An Economist and banker- turned -politician, Saidu Musa Abdullahi identifies the need to make a more lasting impact in his community which he says has suffered from serious neglect over the years. He shares the reasons why he is vieing for the seat of House of Representatives in 2019 in this interview with TMG.
TMG> Having served in both public and private sectors, you obviously know your onions when it comes to issues about the economy and now you are delving into politics. Can you share why you want to contest for the position of House of Representatives(Bida, Katcha and Gbako Federal Constituency)in 2019?
Saidu> Quite a number of reasons: — Our people have suffered serious neglect from political leadership where democracy has meant nothing to our collective aspirations for a better life.
— In education, illiteracy level is still on the high because we have failed to mobilize our people to take advantage of the opportunities available in the system. The educational institutions are hugely inadequate when compared to the population of our people; enrollment level is still very poor. Begging (Almajirici), that was alien to our culture, has now become well entrenched. Our leaders have either consciously or unconsciously destroyed the psyche of our people that we have become impoverished amidst plenty in our own land because of greed. The Girl-child has become a tool for slavery in our land, with the Nupe people leading the pack when you talk of child trafficking. Our daughters and sisters are easily sighted in virtually all major cities in the country working as maids.
— In the health sector, basic and universal health care is still a mirage. NHIS, which is geared towards enhancing health care delivery, has not been tapped into. Health care centers are grossly inadequate and under-equipped, thereby putting pressure on the few existing ones.
— Infrastructure: Our roads have become death traps because our Representatives have failed in attracting FG’s attention to our plight. We have failed to even harness the potentialities of Agriculture, which is the mainstay of our people.
Unfortunately, all these are due not to material disadvantage but to defect in characters. There has been a gap between the politics that we deserve as a people and the politics that we have. Given my professional exposure in Business Development, Relationship and Personnel Management, I think I am well positioned to change the tide.
TMG> Having cited all these, what would you do differently to improve the people’s lot? We understand you already have some on-going projects?
Saidu> As an individual, my interest has always been on ventures that would enhance the well-being of our people. I believe Education holds the key to unlock the huge potentials of our land and its people. As a result, I have invested my little resources in providing educational aids to members of our community. We have tried to encourage our people to appreciate the value of education. Health is another area that is of interest to me. I have equally provided aid to members of our community that need health care. In fact, as it were, I am working on enrolling at least three thousand members of our community in NHIS through its Community Based Health Insurance Scheme Program. I have also over the years engaged community leaders on the need to halt the spate of child trafficking which has become a menace amongst our people. All these we are doing is not to seek for any political relevance but in order to earn the favors and mercy of our Creator. I feel it’s the least we can do to make living more meaningful.
TMG> What do you do to stay educated about new trends as a businessman?
Saidu> I read books and professional journals, follow and bench-mark bigger and more successful companies, gain information through market surveys, follow educative blogs and sites and go for trainings (Class room and Computer Based). I also network with colleagues (Experience sharing) e.t.c
TMG> To become a professional in one’s field you need to go for courses, trainings etc. Did you attend any of these?
Saidu> Yes, I have attended professional training programs on Leadership, Relationship Management, Negotiation Skills, Business Writing and Communication Skills anchored by some of the best training consultants in Nigeria.
TMG> What were some of the challenges you encountered as a Banker and how did you handle them?
1. Commercial banks in Nigeria place too much emphasis on deposit mobilization at the expense of the core business of Banking. The ‘mad’ chase for deposit has killed professionalism in banking
2. Little or no room for inputs on policy formulation from field officers.
3. Little attention to issues of training and manpower development
4. Lack of tailor-made products to cater for the need of some of our major clients
5. Inadequate support in terms of loans and advances to businesses in upcountry branches
6. Skewed reward system which mostly favors marketers against operators.
TMG> Give us examples of people you have trained or mentored and where they are now.
Saidu> As Head of Marketing in Zenith Bank, I had a team of about 15 Marketing Officers that worked directly under me. At the time, the branch was not doing too well in terms of performance but with God on our side, and perseverance through relationship management and effective leadership, we were able to turn around the fortunes of the Branch. I am happy that some of my team members have grown rapidly in the Bank, while some are doing well today in organizations like CBN, SEC, KPMG e.t.c
TMG> Tell us about your management style and how you handle people?
Saidu> Well, I am more inclined to a participative management style. I function more effectively in a team. My style is rested on assembling the right team with the right skill set and temperament to deliver on any assigned responsibility through building commitment and consensus. I try to understand the strengths and or weaknesses of each team member and assign responsibilities based on identified strengths.
TMG> Tell us 5 things that you consider to be your strengths in business and politics?
1. A team player
2. Excellent listening skills
3. Effective and efficient task management skills
4. Result-oriented disposition
5. Excellent inter-personal relationship skills
TMG> What is your advice to the youths?
As daunting as the challenges may seem, the youths as the engine room of the country’s productivity need to be well educated, informed, trained and bold to take on the challenges facing us as a people. We need to go beyond rhetorics and get involved at all levels of decision making. It is about our future. We shouldn’t therefore allow the older generation to destroy it.
TMG> Tell us more about yourself and your career background over the years:
I graduated from the Department of Economics, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with a Second Class (Upper Division) and have a Masters Degree in Development Studies from Bayero University, Kano. I am a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Economists.
I have more than 10 years professional experience in three different sectors namely: Banking, Oil and Gas and presently Construction.
I worked for Zenith Bank Plc where I became the Head of Marketing Unit of a branch, then went on to Oando Marketing Plc as a Branch manager and presently, I’m piloting the affairs of Gerawa Global Engineering Limited as its Chief Operating Officer.
My main competency is in Business Development, Relationship and Personnel Management and I consider myself to be a team player, self-motivated and analytically-minded.
TMG> Do you socialise and when?
Saidu Abdullahi: Yes, mostly weekends. I go to Porto Golf Resort in Minjibir, Kano for relaxation and at times, I like to watch a game of Polo.