By Emmanuel Onwubiko
By the time political and governance history is compiled about Nigeria, the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration is sure to be commended in the most profound manner for his dexterity in finding capable hands to manage one of Nigeria’s most complex institutions- the National Youths Service Corps Scheme. President Muhammadu Buhari will also be remembered for taking the National Youth Service Corps scheme to the pedestal of a phenomenon. His administration has consistently put Nigeria’s resources to good use in the NYSC in such a way that in just two years, the Ibrahim Shuaibu leadership has successfully redefined the concept of broad-based leadership by good examples. This much was stated by someone who played successfully within the private sector and reached his phenomenal peak in management in one of the most reputable companies in the world known as Aliko Dangote before delving into politics in 2019 whereby he got elected as the governor of Nasarawa State in a landslide victory. This is the man who made the remarkable statement that Ibrahim Shuaibu who just got promoted to the rank of a Major General has redefined the governance of the NYSC.
The Executive Governor of Nasarawa State Engineer Abdullahi Sule had described the recently promoted Director General of the National Youth Service Corps Major General Shu’aibu Ibrahim as a worthy ambassador of Nasarawa people for his strategic role in redefining the operations of the NYSC Scheme as a catalyst of development.
He said his achievements were testified by the Founding father of the NYSC General Yakubu Gowon and many State Governors who appreciated his impactful leadership in reinventing the NYSC and making it more relevant.
Engineer Sule who was a Special Guest of Honour during the GRAND reception organised in honour of the NYSC DG for his elevation to the rank of a Major General in the Nigerian Army.
The Governor who paid glowing tribute to General Shu’aibu, admitted that the DG worked hard to deserve his elevation especially in the area of empowering corps members through Skills acquisition and entrepreneurship development, reinvigoration of NYSC ventures and ensuring provision of a comprehensive documentation of NYSC activities and interventions in national development agenda.
“I’m a proud Governor because every state you go, the Governor will speak eloquently about the way you have redefined the Youth Service Corps in his state. You came , you saw and you have redefined the NYSC through many interventions which you mostly created ” the Governor stated.
Speaking further, Governor Sule commended the new policy drive of the NYSC aimed at empowering corps members through
acquisition of skills for self-employment which he said is the best option out of the problem of unemployment for our teeming graduate youths .
In their separate goodwill messages, the Emir of Keffi Dr. Shehu Chindo Yamusa and House of Representatives member representing Nasarawa Toto Federal Constituency in Nasarawa State, Honourable Ari Mohammed Abdulmumini expressed delight at the unprecedented achievements recorded by General Shu’aibu which earned him successive promotions up to Major General especially his numerous accomplishments in the NYSC Scheme. They both said Nasarawa state people are proud to be associated with his uncommon achievements and wish him more success in future.
The Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development , represented by his Permanent Secretary Alh Isma’ila Abubakar commended the Director General for providing the required leadership which motivated staff to support him in achieving the successes recorded. He urged him not to relent in his efforts to further elevate the NYSC Scheme to greater heights.
In her remarks on behalf of NYSC Staff and Corps members nationwide, the Director, Information and Communication Technology, (ICT) Mrs Christy Uba enumerated the achievements of General Shu’aibu to include among others; optimum utilisation of the potentials of corps members, reinvigoration of NYSC Ventures and Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship (SAED) programme, enforcement of a credible mobilization process, documentation of NYSC activities , enhancement of staff and Corps welfare, provision of ICT Centre, proposed NYSC Radio among others.
In his response, General Shu’aibu thanked God for His grace in his successive elevation in the Military and appreciated the Governor of Nasarawa State, Community Leaders, Staff and Corps members for the uncommon honour.
The NYSC Director General expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for finding him worthy to be so appointed as the Chief Executive of the NYSC Scheme. He equally appreciated the Minister of Defence and Chief of Army Staff for believing in his capacity and their endorsement of his promotion to the rank of a Major General after earning a steady elevation in the last 28 years of his career . The DG further stated that his principles in life is targeted towards touching lives and pledges to devote his life in furtherance of this philosophy.
