On El-Rufai and Marine Platforms’ Bond

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Lekan Fatodu
For so long questions have been raised on why the public that often blames the government appears quite similar with the government they routinely criticise for negligence and lack of passion for progress.

And this thought would find relevance in the apparent over-dependence of the citizens, including the rich, on the government to get everything done while everyone else, lamenting, buries their hands in their pockets.

The fact is any society that depends on government to make everything happen will remain far from development. And this is because all enviable developments as seen in other parts of the world have been brought to being by concerted efforts of visionary governments, responsible corporate sector and vibrant civil society entities.

Each of those strata in those societies understands that they have a role to play in improving their society and sustaining its development. And that is why those societies, especially those in the West, have remained the envy of others around the world.

Going by that, what is wrong with the Nigerian society becomes painfully obvious. The vital components of this society are either suffering from lack of knowledge of or deliberately insensitive to their role in moving Nigeria forward. Little wonder the country’s journey to greatness looks so clumsy, long and laborious.

For example, some have come out heavily against governments across the Northern part of Nigeria for allowing the pernicious Boko Haram sect to grow out of control. Their conclusion is concrete given the absence of vision and collaborative efforts amongst the critical stakeholders in the region.

Education is one of the widely noted powerful tools for fighting poverty and preventing the terrorist ideologies. Yet the vast population of the North is reported to be living in abject poverty with abysmal records of illiteracy. This has placed greater challenges on the prospects of the advancement of the region, which makes it difficult to compete well with other regions of Nigeria.

However, the latest action taken by the government of Mallam Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State in collaboration with Marine Platforms Limited (MPL), an oil services company, may well be a viable plan that is critically needed to accelerate development in that region of the country.

In what has been described succinctly as a case of “innovative corporate social responsibility”, the governor, quite recently, received a hundred mobile libraries from MPL. The gesture was in fulfillment of the oil firm’s promise last year at the 2015 Ake Arts and Books Festival. And One hundred primary schools are the beneficiaries.

At the formal handover ceremony at LGEA Sheikh Abubakar Gumi Model Primary School, Polytechnic Road, Tudun Wada, Kaduna, Mr. Baji Nyam of Marine Platforms presented a sample of the mobile library with the books stocked in it, a proof of his company’s intention to boost reading culture among school children in parts of the North, beginning with Kaduna State.

“We all agree that our future depends on our children. The whole idea is not just for the children to have books, but for the books to be able to trigger off inquisitiveness, trigger off the desire to learn, trigger off the desire to explore. That is the whole benefit of this project. Books are very significant to children; they spark off that desire to learn and make them inquisitive. Of course, an inquisitive child is one that keeps asking all the questions. Children want to learn about other places; they want to learn about other people and the society around them,” Nyam said.

And the governor’s response was quite encouraging.
“Your contribution is significant and creative. We hope to adopt your model and scale it up. It is sad that young people don’t read any more; they prefer visuals and they love pictures. We have to find ways to make young people interested in reading and have access to libraries and good books.”
There is no limit to what gain this single gesture will translate into for the people of the state especially if the government eventually adopts the model as the governor promised.

Interestingly, beyond MPL’s commitment to supporting education up North, as part of its corporate social responsibility, the organisation has rendered and continued to give massive assistance down South particularly to people in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Various communities in the Niger Delta have been beneficiaries, at different times, of CSR initiatives of the organisation, Onne and Ogu rural communities of Rivers State being the latest.

Similarly, MPL, in partnership with a development entity, is currently working on an innovative technological solution that will help create more awareness on the importance of the UNs Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) amongst the members of the private sector, stimulate them to get behind the goals and attract greater interests towards the attainment of the SDGs.

It remains a universal truth that much more can be achieved much faster when two or more people work on a particular task. For too long, the task of taking Nigeria to greater heights has been left squarely in the hands of the government. And at the risk of stating the obvious, the government is doing an abysmally poor job of it. You only need to ask one or two people around for evidence.

Nigeria has never needed an army of genuine change agents more than it does these days. And the efforts of Governor el-Rufai and the brains behind Marine Platforms should be seen as a right step in the right direction towards progress, which should be emulated across board.