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Amb. Maryam Katagum @66:Driving SMEs Development with Perfection

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By Ahmad Muhammad Danyaro

Giants strides made by man are usually relieved with pomp and pageantry .while some roll out the milestone amidst glass clinging.

Some play the breakthrough low but all in praises and in anticipation of better future ahead. In this momentous instance, the success story always overshadows the nauseating hurdles and barricades accompanying such feats.

However, despite the society convulsion threatening the survival of the contemporary society one can still boast of great men as few as they are who stand tall in the society.

Men who write their names in gold while others write in charcoal in the heart of thousands of people, they can never be forgotten the name and good deeds of such men will always shine stars.

Such individuals of unique poise are celebrated everywhere, an action which encourages them to reach their peak .thereby, serving as an impetus to younger generation.

How else can one describe a  core educationist  and administrator of no mean repute ,Ambassador Maryam Yalwaji Katagum ,Minister For State ,Industry ,Trade and Investment  of Nigeria as she clocks the age 0f 66  on 18th November 2020?

All she ever wanted as a child to do in life was to make a difference in other people’s lives. As a child ,she thought the only way to accomplish this was to engage in a vocation where her  impact would be most felt.

Some decades later, Amb Yalwaji   is doing what he always wanted to do- impart knowledge  . Princess Katagum  a blue bloodied  daughter of the Katagum royal family  is an extra ordinary academic  who has overcome all manner of obstacles ranged on her  path .

People have criticized her guts and sometimes daring academic adventures  , but she has the knack for succeeding in virtually all  ventures she has embarked upon in life.

In her success story, few people erroneously tend to view it as if he employed underhand tactics to achieve them and in the process underestimate her  Midas touch. The fact remains that she attained her present height through dint of hard work and unparalleled exhibition of moral discipline.

Ambassador Katagum  is one of the few top public officials  who stood firm to ensure that they are not swallowed by the position they occupy, or the power they muster, the chance they got, the excuses they may give, the financial status they may possess, and the institutions they may have as defenders .

Many others in her shoes, got intoxicated by the unlimited paraphernalia of power and ultimately got swallowed shrewdly by their positions thereby, forgetting their roles as servants to the people .

Mama Katagum  as she fondly called by her admirers combines a rare academic capability with administrative and organizational ability.

This is evident in the many strategic administrative positions and challenges she had been given over the years in her public life and she has discharged with fortitude and uncommon success.

Born on 18th November 1954 at Azare, Nigeria, Her Excellency Mrs. Maryam  Yalwaji Katagum studied in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and a Graduate Certificate in Education at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1976, a Masters in Administration and Planning at the University of Lagos in 1985, as well as a Certificate in Social Development Policy, Planning and Practice at the University College, London, in 1999.

She started her professional career with her National Youth Service, at the Water Board, Jos. From 1977 – 1981, she was a Senior Education Officer at the Federal Government College, Azare, and, from 1981 to 1984, served at the Federal Scholarship Board, Lagos.

She was posted to the Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO from 1985 to 2000, where she rose to the position of Sector Secretary in the Social and Human Sciences Sector. From 2000 to 2001, she was appointed Director for Special Projects at the National Primary Education Commission in Abuja.

In 2001, she became the Secretary General of the Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO and in 2006 was given the additional responsibility of supervising the National and International Partnerships Division of the Federal Ministry of Education.

During this time, she worked closely with other agencies such as UNICEF, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), World Bank, UK Department for International Development (DFID), Commonwealth of Learning (COL), as well as national and international Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), NGOs and FBOs.

H.E. Mrs. Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, has been a member of many organizations and associations throughout her career, particularly, she was a member, representing the Federal Ministry of Education in the Governing Councils of the Kaduna Polytechnic, Federal University of Technology, Minna, the University of Lagos.

She was also a member of the Inter-ministerial Committee for School Health, and the National Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage. She has attended a number of training workshops and seminars under the auspices of UNESCO and the World Bank in France, United Kingdom and Kenya.

She was awarded a UNESCO Fellowship in 1999. H. E. Mrs Katagum has participated in many major international conferences in education.

She was appointed Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Nigeria to UNESCO on 1st June 2009 and assumed duty on 26th August 2009. And nominated to serve in the Federal Executive Council by President Muhammad Buhari on 23rd July, 2019.She was designated with the cabinet portfolio of Minister for State, Industry, Trade and Investment .