“All I have achieved in life was as a result of prayers of those I have come across in the course of my life”, he stated.
The Director General commended various stakeholders of the Scheme for their support and called on them to sustain their advocacy for the success of the proposed NYSC Trust Fund which aims at empowering youth Corps members and addressing infrastructural challenge of the Scheme
The Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps, Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim, went on to pour encomiums on the President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for finding him worthy to be appointed to showcase his potentials.
He also thanked the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Army Staff for having him worthy to be promoted to the rank of Major General in the Nigerian Army.
Ibrahim who stated these during a grand reception on his elevation to the rank of Major General in the Nigerian Army said his rise to the rank was not a surprise as he had neither missed any promotion nor lobbied for it for the past 28 years.
The NYSC boss said that he had never missed promotion in his 28 years of service in the military, which was facilitated by his principle of touching lives.
He said, “My principle in life is to touch our fellow human beings and if you cannot touch your fellow human beings, you are not fit to live and that is the principle I have lived for and that is the principle I will die for.
“All I have achieved in life is as a result of prayers of those that I have come across in life because as I touch one another they pray for me.
“Having gone through 28 years of service in the military, I have not missed promotion; my promotions do come as and when due and all these are as a result of this principle of hard work and commitment.”
While stressing the contribution of corp members to national development, the NYSC DG further reiterated the need for the establishment of the NYSC Trust Fund to cater to their needs.
“We cannot thank them enough and that is why I use this opportunity to appeal to Federal Government, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and members of the National Assembly to please support the establishment of NYSC Trust Fund because when this is established, it is like reinvigorating the NYSC again,” he said.
Recently, an observer reflected on some of the milestones made by the Director General of the NYSC and captured these in such a way that there is no longer doubts that the rise of the Director General of the NYSC has inevitably led to the phenomenal rise and growth of the institution that he has led in the last two years and some few Month as the Director General.
The DG reportedly attracted funding for corps members business proposals. Some of the new collaborations in this regard include an enterprise development programme with the Unity Bank tagged Corpreneurship which offers a sandwich training and competition leading to award of business funds as prizes. The British America Tobacco Nigeria America Foundation (BATNF) is also funding a “Farmers for the Future” programme which offers agro-entrepreneurial training and mentoring for corps members and empowerment with money, land, agricultural inputs and services to the tune of N5, 000,000. Others are the Enterprise Development Centre partnership which has benefitted 140 corps members, the Access Bank Lions’ Den partnership which is offering a package of business funding and mentoring totalling N3, 000,000, the Leventis Foundation one year internship in its farm settlements and empowerment to establish afterwards and the NIRSAL MFB special loan package without the encumbrance of collateral.
The farms and agricultural ventures of the Scheme have equally been expanded and strengthened under the watch of Ibrahim, as documented in a well articulated newspaper article recently.
The administration of the DG of NYSC at the moment keyed into the Government’s policy of diversifying the economy through harnessing opportunities in the agricultural sector. In line with the Federal Government’s policy on rice production, he is reportedly upgrading and repositioning NYSC farms for massive production and processing of rice. New equipments have been purchased for the NYSC rice farms in Ezillo, Ebonyi State and Saminaka, Kebbi State. He also recently secured 16 hectares of land from the Nasarawa State Government to expand the scope of the Scheme’s farming activities.
These are in addition to ensuring optimum operation of the NYSC Bread and water factories in Kubwa, Abuja and the Garment factories in Anambra and Niger States and resuscitating the NYSC Feed mill in Lagos. His efforts are yielding the desired result as the revenue generation profile of the Scheme through its Ventures initiatives has tremendously improved. Apart from expanding the Scheme’s agricultural ventures the DG has engendered partnerships with several agro-based organizations to contribute and boost the Federal Government’s initiative on food security as well train corps members on agro business. They include the IITA, ARMT, NALDA, NCRI and NCAM among others.
Engagement with critical stakeholders is inevitably one important strategy adopted by the Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim hierarchy of NYSC which has been quite effective as it has attracted tremendous increase in stakeholders support for the scheme.
