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OPINION

Reflections on the Nigeria data protection regulation 2019, By Dr. Isa Pantami

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When I left the comfort and security of an academic environment to become a public servant in a sector that the President is so passionate about, I was never under the illusion that it would be smooth sail.

Indeed, Nigeria’s success in Information Technology development and regulation holds the key to her sustainable development, it can be no other way.

This is because the nation is blessed with a young and vibrant population of digital natives. So, on my appointment, I went into deep and intensive study of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)’s mandate, stakeholders and vision. My study made me realise that to assume we could execute all the mandate, is absolutely impossible in one lifetime. This made the crafting of an actionable plan a priority on my assumption of office, these plan, we believe, is germane for our national development. We agreed to focus on: IT Regulation; Local Content Development; Digital Jobs Creation; Digital Inclusion; Cybersecurity; Government Digital Services Promotion and Development and Capacity building.

Initial steps on IT regulation was met with resistance by internal and external stakeholders. People assumed regulation always meant obstruction and restriction on innovation.

It took a while for people to realise our regulatory paradigm was developmental regulation. I would share a story to illustrate this concept. Our Local Content in ICT Guidelines was issued in 2013 with the aim of growing local content in ICT products and services provision.

A multinational which had sold software in the country for over 20 years and made millions of dollars in licensing fees, suddenly had an issue with its local support partner and therefore appointed a foreign support partner for its Nigerian clients. NITDA moved in, investigated and ensured other Nigerian companies were evaluated and one was eventually picked to continue the service.

This move made the Nigerian clients happy and retained over 200 jobs for Nigeria. This was regulatory enforcement leading to more jobs and keeping more Nigerians happy.

I am happy to report that our modest efforts at NITDA have started yielding bounteous dividends for the nation. Through the active support of Nigerians, NITDA has catalyzed the purchase of indigenous brand of ICT devices, there has been a sales increase by over 400%.

While local hosting of data has doubled in value and local software consumption has significantly improved.

The cumulative effect of these, is that ICT contribution to GDP in nominal terms reached an unprecedented mark of 13.63% in Q4 of 2018. This, for us is a tip of the iceberg considering the initiatives which are still in the works.

One such initiative I am so proud of, is the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019.
The coming into force of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) in May 2018 threw the global community into a frenzy of sorts.

The GDPR mandates controllers of European citizens data to comply with certain detailed rules and principles or risk incurring a fine of up to 4% of the defaulter’s global turn-over. This situation made many small and medium scale service providers to lose their share of the European market. More importantly, the rate of wanton abuse of the privacy of Nigerian citizens data needed an urgent national response. I therefore constituted a team of young professionals in the Agency, I challenged them to proffer a solution to this problem.

This team worked hard and eventually came up with a unique Regulation that has become the cynosure of discerning minds.

Here is a quick glance at the core principles of the NDPR.
a) Lawfulness and Legitimacy: Article 2.1(1a) provides that Personal Data shall be collected and processed in accordance with specific, legitimate and lawful purpose consented to by the Data Subject.

b) Specific Purpose: In addition to Article 2.1(1a) cited above, Article 3.1(7c) mandates the Data Controller to expressly inform the Data Subject of the purpose(s) of the processing for which the Personal Data are intended as well as the legal basis for the processing. This has hitherto been observed in the breach. This, we believe would change as government is poised to stem the tide of brazen breach of people’s right to privacy.

c) Data Minimization: Data Controllers are expected to collect the minimum required data and avoid unnecessary surplusage. Data that is not useful for the Controller ought not to be collected. No data shall be obtained except the specific purpose of collection is made known to the Data Subject. This principle relates also to the principle on purpose of collection. By insisting that the purpose for collecting or further processing of a data set must be communicated to the Data Subject, the regulation has closed the door to a multitude of potential abuses.

