Thirty-five-year-old Adamu Garba II is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of IPI Solutions Nigeria Limited, a leading cloud computing company, headquartered in Lagos. At age 26, the Adamawa State-born information technology guru is already an emperor, controlling fortune and human beings, while driving competitors to the back. Away from his entrepreneurial exploits, he went to lead a nation. Though a fulfilled businessman he want to be Nigeriaâ€™s next president in 2019. Garba II tells Omolabake Fasogbon about his presidential ambition, political strategies, programmmes for Nigeria
Can you take us through your background ?
I was born 35 years ago into the family of Alhaji Adamu Jauro Garba and Hajiya Hadiza Garba at Luggere ward in Jimeta, Yola-North Local Govt of Adamawa State, Nigeria. It was pretty much adventurous growing up between Luggere and rural Jambutu wards. The memories were really exciting as I can recall how in company of other children,went fishing, fetched firewood ,fruits and vegetables from bushes around and take home as staples. I had my elementary school at Jambutu primary school and Luggere primary school, then attended Doubeli secondary school and finished in 2001.
I later proceeded to Kano University of Technology through pre-degree programme where i studied electrical engineering. There,I was encouraged to contest for the position of Studentsâ€™ Union President as a result of my leadership skill and interest in the people.
I obliged and campaigned on principle of equal treatment for all irrespective of tribe or background which was well accepted. Being a state university, the school management was not comfortable with our action and became curious that non indigenes might want to take over the school. At a time I was away to attend a laboratory practice at Bayero University, Kano, a riot broke out and that got me rusticated,though I wasnâ€™t involved, the school maintained its decision on me because most of the members that took part in the riot were my supporters. I later continued my education and professional certifications.
You studied electrical engineering but you are an information technology expert.
Yes,you are right. As a student , I became worried that most of the things that we were being taught had no practical applications outside school. I realised that when i asked questions related to the field, the answers I get from practitioners is usually different from what we learnt in school and even the lecturers seemed not to have a practical experience on what they were teaching. I opted for engineering because I needed something more hands-on, yet I ended up with a lot of calculations with no real-life application,so I felt I was wasting my time. The period I was rusticated in school offered me an ample opportunity to redirect my step. so , I joined NIIT Kano,in 2005 to study Microsoft Systems and technology under its MSCE programme. Before then,I never touched or used computer. Considering its real life applications, I fell in love with computers and became more inquisitive until I developed a career in it, the result of which is what I am today.
As a successful businessman, what were the challenges you encountered?
As it is usually said that nothing good comes easy,it wasnâ€™t all that smooth at the beginning.Basically, my venture into business at an early age put my ability and experience to question as i had to compete with senior and older colleagues. Most of my client saw high risk in allowing a young man of 26 years old handle their critical IT infrastructure worth millions of naira. A lot of checks and tests were done while some will delay my payment until the job is satisfactorily delivered. It became so difficult that sometimes I had to trek to work. I remember i used to trek from Surulere to Samuel Manuwa Street, around 1004 estate in Victoria Island and trek back because I didnâ€™t have fare. These challenges strengthened my resolve to build my business.
Are there politicians in your family line?
No. My father is an Islamic scholar, with traditional title in his village while my mother was a full time house wife and now ,a petty trader.
Under democratic regimes, no young person has ever ruled Nigeria, what gave you the impression and courage that you can do the job?
It is important for us to chart a better way for our nation. In leadership, age is not a barrier, wisdom is key. I have an excellent manifesto on how we can improve the life of ordinary Nigerians by deliberate and committed effort to transit from poverty. A manifesto that will transform us from the current supplier nation to a real free market economy. Our manifesto will change the entire education system to skill-based knowledge and training systems; a manifesto that will define the soul of a true Nigerian identity. A manifesto that will unleash the power of 180 million Nigerian spirit to the world, to create impossible innovations and produce very successful talent pool as is obtainable in advanced countries. I think Nigerians should start to prepare for a new Nigerian dream by our great Nigerian renaissance project where each citizen will transparently measure our government in 4 key metrics namely: Better education and training for our children; better standard healthcare facilities for all Nigerians; better market to transact in goods and services and more money in their pocket as a result of improved trade.
Do you think Nigerians will accept you?
Nigeria is predominantly made of youth. Over 65 per cent of the population are below the age of 35. All they need are good , prosperous and a happy life. The present system as currently instituted cannot give them this. They will be very happy to provide it themselves in a single team, using a unified aim in a country they so dearly know have potentials to make them great.
How long have you been nurturing this ambition?
Since 2003 and I have read many books and studied many policies of state crafts to acquire more knowledge on how best to liberate the country.
Convince us that you can and have what it takes to rule a complex country like Nigeria.
Absolutely yes. The average Nigerian is an enterprising spirit. The issue we have is identity crisis. We have different bodies and systems that define many versions of us than the one that defines us as one indivisible nation. Once a country is sunk into identity crisis, it finds it hard to realise what it truly represent and therefore be pushed into primordial sentiments such as tribal and religious identities.
