President Muhammadu Buhari is no doubt a farsighted and conscientious leader with the ability to see beyond the horizon. This statement is not hypothetical especially, if one looks at the appointments he made so far in the one year plus life of his administration. Although there are outcries here and there, but none was meritorious as they were rather hinged on the usual sectional or ethnic clamours and not the competence of the appointees.
The recent appointment of Mrs. Hadiza Bala Usman as the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority has equally created a media furore in some quarters, particularly the over hyped Nigerian social media community. This may not be unconnected to her been inconspicuous in a world dominated by rabble-rousing politicians and overbearing opportunists. Her name may not ring a loud bell among such familiar amazons; but behind it is a sufficiently astute, forthright and outspoken woman whose thundering voice always echo in challenging the perennial rot in our body politic. It is commonly believed that some of the greatest individuals who left remarkable traces wherever they have a stint are little known to the public. This was the case with Hadiza Bala Usman!
An amazingly fearless woman, Hadiza is a scion of the erudite scholar and unrivalled historian late Dr Yusufu Bala Usman, whose name resonates with a vibrating sound whenever it is uttered in both academic and political spheres of this country. Born on 2nd January, 1976 in Zaria, Kaduna State Hadiza started her education at Ahmadu Bello University Staff Primary School. She went ahead to complete her secondary and undergraduate studies at the University Campus in Zaria, where she bagged a Bsc. in Business Administration. Her insatiable quest for knowledge saw her off to the University of Leeds in United Kingdom where she obtained an MA in Development Studies.
Hadiza started her working career as a Research Assistant with Center for Democratic Development and Research Training (CEDDERT) Zaria, a Non Governmental Organisation established to promote and advance scientific research and training for the purpose of providing solutions to the problems of the democratic community and national development of the people of Nigeria, Africa and the African Diaspora. Her excellent performance saw to the next level; Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), that vibrant agency that was saddled with the responsibility of implementing the privatisation programme of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. From July 2000 to August 2004, she worked as Enterprise Officer in the Bureau who provided strategic support to the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector Reform Steering Committee chaired by the Minister of Communication. She later served the Bureau in the capacities of Departmental Procurement Officer and IT/Website Liaison Officer among many other important portfolios she held there.
In October 2004 she was hired by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), for the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) as Special Assistant to the Minister of the FCT on Projects Implementation, with a wide range of terms of reference. She assisted the Minister in managing the reforms of key Mission Critical Agencies of the FCT which includes the Abuja Geographical Information Systems, Abuja Development Control Department and Abuja
Metropolitan Management Agency. She also coordinated all multilateral and bilateral relationships of the FCTA with development partners – UNDP, DFID and World Bank. She oversaw the implementation of all the programmes of these development partners. She was among the team of experts that conceptualised the establishment of an entrepreneurial development agency in the FCT and, she coordinated the set up of the agency which was commissioned in January 2006. In July 2007 she was engaged again by the UNDP to serve yet as Special Assistant to the Minister of the FCT, this time around of Physical Infrastructure, where she was saddled with the responsibilities of providing strategic advise to the Minister on the implementation of all physical infrastructure initiatives in FCT, producing a strategic Development Blueprint of the new FCTA (as Member and Secretary of Blueprint Committee) and coordinating the relationship of the FCTA with development partners. She was among the team of experts who transformed the Federal Capital Territory that we now recall in rapt nostalgia.
In 2008 Hadiza served as Executive Director of Abuja Enterprise Agency, in charge of promoting the development of micro, small and medium enterprises in the FCT. She was also the Director, Fund Raising and Strategy for the Good Governance Group (3G), a Non Governmental Organisation that advocates for the entrenchment of good governance across the three tiers of government.
Having drank from the fountain of her imperishable radical father, Hadiza made a dramatic foray into the murky waters of Nigerian politics and social activism. She was the candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) for the House of Representatives seat for Musawa/Matazu Federal Constituency in her home state of Katsina. Her fervour for taking headlong the most daunting challenges where the menfolk are jittery to go, endeared her to the rank and file of Nigeria’s foremost politicians and policy makers. She was always assigned to do the most difficult tasks or to provide intellectual solutions to intractable problems. She served as Member and Secretary of various committees including the CPC Renewal Committee (2011); APC Strategy Committee (2014); North Central Gubernatorial Elections Screening Committee (2014); APC Elections Planning Committee (2014); APC Presidential Campaign Council (2015); Presidential Inauguration Committee (2015), among others.
In July 2015, she was appointed the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kaduna State, the active position she held until her recent appointment. A wild jubilation within government circle in Kaduna greeted her recent appointment, ironically, not because she has has gotten an elevation, but because the woman who ensured the enforcement due process was now gone and, business will return as usual.
In September 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed her to serve as Member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption.
Hadiza was a co-founder of the global movement Bring Back Our Girls, which has been demanding for the rescue of the 219 young school girls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists from Chibok Secondary School in Borno State.
It was obviously her indefatigable energy shoots her to limelight and prominence. Without mincing words, she was a woman of resilient spirit, mental and creative energy with unmatched ability to get things done. It was her involvement with the Bring Back Our Girls campaign and other patriotic campaigns behind the scenes that practically set her apart culminating into her winning international awards and recognitions. She bagged the Financial Time’s (FT) Most Influential Women Award of 2014; the CNN’s Most Inspiring Woman Award of 2014 and; Ebony Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Black Women in the world.
Certainly, Mrs. Hadiza Bala Usman merited her new appointment, and the Nigerian Ports Authority is very lucky to have her as the new captain. Her vast experience, shrewdness and agility will surely be of immense benefit to the transformation of that transportation sub-sector.
Wrote in from Abuja