d) Accuracy: The NDPR provides that collected and processed Personal Data shall be adequate, accurate and without prejudice to the dignity of human person (Art. 2.1(b)). The NDPR prohibits the abuse or inaccurate representation of personally identifiable data, even if such data where given with due consent. Data Controllers and processors are required to ensure regular update of personal data in their custody to achieve this.

e) Storage and Security: Data Controllers are required to store data only for the period they are reasonably required to so do. The Regulation does not explicitly provide for a time period because that detail, we believe should be left to contract agreement. However, where such is not specified, the dispute redress mechanisms can specify what would constitute sufficient storage period. The Regulation also places the onus of security on the Data Controller and Processor. Art. 2.1(d) provides- personal data shall be secured against all foreseeable hazards and breaches such as theft, cyberattack, viral attack, dissemination, manipulations of any kind, damage by rain, fire or exposure to other natural elements.

f) Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability: Article 3 generally enumerates the rights of the data subject. One of the underpinning principles of the NDPR is that data control must comply with basic minimum standards of information security management. The Regulation specifies the role of the Controller and the Data subject in such case.

g) Compliance and Enforcement: One of the novelties of the NDPR is its compliance structure. The Regulation creates a nouveau class of professionals- Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCO). A DPCO is any entity duly licensed by NITDA for the purpose of training, auditing, consulting and rendering services and products for the purpose of compliance with this Regulation or any foreign Data Protection Law or Regulation having effect in Nigeria (See Article 1.3 (xiii)). These professional firms would provide requisite training, services and other support to Data Controllers to aid their compliance with the NDPR. I hope to come back to the immense potentials of this arrangement shortly.

On enforcement the NDPR classified Controllers into large and small categories. Those who process data of more than 10,000 data subjects are liable to forfeit 2% of their Annual Gross Revenue (AGR) while those handling less than 10,000, would lose up to 1% of their AGR. The NDPR would both bark and it would bite errant data controllers.
One of my greatest sources of joy on the Regulation is the job creation potential.

Over 1.5 million businesses and non-governmental organizations would need to file Data Audit Report on or before 15th March of every year. Each of these reports must bear a Verification Statement, sign and seal of a Licensed DPCO. If each DPCO provides service for an average of 50 Data Controllers, we would need over 300,000 professionals to meet this need.

Imagine the jobs our young people can generate and sustain through this service alone. Because this is not public procurement, we have made the entry barrier high enough to admit only serious-minded people and low enough to allow Start-ups to engage without undue intimidation.

This, for us is the beginning of a new era and we crave the support of all Nigerians to support and sustain this effort. We also look forward to receiving constructive comments, opinions and technical observation to ensure that this Regulation is optimally implemented for the betterment of our dear nation and people.

 

– Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) FNCS, FBCS, FIIM is the Director General/CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)

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OPINION

Sanwo-Olu at 54: Celebrating a man on mission for a greater Lagos, By Gboyega Akosile

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A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something special – Nelson Mandela.

The above expression from one of the greatest ethical and political leaders of all-time aptly describes the man Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, the 15th Governor of Lagos State who is today celebrating his natal day.
Truth be told, Governor Sanwo-Olu is an embodiment of a good head, a good heart and of course a literate tongue having been privileged to have experienced the best in terms of education locally and internationally. And the result so far so good has been delivery of democratic dividends and meeting expectations of the teeming population of the State.

Now, some people may argue that it is too early in the day to shower accolades on the Governor but the popular expression that the signs of a beautiful Friday will be noticed from the preceding Thursday clearly exemplifies the actions taken so far by Governor Sanwo-Olu and his amiable and cerebral deputy, Dr Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat since they effectively took charge of the affairs of Centre of Excellence and State of Aquatic Splendor on May 29, 2019.

Like a greyhound after a rabbit, Governor Sanwo-Olu came out of the take off point with some decisive pronouncements and moves that disabused the minds of some doubting Thomases that he is actually prepared and ready for the tasks of administering the most populous State in Nigeria and in fact, a State that has been correctly adjudged as the fifth largest economy in Africa.

