Sir Melie Onyejepu is a former Special Adviser to the Anambra State Governor on Budget, Monitoring and Implementation. He is also the General Manager, Bureau for Public Procurement, Anambra State.
In this interview, he talks about the future of Anambra State, what attracted him to banking and more.
Q: You are Special Adviser to Anambra State governor on Budget, Monitoring and Implementation, and also the General Manager, Public Procurement; what exactly does your job entail?
Ans: In the budget area, my job entails monitoring budget implementation. We also make sure that the state derives value for whatever expense and advice the governor, especially where we feel that the expenses do not match the budgetary provision. This is when it is at variance with what it should be or where the project is not aligning with the provisions of the budget and the focus of the government.
On the procurement side, we ensure the pricing of projects are in line with acceptable norm, that they are not overpriced, and the state derives value from those implemented.
Q: There is controversy about so many states borrowing carelessly, how has your work impacted Anambra State?
Ans: In 2015, because of our activities in the area of budget, Anambra came first in the entire South East and second in the country on the implementation of International Public Accounting System.
What that means is that Anambra keyed into transparency initiative and that all our accounting and budgeting systems have been patterned to meet international standard. It also means we have adopted the same standard used in the United States and UK.
Therefore, if we are using the system by countries that are standard yardsticks for measuring transparency and accountability, that will tell you the type of system we have put in place.
Secondly, in the procurement circle, we are implementing the law guiding public procurement to the letter. It requires the establishment of a bureau and we have done that and are also putting into place electronic means of procurement, which will help eliminate issues of corruption and fraud.
What that does is that, in the comfort of your room, you can access the contracts we have awarded, who we awarded them to, the scope and cost. With this e-procurement platform, you can, as a citizen, cross-check what we are doing.
I can hold my head high and say that I am working with this government. One great thing about this administration is that this is the first time the governor of the state has a clearly stated blueprint, mission and vision.
Q: Is the blueprint part of Vision 2070?
Ans: The essence of Vision 2070 is to expand this blueprint, incorporate new things and adjust to the dictates of the dynamics of a global economy.
Q: The younger generation is clamoring for an opportunity in the nation’s political leadership positions; as a relatively young person, what is your take?
Ans: I believe that the older generation have done their bit. They have ruled us from independence till this moment and, like I said earlier, the running of government is changing and the nature of economies are going to change too. Most developed countries are moving into things like e-governance and it is not for the old generation.
Q: Where do you see Anambra State in the next 20 years?
Ans: I see the economy of Anambra growing bigger than that of Lagos. This will be made possible by the coming of Onitsha River Port and the cargo airport. With these on ground, we expect massive economic activities. Another thing that will grow the economy is gas. There is a prediction that oil and gas will fizzle out soon. To me, it won’t be so in most of the third world countries. However, even if oil becomes less relevant, gas will still be a major resource in the economy Igbariam in Anambra State is sitting on trillions of metric tons of gas reserve that can feed the whole of West Africa, and Ibeto petrochemical is already building a gas handling plant.
We are also expanding agricultural activities. At the inception of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration, we met 80,000 metric tons of rice production in this state and in less than four years, we have been able to move it to 338,000 metric tons with a projection that, by the end of the year, we will start getting about 480,000 to 500,000 metric tons. It shows you the speed at which we are moving.
Still in agriculture, we have boosted cassava production and by the time we adopt full mechanization, we will be one of the biggest exporters of cassava and rice in this part of the world.
Another area Anambra is endowed is in that of industries. Nnewi people have a knack for manufacturing products like Taiwan. There was a time Nnewi was the Taiwan of Nigeria but due to power issues, some of those industries closed shop. But that does not mean we cannot repeat that process today. We can use gas to develop an independent power plant that can power factories in Nnewi and Onitsha, so our industrialists can go back to what they know best.
The state is also endowed with the knowledge of trade and commerce and what we need to do is provide enabling environment for our businessmen and women, and you will see them excel. I see an Anambra State where the size of the economy will move from its current GDP of about N4.8 trillion to about N20 trillion.
Q: As a financial expert, what necessary economic steps should Nigeria take to avoid a possible crash of the economy considering the level of inflationary trends and unemployment in the country?
Ans: Let me just mention one or two. Once you are able to fix power, every other thing falls in place. Secondly, is agriculture, which is the highest employer of labour. Fixing power, as long as I am concerned, is simple. We have gas deposits all over the place. Use that to generate power.
Once this is in place, every other thing falls into place. Nigerians are very hardworking people, so just lay the foundation for them and you will see them grow.
Q: How prepared are you for higher leadership positions?
Ans: Leadership is nothing more than your ability to lead by example, and then being able to use others to achieve your goal by ensuring that you delegate assignments, monitor it and have people buy into whatever you want to achieve.
My work in the bank positioned me for that. In the private sector, you are given a target and you can’t just achieve your target without the support of other people, and if you don’t treat those people well, you can never achieve your target since you can’t be everywhere at the same time.
For you to do this, you must treat the people working with you well, lead by example and understand their feelings at any given time. So for me, leadership is about leading by example.
