The immediate past Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon Dr. Abubakar Bawa Bwari was treated to a farewell dinner yesterday by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, in association with institutional stakeholders and friends of Bawa Bwari.
At the ceremony, Bwari returned honour to the public servants when he described the Permanent Secretary, Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu as the ‘secret of my success in the sector,’ just as Bwari’s former Boss in the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Umar Ghali Na’aba said Bwari was one of his ‘most dependable allies who must be consulted before anything is embarked upon by the leadership of the House.’
The former minister was showered with goodwill and gifts while leaders agreed that the sector fared well under his watch.
Francis Kadiri reports.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Abdulkadir Mu’azu has described the immediate past Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Abubakar Bawa Bwari as a man of remarkable leadership prowess who brought good fortune to the Nigerian mining sector.
Speaking at a valedictory ceremony organized by the ministry in honour of Dr Bwari, the Permanent Secretary said: ‘I have worked with him for about one year, and I am amazed that in the course of the relationship, I discovered that Hon. Bawa Bwari retained even his friends of over forty years ago.’
‘Some of them are his childhood friends,’ he said, adding that Bwari knows how to work with people, and knows how to get people to give their best.
‘In this gathering, his secondary school classmates are here and his friends of the university years too,’ he added.
‘The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Umar Ghali Na’aba is here, and that also tells you how attractive Bawa Bwari could be,’ he added.
Discussing the virtues of the former minister, the Permanent Secretary observed that Bawa Bwari is a political leader who was able to retain his aides for over thirty years, adding that ‘this rare ability reveals the quality of relationships he nurses between himself and his aides as well as the general public.’
According to the Permanent Secretary, ‘when people continue to stick very close to a leader, it reveals that the leader is a reliable man who not only keeps relationships, but also cares about the wellbeing of those around him,’ adding that the management of the ministry can attest to the fact that civil servants have learnt so much from the leadership style of the former minister.
‘The key lessons we have leant from him include the virtues of leadership which are humility, simplicity, sincerity, patience, openness and accessibility,’ he said.
Dr Abdulkadir further said: ‘I have not worked with many ministers as a Permanent Secretary, but I have worked with many ministers as a public servant in the last 30 years, and I make bold to say that Abubakar Bawa Bwari is the minister who is accessible to practically every member of staff in the ministry.’
‘We will dearly miss him because of his humaneness,’ he said, and quickly added, ‘I am not saying this because the outgoing minister is here, I am saying it because it is the truth.’
“Although this is a send-forth ceremony, but we nurse the good hope that you will return to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development as the Honorable Minister, not as Minister of State, he added.
Discussing the achievements scored by government under the watch of the immediate past minister, Permanent Secretary said: “We all know the state of the mining sector when in 2015, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Hon Bawa Bwari were named Honourable Minister and Minister of State for Mines and Steel respectively, and we are witnesses to the harvests of change and development which their leadership has earned the mining sector.’
‘In terms of all the criteria you can think of, the Nigeria mining sector has made huge progress in the past three and half years,’ he added.
‘In the areas of investment drive, development of institutional capacity, revenue generation, combating insecurity in the minefields and even in the area of addressing the challenge of illegal mining,’ he said the country achieved so much during the period under review.
The Director General, Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, Engr Simon Obadiah Nkom who spoke on behalf of Directors-General and Chief Executives of agencies of the Ministry corroborated the Permanent Secretary’s position that Bwari is a man who knows how to work with people.
Nkom observed that Rt Hon. Umar Ghali Na’aba is a consistent guest at Bawa Bwari’s functions, and recalled that the former Speaker also graced the investiture ceremony in which Bwari was honored with the fellowship of the Nigeria Institute of Town Planners, recently.
Nkom, who doubles as the President of the Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences, NMGS, further confirmed the Permanent Secretary’s position, saying that Bwari’s leadership acumen earned him the office of Chief Whip at the National Assembly, adding that Bwari is also a Fellow of the NMGS.
Discussing the political sagacity of the former minister, the Director General said ‘Hon Bwari played crucial roles as Chief Whip of the National Assembly,’ adding that the ability of the former minister to retain the office of Chief Whip for eight years is a result of his transparency and regard for rules, as well as the ability to carry everyone along.
Addressing Bawa Bwari, he Engr Nkom said: “Sir, we will continue to celebrate you because we have not only become your friends, but also because of the remarkable impact you have made in the Nigerian mining sector.’
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Umar Ghali Na’aba who referred to Bawa Bwari as ‘my brother who is very close to me,’ described him as one of the most dependable allies in the NASS.