I have had the unique privilege of working with Governor Sanwo-Olu at very close range even before he took over the most tasking and challenging job in the State and one thing that is constant is that his passion, zeal and energy for a greater Lagos remain undebatable. I mean people could recall how the Governor vigorously campaigned across the State during the electioneering and the zestfulness on display when he met with the relevant groups and organisations across all the social strata of the State.

The good thing, however, is that Governor Sanwo-Olu has not stopped. In fact, he made it abundantly clear in his inaugural speech, and so far so good, he is walking the talk.

Another critical point which I must not fail to mention is that many who thought that the Governor would be vindictive have been pleasantly surprised as he has shown that nobody in the service of the State would be harassed on the basis of certain interests. Staff can only be reprimanded if they have failed to carry out their duties as professionally expected of them.

The Governor is forward looking and he has carried on with commendable equanimity, focusing on the job at hand rather than looking for who did what during the electioneering.
I have heard him on several occasions, warning that nobody should be hounded or maltreated on the account of working in the immediate past administration.

His Excellency, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is a personification of humanity, a selfless leader and an uncommon Nigerian, who thinks more about the other person’s feelings than of his own. I have witnessed the display of his kind heartedness many times that I can comfortably say that he is a very good man.

For many who rightly belong to the school of thought that talk is cheap and who were not ecstatic about Governor Sanwo-Olu’s brilliant inauguration speech, which by the way he eloquently delivered, the steady implementation since his assumption can be said to be a worthy consolation.

The speech virtually captured all the key areas that needed to be addressed and the direction that the new government is headed.
By the following day, Governor Sanwo-Olu made some moves which clearly showed that he was ready to walk the talk. The first point of call was a meeting with civil servants where he emphatically told them that the government cannot afford to fail Lagosians at this critical point in time.

One striking thing was the fact that the governor was very much aware of the challenges faced by the civil servants and conversely he knew the areas where workers have to improve in terms of positive disposition to work and so on. So, on 30th of May, 2019, he promised to look into their welfare first with the provision of new buses to convey them to work and within three days, that promise was fulfilled. 35 new buses were immediately handed over to the workers to aid their movement from home to work and back home.
Also as I write this piece, all civil servants have received their salary for the month of June. That is the spirit with which Governor Sanwo-Olu is bringing into governance in Lagos.

Governor Sanwo-Olu also signed an executive order to address issues around traffic management, security and the environment after which he proceeded to Apapa for on-the-spot-assessment of the situation there.
The issue of Apapa gridlock and the state of the environment has for long been a national embarrassment and so it was a brilliant move for the Governor to immediately visit the area where he expressed commitment to his promise to truly put the deplorable and harrowing situation in the area in the dustbin of history, working in concert with the Federal Government and other relevant stakeholders.
It must be added that just two days ago, Governor Sanwo-Olu was back in Apapa with Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and other senior government officials both from the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government, to further assess the progress of work in the effort to restore complete sanity and order in the area.

Another pleasant move by this government is the two-prong approach to traffic management which is enforcement of traffic laws and fixing of potholes. With regards to potholes, the government has already said that two lines would be released to the public through which residents can just take pictures of bad state of any road within the state and then the rehabilitation gangs would be deployed accordingly.

The Governor has boosted the morale of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officials by increasing their monthly allowance by 100 percent with a promise to revamp all their moribund infrastructure as well as procurement of new equipment for better efficiency.

In the area of security, Governor Sanwo-Olu has also been proactive. As a matter of fact, he has met with all the top security chiefs in the State, with a pledge that the security architecture of the State would be overhauled to address contemporary security challenges including cultism, kidnapping, armed robbery, pipeline vandalism and indiscriminate driving against traffic, among others.

Just under 30 days, there are many positives to draw from the purposeful and inspiring leadership of Governor Sanwo-Olu and one can only imagine the goodies in the offing for residents and investors as there is already a clear roadmap as captured in the six pillars of his developmental agenda for the State otherwise known as T.H.EM.E.S, which stand for Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy; Entertainment and Tourism as well as Security and Governance.

