Posted by Simon Imobo-Tswam | 26 August 2017 | 1,608 times
It is now a tradition that once one is elected or appointed into public office, people from all stations, geographies and interest-zones come to pay courtesy calls on him or her. And usually, the major focus of such courtesy calls or visits is felicitatory rituals: congratulating the public officer on his/her “well-deserved” appointment, praying for him or her; and/or appealing for cooperation/support – where needful. And for the Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Hon. Emmanuel Jime, his turn was on August 9, 2017.
On that day, Executives of Ahmadu Bello University Students Representative Council (ABUSRC) came calling; with Comrade Dahiru Umar Maishanu, a former Secretary-General of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), leading the seven-man team.
He explained that they were in Abuja to congratulate Hon. Jime on his well-deserved appointment as NEPZA’s managing director as well as pray for him to transform NEPZA from a staid parastatal into a frontline government agency.
The student leader said, having followed Jime’s political trajectory from his days as Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly (BSHA) through his eighth-year tenure in the National Assembly to his appointment as NEPZA helmsman, they were proud to identify with him and his positive-politics.
In the words of the student unionist: “You are a big-time lawyer, and a beloved politician who has been tried, tested and approved. And your politics is that of issues and development. And you are a lawmaker of grassroots-nay-national standing, having served your people as House Speaker as well as having made great impact in the House of Representatives.”
Comrade Maishanu: “All these are coming to play as you are efficiently and effectively steering NEPZA on the path of industrial acceleration and economic diversification. Our prayer for you is that God will guide you all the way with wisdom, speed and good judgement so that you will continue to be a great ambassador of the Prestigious Ahmadu Bello University.”
The student-unionists thereafter gave Hon. Jime a congratulatory plaque and decorated him as “a great a distinguished Alumnus of the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.”
It was an elated Jime who charged the student representatives to face their studies with all diligence; and not to waste their future on such anti-social behaviours as cultism, exam malpractices.
Saying the future belongs to youths, the former Reps. member it was unwise, and irresponsible, if not downright foolish, to trade the promise of such great destinies on the altars of youthful radicalism, stressing that “as the leaders of tomorrow, it is incumbent upon youths to prepare themselves in terms of scholarship, character and capacity-building for the tasks ahead.”
While thanking the union officials for the visit, the managing director said as a father and someone they professedly hold in high esteem, he owed them the duty of counselling them on the dangers of unguarded behaviours that are mostly borne of youthful exuberance rather than good judgement.
Youths do not count very much in the estimation of many politically-exposed adults. Many of them in privileged positions continue to see youths as raw materials for the building of their political infrastructure or special-markets for recruits whenever they have need for thugs or crowd-rentals.
It is shocking, even sad, but many of these putative leaders in the public space subscribe to the infamous words of Adolf Hitler: “I did not come into the world to make men better, but to make use of their weaknesses!”
But Jime, a learned gentleman in every right, has a different viewpoint: he believes in the value of people, but especially the potential of youths – their creative energies; the vitality of their dreams; their power to transform and/or renew society; their audacious ambition to add value to value; their daring faith in their ability to dwarf the celebrated achievements of today etc. And so, Jime took time to tell the ABU youths the truth – even to the point of brutal candour!
And in speaking to them, he was speaking to under-graduates in every Nigerian university as well as youths in every corner of the Federation. In other words, the managing director of NEPZA was passing a profound message to the next generation of Nigerian leaders: lawmakers, ministers, governors, special advisers, directors-general etc, etc.
Hear him verbatim: “I am thankful for this visit, and out of thankfulness and also as a father and mentor, let me advise you. The future is yours. It belongs to you. Don’t miss it. You are the leaders of tomorrow, so don’t waste the opportunity even before it comes. If you want to be governors or presidents, the journey begins today.
“As I look at you, I see presidents, governors, ministers, senators, managing directors, ambassadors, etc. That is your destiny. But to meet that destiny, and make the best of it, you have to prepare yourselves by way of sound scholarship, good character, a clear vision and the requisite skills.
“Preparing for the future also entails shunning campus cults, exam malpractices, intolerance, hooliganism, thuggery and other negative social behaviours. They don’t add value, neither to your education nor to the journey of destiny. In my time, the terrible things we hear about today like students pulling triggers on other students were unheard of.”
If the students came, expecting the hackneyed phrases obtainable during the traditional courtesy call, they were surprised – even if pleasantly. If they were disposed to Aluta excesses or what Gen. Ibrahim Babangida would call “undue radicalism,” Jime’s candour provided them with good education. And if hitherto, their impressions of the NEPZA helmsman were only that he is a grassroots politician with a national-reach or a public servant with an sense of history, they left with the powerful addition that he is a man of principles and positive candour.
•Imobo-Tswam, a public affairs specialist, writes from Abuja.
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