Mustapha leads the pack in productivity merit award

THE journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Likewise, nation building requires the little, individual contributions of citizens, big and small. This was aptly emphasized by President Muhammadu Buhari at the celebration of the 19th National Productivity Day and the conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award on 47 individuals and organisations in Abuja, last week. In the words of President Buhari, the annual National Merit Award was designed “to identify, recognize and reward productive individuals and organizations in both the public and private sectors, for high productivity, hard work and excellence.” The symbolism of the event, said the president, “underscores the vital and cardinal role productivity has assumed globally.” In essence, the quest for good governance rests with highly productive citizens committed to rapid economic growth, social progress and improved standards of living.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said the observance of the National Productivity Day and Conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award, NPOM, is an avenue for the Federal Government to recognise higher productivity and excellence in service of individuals and organisations and their contributions to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy. Ngige said that given the cardinal role of productivity in the development of any nation, it was imperative that the citizenry be consistently reminded of the need for developing a productive mindset that will ensure the growth of all the sectors of the economy. The award, among other things, aims at stimulating productivity consciousness, reward innovation, creativity and hard work among Nigerians. “It is also to recognise and reward best practices in productivity, quality and innovation,” he disclosed.  The minister described productivity as the most important determinant of social economic growth, wealth creation, employment generation and overall improved standard of living.

He said the present administration focuses on enhancing higher productivity as no nation would be self-reliant and competitive in the international market without productivity improvement in all sectors.

The awards, delayed by the breakout of Covid-19, were conferred on 47 individuals and organisations in both the public and private sectors by President Buhari for their high productivity, hard work and excellence. Top on the pack are the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, recognised for his commitment to farming and national food security and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, honoured for his diligence and commitment to service. He served as the Chairman, Presidential Task Force of COVID-19. Others are the immediate past Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, DrChikeIhekweazu; Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Akin Abayomi; industrialist, AlhajiAbdulsamadRabiu and businessman, Dr. Mike Adenuga. Posthumous awards were conferred on Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh who died after an encounter with Ebola virus as well as Mr. Babatunde Lawal who until his death was the Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Affairs Office at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

A few corporate organisations were recognised, including the National Information Technology Development Agency, Erisco Foods Limited, Financial Derivatives Limited, Crown Flour Mills and Tummy Tummy Foods Industry Limited. Mustapha has described the special award for COVID-19 conferred on him as an additional moral burden to do more for the nation and government. Shortly after the handshake with the president, he said: “I will dedicate this award to all the people that were involved in the national response to the pandemic, especially my colleagues on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. It was one awesome team, including the media team, men and women who worked assiduously in very difficult, hard and dangerous times.  “We were dealing with a virus that was unknown to ensure that the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians were protected. And in the process, we were able to deal with the adverse effects of COVID-19 and its impact on the economy.  The economic sustainability plan enabled us to exit the recession in a very, very quick time, addressing the changes in governance. Because COVID-19 came with itsdifficult ways of oppression, we had to really do a switch to virtual meetings, virtual way of running government activities, with very little face to face contact.”

In appreciation of the selfless service of the SGF, Presidential Buhari has often paid glowing tributes to his commitment and leadership qualities.  When he was barely two years in office, Mustapha received a commendation from the President: “I am writing to personally recognise your competence and commend the way you organised and led the Ministers’ Retreat. The benefits derived from the Committee’s discussions were enormous, and the added value to the Ministers’ and Permanent Secretaries’ experiences are very much appreciated.” On the occasion of his 64th birthday in 2020, President Buhari joined the ruling APC and the Federal Executive Council to celebrate  Mustapha as “the legal luminary, party stalwart and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, whose visionary and inclusive leadership style continues to strengthen the governing party and the administration, with remarkable results.”  The president affirmed: “Mustapha has provided strong and commendable leadership as a rallying point for the Federal Executive Council and demonstrated high-level patriotism by accepting the demanding position of chairing the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.” (See the rest on

On September 2, 2021 the President wrote:  “Since his appointment as SGF, my respect and admiration for Mustapha have grown ever stronger and deeper because of the passion and energy with which he does his job. Mr. Mustapha is a remarkably competent person who enjoys the confidence and support of his colleagues.”

The President also commended him for “playing a big part in the nation’s unparalleled success in combating the Covid-19 pandemic even as he urged “other public servants to borrow a leaf from Boss Mustapha who does his job with passion and amazing talent for details.”

On Thursday, September 9, 2021, at the LEADERSHIP ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND AWARDS, the SGF was recognized as the PUBLIC SERVICE PERSON OF THE YEAR 2020, while the PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 was recognized as the PUBLIC AGENCY OF THE YEAR.

Another distinguished awardee is the Director General, West African Health Organization,WAHO, Prof. Stanley Okolo, who in 2018, left his role to answer President Buhari ’s call to national service when he was appointed to head WAHO as one of Nigeria’s statutory appointees to ECOWAS.

Okolo is a multiple award-winning clinical leader and has in his current assignment led WAHO with intelligence, integrity and international acclaim.

He has championed several financial governance initiatives and positioned WAHO globally as West Africa’s regional health institution, with prestigious roles as one of the advisers of the London 2021 G7 summit and a member of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health.

With President Buhari as the ECOWAS COVID-19 Champion, WAHO has led the hugely successful West African regional response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing critically needed medical materials, diagnostic tests, personal protection equipment, training, risk communication resources and financial assistance to ECOWAS member states.

Okolo spearheaded all the initiatives, supported by Nigeria’s Government which provided logistics and successfully negotiated the ECOWAS harmonised agreements on regional travel during the pandemic and is currently driving the agenda for local production of vaccines in the region.

As emphasized by Dr. Ngige, measuring national productivity is imperative to remind the citizenry of the need for developing a productive mindset that will ensure rapid and organised growth of all sectors of the economy in realization of the overall development of the nation.

He said that the present administration had successfully charted a path for economic growth and development for Nigeria with a new development plan.

“The Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP 2021-2025) succeeded the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan with focus on economic diversification, investment in infrastructure, security and good governance, educated and healthy population”, Ngige said while recalling efforts at poverty alleviation, economic and social development across the states.

“It is in realization of this that the Federal Government through the National Policy on Productivity declared that a day shall be observed as the National Productivity Day throughout the country every year.

“The decision of the government to observe NPD every year was predicated on the need to stimulate productivity consciousness and reward innovation, productivity and hard work among Nigerians”, he explained.

  • Kareem writes in from Abuja

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