Here is wishing my amiable and dynamic boss happy birthday. I wish you sound health and wisdom to deliver on the mission #ForAGreaterLagos.

*Akosile is the Deputy Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.*

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OPINION

Public institutions and public trust, By Jerome-Mario Utomi.

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Talking about the public institution, Mahatma Gandhi in his autobiography titled; The Story of My Experiment with Truth, among other things stated that a public institution is an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds of the public, warning that whenever such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist.

Institutions maintained on permanent funds, he noted, are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. And concluded that India at every step experienced situations where public institutions instead of living like nature, from day to day, abandoned the ideals of public trust.

Indeed, if such worry expressed about a century ago was ugly, what is currently happening here is a crisis. As the same attitude of ignoring public opinions has become a word made flesh, and now dwell among public institutions in Nigeria.

Concretely, developed societies encourage public institutions to get in constant touch with reality and open dialogues with well-informed but quietly influential citizens and organizations in order to benefit from their experience and expertize.

But what we have here is but a direct opposite- as the public institutions are against all known logic  reputed for flagrant disregard of public opinions, advice and requests from well-meaning Nigerians and organizations; that ordinarily ought to be their partners in the business of moving the nation forward.

Telling evidence of such scourge is the Code of Conduct Bureau’s (CCB) recent refusal to grant the Freedom of Information’s (FOI) request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) for the release of copies of the declaration forms of former state governors and Presidents on the grounds that the declaration forms are private documents.

Admittedly, some documents are lawfully tagged classified. However, looking at commentaries, apart from the fact that power to decide whether the private document in a public office remain private or otherwise lies not within CCB but the Court, its refusal  to the request curiously negates provisions by both the ‘UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption which clearly articulates important roles for civil society in the fight against corruption further plagued the Bureau’s argument’.

And runs contrary to the provisions of Section 1(1) of the FOI Act which clearly stated thus; notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.

Working under this condition, one becomes more and more occupied with questions as to how this attitude of public institutions in Nigeria can be corrected particularly as the sole aim of such establishments is service. Who will stop this progressive decay in our public institutions which like an unchained torrent of water is submerging our ‘political and socioeconomic countrysides?  Should we allow it to continue, leaving the nation to enjoy or suffer whatever fruit it bears in future?

Obviously, in my opinion, our principal duty for the moment should be to find out factors fueling public institution inefficiencies and disobedience to public opinion.

And as far back as I can remember a link inevitably exists in practical as well as moral terms, between these frosty behaviours of our public institution and bureaucracy which characterizes public administration in Nigeria.

Specifically, nothing supports this claim more than the position as argued by Robert Kiyosaki, a world acclaimed management consultant, where he among other concerns noted that the problem with the world is that many allow their institutions to be led by bureaucrats. And went ahead to define a bureaucrat as someone who is in the position of authority such as government/public office but who takes no professional and financial risks. And further underlined that a bureaucrat can lose a lot of money but they do not lose any of their own. They get paid whenever they do a job or not.

The above without  doubt explains why many Ministries, Departments and some other Government Agencies in Nigeria is without strategic plans in spite of development practitioners arguments that strategies and policies are fundamental to the progress and development of institutions. Having known that their salaries will be paid with or without doing any work, many of the public institutions don’t bother reviewing their policies.  Even in some extreme cases, the implementation of the existing policies have been characterized by discontinuity, reversals and somersaults’

It is on good the ground that one of the most basic of these realities is that since independence in October 1960, the country has demonstrated that there is no development plan that achieved fully its core objectives- a fault traceable to lack of systematic planning framework that ensures adequate data and research, good information system, monitoring and evaluation.

However, poor service delivery may not be the only consequence or bureaucracy, the only explanation for flagrant disregard of public opinion by public institutions.

