By: Ismaila Y Kana Onzonu
When news of the appointment of Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim as DG NYSC reached me, I could only exclaim a ‘wow’ that even got to my informer. She perhaps was taken aback by my show of emotions considering I am not one to openly betray myself. But unknown to this person, the wow was neither for me, nor for the General’s elevation. It was for the innovative ideas that I was sure he will employ to quickly turn the scheme around.
Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim is NYSC through and through, having served there as an MA to the DG. His stint has left him with the over burning ambition to better position the scheme to achieve its founding principles. With a very extensive network of friends in the scheme, the General must have been taking notes and looking for ways to transform the scheme should he ever get the chance. It didn’t surprise me when he hit the ground running from the off.
One year down the line, history is already gilded with mouth watering initiatives that have redefined the scheme now and I suspect for years to come. From his fatherly openness to serving corps members, to his dedication to their welfare and that of his staff, the General has left exceptional markers that can only be imagined. He’s the first DG in history to give out his personal number to corps members as well as create an email address through which they can reach him directly with questions, complaints or suggestions. He has visited homes of corps members met with one misfortune or the other and has personally shouldered the cost for the treatment of any in their ranks injured in the line of duty while also providing the morale and mental boost to help them through whatever precadiments they are faced with.
The General has a track record of excellence, but his most cherished qualities are his unwavering commitment to prudence and accountability wherever he went. It didn’t take him long to enforce his signature financial discipline to the scheme, reading riot acts to the staff. He warned, that it will no longer be business as usual, just as he was not going to entertain acts of indiscipline and sabotage within the scheme. The message was clear enough and it didn’t take long for him to plug all the holes through which the schemes resources were hitherto plundered.
Among General Shuaibu Ibrahim’s most impressive achievements this year, is his turnaround of NYSC Ventures from a leaky business outfit to a very viable enterprise that is contributing IGR to the scheme.
Other areas that have benefited immensely from the General’s legendary efficiency is the scheme’s Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Department (SAED). Through partnerships with a great many national Staples, the DG has been able to turn SAED from just some engagement during the service year for Corps members, into a very serious skills acquisition platform and a money spinner for the corps members, the NYSC and other participating agencies. The DG was also able to renegotiate the schemes corps mobilisation IT contract, making it more beneficial in terms of income and feasibility.
However, there’s more to the General’s achievement than just racking up more income for the scheme. For instance, his tireless and impressive work ethic has seen him visit virtually every state of Nigeria to assess the conditions under which the scheme operates, singling out areas needing immediate action. This kind of commitment did not only put his state officials on their toes, it also communicated clearly that the new sheriff is not one to hide in his comfortable office in Abuja and digest whatever report brought to him. In a Nigeria legendary for eye service and sycophancy, Shuaibu Ibrahim is the very face of practical leadership and the kind of dedication that has cured his lieutenants of inertia, complacency, graft and leadership rascality. This indefatigable efforts, coupled with an excellent relationship skills have also endeared him to state governors who are only too happy to contribute to the success of the scheme led by such an enigma. This is why it didn’t come as a surprise to many when he was granted the honour to address the Nigerian Governors Forum, making him the first DG NYSC to be accorded the honour.
Besides all the aforementioned achievements and increment in Corps members allowance as well as the return of NYSC Area Offices, Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim’s one year in office will be remembered mostly for the scheme’s contribution to Nigeria’s COVID-19 response. As soon as stories of the pandemic began to gain traction, the DG quickly reached out to state coordinators, admonishing them to think independently and creatively to find ways of engaging talented corps members to contribute meaningfully to Nigeria’s Coronavirus response, and his lieutenants responded impressively.
Stories abound of how corps members in their own capacity, or sponsored by state offices contributed advocacy, equipment and palliatives to help keep Nigeria’s indigent population at home during the lock downs. For instance, a serving corps member in Zamfara was sponsored by the state office to produce the prototype of an Automatic Hand Washing Machine that has been used to great effect.
The NYSC and indeed Nigeria is fortunate to have a diligent and innovation driven DG NYSC that did not only create the right atmosphere for innovation to thrive, but also the right mix of discipline, motivation and leadership to make things happen in this time of Coronavirus. This has manifested in so many ways including the provision of a great number of Face Masks, Handwashing Machines and many necessary equipment to help the country contain the virus. The DG himself has led from the front in many instances and you can’t help but marvel at his tenacity and overall ability to achieve whatever he sets his sights on.
This successful year will join others in the record books of Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim’s legacies, but nothing will beat the level of discipline, financial and otherwise that the DG would have instilled in the scheme before the curtains fall on his stewardship of NYSC.
The tomorrow of Nasarawa State will benefit much more than it has gained so far from the steadfastness of this rare man if only it can harvest his enthusiasm and goal getting mentality in the future, to rebuild the state into his image of success; where social justice, discipline, accountability and above all, patriotism will reign.