According to the Minister “Medium  Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) constitutes the bedrock of many economies by providing the impetus for creating employment and value added activities.

Prof Odinkalu @52: Garland for an unrepentant Human Rights Activist
In Most developing countries, SME operates in the informal sector and developing them will engender economic growth and development. To achieve this objective, conditions for dynamic, indigenous economic activities must be created ”.

Since her appointment .she has proven to be goal getter with various reforms together with the senior minister ,Otunba Niyi  Adebayo in fulfillment of the vision of the ministry and in line with relevant inputs  from the Nigeria’s Economic and Recovery Growth Plan ,the implementation of the Executive orders 001 & 003  and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Plan (SDGs).

The key achievement in the ministry since 2019 cut across accelerating growth of the industrial sector, creating an enabling environment for investment ,facilitating trade  and maximizing trade relations with other countries as well as accelerating growth of MSMEs being the engine room of the economy.

In a  chat with this writer recently, barely one year into her tenure,Amb Yalwaji  described the SME as the main engine for economic growth expressed government’s readiness to explore the immense economic opportunities in the sector for the prosperity of the nation.

She said her  ministry has come up with strategic vision and mission to empower the SME sector for productivity and wealth creation including the recently launched Survival Funds to cushion effect of corona pandemic .

The vision and mission, according to her, include: creating enabling environment for SME to thrive, attracting domestic and foreign investors, as well as supporting large, small and medium scale enterprises among others.

Ambassador Maryam Katagum quick start in office  clearly shows great sense responsibility, exceptional courage, sincerity of purpose and diligent service to Nigeria  and humanity  which distinguished her  as a worthy icon of rare breed whose been etched permanently in the annals of creative and legendary leaderships. There is no doubt that her legacies shall remain eternal source of inspiration for many generations to come as she turns 66 years  in the service to the her country and humanity .

Danyaro is a Public Affairs Commentator wrote in from Abuja and can be reached ahmaddanyaro2017@gmail.com

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Nigerian Universities, the interference of Professional bodies, and the time bomb