The barefaced illusion by these civil servants that they are more nationalistic or patriotic than other citizens is a contributing factor. This baffling disposition in effect prepares the ground for exercising power and responsibility, not as a trust for the public good, but as an opportunity for private gains and promotes nepotism, cronyism and corruption as consequences.

Next to gross poverty of history which roundly prevents these bureaucrats learning from the consequences that befell their predecessor who ignored public opinion, is the excruciating poverty in the land which drives more people into the ranks of beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders insensible to demand quality service from public institutions.

 

Looking ahead, If truly a people- purposed leadership is what we seek if the accelerated economy is our goal, if social and cultural development is our dreams if promoting peace, supporting our industries and improving our energy sector forms our objectives, then, the solution lies  in the government’s  urgent recognition that those structures that created failures in those institutions will also prevent the  implementation of incentives that will improve performance. Also, attempting to engineer prosperity without first confronting the root cause of the problem and the politics that kept them in the place is a mere waste of time.

While calling for the restructuring of  public  institution to deliver service, Mr President should start thinking public-private-partnership for key responsibilities such as infrastructural development-a structural and managerial model globally recognized for curbing bureaucracy and corruption in public institutions and instilling public trust.

Monday 24h  June 2019.

The Editor,

Greetings.

Please, kindly find below/attached an opinion article with the above subject for publication; for the benefits of the reading public.

Again, many thanks.

Jerome-Mario Utomi,

jeromeutomi@yahoo.com

08032725374

Public Institutions and Public Trust

By; Jerome-Mario Utomi.

Talking about the public institution, Mahatma Gandhi in his autobiography titled; The Story of My Experiment with Truth, among other things stated that a public institution is an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds of the public, warning that whenever such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist.

Institutions maintained on permanent funds, he noted, are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. And concluded that India at every step experienced situations where public institutions instead of living like nature, from day to day, abandoned the ideals of public trust.

Indeed, if such worry expressed about a century ago was ugly, what is currently happening here is a crisis. As the same attitude of ignoring public opinions has become a word made flesh, and now dwell among public institutions in Nigeria.

Concretely, developed societies encourage public institutions to get in constant touch with reality and open dialogues with well-informed but quietly influential citizens and organizations in order to benefit from their experience and expertize.

But what we have here is but a direct opposite- as the public institutions are against all known logic  reputed for flagrant disregard of public opinions, advice and requests from well-meaning Nigerians and organizations; that ordinarily ought to be their partners in the business of moving the nation forward.

Telling evidence of such scourge is the Code of Conduct Bureau’s (CCB) recent refusal to grant the Freedom of Information’s (FOI) request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) for the release of copies of the declaration forms of former state governors and Presidents on the grounds that the declaration forms are private documents.

Admittedly, some documents are lawfully tagged classified. However, looking at commentaries, apart from the fact that power to decide whether the private document in a public office remain private or otherwise lies not within CCB but the Court, its refusal  to the request curiously negates provisions by both the ‘UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption which clearly articulates important roles for civil society in the fight against corruption further plagued the Bureau’s argument’.

And runs contrary to the provisions of Section 1(1) of the FOI Act which clearly stated thus; notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.

Working under this condition, one becomes more and more occupied with questions as to how this attitude of public institutions in Nigeria can be corrected particularly as the sole aim of such establishments is service. Who will stop this progressive decay in our public institutions which like an unchained torrent of water is submerging our ‘political and socioeconomic countrysides?  Should we allow it to continue, leaving the nation to enjoy or suffer whatever fruit it bears in future?

Obviously, in my opinion, our principal duty for the moment should be to find out factors fueling public institution inefficiencies and disobedience to public opinion.

And as far back as I can remember a link inevitably exists in practical as well as moral terms, between these frosty behaviours of our public institution and bureaucracy which characterizes public administration in Nigeria.

