Leadership is all about service to the people in order to create the environment for sustained development. A good leader must be armed with necessary skills not only to stem crisis, he should also strive to empower the polity strategically.
Senate President Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan has identified education as one sure way of stabilising the environment, which will create opportunities for a sane and robust economy.
Lawan, who is seeking election to the presidency in 2023 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is passionate about education. He is worried about the legion of out-of-school children roaming the streets as much as he is disturbed by thousands of jobless graduates idling away.
Education, of course, is the primary constituency of the Senate President. After earning a degree in Geography from the University of Maidugiri in 1984, his first job was in the education sector, where he engaged in moulding minds of emerging Nigerian leaders.
Lawan hails from Gashua in Yobe State and represents Yobe North Senatorial District but he acts on the larger picture, always advocating a better Nigeria.
This is one man who sleeps and wakes up thinking about the challenges facing education in Nigeria, from children plying the streets to students staying at home because of incessant strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Lawan has a soft spot for ASUU, having been a member between 1987 and 1997 when he lectured at the University of Maidugiri. He had upgraded his profile with a master’s degree in Remote Sensing from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, and doctorate in Remote Sensing/GIS from Cranfield University.
He is pained that, because of dwindling revenue accruing to the Federal Government, it has become difficult for compromise to be achieved with striking university teachers. While calling for understanding, Lawan believes there will be resolution of mutual benefit at the end.
Lawan is also having sleepless nights over rising insecurity. And one sure way of tackling this is to take children to schools, instead of forests. Education has a way of liberating the mind and also empowering younger people.
Long before many compatriots knew it, Lawan foresaw the crisis between farmers and herders. In 2009, as chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, he sponsored the Desertification Control Commission Bill.
Lawan rose against the proposed Kafin Zaki Dam, stressing that Tiga Dam and Challawa Gorge Dam had affected water flow negatively, thereby leaving River Jama’are as the sole source of water in the Yobe River.
Lawan’s reasoning was that the dams brought poverty and increased desert encroachment and conflicts between farmers and herders.
As member, House of Representatives, between 1999 and 2007, he served variously as chairman of the committees on Agriculture and Education.
Lawan knows that Nigeria cannot depend on oil while expecting the economy to turn around. This is the same country of the groundnut pyramids, Cocoa House and palm oil plantations.
“We have to diversify the economy. Nigeria is blessed with abundant human and natural resources. It is, therefore, proper for us to look at other sectors that can push things up. We must pay more attention to agriculture, especially,” Lawan said.
The Senate President believes that, with education, the problem of insecurity will be half solved. The streets will be free of children and hapless citizens to be recruited for gunfights. And that will boost the economy, as investors worm themselves back to country.
Senator Lawan has been in the National Assembly since 1999. He is loaded with experience not just as a leader, he is also a teacher. He is at home in all parts of the federation. If you do not find him inaugurating projects in the South-East, he is down South-West dialoguing with governors.
At this time in our political development, the country needs a stabilizer, a compassionate servant-leader with a progressively consistent political ideology, a grassroots mobiliser whose blueprint is all about a greater Nigeria with sound economy and effective security architecture. That man is Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan.
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