The Re-appointment of Balarabe Abbas Lawal: Beyond Continuity
By Emmanuel Ado
“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” John C. Maxwell
In Kaduna State Government there are three acknowledged workaholics- the master workaholic being the Lord of the Manor himself -Nasir El-Rufai. However there has always been this heated debate amongst government officials as to which of the two Lawals’ – Balarabe Abbas Lawal, the Secretary to the State Government and Jimi Lawal , the Senior Adviser and Counsellor to Governor Nasir El- Rufai comes second in terms of hard work. The bottom line is that there is a general consensus that the work rate of the three men belie their age.
There is absolutely no iota of doubt that a Secretary to State Government(SSG), usually appointed and serves at the pleasure of the governor hasthe responsibility of assisting the government achieve its socio -economic vision by coordinating the various ministries,agencies of government, can make or mar the administration depending on the experience, the world view, human relations, capacity for hard work or lack of it that he or she brings to the office due to its multifaceted nature.
Many governors who ignored these obvious requirements for the job, which also includes having a good grasp of contemporary issues,knowledgeable,focused and organized have paid darely for treating the office with utter contempt. Only Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeifeis known to have derogatorily described the Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF) as a glorified “tea boy”,an opinion that recent events must have changed. An SGF or an SSG depending on the occupant can determine the direction of government and dispense patronage.
What Balarabe Abbas Lawal ,the reappointed SSG of Kaduna State brings to the office are institutional memory,years of extensive experience garnered from the academia and the public service,which have adequately prepared him for the onerous responsibility of the office. Without doubt Balarabe gave a good account of himself between 2010-2019to warrant being reappointed , as Nasir El Rufai is not known to compensate incompetence. Even if El- Rufai was to be a generous Father Christmas,it definitely won’t be in his second and final term which must be action packed as he seeks to consolidate his place in history by delivering on his electoral promises.
The Second Term of Nasir El Rufai is more of putting finishing touches to most of his first term achievements,which made his re-election in the 2019 general elections possible, in spite of the the boasts of the so called “professors of politics”, and the so called kingmakers who couldn’t make themselves kings, who had long fed fat like the parasites that are , on government resources. It’s the withdrawal of the access to state resources that led them to threaten the governor with electoral defeat for his conscious decision to address the needs of the common people,as opposed to the narrow interest of the political merchants, who thankfully have been permanently retired and would never again play god in the affairs of Kaduna State.
Born in Zaria on 5th February 1958, the young Balarabe attended the famous Kofar Kuyambana Primary School Zaria between 1964 to 1970 where he obtained his Primary School Leaving Certificate. He was admitted into the famous elite Barewa College Zaria in 1971. It was in Baraewa College the production center of who is who in the North that his path and that of Nasir El – Rufai crossed. It is remarkable that they have remained friends and this says something about the humility of Balarabe who has severally accepted to work under his junior , who never leaves anyone in doubt as to who is the boss.
Balarabe diligently completed his secondary school education in 1975 with flying colours and proceeded to the then Katsina College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria for his higher school and as it has become his second nature he he scaled through his Interim Joint Matriculation Board Certificate ( IJMB) examinations with ease.
Had Balarabe wanted to read law in the university,he would have had no problem gaining admission to read law which he considers conservative giving his ideological background, not only because he had the necessary grades,but beingalso from Kaduna State – the catchment area of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. But like most young and “impressionable youths” who were determined to change the world, political science was fascinating and the natural course of choice. In the early sixties to the late eighties the dominantissues were colonialism, the agitation for independence, the very terrible apartheid situation in the Southern Africa region which the young men like Balarabe found not only revolting but took steps to address by reading course that opened their mind,that made them able to challenge positions.
What a shame that words like imperialism, colonialism,emancipation etc are Latinto most undergraduates of Nigerian universities,whose lack of political awareness and ideology is confounding. Balarabe for instance at the young age of 22 was certain about his beliefs – unrepentantly socialist and this explains why he pitched his tent with the real Peoples Redemption Party(PRP), and not the PRP of today that shamelesslyprovided former Senator Shehu Sani whose anti-people credentials are legendary, a platform for the purpose of contesting an election. Balarabe has definitely left his footprint on the sands of time by becoming at that very young age of 22 theState Secretary of the PRP between 1980-1982. Most young men and women of this iniquitous generation at the same age are still finding their bearing.
By 1981 Balarabe was a proud graduate of Political Science from the famous Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, home of the late Bala Usman,Femi Odekunle , Patrick Wilmot, Ibrahim Gambari, Bangura, Beckmann and many other solid intellectuals who challenged and stimulated their students intellectually. It was in this academic environment that Balarabe consciously found himself , that was to shape his career path from teaching to public service,which has obviously been very fulfilling.
The young Balarabe having drank from the intellectual well of the Wilmots’, Usmans’ etc it was time to impact knowledge and the compulsory National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) which took him far away from home was to provide him with the platform, when he was posted to the School of Basic Studies, Rumoula, Port Harcourt 1981 to 1982 ( NYSC) and not the lucrative Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) like most of his contemporaries. If there were any doubt the stintat Port Harcourt settled his career choice and so he returned to the former Katsina College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria which at the creation of Katsina State out of Kaduna State becamethe College of Advanced Studies, Zaria,where he lectured from August 1982 to July 1989,before moving to the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) from July 1989 to August 1991.
Like the saying goes to whom much is given, much is desired. Definitely Balarabe is aware of the huge expectation from Nasir El – Rufai by both his fanatical supporters and “political enemies” and what this means in terms of the demands on the machinery of government headed by him. The unmistaken message from El-Rufai is that the engine of government must run and at full throttle 24/7. And that there should be no excuse(s) why the implementation of strategic policies especially the peace and security,economic development which are very dear to him are delayed. If need be Balarabe is expected to be ruthless in clearing any obstacle(s) be it man or institutional standing against the realization of government policies, like the confirmed incompetent teachers were shown the way out.
The reorganization of the ministries, with more enlarged mandate is an indication that El – Rufai more than means business in his second term. The surgical reorganization of the ministries,most especially those that were hitherto considered “dumping” grounds indicates an appetite for more successes. And a statement that in his Second Term only thebest , the very best should be recommended for appointment and the governor availed with several policy options. Thankfully the team Nasir El-Rufai has the experience of the last four years to guide them.
Balarabe Abbas Lawal whose reappointment was widely received has an M.Sc in Political Science from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and has attended several courses including the General Management Course (GMC), Administrative College of Nigeria (ASCON) Topo-Badagary, Lagos,the Management Trainers Course (MTC) At Thames Valley College now Thames Valley University Slough UK, Privatization and Infrastructure Development Course at the Center for Financial Engineering and Development ( CFED) based in Washington DC , USA, the Public Private Partnership Course at the Institute of Public Private Partnership ( IP3) in Washington DC USA. He also attended the Managing People Well Course in the Executive Management Development Program of Cranfield University, United Kingdom October and the International Visitor Program (IVLP) of the State Department, the Leadership in Development at John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University Boston, MA, and Schulich School of Business Executive Education Centre of York University, Toronto, Canada.
Apart from teaching which is clearly his first love, Balarabe had also worked at Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) , the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and was at different times a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Education Federal Ministry of Education , Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Army, Ministry of Defence, and Special Assistant to the President in FCT and Chief of Staff to Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Balarabe Abbas Lawal is a steady hand who has always impressed all who encounter him with his clear vision and ability to get the job done no matter the odds ,these are qualities that stand him out and why his reappointment didn’t come as a surprise to keen observers and is in fact a recognition and a reward for hard work and loyalty.