Q: Power rotation will be a major issue in the coming Anambra governorship election; what is your view especially with regards to the argument that it encourages mediocrity?
Ans: The good thing about zoning is that it gives everybody a sense of belonging and opportunity to contribute their best. However, that does not mean that anybody can be presented because of zoning. I am not in support of that.
“I Will Thread The Path Of My Predecessors For Safe Sailing” – Says Barr. Tanko Osuku
The Chairman, Kogi State Civil Service Commission, Barrister Muhammed Tanko Musa says he will build on the legacies of his predecessors in his quest to achieving the results expected of the Commission.
Barrister Tanko speaking in an interview with Newsmen at his Office in Lokoja, the state capital.
He said in view of the blueprint Agenda of Governor Yahaya Bello at ensuring better lives for civil servants in the State which was duly followed by his predecessors, following same will ensure smooth sail all through his reign as the privileged Chairman of the Commission.
Barrister Tanko pointed out that civil service is now witnessing a positive change after the screening exercises conducted by the present Administration, stressing that irregularities such as ghost workers, age falsification among others have been tackled.
“One of the thematic Agenda of my Governor during his assumption of Office is civil service reform. Before his coming we know how things were and we thank God that today the table has turned for the good. Our TALK and DO Governor has changed the narratives civil service to the admiration of all. The issue of ghost workers, falsification of age, erotic documentations, uncommitted and quack workers have been laid to rest. What about salary issues? Today civil servants are wearing smiling faces because they are now receiving their salary as and when due. So, it will be wisdom for me to follow the template that my predecessors followed that helped them to serve without rancor and acrimony”
The Chairman appreciated Governor Bello for finding him worthy of the position and promised his commitment to the success of the Commission.
“I want to appreciate the Number One citizen of our dear State, His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello for appointing me to occupy this position. I pray that God in his infinite mercy will continue to guide him, grant him uncommon wisdom as he continue to pilot the affairs of Kogi State. I tell you that the people of Kogi State are happy with His Excellency because of his doggedness and commitment towards giving the State a face lift. We’ve never had it this good so, the people are happy”
He called on civil servants in the State to cooperate with the Commission and charged staff of the Commission to continue in their display of professionalism at all times.
Mrs Kikelomo Akande Advocate For Girl Child Education (Interview)
By Aisha Audu, Lokoja.
Kikelomo Akande is a woman of many parts. Besides being a hardworking woman of substance, she is a businesswoman and philanthropist. Armed with a degree in Anatomy, today her focus is on Girl-child education, bridging the gender gap as regards access to educational opportunities in the state.
In this interview with Aisha Audu, she gives more insight about her NGO, its challenges and her campaign to allow girl child attend school, acquire skills to enable them contribute their quota to nation building. Excerpts:
Q: Can we meet you ma?
Ans: My name is Kikelomo Akande. I am a graduate of University of Ilorin; I have BSC in Anatomy and an MBA, both from the University of Ilorin. I am married to Dr Femi Akande and we are blessed with 3 children. I am the General Manager of Treasures Bakery and confectionaries in Lokoja, Kogi State.
Q: What inspired you to venture into charity work?
Ans: I got the inspiration when I looked around me and identified several needs that I can proffer solution to. I get motivated to make a difference when I see children that can be great having no vision and direction. I get inspired when I see intelligent women with great talents wasting away.
The feeling of every action you take making a difference to another person’s life is truly incredible.
There is no other feeling like it. The memories and feelings resulting from working for charity last a life time. When you come to the realization that a little here and a little there can make a great change then you become resolute in making positive impacts in people’s life.
One can choose between paying school fees of 2,000 for a child in public school rather than spending the money on something worthless.
Like Barack Obama said change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change we seek. It is wonderful to know that, nobody needs to wait for a single moment before starting to improve the world.
Q: What informed the idea of your NGO and what is it all about?
Ans: Our NGO is named ‘’SEND A CHILD TO SCHOOL’’ with great emphasis on GIRL CHILD- our vision at ‘’SACTSO’’ is to see children enroll at school and to finish, that is not to drop out of school due to lack of finance. With the help of God we have been able to make a significant difference in this area.
The NGO came about when I discovered that children drop out of school because of an amount as low as N1, 500. The school fee in most of our public school is between N 1, 000 to N2, 000 for most school and you discover that some parents can still not afford to pay, thereby making the children to drop out of school.
This is what we should not allow to be happening. This is why I always say N1, 000 can change and mould a destiny.
We not only pay school fees, we are also concerned about the emotional welfare of the child, and we also encourage children to start reading as from their young age.
This we did by buying books which includes educational, motivational and fictions for schools so as to create a mini library. We donated books to Bishop Delisle College, Muslim Community Secondary School, UBE Lokongoma. We hope to be able to do more and extend to other schools. We gave talks on drug abuse, sexual behavior and how to choose a career.
Q: What is the core vision of the NGO?
Ans: Our core vision is promoting educational opportunities for less privileged children in our community because with education we believe you can become anything you want to be. An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends the profound words of Benjamin Franklin.
