Six years ago, five young Nigerians graduated from Usmanu Danfodio University with a bachelor’s degree in Law and were on the verge of missing admission into the Nigerian Law School due to lack of finances. Over dinner, it was mentioned to the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, of the dire situation the young ones were in and how their dreams of becoming lawyers was getting away by the hour. Without asking who they were, he directed us to contact them. Few days later, he not only paid for all they required, he ensured each of them got a laptop computer to aide their studies.
The interesting aspect of this story is that few days ago, I encountered one of them in Abuja and while thanking me for intervening at a very critical period in their lives, he expressed disappointment that none of them was able to meet with Tambuwal to thank him collectively and individually for his dream-saving gesture.
Why am I telling this story today? The lesson here is simple: some people are attracted to those who need help because it feels good to be of help at critical times. Whenever someone is hurting or suffering in some ways, kind-hearted individuals deliberately come forward to help without even wanting to be praised. This is where Tambuwal comes in.
I am sure the lesson in this encounter is not lost on Tambuwal himself. This is because his life does not lend itself to embellishments – it is an inspirational and captivating study of the triumph of mind over matter. As we mark his birthday today, we will all meditate on this lesson, and draw the positives that will continue to illuminate paths in our relationship with others.
In the last 52 years, Tambuwal has left no one in doubt about his capacity for fair and equitable representation. Over the years, he has demonstrated ability to meet with the needs and demands of the people that he encountered. His profound achievements as Governor in the Seat of the Caliphate have drawn praises, honour and recognition from far and near.
In his role as the Number One citizen of Sokoto, Tambuwal has raised the ante of purposeful leadership and good governance. By a magic of work, ethics and sincerity of purpose, his administration has prioritized areas whose importance will continue to have enduring impact on the life of the citizenry. Such sectors include education, agriculture, health, women and youth empowerment, energy, poverty eradication and revamping of the entire governance structure.
His administration is making positive impact in public schools by building new classrooms, supplying of chairs, tables and textbooks for students, delivering new buses to schools, and flagged off program to enroll 1.4 million new kids into schools in the next 12 months. All these led to a stamp of commendation by UNICEF after the number of out of school children dropped by half in the state in two years.
In agriculture, 140 women and pensioners were trained in fish farming and supported with grants and starter-packs of tanks and fish feeds to start businesses. The government gave out 981,000kg of improved rice seeds to farmers free of charge to support them, and after ir introduced wheat farming to the state for the first time, it gave 6000 bags of 100kg wheat seeds to farmers, free of charge.
To ensure sustainability, promote new technology and enhance private sector participation in farming, the state government and Dangote Industries Ltd started a rice outgrower scheme at Goronyo and Middle Rima Valley. 1000 farmers were engaged for the pilot project in 2017 with 500 hectres of land committed. For the 2018 farming season, 2000 hectres will be used with the number of farmers also increasing.
All these efforts were complemented by distribution of fertilizer, water pumping machines and pesticides. The result is increase in yield and more wealth and prosperity for Sokoto farmers.
The same team work and strength of character led to these successes replicated in all the sectors of the economy of the state.
Tambuwal’s approach to leadership is defined by the vision to build people and enduring structures that can stand the test of time. While most are admired because they move others to follow their example, Tambuwal belongs to the category of a few who are special enough to encourage others to find their own unique path. Just by being who he is, he has sparked many to be who they want to be. Through thoughtful leadership, great vision and sincerity, all parts of Sokoto have felt the positive impact of his activities. And for that, if for nothing else, he deserves to called a leader who inspires.
In this season of politics, many, especially closer home, have deliberately chosen to misunderstand Tambuwal. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson said decades ago, “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
With time, people will understand the fact that Tambuwal is indeed a role model for all those seeking to understand how to make impact with their lives. And on this momentous day of his 52nd birthday, I thank him for his service, and wish him a happy birthday.
*Imam, the spokesman to Governor Tambuwal, writes from Sokoto