‘It is true that Hon Abubakar Bawa Bwari has exceptional leadership qualities, and some of you are probably aware that Bawa Bwari was Chief Whip of the House while I was the Speaker.’
‘The Whip disciplines erring members, and I am proud of him because he is a disciplinarian to the core, and does not tolerate laxities, yet he remained a man of the people who enjoyed the trust and loyalty of the members of the House.’
Discussing the resourcefulness of the former minister, Na’aba said: ‘Whenever I was not around, Hon Bawa Bwari used to hold the House on my behalf, and when I am around to preside, he assisted me in ways that are unimaginable,’ stating that the House of Representatives is probably the most difficult institution to govern as a result of the large number of interests arising from its over 360 members who belong to any of the various political parties, each with their leaders and interests.
Na’aba said that for this reason, a Speaker hardly has time for himself or family. ‘Fortunately, I had respite in the dependability of Bawa Bwari who became a great support for me, and for this country.’
‘Bawa Bwari is a humble, quiet man, a reservoir of wisdom who must be consulted before we take a decision,’ he added.
In his goodwill message, the Head of Mission, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Dr. Philip Aruna said the international medical humanitarian organisation is happy to have had a wonderful relationship with the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development under the leadership of Dr. Abubakar Bawa Bwari. He recalled that the organisation approached the ministry in furtherance of the effort to address the challenge of lead poisoning in Nigeria. While he said the effort to address the problem is a long journey, he noted that the administration embraced MSF from inception and sustained the gesture till date.
The Head of Mission recalled that ‘the first day MSF met with Dr. Abubakar Bawa Bwari while he was Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, alongside Dr. Kayode Fayemi who was then Honourable Minister, we brainstormed and tried to find a sustainable solution to the problem.’
‘A point of note is that the ministry graciously welcomed us, and we had access to all those we needed to work with.’
‘MSF got the needed commitment of stakeholders and policy makers, and that commitment was one of the key factors that paved way for our success in Nigeria.’
He said “Bwari was a key figure in the deliberations that led to the decision to convene an international conference on prevention of lead poisoning, pioneered by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, which was remarkably successful.’
He said ‘in that conference, MSF realised the commitment of the federal government through the ministry of mines and steel Development,’ adding that MSF is grateful to the ministry for all the support given to MSF to end lead poisoning in Nigeria.
The President, Women In Mining, WIM, Engr Janet Adeyemi who disclosed that Bawa Bwari was her colleague in the House of Representatives, agreed with the Permanent Secretary that through selfless and credible leadership, Bwari set a benchmark that will serve as a reference point in the mining sector.
She recalled that the National Assembly under Na’aba had examined the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007 with a view to invigorate the mining sector by providing a regulatory framework needed for the orderly development of the sector, and make it viable for national economic development.
She noted that one of the factors responsible for the success of the sector under Fayemi and Bwari is the availability of the 2007 Act which was a good regulatory framework for the sector prepared by the National Assembly under Ghali Na’aba.
Engr Adeyemi therefore commended the National Assembly for being forthright in its work on the Act of 2007. She noted that “within the past seven to ten years, the Nigerian mining sector has become so transformed,” stating that the Fayemi-Bwari administration scored a goal by encouraging women to get involved in mining, a consideration that is empowering women in the country.
The National President of the Miners Association of Nigeria, Alh Kabiru Mohammed who was represented by the National Secretary General, Mr Dele Ayanleke listed the achievements of the Buhari administration in the mining sector under the leadership of Bawa Bwari saying “a Roadmap for the Growth and Development of the Nigerian Mining Sector was developed and launched,” adding that the implementation of the roadmap has brought prosperity to the country.
According to him, the administration was able to get input of stakeholders, stating that a committee was set up to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Roadmap.
While he recalled that lack of reliable geosciences data was as a factor that militated against the establishment of large scale mining investments in the country, he commended the Buhari administration for committing thirty billion naira to exploration in order to address the problem by providing reliable geosciences data needed to attract investors to the sector.
Ayanleke who also commended the Fayemi-Bwari administration for the determination to industrialise Nigeria, recalled that it ended the legacy challenge that bedeviled the operationalisation of Ajaokuta Steel Company for many years.
Responding, Dr Abubakar Bwari commended the Permanent Secretary, Dr Abdulkadi Mu’azu and other permanent secretaries who served in the ministry, saying that he benefitted from their cooperation.
He described Dr Mu’azu for sharing the invaluable advice availed the minister, saying that it was a major factor that paved way for the success of the administration.