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Najimu Yasin: Reminiscences of an admirer, By Abdulrazaq Magaji

By News Express on 25/02/2017

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•NURTW President, Alhaji Najimudeen Usman Yasin.
•NURTW President, Alhaji Najimudeen Usman Yasin.

Were the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) registered as a political party, chances are that it will have little or no problem in getting its president, Alhaji Najimudeen Usman Yasin, elected into a public office with a comfortable majority. Two facts support this optimism: One, with members running into millions and being the largest single affiliate of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the strength of NURTW lies in its numbers. Two; nearly five decades of his association with unionism has endowed the NURTW president with rare organisational skills that only high achievers are noted for.

Those who claim a faint acquaintance with Alhaji Yasin in Gusau of the 1970s will not be surprised at the encomiums that continue to go his way, especially for his contribution in forming the NURTW as it is known today, and for transforming the union into a formidable and respectable union since he assumed its presidency. He is the holder of the very visible traditional title of Makaman Gusau in Zamfara State, president-general of Offa Descendants’ Union (ODU), and a prominent leader of the octopoid Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria. Little wonder that speculations have been rife of recent that Yasin is about to throw his hat into the political ring.

If there is truth in the speculation, then elders and leaders of thought in Offa should step in to persuade the ODU president-general to further draw nearer home. There is no doubt that the overall interest of Offa would be better served if a political arrangement is put in place for Yasin to execute the chairmanship of Offa Local Government! On the surface, some may dismiss as off-handed the suggestion that a national figure, such as the national president of the NURTW climb down to be a local government chairman. But, if you scratched the surface, this is neither a scatter-brained idea. It is also not demeaning because this is one proposal that could take Offa to greater heights.

Let’s go down memory lane. A little over two decades, one of the important suggestions made by Prof Jamiu Oyawoye, MFR, undoubtedly the most prominent son of Offa and its best known ambassador was for communities to identify and draft their tested, trusted, prominent and incorruptible sons and daughters to assume chairmanship and councillorship posts at the local government level. The interview was part of activities to mark the birthday of the professor , best known to the outside world as ‘Africa’s Father of Geology’, and his suggestions were meant to strengthen the third-tier of government and promote good governance, especially at the grassroots.

Few years later, Prof ‘Dibu Ojerinde, former registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), echoed the wise counsel of Oyawoye and even suggested that he may vie for the chairmanship or councillorship position in his native Igboho in Oyo State, after retiring from service. Whether or not, and when Ojerinde plans to activate his plan, now that he has been retired, is not clear. But the impression one got from the two eminent Nigerians was that the interest of communities will be better served if prominent and fulfilled ‘sons of the soil’, get elected as chairmen of local governments. This can hardly be contested.

It is true that any governor of Oyo State will think twice before they keep Ojerinde as chairman of his local government area, waiting in an ante-office at Government House. Similarly, any governor of Kwara State will think twice before they play dirty tricks with Yasin, as chairman of Offa Local Government Area, and withhold allocation to his council. Tell me: which governor of Kwara State will summon Alhaji Najimu Yasin, as chairman of Offa Local Government Area, to Government House, to dictate how to apply council funds? It is unthinkable to imagine that, as chairman of Offa LGA, Yasin will subscribe to the ignoble practice of looting council funds.

For a man whose rise from grass to grace has been so phenomenal, what spotlight is NURTW president seeking, either at the state or national levels? Except, of course, in the unlikely situation of his being donated to the world as Secretary-General of the United Nations, which also comes with no direct benefit to his immediate community. From any angle you view it, very little benefit, if any, will come to Offa if Yasin becomes president or governor or deputy governor. Honestly, Offa will reap no benefit, either directly or indirectly, if he is appointed a minister or commissioner! Any appointment outside board chairmanship that will not shift his focus from Offa is desirable.

For the Alhaji, running the affairs of Offa LGA and managing its finances will be an icing on the cake. There should be no surprises here! He has not looked back since the early 1970’s when his organisational skills became noticed in Gusau, when he single-handedly organised commercial vehicle drivers into a formidable union in the old Sokoto State. He has since then remained a worthy ambassador of Zamfara State and, indeed, the old Sokoto State that provided him a solid platform from where he played a pivotal role in the formation of the NURTW.

The NURTW has witnessed enduring transformation since Yasin assumed its presidency. Specifically, it is in the area of rehabilitation and empowerment of members that he has been outstanding. As it stands today, the NURTW has made it convenient for members to take advantage of services rendered by the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and allied distance learning programmes. This has made it possible for members to return to the classroom.

To strengthen the rehabilitation and empowerment scheme, the NURTW entered into agreements with financial institutions to provide needed support for members. Through various agreements, members now access bank loans with relative ease. This is in addition to efficient revolving loan schemes, co-operative and thrift system, as well as several welfare schemes put in place for the benefit of members. If NURTW has witnessed so much transformation under the watch of Yasin, it is about time his birthplace benefited from his transformative skills.

Time is ripe for Offa Elders and Leaders of Thought to prevail on their prominent son to, in his characteristic humility, return home and apply his skills and expertise in transforming his community.

•Magaji is based in Abuja and can be reached at 

Source News Express

Posted 25/02/2017 1:34:39 PM


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