By James Okolo
In his active days during the First Republic, Dr. Michael Iheonukara (M.I) Okpara, Premier of the then Eastern Nigeria was known to have popularised the saying that some men were born noble while some attained nobility by dint of hard work. Mallam Baba Mohammed, the Madakin Ankpa, popularly called ‘Giwa’ by his peers and subordinates at the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) may not have a celebrated record of attaining nobility by birth. But by dint of hard work and persistence, he has walked himself into the hallowed club of noble men of his time.
His entry into the exclusive league is not without a price. At 51, he in a way falls into the character mould of the late Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, the Presidential candidate of the defunct Great Nigeria Peoples Party, (GNPP), who in the maddening rush for power in the Second Republic, opted for politics without bitterness as his guiding principle.
Mohammed on occasions had been thrown up by a combination of forces in Kogi State and workplace to play the spoiler and in the process hold the state or office to ransom. On such occasions, however, he had toed the path of wisdom and statesmanship, forgoing predictable personal benefits simply to give peace a chance. A man with a vast network of connections, many at the BPE had thought that with the vacuum that was created with the exit of the then Director General, Benjamin Ezra Dikki, he would pull the strings to be appointed the BPE helmsman given that an insider was preferred because of the person’s institutional knowledge of the Bureau. His contemporaries dusted up their CVs and lobbied for the position but he subsumed his personal interest for the best person to be appointed which saw the emergence of the current Director-General, Mr. Alex A. Okoh, who is already performing wonders on his saddle.
An intriguing aspect of Mohammed’s style is that he is not given to publicity. He once told a select audience that what drives him in taking his actions is what the generality of the people stands to benefit from it and not what he gains or losses at the end of the day.
In his Kogi State, he has equally been playing trouble-shooting roles. In fact, his close confidants swear that while many people in the state including politicians, stoke crisis in the state so as to remain relevant and benefit from it, he has been at pains that Kogi State that should have been consolidating on its efforts at integrating the North-Central zone into the mainstream of the nation’s politics, is presently in tatters.
Destined to be a people’s man, Mohammed showed some astonishing signs at a tender age.
As a man of exceptional dynamism, contact and mobility, Mohamed’s life abounds in state and national influence. This is made manifest by the number of employments he has provided for hundreds of young men and women in Nigeria, particularly, Kogi State.
With generosity and solicitude, Baba Mohammed has served humanity variously. As a practical and reputable philanthropist, he single-handedly as a member of the Board of Directors of Mtel, took Mtel network to Ankpa.Sought and obtained the approval of the Board to establish Afribank branch in Ankpa. He has successfully given over 350 jobs to applicants and still assisting actively in participating in community development. He has been supporting the police, traditional rulers and other law enforcement agencies to curb the menace of armed robbery, kidnapping and thuggery in Ankpa and beyond.
Anyone who comes in contact with him would easily attest to the fact that his humanly, humble, approachable and down to earth coupled with his stupendous wealth of experience have always attracted him to the masses. He maintains a friendly disposition with everyone, the rich, the poor, the strong and the weak.
He is indeed a man of the people who has direct link with the masses. As a great lover of education, he has awarded full scholarship to numerous undergraduates from Kogi State in various Nigerian Universities. He has over 25 students with full sponsorship in various secondary schools in Nigeria- mostly children of the poor.
Born on October 3, 1966 in Minna, Niger State, He hails from Ankpa, Kogi State. A holder of B.Sc (Hons) Degree in Accountancy from the University of Jos, Plateau State and Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, he is also a Fellow, Certified National Accountants (FCNA).
He is a Member, PSLC 20, NIPSS, Kuru, Jos and member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM). He studied Financial Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in San Francisco, California, USA and a holder of Honorary Doctorate Degree in Arts.
The Madakin has served in various capacities for over 24 years with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the Agency charged with the responsibility for Sector Reforms and implementing the Privatisation and Commercialization of Public Enterprises in Nigeria. Consequently, he has handled many enterprises at various levels of their preparation for privatisation. In the course of his duties in the Bureau, he served as Special Assistant to Mallam Nasir A. el-Rufai and Dr. Julius J. Bala, the then Directors General of BPE. He also served as the Head of Documentation and Publications Unit of the BPE, Ag. Head of Accounts Department, Head of Evaluation Committees for the engagement of Consultants and Strategic investors, served as the Secretary of Africa Privatisation Network (APN).Before joining the BPE, he had worked with private sector organizations like Yakam Nig Ltd and the United Bank for Africa Plc.
Baba Mohammed has attended several courses, including: New Techniques in project Management for Development, the Intrados Group, Washington D.C., USA; World Bank Sponsored Workshop on Consultants’ Services held in Accra, Ghana; Information Technology (IT) programs, Advanced skills for Senior Managers in LCT, London, Strategic Management Program, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Johannesbourg,
He has served as a member of the Nigerian Technical Teams to negotiate Bilateral Relations with Countries like the Republic of South Africa, Morocco and Canada. a one time Member/Secretary of Committee on the establishment of a National Depository in Nigeria, Secretary, Sub-Committee on Cross Debt Determination and Resolution among others. Official engagements have taken him to cities like Washington D.C, Niamey, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Paris, Cape Town, Rabat, Accra, Toronto, Casablanca, Ghana, Niger, Ottawa, Dublin, London, Tokyo, Brussels, Munich, Frankfurt, Marseille, Senegal, Kenya, Tanzania, India and San Francisco, California, USA.
Mohammed represented Federal Government on the Boards of Nigerdock Nigeria Plc, NIRMSCO Properties ltd, Transcorp Hilton Hotels Plc, the then Afribank Nigeria plc, Nigerian Security Printing & Minting (NSPM), NITEL, Mtel, Nigeria Reinsurance, NICON Insurance, Aluminium Smelter Company, Delta steel company and sat on the Board of NAHCO etc.
A recipient of over 78 awards for academic excellence, youth’s empowerment and outstanding performance award by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), he is married to Hajiya Rukayat Baba Mohammed and the marriage is blessed with children.
As he clocks 51 today, the Madakin has assured that there is no going back on his mission to help mankind and better the lot of the ordinary Nigerian particularly those from his home state-Kogi. The youth in the country would do well to emulate him, particularly his disarming simplicity, honesty, unrelenting hard work and dogged determination to succeed.