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Having worked with multidisciplinary teams during my PhD at the Department of Engineering of the University of Leicester and postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Electric Power Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), I decided to experiment the acceptability of a multidisciplinary team in Engineering departments in Nigerian universities in 21st century on my return in 2015. Then, I was already due to be a Senior Lecturer in ABU since 2014. So I sent my CV and an application letter for the position of Associate Professor to the VC through the Head of Electrical Engineering Department of one of our public universities in November 2015. And I received the following not very surprising reply.
“Having perused your application documents, I found them interesting and relevant to the need of the department. However, I cannot pass your application for further processing because of the post applied for. For your information, the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nig. (COREN) has fixed the bar of an Engineering lecturer who is not registered with COREN at Lecturer I regardless of the number of his/her publications.”
The question that came to my mind was that is the regulation of engineering lecturers in universities part of the mandates of COREN? I read the reply again and he was very emphatic on my PhD and postdoctoral research experience and the relevance to his department. I was made to understand that the University has no academic staff in the area of high voltage engineering, but for them to utilize my experience in high voltage engineering, if I was actually ready to move there, I have to accept to be demoted for 4 years because COREN said so. And I can’t grow no matter my research output till I am registered with COREN. Amazing offer! It will take a complete idiot to accept such an offer. That is the reality of the compartmentalization of our university system and the destruction of the Nigerian university system and the structure by supposed professionals.
This was completely different from my experience in my two universities in Europe. Prof. Len Dissado had a first degree in chemistry and a PhD in chemistry but was a Professor of Engineering at Leicester because his research area was in Dielectrics, a topic very relevant to High Voltage Engineering. He was retained as Emeritus when I left in 2012. Dr. Steve S. Dodd had his first degree in Physics and PhD in Physics but was employed as a Senior Lecturer in Engineering (High Voltage Engineering group) because his research area was in Electrical insulation materials. He retired as a Reader in High Voltage Engineering. The HoD of the Electric Power Engineering as at the time I left the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in 2015 had a PhD in Physics and was a Professor of Electric Power Engineering. Universities in the rest of the world are closing gaps, while we are widening the gap. Since I could not close the gap, so we decided to have a High Voltage Laboratory in the Physics department.
In universities, we are academics and research workers. Irrespective of the field, we are employed to teach and do research. The yardstick for evaluating your performance is research output. Engineering graduates in academia are not left out. They are not employed as Engineers. Universities have their Engineers to do the engineering work. As an academic, you can be COREN registered to enable you to practice outside the university but not for the classroom and research labs in the university. I once asked a colleague some years back if as a university worker, he is an Engineer for real or a teacher and he was silent. I asked about the value of COREN registration in his teaching of Engineering courses, research output, and student project supervision and he could not give me a straight answer.
I still find it weird that COREN, a body regulating practicing engineers on the field is now setting standards for promotion in the Engineering departments of Nigerian universities. They will soon be telling Nigerian universities what to teach and what not to teach. The other councils of professionals will soon follow to set what they perceived as standards for the respective faculties or departments.
The interference of the Councils of professionals in the affairs of Nigerian universities has grown beyond setting promotion guidelines. They are now deciding the establishment of faculties and the duplication of academic departments. It does not matter the burden of running such faculties and departments on the universities. I am still wondering how they are able to twist the hands of NUC and the universities’ Senate and Governing Council to achieve all that. Not long ago, the Faculty of medicine in Nigerian public universities were converted to Colleges of Medical Sciences with 4 faculties and several departments, thanks to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
What baffled me was the fact that the Department of Biochemistry, for example, that has taught medical students the biochemistry they know since the inception of the study of medicine in Nigerian universities is suddenly no more qualified to teach medical students because the Lecturers do not have a degree in medicine. Very amazing! We now have duplicated Biochemistry departments across Nigerian universities that they called “Medical Biochemistry” in the college of medicine. The “medical biochemistry” will possibly be taught by the Medical Doctors based on what they learned from the Biochemists in life science while in medical school. Could this be a case of trading quality for ego?
We also, for example, have a medical microbiology department in the college of medicine, a microbiology
department in the faculty of life science, and a vet microbiology department in the faculty of Veterinary medicine.
The microbiologists will be able to explain to us the difference between the different versions of the microbiology.
I was in Norway in 2014 when the Norwegian couple at NTNU shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine with a Professor at the University College London (UCL). I tried to check the structure of these 2 universities. The faculty of medicine at NTNU has no biochemistry department. The Department of Biotechnology and Food Sciences, a replica of the Biochemistry department, is in the faculty of natural science and they provide service to the faculty of Medicine as we had before the coming of the colleges of medicine in Nigerian universities.
How the increased number of departments helping to improve the quality of our academic output is what I can’t figure out. Rather than the duplication of service departments that will only increase the number of academic departments and won’t really add much value to the system but increased running cost, we should have created a college of life sciences and pulled the relevant faculties and departments into it.
Individualistic research is going extinct and most of the novelties of the 21st century are from interdisciplinary researches. One of the winners of the 2014 Nobel prize in medicine John O’Keefe is a neuroscientist in the Faculty of life sciences at the UCL with his degrees in Psychology. But the others, May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser are both neuroscientists from the Faculty of Medicine at NTNU and received their first degree from the Department of Psychology and PhD in neurophysiology at the Faculty of Medicine in Oslo.
There is nothing more fascinating than the fusing of different ideas together to produce a unique product. That is the exploration in the 21st century. The world has left us behind in individualistic ideology and moved into multidisciplinary academics. If we must make progress in our universities, we must break our erected artificial barriers that are keeping us apart. The academics in physical sciences and engineering must come together with possibly a research centre that is into cutting-edge research that will involve research groups from all the relevant departments. Same way to bring life science and medical complex together.
I have seen graduates of mathematics that became Professors of Econometrics in Economics departments in universities in Europe, but not in Nigerian universities. I have seen a graduate of Chemistry that became a Professor of Engineering in Europe, but not in Nigerian universities. I have seen a graduate of Physics that became a Professor of Electric Power Engineering in Europe, but not in Nigerian universities. In Nigeria, I have seen Engr (Prof) XXX boldly written on our doors in the department but not in the universities in Europe. Are we having an identity crisis?
Professional bodies that are supposed to focus on the regulation of Professionals in the field should focus on their mandate and not be given free hands to change University policies as it pleases them. If we don’t end their interference, just like the medical council, COREN could wake up one day to tell our universities that there is a need for colleges of Engineering with departments of mathematics and physics to service the college because those in Mathematics and Physics departments are not qualified to teach engineering students because they don’t have engineering degrees. Vet council, Pharmaceuticals council, builders council, architects council, Quantity surveyors council, etc, may follow. So, how are we going to handle that?
Let’s stick to the founding principles of the university. Universities have world standards. We can stick to our British standard or borrow a leaf from the world’s top universities to improve our system, instead of allowing professional bodies to manipulate us and create barriers within the university system that will further slow down the progress we are to make.
Our universities are not in it’s best form and we have to do what we have to do to improve them. We should be more preoccupied with that. We should be discussing how to reposition Nigerian universities to be able to stand up to our various challenges and not duplicate departments without facilities because some Councils of professionals said so.
Finally, to my colleagues in Electric power engineering or high voltage engineering in Nigerian universities, you are welcome to experience our High Voltage Materials Laboratory in the Department of Physics, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. We have a 400 kV DC generator and 100 kV AC source with a partial discharge measurement system to serve you. Join us to learn the physics of electric power equipment. We do not have barriers!