Specifically, nothing supports this claim more than the position as argued by Robert Kiyosaki, a world acclaimed management consultant, where he among other concerns noted that the problem with the world is that many allow their institutions to be led by bureaucrats. And went ahead to define a bureaucrat as someone who is in the position of authority such as government/public office but who takes no professional and financial risks. And further underlined that a bureaucrat can lose a lot of money but they do not lose any of their own. They get paid whenever they do a job or not.

The above without  doubt explains why many Ministries, Departments and some other Government Agencies in Nigeria is without strategic plans in spite of development practitioners arguments that strategies and policies are fundamental to the progress and development of institutions. Having known that their salaries will be paid with or without doing any work, many of the public institutions don’t bother reviewing their policies.  Even in some extreme cases, the implementation of the existing policies have been characterized by discontinuity, reversals and somersaults’

It is on good the ground that one of the most basic of these realities is that since independence in October 1960, the country has demonstrated that there is no development plan that achieved fully its core objectives- a fault traceable to lack of systematic planning framework that ensures adequate data and research, good information system, monitoring and evaluation.

However, poor service delivery may not be the only consequence or bureaucracy, the only explanation for flagrant disregard of public opinion by public institutions.

The barefaced illusion by these civil servants that they are more nationalistic or patriotic than other citizens is a contributing factor. This baffling disposition in effect prepares the ground for exercising power and responsibility, not as a trust for the public good, but as an opportunity for private gains and promotes nepotism, cronyism and corruption as consequences.

Next to gross poverty of history which roundly prevents these bureaucrats learning from the consequences that befell their predecessor who ignored public opinion, is the excruciating poverty in the land which drives more people into the ranks of beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders insensible to demand quality service from public institutions.

 

Looking ahead, If truly a people- purposed leadership is what we seek if the accelerated economy is our goal, if social and cultural development is our dreams if promoting peace, supporting our industries and improving our energy sector forms our objectives, then, the solution lies  in the government’s  urgent recognition that those structures that created failures in those institutions will also prevent the  implementation of incentives that will improve performance. Also, attempting to engineer prosperity without first confronting the root cause of the problem and the politics that kept them in the place is a mere waste of time.

While calling for the restructuring of  public  institution to deliver service, Mr President should start thinking public-private-partnership for key responsibilities such as infrastructural development-a structural and managerial model globally recognized for curbing bureaucracy and corruption in public institutions and instilling public trust.

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OPINION

The Boss as a Bridge-builder

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Boss Gida Mustapha, Secretary to the Government (SGF)

Mr Boss Mustapha, even when he was the helmsman at the Inland Waterways Authority, carried out his duties efficiently outside the public glare which is rare for a man of his political standing. This may have prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to choose him to replace the disgraced former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal.

The President, after the heat generated by the indiscretions of the former occupant of that all- important Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), in his thinking, wanted a less noisy and less controversial candidate who will be diligent enough to carry out his duties earnestly and without attracting negative attention either to himself or to his office. So far Mustapha has lived up to the billing combining, dexterously, the administrative schedules of the OSGF with its immense political demands. Though he claimed not to have come into the office with any special skills, but by adopting the strategies that made it possible for him to interface, mediate, negotiate and extend a hand of fellowship to the office’s numerous stakeholders, he assured people with varying shades of grievances, that they are part of Nigeria.

He made the stakeholders that looked up to his office to understand that they can make claims for which the government is obligated to listen to them. Through this approach, he has been able to attain relative peace in areas and among people with issues that had tended to generate conflicts.

Re-echoing the President’s assurances that we would work to avoid the conflicts which are needless, the office of the OSGF which Mustapha occupies, has done a lot in that area. Narrating his efforts in this direction he said in a recent media appearance that “we have tried as much as possible to interface with the traditional rulers who are the first respondents in most communities through the National Council of Nigerian Traditional Rulers, which is co-chaired by the Ooni of Ife and the Sultan of Sokoto. We have had series of meetings. Not long ago, I was in Kaduna, where we had a joint one for the Northern states and subsequently we had that of the South-East in Owerri. We are working to have that of the South West in Ibadan or Lagos, which we haven’t fixed the time and one for the South South.”