His audience with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum led to State Governments making remarkable gestures including Completion of new NYSC permanent Orientation Camps in Anambra and Edo, construction of a 500-capacity’ hostel at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Kaduna, provision of power transformer, 1,500 double-bunk beds, 3,000 mattresses as well as on-going construction of a 5,000-capacity Auditorium and internal roads at the NYSC Camp Rivers State, construction of 250-capacity hostel at the NYSC Camp, in Akwa Ibom State. Others are provision of land for the expansion of the NYSC Secretariat in Dutse, construction of 700-capacity hostels, Camp Clinic, Staff Quarters and sinking of industrial borehole at the NYSC Camp in Delta State, construction of 2,500-capacity multi-purpose hall at the NYSC Camp, Niger State, Construction of internal roads at the NYSC Orientation Camp in Nasarawa State, among others. Literally, this young military officer from Nasarawa with a choice Doctorate degree sleeps, dreams and walk thinking only about how to strategically reposition the NYSC Scheme to assume a high pedestal.
The impact of the yearly meeting with representatives of State governments (also instituted by the Ibrahim management) has been profoundly rewarding. It is said that at this year’s meeting in April, the Ekiti and Edo State Governments promptly approved lands for establishment of NYSC Garment factories few minutes after the request was made at the meeting. The Lagos State Government has also put in place modalities to build a 14,000 capacity Orientation Camp while twenty five states have commenced upgrading and rehabilitation of camp facilities and nine are expanding their camp facilities to meet the Scheme’s 5,000 corps members’ capacity need.
Other notable gains derived from the meetings include, constitution of functional NYSC State Governing Boards in seventeen states, eighteen states have enhanced payment of state allowance to corps members, provision and upgrading of Corps transit camps in thirty one states, increased partnership with the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and provision of office and residential accommodation by states hosting the headquarters of the new Area Offices among others.
Security and welfare of corps members which are among the key areas of focus of the Major General Shu’aibu Ibrahim’s administration has equally recorded phenomenal success.
As an exemplary demonstration of empathy and commitment to the welfare of Members of the Service Corps, it has become a tradition for him to personally visit and commiserate with parents of corps members whose wards were involved in accidents and other unpleasant incidents. He recently visited and encouraged corps Member, Saidu Mohammed Adamu, who was admitted at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, as a result of gunshot injuries he sustained while on election duties during the bye-election in Ekiti-East Local Government Area of the State in March 2021.
It would seem that the Philosopher had Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim in mind when he espoused his teaching on the 10 Common Traits In Uncommon People. The Philosopher Craig Hysell wrote as follows: “People choose to pursue mediocrity (and it is a choice) for four reasons:
- They have no idea what they want to do with their life
- They have no idea how to do what they want to do with their life
- They have an idea but are afraid to try
- They have an idea, they “tried” it and “it didn’t work” so they quit
Mediocrity is easy. It’s comfortable. And it’s bullshit. The pursuit of commonality and the avoidance of adversity, criticism and the unknown are the surest possible way to die without expressing your full potential. Or worse, to die feeling like a failure. Is that you?
Here are 10 Common Traits in Uncommon People:
• Uncommon people believe they have a purpose, know their “Why” and live their dream. Think about that. Do you know why you’re here, do you have enough balls to live your most passionate calling and do you know what conviction(s) you will fall back on when things get hard? To establish these answers you must accumulate life experiences and then sit down in the quiet and think. There is no timetable on this accumulation and introspection. It could take years or decades. It is constant.
• Uncommon people are not absent of fear, they just do not let fear make their life become absent. Fear exists for all of us. But fear is bullshit. It is not real. It exists only in our minds. When you face your fears daily, you conquer fear. You realize that fear is indeed bullshit. It is the main control mechanism for commonality. You must not let fear, any and all fear, hold you back from pursuing your purpose.
• Uncommon people practice self-mastery. Uncommon people work relentlessly at mastering their mind, body, emotion and spirit (the four pillars that make up your life). They harness these things through daily study and practice. They understand that without a strong mind, all else will fail. They are patient. They enjoy The Process. They are positive. They structure the development and awareness of these four pillars- their emotional content- into a daily practice. They reflect upon these four pillars daily.