We at ‘’ SEND A CHILD TO SCHOOL’’ organization strongly believe and embrace this astute ideology and we are committed to do our very best in promoting the right of every Nigerian Child to quality education, disbursing our limited resources to support the less privileged, ensuring they are not totally marginalized.
We are aware of the enormous challenges inherited in our immediate environment, but we believe in moving forward and resources as sacrificial investment into the education of the less privileged children.
Education opens up the mind to new doors and doing new things, it makes the mind becomes curious and curiosity leads us down new paths, New solutions that will drive the nation of our dreams. Ensuring our world becomes a better place by liberating the minds through access to quality education, this is our mission at ‘’SACTSO’’ and we are staunchly committed to its achievements’’.
Q: Can you shed light on some major activities you have carried out since it was founded?
Ans: We have provided uniforms, socks, school bags, books etc, because we believe in the dignity of every child, we go public schools at the beginning of every school session to pay school fees for the complete year. Over 250 pupils are beneficiaries till date.
We provide 2 sewing machines at Bishop Delishe to enhance the idea of the students getting involved in one vocational Skills or the other. We organized summer school (lesson) for students from JSS 1 to JSS3.
This was started in the years 2017 till date. We were unable to do for the years because of the covid-19. It will interest you to know that 5 of our students were given scholarship by effective group of schools due to our activities that was seen by the proprietor of the school on our face book handle. Our face book address is ‘’send a child to school organization’’. You can check some of our activities on the page.
Bishop Delishe is our Pilot project for the Skill acquisition. We hope to be able to extend ton other schools with time and make it an ‘’ after school program’’. In summary this is what we do school tour (a motivational talk series), operation say no to DRUG ABUSE, provision of uniforms, text books and school material support, school fees and examination fee payment support, free holiday coaching classes, mobile library, vocational training with emphasis on fashion designs for schools. SACTSO is not for words alone, we believe in doing the needful. We believe in taking ‘’STEPS’’.
Q: How are you coping with the challenge of funding?
Funding is a lifetime of any programme. For now a larger percentage of what we do is funded by my husband, Dr. Femi Akande Treasures Bakery and my humble self. We get support from a few individuals as well.
Q: How would you describe the condition of the Girl Child in Nigeria?
The condition of the Girl Child is pathetic. So much is expected from a girl child and it could be overwhelming sometimes. A girl is exposed to so many abuses more than a boy child, but I think it is getting better by the day due to so many organizations creating awareness about the plight of a girl and various steps being taken to bring about change.
Q: How would you want issues of rape tackled?
Ans: Issues of rape can be tackled when we as parents are deliberate about having honest conversation with our children both male and female, educating them about the consequences of their actions. Government should also prosecute rapists; this will go along to send warning to other rapists out there.
Also an idle hand is the devils workshop; our children must be kept busy positively at all times. We must engage them mentally, spiritually and physically and to teach them on how to work hard and be smart.
Q: How do you relax ma?
I read a lot. I can’t over emphasise the importance of reading. I travel when there is an opportunity for me. There is really no time to relax, I am always doing one thing or the other but in the midst of it all, I try to put my legs up once in a while and pamper myself with good food.
Q: Any last words for mothers and parents in general?
Ans: Engage your children positively. Let them learn a thing or two. It does not mean that is what they will become e.g taking bribe etc but the knowledge acquired can be useful in their chosen field later in the future. Ben Curson learnt how to play a musical instrument while in school which helped him in the mastering PRECISION which was later useful for him in neuro surgery.
Expose your children to books. It enlarges their vision. The popular saying that ‘’Readers are leaders is very true.
Kogi Civil Servants Must Sit For Examination Before Promotion – Barr. Tanko Says
Idris Ahmed, Lokoja.
Chairman State Civil Service Commission, Barrister Muhammed Tanko Musa, said promotions in all cadres of the civil service will be based on merit and examination.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Times on Tuesday, Barr. Tanko said promotion in the service is predicated on competition and examination, explaining that the condition of service is clearly stated on the appointment letters.
Barrister Tanko, who said that promotion and demotion are not part of the condition of service, said hence the condition for discipline, reward and examination in the administration of service
The Chairman promised that all civil servants, both retired and serving will be given free hand to perform their responsibilities as allowed by the constitution and other related statutes.
He noted with serious concern, especially for retirees whom he advised to be conscious of their categories they fall into, either compulsory, voluntary, or statutory, explaining that the Civil Service Commission is solely responsible to intimate the Governor of the vacancies created by the retirements.
“The Civil Service Commission articulates the list of the retirees and forward to the Governor for his directive to the Head of Service and Civil Service Commission for necessary action”. Barr Tanko explained.
The Chairman disclosed that all promotions in the service take effect from the date approved despite delay in implementation especially when there is financial constraint.
Barrister Tanko commended the Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello for his faithfulness and promised to adhere strictly to the charge handed to him and members of the Commission to discharge their duties diligently without fear or favour for effective service delivery.
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