Mustapha described the special award for COVID-19 conferred on him as an incentive to do more, writes Tajudeen Kareem

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Likewise, nation-building requires the little, individual contributions of citizens, big and small. This was aptly emphasized by President Muhammadu Buhari at the celebration of the 19th National Productivity Day and the conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award on 47 individuals and organisations in Abuja, last week.

In the words of President Buhari, the annual National Merit Award was designed “to identify, recognize and reward productive individuals and organizations in both the public and private sectors, for high productivity, hard work and excellence.”

The symbolism of the event, said the president, “underscores the vital and cardinal role productivity has assumed globally.”

In essence, the quest for good governance rests with highly productive citizens committed to rapid economic growth, social progress and improved standard of living.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige said the observance of the National Productivity Day and Conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award (NPOM) is an avenue or the federal government to recognise higher productivity and excellence in service of individuals and organisations and their efforts to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.

Ngige said that given the cardinal role of productivity in the development of any nation, it was imperative that the citizenry be consistently reminded of the need for developing a productive mindset that will ensure the productivity growth of all the sectors of the economy. The award among other things, aims at stimulating productivity consciousness and reward innovation, creativity and hard work among Nigerians. “It is also to recognise and reward best practices in productivity, quality and innovation,” he disclosed. 

The Minister described productivity as the most important determinant of social economic growth, wealth creation, employment generation and overall improved standard of living.

He said the present administration focuses on enhancing higher productivity as no nation would be self-reliant and competitive in the international market without productivity improvement in all sectors.

The awards, delayed by the breakout of Covid-19, were conferred on 47 individuals and organizations in both the public and private sectors by President  Buhari for their high productivity, hard work and excellence in commemoration of the 19th NPD Day and NPOM Award for 2019 and 2020.

Top on the pack are the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Abdullahi Adamu recognized for his commitment to farming and national foods security and the Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha, honoured for his diligence and commitment to service as the Chairman, Presidential Task Force of COVID-19.

Others are the immediate past Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chike Ihekweazu; Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Akin Abayomi; industrialist, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu and businessman, Dr. Mike Adenuga.

NPOM posthumous awards were conferred on Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh who died after an encounter with Ebola virus as well as Mr. Babatunde Lawal who until his death was the Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Affairs Office at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

A few corporate organisations were recognised including the National Information Technology Development Agency, Erisco Foods Limited, Financial Derivatives Limited, Lagos, Crown Flour Mills Lagos and Tummy Tummy Foods Industry Limited.

Mustapha has described the special award for COVID-19 conferred on him as an additional moral burden to do more for the nation and government.

Shortly after the handshake with the president, he said: “I will dedicate this award to all the people that were involved in the national response to COVID-19, especially my colleagues on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. It was one awesome team, including the media team, men and women who worked assiduously in very difficult, hard and dangerous time. 

“Because we were dealing with a virus that was unknown to ensure that lives and livelihoods of Nigerians were protected. And the process, we were able to deal with the adverse effects of COVID-19 and its impact on the economy. 

“The economic sustainability plan was able to cause us to exit the recession in a very, very, very quick time addressing the changes in governance because COVID-19 came with his difficult ways of oppression, we had to really do a switch to virtual meetings, virtual way of running government activities, with very little face to face contact.”

In appreciation of the selfless service of the SGF, Presidential Buhari has severally paid glowing tributes to his commitment and leadership qualities.

“Since his appointment as SGF, my respect and admiration for Mustapha have grown ever stronger and deeper because of the passion and energy with which he does his job. Mr. Mustapha is a remarkably competent person who enjoys the confidence and support of his colleagues,” the President said in a letter to Mustapha.

The President also commended him for “playing a big part in the nation’s unparalleled success in combating the Covid-19 pandemic even as he urged “other public servants to borrow a leaf from Boss Mustapha who does his job with passion and amazing talent for details.”

As emphasized by Dr. Ngige, measuring national productivity imperative to remind the citizenry of the need for developing a productive mindset that will ensure rapid and organised growth of all sectors of the economy in realization of the overall development of the nation.

He said that the present administration had successfully charted a path for economic growth and development for Nigeria with a new development plan. “The decision of the government to observe NPD every year was predicated on the need to stimulate productivity consciousness and reward innovation, productivity and hard work among Nigerians”, he explained.

Kareem writes from Abuja

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