• Uncommon people are self-reliant. This does not mean that uncommon people do not ask for help, on the contrary, being part of a team is vital to growing and sharing larger success. To be self-reliant is to trust that your critical eye, your logic, your reason and your wisdom are tools enough to help you continue to grow. This is not absolutism. Absolutism is folly. This is the ability to understand what is worthless to you and what is not, no matter what the crowd may think, and pursue this relentlessly.
• Uncommon people have an unwavering discipline. You cannot learn anything worthwhile if you are not devoted to it fully. Uncommon people “burn the boats”* and go all-in. Uncommon people are disciplined with work, with rest and with play. They make time for all of it and they are fully present at each exploration. This is a lifetime pursuit.
• Uncommon people are obsessed with the cultivation of their purpose. Uncommon people do not bitch about trivial things. Nothing matters except what matters. They are focused on where they want to go, paying attention to each deliberate step along the way. Silly things like the accumulation of stuff and then complaining when the stuff isn’t just right or gossiping about others is not part of an uncommon person’s life.
• Uncommon people are extremely durable. Uncommon people remain undeterred by setbacks, failure or defeat. They recognize these things as learning tools and nothing more. They do not falter or waver for long. They do not wallow in self-loathing. They possess supreme confidence in their ability to continue forward. They persevere. No matter what. They are fully accountable for everything that happens in their life. With accountability comes control and with control comes the ability to change.
• Uncommon people inspire change. Uncommon people inspire others to follow suit. They show what is possible and make it possible not only for others to come with them, but for others to improve upon what they have provided. Uncommon people hack out the avenue for others to become uncommon as well.
• Uncommon people act. Uncommon people understand that you are what you do. That’s it and that’s all. Whatever you are doing, no matter what you are thinking or dreaming, is you who are. Best to link your actions with your dreams and your purpose. Best to pursue greatness daily. Best to ask of yourself often, “Is this the best I can do?” Otherwise: a thought without action is simply a wish.
• Uncommon people do not give a shit what others think. It is tough in the beginning to find your voice. As soon as you begin to talk, others want to talk over you, critique you, tell you how you should do things, twist your voice or use your message against you. Uncommon people persevere through this. They learn not to give a shit about what others might think and realize that you cannot be all things to all people. Uncommon people speak their mind and follow their heart. Their honesty, especially if clear, concise and principled, attracts others who are like-minded. And things begin to expand, slowly at first and then… BOOM!
You must have fun with the practice of becoming uncommon. It’s serious business to be sure, but if it isn’t something you love and enjoy, what’s the point?
You must practice uncommonality daily. All the time. You must be patient. You must shut out negativity and seek the mentorship and guidance of others who have been there before you or teach what you desire to know. You must look long and hard at yourself and those around you. Is this who you want to be? You must be accountable for everything, and I mean everything, in your life. It’s all, every little bit of it, up to you. Any thought to the contrary is commonality in its many devious forms.
Listen. Observe. Act. Adapt. Evolve. Repeat.
Uncommonality should be a lifetime pursuit. There is no timetable save this: realize that you are going to die one day and you have no idea when that day will come. There is no time to waste. Meet your death with the satisfaction that you gave this life all you had to give. That will be enough to die well, perhaps even unafraid.
*When Alexander the Great crossed the Hellespont into Asia Minor with his army he ordered the ships burned. The message was clear, there was no turning back. What followed was one of the most impressive military campaigns ever recorded. It lasted ten years.
Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects to this incredible feat was when Alexander’s army came across ascetics praying in the street and blocking the army’s passage. The ascetics would not be interrupted and Alexander was summoned. One of Alexander’s generals pointed to Alexander and proclaimed to the ascetics, “Do you know who this is? He is the conqueror of all the world. Who are you to stand in his way?”
To which one of the ascetics replied, “We have conquered the need to conquer the world.”
It is said that Alexander spent the rest of the day with these men and upon returning to his army remarked that if he could be anything in the world, he would choose to be with those naked men practicing uncommonality in the street.
There is little or no existential doubt that Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim is an UNCOMMON PERSON.
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and writes from Abuja.