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Galadima Knocks Nigeria Sports Handlers Over Laziness in Talent Development,

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By Abdulgafar Oladimeji.

Former chairman, Nigeria Football Association , NFA Ibrahim Galadima(MFR) has faulted the administration, promotion and development of sports in Nigeria, noting that  the continuous  degenerating  global  status of Nigeria on the  sporting  arena could be attributed to laziness.

The outspoken sports administrator   stated that the absence of  clear  cut policies  on how  sports should be driven in Nigeria  constitutes parts of the factors that  has enrolled Nigeria on the path of total  failure.

Galadima in his remarks  on ( Thursday)at a one day workshop organized by Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN  Kano state chapter held at the conference hall of the Kano state Sports Commission with the theme “Early Warnings and Security Vigilance At Sports Events, he said “we re yet to clearly structure and drive the message clearly to say whether we   are in sports for business or  for leisure purposes.”

“our sports is going through difficult times, certainly, the Kenyans have  a clear concentration, they  have  shown clearly where they belong by dominating marathon races, recently they came to Kaduna and stamped their dominance.

“The abundant talent in Nigeria remained untapped, no age group graduation, even if you are in Chad, you are considered as a foreign based athlete, we are now so lazy in identifying talents.” Galadima lamented.

He alleged that lack of trust and confidence has  sent sponsors out of the industry, adding that potential brand sponsors are shying away from injecting their monies into  the industry for the fear of unaccountability.

 

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TRIBUTE TO PROF. IBRAHIM AGBOOLA GAMBARI CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE PRESIDENT FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA🇳🇬, AN ASTUTE LEADER, AND GLOBAL STATESMAN AT 76th

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By Alh. Dr Bello Al- Adam

On behalf of myself and my family, I join millions of friends and well-wishers to felicitate with a renowned diplomat and international statesman on this special occasion of your 76th Birthday.

My family and I are proud to be associated with you, therefore we heartily congratulate you for a life of exploit in Diplomacy, Academia, and Administration, both at National and International levels.
Indeed, you are an epitome of leadership and *AN OUTSTANDING ORBITER OF A GREAT AFRICAN VISION* for your good work and the selflessness in Promotion of Diplomacy, Democracy and Developments.

May Almighty Allah (SWT) continue to give you more Protection, sound Health, Longer Years of Fruitful Living and Greater Fulfilment of your aspirations to the highest level

Your unwavering support and succour for the downtrodden and your relentless pursuit for the betterment of Humanity towards ensuring a Developmental stride in the country have not gone unnoticed. They are laudable, commendable and well appreciated by Mr.President.

On this day, I wish you the best life has got to offer, *while praying that Allah increases you in Health and keep protecting you against hypocritical enemies of our president and the Government which you serve unflinchingly*.

Kindly accept the assurances of my esteem regards, Happy many more years in returns Sir.

ONCE MORE, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SIR

Alh. Dr. Bello Al-Adam

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