OPINION: 2019 Citizens Conference – My Account

By Nafiu Toyin Abdulqadir (NTA)

Yesterday we attended 2019 Citizens Conference at the main auditorium of University of Ilorin. Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi was one of the panelists. Others were Mr. Tope Fasua, Dr. Adebola Bakare and Ms Fali Amun.

It was a nice experience and a very good opportunity to benefit from the wealth of experience of the speakers. At first, I almost didn’t want to attend because I felt I had been to several conferences and seminars this year already, both in and outside Kwara State. But given the rich profile of the guest speakers, one wouldn’t want to miss that opportunity to learn directly from these accomplished personalities. I must commend the convener, Seun Awogbenle for having the courage to bring together those rear gems. I must admit it’s not easy.

Of course the conference was about Nigeria. As we all know, Nigeria is still a work in progress. From what I could pick from the programme, Citizens Conference was an attempt to provide a platform for Nigerian citizens to continue to discuss ‘us’ as a nation, dissect our problems and possibly proffer workable solutions.

The discussion was fantastic. Mr. Tope Fasua was very cerebral. He is an economist and a Presidential Candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) in the 2019 general elections. He spoke extensively on how Nigeria is running a yearly budget that is not taking the country anywhere amongst the leagues of best nations in the world. He also berated government for not tapping into the potentials of students in universities. For instance, he suggested that the civil engineering departments in our universities should begin to see how students will be constructing short distance roads as projects, though with the support of government. According to him, one of the reasons education is backward in Nigeria is poor funding. “The entire Nigerian budget this year is not up to what South Africa budgeted for education alone,” he said.

Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi spoke on capacity building. The general trend now is that youth should take over from the older generation. He lauded this and in fact acknowledged that it is happening already. However, he expresses concern that having a seat on the table is quite different from having the capacity to deliver. He frowned at the rate at which this generation is getting carried away by frivolities on social media. While he supports the youth to be reckoned with, he enjoys them to start building the capacity needed to be able to match the demanding nature of the business of governance.

Mallam Abdullahi referenced the fact that the older generation we often claim attained leadership at young age (Wole Soyinka, Tafawa Balewa, Awolowo, ZIK, Enahoro etc) didn’t get the chance on a platter of gold. They were already accomplished professionals who had distinguished themselves in various walks of life before they were put in charge of this country.

Abdullahi also charges Nigerians to be united and see the country as a collective project, not Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba business. The sense of collectivity, he believes, would endow us with a feeling of responsibility towards our dear nation which will in turn propels us to think of what we can do for Nigeria first before thinking of what the country can do for us. This he refered to as ‘the small work’ that all of us must imbibe.

Other speakers also spoke eloquently and passionately about Nigeria as well. The general message the panelists shared with the audience at the auspicious gathering, and by extension Nigerians everywhere, gave me hope that the kind of prosperity that we want for Nigeria might be near after all.

Meanwhile, after the programme, I was privileged to be part of the entourage of Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi that paid a condolence visit to the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari over the loss of his mother. The death of the queen mother, popularly called ‘Nma’ during her lifetime, was particularly a great loss to Ilorin emirate as she was connected biologically to at least 4 previous Emirs of Ilorin; hence regarded as a ‘prime jewel’ of the Emirate. We pray Almighty Allah to forgive her shortcomings and grant her the best of paradise.

After leaving the Emir’s palace, the entourage of Mallam Abdullahi also visited Ubandawaki Compound in Pakata area to condole with the Alangua who lost a son (Alh Issa Salman) very recently. May Allah be merciful with his soul and give the family the fortitude to bear the loss.

All said, last Thursday was a big day of learning and reflection for me. Yes, the Citizens Conference has come and gone! Nma is no more! Alh. Issa left unannounced! But all of these are not without a lesson; which is that our breath is like a movement that can be channeled towards ‘small work’ or total loss. It all depends on our choices. May God guide us aright always.

Thank you for finding the time and the patience to read this.

Hon. NTA cares!

Abdulqadir, a media practitioner, social commentator and youth influencer, writes from Ilorin. He tweets @henteahay


DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on our opinion page are those of the writer and do not represent the position of INSIDER or any of its reporters/editors.

2 Replies to “OPINION: 2019 Citizens Conference – My Account”

  1. Thanks for offering us this menu for afternoon. I wasn’t at the Conference, but you have given me a dose of what was dished. Thank you NTA.

    1. You are welcome Sir. @ INSIDER, we love to keep you updated with the news form within.

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