In solving this crisis,we will start with the value system renaissance. The great reawakening of the Nigerian spirit. We will run a lot of re-orientation activities through different media channels using a lot of our talented artistes to sell Nigeria to Nigerians. We will propose a name change for the country. We think the current name is having a bad image and a â€œsour brandâ€. Since we are being reborn, we may need to consensually choose a better, more fitting African kind of name for our country that will reflect our new standing and unleash us to the world.
One thing our ruling elite fail to understand is that our potential lies in our geographic location and our market size. We are named Niger-area because of river Niger, one of the longest rivers in Africa, over 2,500 miles long and it flows right through our country down to Atlantic Ocean. This was obviously strategic then to Sir George Goldie, the owner of UAC and Unilever who was actively trading through that basin during colonial exploitation. Where is river Niger today? We have about 846-mile-long shoreline around Gulf of Guinea. What are we doing with it? We left the river Niger to be drying up instead of dredging it and allowing mini boats to transport containers, through the river into the hinterland at a much-reduced price. It is 8 times cheaper to transport on water than on land. Yet we focus more on building roads that have never been well done.
We need to strengthen our naval forces with the right tools and technological capacity to ensure we have total control of our shorelines and with United States support around the entire Gulf of Guinea. Yet we focus on land army while ceding some of the shorelines to militantsâ€™ control. From Calabar to Lagos is a huge advantage to Nigerian geography with the potential to make Nigeria a sub Saharan African market center. Yet crude oil has blinded our thinking and policy choices. I am so happy to learn that even the ruling class all agree that the current patronage systems are not sustainable.
We will work extensively to open our market potentials. We will use oil money only to build infrastructure and not to pay salaries and state subventions. The so-called FAAC will be discontinued under our government. With creation of special geo-economic zones in each state, we will support them to create their revenues locally and run their government.
The shorelines, from Calabar, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta to Lagos will be a strong economic activity area and energy production zones or Shoreline Energy Production Zones (SEPZ) .We will build heavy gas pipeline across the country and explore our natural gas to power our homes for energy needs. In addition to the hydro power for electricity, we will use, coal to build a large thermal station in Enugu capable of generating 20000MW of electricity within the first 5 years of our government.
On the northern part of the country, places like Sokoto, Jigawa, some parts of Kano, Yobe, Maiduguri, Bauchi, Katsina, Zanfara and Adamawa all have great potentials of generating a high amount of solar enegy at industrial scale. We will invest $5 Billion dollars on solar and wind renewable energy in those areas. We will call this Inland Energy Production Zones (IEPZ).
On Education, we will take over the control of primary school education and transfer it under presidential task force of federal government. We will focus our training on skill-based, rather than academic-based training so that we can graduate young innovative minds. We will give reasonable autonomy to all universities and make them to generate their income to run programs which will be provided with curriculum geared towards skill-based training that is applicable in modern work place. All subventions going to universities currently will be directed to primary education and our unity schools.
On healthcare, we will design a contributory system that will ensure health cover for all Nigerians irrespective of status or background. The system will ensure our life expectancy increases to 60 years. We shall also empower our rural women to generate value to the economy as its done in Bangladesh and other countries More details will be available in our manifesto.
When will you officially declare your ambition?
We are looking at end of November 2017 or beginning of December 2017. We shall make the date known very soon.
Currently, we have no political party affiliation yet, but we will keep consulting with all political parties and pick the one that will allow us to execute our policies. My sponsors are the dream I have for this country and its people and the zeal, the will and the ability to do it subject to my 12 years plan for this position.
It is a fact that politics can be demanding physically and financially, how prepared are you?
I am young, strong-willed, able, healthy intelligent and smart. I have strong emotional balance and all the attributes obtainable of a visionary leader. I am fully prepared.
How do you intend to engage the youths, what are your special plans for the youth?
I will enable the economy to function, create a lot of skills acquisition, training and job friendly policies to get our youthful population engaged and productive. Thatâ€™s why our focus will be to enable the Nigerian economy.
As a technologist, if you eventually becomes the president, how would you develop the Nigerian ICT sector?
Technology today is the centerpiece and anchor of the 4th industrial revolution. All countries grow when they carve their niche during a certain industrial revolution. Great Britain, Germany, France, United States all carved their niches in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd industrial revolutions from 14th down to 20th Centuries. United states, China, India and Russia are now key players in the fourth (4th) industrial revolution. This may last till the end of this century.
We have an opportunity to tap into this and have one of the greatest industrial innovations zones in our country. Our youthful population, projected to grow to 400 Million by 2050 is the greatest beneficiary if effectively put to use. Imagine 400 million people production/consumption economy with an average GDP by PPP of $20,000 by 2050. This will make our combined GDP by PPP of $8 Trillion economy. With this volume, Nigerians will only be poor by choice not by lack of adequate resources. My government will actively work to achieve this target.