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

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.

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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

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