marketing division. He created systems to ensure maximum transparency and accountability of crude oil and gas sales in the industry. He was the supervisor of production sharing contract for the NNPC.

Mr. Transparent’ he was one of the major people that came up with the NNPC’s commodity trading initiative. This initiative makes it possible for the government to know those who are buying the country’s crude and at what prices, and how much has been made. Kyari led various teams in developing the petroleum industry bill (PIB) that redefined the government’s take in production sharing contracts with oil companies. He was the secretary of the FG INTER-AGENCY team that coordinated the creation of the current basis of the fiscal and regulatory framework of the PIB.

He  is  unionists, per excellent and he is  fearless  toward welfare of his follows members and Kyari popularly called ‘Grand Chairman or Mr Transparency by other  comrades in the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) often refer to him as a comrade after he was group chairman of NNPC PENGASSAN.

Male Kolo Kyari won four awards, namely: GMD Prize for the Overall Best Performance for NNPC Management Development Program; GED CS Award for Best Performance in Leadership; GM Group Learning Division award for Best Project work, NNPC Management Development Programme; and Examiners award for 1st Runner-up for Effective Presentation.

Dukawa a public commentator and can be reached at abbahydukawa@gmail.com

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