Sounding optimistic, he also said that to move a little bit further, some of these conflicts and clashes that were noticeable in the polity are results of unfortunate suspicions that have eaten deep into our psyche as a result of religious and other differences.

To address this, the SGF breathed life into the hitherto moribund Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC). This Council which had existed before he came into office, for a period of about six years, held no meetings. “I had to do a lot of spadework to convince the leadership that we needed to go back to the negotiation table and begin to talk. When the people outside begin to see the leaders of different faiths talking, it encourages them to have a sense or feeling that our problems will be sorted out.”

In his assessment of that approach to conflict resolution, Mustapha said that “it has helped us tremendously and we have had segregated meetings in all the six geo-political zones where NIREC could be meeting at different levels. The same thing with the National Council for Traditional Rulers which is part of what we are doing in addition to what the government is doing as well as the OSGF because we have the responsibility for public safety and security.”

He observed that the government had to take these steps to ensure that the people are in dialogue, talking and trying to find solutions to the problems that have engulfed the country. The SGF expressed his confidence that as much as the dialogue process and peaceful resolution of crisis continues, “it will reflect in our communities and we would find solutions to our conflicts and begin to accept that we need to resolve our conflicts than engaging in the shedding of blood that has really caused a stigmatization of the nation.”

The SGF sees his approach to public safety and security which his association with religious and traditional rulers has helped as a cardinal function of his office. In addition, “it is very imperative for me to have an eye on enforcement agencies when it comes to public safety and security. And part of what we have been able to do concerns especially the challenges that we find in this country.”

In a futuristic note, the SGF continued, “but the basic thing is going forward, as we go into 2019-2023 what the government will be looking at is strengthening the institutions; putting in place mechanism that will help stop corruption from taking place because it comes with a lot of expenses which I know require a lot of paradigm shifts.

One way we can do it as a people is to begin to create safety nets for the people that are involved in the work place. Once you are able to create a safety net; something that can take care of them in terms of any major accident, insurance packages that can cover them and their families, people will have less tendency in indulging in corrupt practices. Nobody wants to be stigmatized with corruption which is the truth, but I know it is this fear of the unknown that normally propels people into doing that.

Going forward, we should strengthen the institutions and build capacities for them; make sure too that we create safety nets around the whole places so that people can have a bit of comfort. No government has ever recovered the kind of money that we have recovered, the kind of properties that have been seized, now going through the processes of temporary forfeiture and eventually permanent forfeiture and after they are disposed and the funds generated will be ploughed into treasury account.

Because of the single treasury system that has been put in place, so much money can be accumulated and be used to fund projects, provide for social services for the people of this country. The other aspect of it is the diversification of the economy, I think we have done very well in that area, particularly in the area of development of infrastructure. Most countries long time ago knew that if they could provide roads, provide rail then they would open up their countries, there will be influx of businesses and I think in that area, in a better way, we have succeeded tremendously. Not only that, even in the area of agriculture, so much investments have gone into agriculture. The anchor borrowers’ scheme has provided so much resources. As at the time we went to campaign, it was about N86 billion that was expended from that and you know how many millionaires have come out through the scheme, particularly in the area of growing of rice. We grew the rice farmers population from 4 million to 12 million. So, it’s a mass of people that have benefited from that scheme.

Then the social investment programme has, in the last two years, done so much in creating wealth for the small business people. Is it the farmer money or the trader money, market money, and so many of these programmes have helped generate employment for the people. The school feeding programme in the south has created wealth for a lot of people and so many people have gone back to the farms, millions are required to feed the students on daily basis, so much monitoring are required, so many food vendors, women have been employed as cooks servicing that particular industry. So I believe that to a large extent, we have diversified the economy. We realize that we came at a time when there was a major drop in crude oil prices, but we were able to navigate, despite that to come out of recession, I think we have done so well and therefore we can do better for the people of this country.

-Muhammad wrote in from Jalingo

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