CMD Road is very popular with Lagos residents and regular visitors. It sits just meters away from the expressway, inward Lagos from Ibadan. It connects the popular Otedola bridge to the Shangisha community, including the upscale Magodo Estate. On its stretch, sits the Yellow House, the Lagos operational base of Nigeria’s Secret Police. Its brightest spot however is an expansive fun spot, concessioned, to a fellow from Ogun State, who has represented Lagos State as a Senator twice. Aboriginal Lagosians boast of being the original, yet they have almost lost all relevance to sojourners.
In 1 Corinthians 15:55, Apostle Paul rhetorically asked, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”. Being boastful of one’s achievements is bad enough, not to talk of a hopeless no-weight, inviting spectators to a show of contests. Is such a fellow not on an odyssey of shame? I digress.
CMD Road is popular but the owner of the identity that made it viral, is barely known. Yet, the Centre for Management Development, should ordinarily be Nigeria’s most prized public institution, going by its original design at creation in January 1973, to be the training ground for the entire public sector and ambitious portion of the private sector. In a nutshell, the Centre, which became an empty shell at a point, before its recent resurrection, was created to be the force of creativity for Nigeria’s entire workforce, so to say.
The law, setting it up, asked the Institute, to “coordinate the activities of and give proper direction to institution engaged in education, training and retraining.” But after years of abuse, particularly by the supervising Ministry of National Planning, which turned the appointment of its Directors General to political patronage, parting gift and patrimony of sort, what was set up to help others, became an emergency case, which needed a rescue effort, to live.
Standing out in infamy was the tenure of the immediate Director General of the Centre, Dr. Kabir Usman, a sidekick of a former supervising minister, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, who in his eight years of stewardship, took the Centre to the lowest it could go. Things got so bad, burnt bulbs in the Lagos office, which was the headquarters then, before Usman moved base to Abuja, could not be replaced, despite yearly appropriation of billions of Naira. The Rabiu Kwankwaso-led Senate Committee on National Planning, was aghast that a leadership could be so degenerative, during a working visit to the Lagos office, which is effortlessly the most visible of the Centre’s centres. The astounded senators met a completely dysfunctional institution, complete with the office of the DG himself in a derelict state.
The succeeding supervising minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, was also full of rage, seeing the mess Usman, a former aide to his predecessor-in-office, had made a once-thriving institution. A case of two Usmans?
Four years after his exit, well, it appears Usman has escaped with all his alleged atrocities, because nobody is asking probing questions again, especially the institutions, both legislative and executive, built purposely for checks and balance. At least if it is conceded that the manifest incompetence of the former DG, is a function of his capability (forget the PhD, not all academic achievers are imbued with emotional intelligence to manage men) in human management, which can be forgiven him, what about the taxpayers’ money he (mis)managed for eight years. Of course, Usman is a product of impunity. His boss, the minister, left competent, system-grown capable hands, to send him there. Of course, he would develop invisibility mentality. His kind rarely demonstrate remorse for misbehaving. His response to The Nation, seeking accountability questions to him, betrayed his mindset.
The Special Adviser on Media, by the name Ahmed Ibrahim, responded to the request for his oga’s defence, with, “This publication reminds me of the PhD – Pull Him Down syndrome which was the stock in trade of some Newspapers in the past. The Nation and the faceless petitioners have got what they want – Blackmail. I wish them Good luck.”
Rankling arrogance, rambling fatuousness.
If there are strong institutions that demand genuine accountability, beyond the bravado of EFCC and the kid-gloves of ICPC, Usman and Ibrahim, would be advancing their conspiracy theory elsewhere by now.
Well, somehow, after Usman’s years of locusts, the Centre is back on its feet, delivering on the core mandate of being government’s think-tank and the apex human resource centre of high repute. The sprawling Shangisha edifice is breathing again, though more could be done, to make the optics, more endearing. At least, bulbs are working again! Imagine, the former DG claiming to be waiting for budget to fix bulbs, car park and generating sets. There are some public officers, we should be praying never to see their kind in our space again. That is why Yoruba always admonish that two children should not be compared, to avoid beating one to death.
A good that the authorities supervising the Centre can do its future, is getting experts to document what went wrong and what the current leadership is doing right, since the core workforce, has practically been same, in the last 11 years, the period when Usman’s leadership played the wrecking ball and Dr. Bitrus Chinoko, the current DG, is fixing the bulbs again (my mischief).
Philosopher and writer, George Santayana said those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.
It would be disastrous if the Centre ever returns to the Usman era. It may not survive a relapse. Most times, stroke patients hardly survive a second attack. The managing authorities in Abuja, must ensure that the issues that became plagues for the Centre, are conclusively settled, with institutionalized remedies. Appointments should stop being compensation for political loyalty, though the office of the DG, is a political appointment of four years of two terms. Home grown, resourceful men and women of high ethics, should be sought within the system and positioned for the future leadership of the Centre. If Chinoko sustains his current pace, he should be supported through his first term ending in 2024, and a good term, should, deserve another.
The best, within, should be allowed, to lead the rest.
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