A good name is the dream of all men. Those who desire it often go the extra mile to ensure that they make it happen. Very few Nigerians were aware of the new dimension the Executive Secretary of the Plateau State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board; Barr Auwal Abdullahi added to the use of funds dedicated for the 2018 hajj operations. He has been reported to have returned unspent funds of over fifty eight million naira (N58m) to government of Plateau State meant for that purpose. KATDAPBA Y. GOBUM digs into the development and examines the lessons for public officials and by extension their followers.

This, for many Nigerians is the right season for the celebration in different ways of certain public officers whose rare display of probity is reverberating in the land; and for which lessons, by all indications are being learnt. On the other hand, we are aware that the sleaze fighting authorities are out there ‘ensuring’ that those found culpable face the full wrath of the law.

If we are aware that some have paid different prices for sleaze in the course of their official engagements, there is every reason for those who choose not to fret public funds to be celebrated. The fact that such funds are returned to government shows that the right lessons have been imbibed and are plowed back to another generation.

Such is always the case when anything good is done. That is why they say success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan, many times over. How come we are in short supply of such people in our society? How many times have we celebrated such persons? Not always as many communities are fond of celebrating only those who have put their hands in public tills that get noticed.

To be recommended by a state chief executive does not come easy, however it must be noted that such a development ensures that a lesson or two are expected to be learnt from the episode by others either in office or even out of it. But above all, such a person remains a reference point for office holders.

Governor Simon Bako Lalong, had before the world described the Plateau state Executive Secretary, Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Barr AuwalAbdullahi, as an exceptional leader who demonstrated an uncommon quality by returning unspent 2018 funds of over fifty eight million naira (N58m) to government. Note, that it was not N58,000 or N5.8m but indeed a whopping N58m to the coffers of the state government.

Ordinarily, as it is the case with such pieces of developments in Nigeria; he would have been called names by several people who are told of the story. He would have been derided by some people close to him for the example set. But he would hear none of those, he was showing a seed that would be as an example in the state and even nationally. In his first twelve months, it was evident that he did not come to ‘eat’ what was kept in his custody.

While bidding farewell about two months ago to the state’s contingent to the 2019 Muslim Pilgrims from Plateau State to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium Jos, the state capital, the governor did not mince words about the level of propriety and show of example by AuwalAbdullahi.

That established the governor did not hide his feelings on the development. It was good to send a message to the pilgrims and indeed government officials that had gathered for the event. The governor, while urging the intending pilgrims to be of good behavior, honesty and to maintain discipline just like the previous contingents by performing their religious obligation in the Holy Land said, “let me use this medium to applaud the efforts of Barrister AuwalAbdullahi, who was appointed the Executive Secretary, Plateau State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board in mid-2018.

“Under his leadership, Plateau State for the first time in history, recorded what has now become an uncommon feat by returning a total sum of fifty eight million Naira (N58M), being unspent funds after the completion of the pilgrimage of that year without complaints by any of the pilgrims, either of neglect or allied inconvenience.

“He has shown to be person that submits to the supremacy of Almighty God and that, we should at all times, carry out our official assignments in ways that pleases almighty God. He is a good example from Plateau State in piloting the affairs of the board”, he noted.

Lalong, therefore, appealed to all contingents from Plateau State to respect the rules and regulations of the Saudis by aligning with the Saudi School of thought which takes precedence on general activities over those of other countries of the world, group or individuals within the territorial boundaries of the home country calling on them to pray for the sustenance of peace and blessings of the state and the nation so that, God will expose all evil intended minds.

The contingent has since returned after performing the 2019 hajj without any report of wrong doing by the pilgrims. Whatever report that may come from the Amirul Hajj, His Royal Highness, the Emir of Kanam, Alhaji Muhammadu Muazu Muhammadu II; himself a man of honour, it however does not obliterate the lesson of the return of the humongous amount to government coffers.

Interestingly this year, the state governor was able to clear some 30 deferees, who were not captured as has been the case since 2015. In all, some 1198 pilgrims were able to fulfill their religious obligations with ease and comfort by performing one of the fundamental pillars of Islam.

In just about a year, the Board has been turned into a haven that it should be and appreciated by all. Who else would have done that? The Lalong government went for a man, Barr AuwalAbdullahi; whose penchant to serve and not to be enriched became the point man to head the board. That was not all he had board members who are desirous of turning things for the better.

What it essentially means is that the board needed to be stabled in all fronts, more so that each year, a number of Nigerians and indeed governments spend huge sums of money for the religious obligations to Saudi. That being the case, the need to put in place the right caliber of officials for maximum success cannot be over-emphasized in the face of our current experiences with our economy.

One of the areas in which staff of the board are happy is the fact that for some thirty years running, estacode meant for operational staff saw the light of the day this year with the coming of the Executive Secretary in 2018. The same story is being replicated in 2019. No wonder, they are today grinning from all sides of their mouths, even as they are aware something new has hit them out of the blues. Staff are the more grateful that the right choice was made in the appointment of Barr AuwalAbdullahi.

The staff are indeed optimistic that the board will record another feat again this year. There are indications that the story will not change given the dimension things have assumed since the coming on board of Barr AuwalAbdullahi on the saddle. If further feats are recorded, the choice of Barr AuwalAbdullahi is not a fluke.

The lessons are in many ways going to trigger, the birth of the change government wants in the operations of the activities of their organizations; even as we expect attitudinal change in the way things are done in these.

About the time Governor Simon Bako Lalong paid glowing tributes for the exemplary conduct of the Executive Secretary, Plateau State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Barr AuwalAbdullahi, the Presidency was also celebrating one Aircraftman (ACM) Bashir Umar for reportedly returning lost but found sum of 37,000 Euros to the owner. He was celebrated in July 2019.

The money could have changed the life of anyone in Nigeria. He chose to look the way few people could. Rather than changing it into Nigerian currency to make a hell of money and to enable him meet his needs, the fact that the owner could be in dire straits if it was not found; was sufficient reason to return it; and live with a clear conscience and in peace.

Perhaps, it may have been done in the past; which however is not recorded, the magnitude of the new development gives the impression that if public officials come to office with a mindset of service and not to line their pockets.

While describing such honesty by ACM Umar of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Mobile Air Defence Team at the Hajj Camp Market as ‘uncommon, patriotic and exemplary’, the President enjoins Nigerians especially the youth, to emulate such worthy gestures.

The President said of the ACM that ‘honesty and integrity will always remain admirable virtues, notwithstanding challenges before any country’.

He applauded the leadership of the NAF for its decision to ‘reward the airman so as to encourage other personnel of the Service to continue to embody attitudes and behaviours that reflect NAF’s core values of integrity, excellence and service delivery’.

Such show of appreciation by the organization the airman works for is enough to engender the spirit of appreciation. It further shows that our nation’s whose citizens from various walks of life display this rare habit are able to change the perception of the world about them. This, by extension fuels understanding of the kind of persons that make our homes, communities, and offices, for which the country is assessed by outside world.


Categories: Features

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