Hadiza Bala Usman

Hadiza, prove them wrong!

Robert Mankoff said that, as a cartoonist, he didn’t become a regular contributor to the New Yorker until he did an analysis of all the published cartoons in the magazine and realized that all the published ones

Hadiza Bala Usman
Hadiza Bala Usman

were the ones that made you think.

Abdulkareen Baba Aminu, the editor of Daily Trust on Saturday, does this well.  His cartoon on the back page of last Saturday’s edition was the first positive spin I read on the appointment of Hadiza Bala Usman as the new managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority. (Uba Sani, Governor el-Rufai’s Special Adviser on politics and Hadiza’s colleague, has written another insightful piece since.)  In the cartoon, someone telephoned the president saying: “Hello Mr. President. Sir, there’s a short bespectacled fellow outside the Aso Villa gates demanding to see you. He’s holding a large placard that says #BRINGBACK OUR CHIEF OF STAFF.”

This way, the cartoon shows that HadizaBala Usman’s appointment as the MD of NPA leaves a huge vacuum in Kaduna State; in other words, rather than being a lightweight appointee or a pretender, she is actually missed in her state.  A phone conversation with Bashir Dabo, one of Gov. el-Rufai’s aides, confirmed that she was indeed missed.

Before the cartoon, I asked my wife, another Hadiza, if she could tell me why people were against her appointment.  She said she couldn’t because all the reasons advanced against it, didn’t make sense to her.  “Thank you,” I said, “I thought I was alone in thinking that!”
One of the reasons mentioned is the fact that she’s worked most of her adult life with el-Rufai. Viewed from this angle, those against the appointment may think that she’s not ripe enough or independent enough to helm an agency as big as the Nigerian Ports Authority. Muhammad Auta, my friend from Taraba State, and a faithful follower of this column, wrote in a letter to the editor in the Daily Trust of penultimate Friday: “She’s a square peg in a round hole.”

Others frown at this appointment because she’s a woman or because, they argue, all the Federal Government’s appointments from Kaduna State are of women.
While others have seen the development differently; they contend that there is nothing wrong with appointing a woman and at 40 years, she is old enough to be so appointed.  If anything, they argue, her youth should be an advantage.

This author is more favorably disposed to the idea that being tutored and mentored by el-Rufai actually advantages the person so mentored.  I agree with Gimba Kakanda, who told me that he preferred to work with a great leader that would inspire him to greatness himself.  And many Nigerians would tell you that wherever el-Rufai has worked, he leaves behind such inspiring comment as “we’ve never seen anything like this, not before him or since.”  Although one would concede that working with one man could be monotonous or boring, except that el-Rufai is anything but boring. So who better to train our future leaders?

Therefore, I  see this appointment as one of the best – probably the best – appointment made so far by President Muhammadu Buhari. Consider for example a coin, or a pie chart with four segments.  Call them the quadrants of experience: politics, activism, international experience and public service. Hadiza has compressed her 16 years of work experience to populate all of the quadrants.  A complete package is a phrase you hear often, but this is one of the few times that it is actually merited.

In politics, she was a member of APC Strategy Committee which defined the policy thrust of the party and then developed the party manifesto. She also served as the secretary of the APC National Elections Planning Committee. The committee formulated and organized the party’s election winning strategies. Again, she was the Administrative Secretary of the APC Presidential Campaign.  And finally as a member of the Presidential Inauguration Planning Committee representing the in-coming administration of President Buhari from April to May 2015.

Her public service record also shows that this is not the first time President Buhari is appointing her. In September 2015, the president chose her to serve as a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption.  An appointment that made her worthy of sitting together with respected members like Professor ItseSagay.
In July 2015, she was appointed as the Chief of Staff to the Kaduna State Governor, a position she held before the current appointment. These appointments occupy her public service quadrant.  Her appointment by the UNDP (as assistant to the FCT minister on project implementation) and her education in the United Kingdom give her the international experience and the broad-brimmed perception that comes with it.

The #BringBackOurGirls campaign she co-founded in April 2014, to my reckoning,isthe flagship of her achievements; as three women in particular, namely Oby Ezekwesili, Aisha Yusuf and HadizaBala herself pulled together their drive and resilience to recruit people from all over the world – including Mrs Obama – to participate in their struggle to get back Chibok school girls seized by Boko Haram.  Also, her position as director of strategy of Good Governance Group another non-Governmental Organization, completes her profile in the sector.

Even some international institutions have validated what I’ve just written.  Financial Times [FT] named her as one of the most influential women of 2014.  She was also included in the CNN’s  most inspiring women of 2014. Ebony Magazine counted her among the 2014 100 most influential black women in the world.
The good thing about Hadiza Bala Usman’s  appointment is that, at 40, she not only the leader of today. God willing, she will be here tomorrow too, when all these old people are gone.

Although the president should have made the appointment more palatable by announcing at the same time, all the political appointments in NPA, this way, all the zones of the country would have been represented and would have reduced the discontent of those saying that most positions are going to northerners.
In sum, when I told one of my mentors, Dr. Musa A. Ibrahim, that I was going to write a column on Hadiza, he said, “stop defending good people.  Their competence is enough to prove people wrong.” So Hadiza, prove them wrong.

Bill Gates Donates 100,000 to Africans

How Bill Gates Infected me with his Chicken Bug

By Ibraheem Dooba  –

Here’s why I’m joining Bill Gates’ “Chicken Revolution”

I was intrigued by Bill Gates’ chicken idea and followed him to his blog (GatesNotes.com), which also referred me to his wife, Melinda’s blog.  Both husband and wife convinced me with their argument and I am now infected with their chicken bug.

If you didn’t read my post yesterday, here is the summary.

Bill and Melinda Gates are convinced that the chicken is the “ATM of the poor”.

Photo Credit:Pixel-mixer / Pixabay

They are so passionate about the idea that Bill has pledged to provide 100,000 chickens to Africans.  He argued that starting with five chickens, a woman can make $1,000 a year, thereby taking her off the extreme-poverty line, which is currently estimated to be $700.

So, Bill, why would you raise chickens?

They’re a good investment. Suppose a new farmer starts with five hens. One of her neighbors owns a rooster to fertilize the hens’ eggs. After three months, she can have a flock of 40 chicks. Eventually, with a sale price of $5 per chicken—which is typical in West Africa—she can earn more than $1,000 a year, versus the extreme-poverty line of about $700 a year.”

Gates Chicken

Now let’s break these numbers down:


  1. Five hens will give you 40 chickens in three months.
  2. Each chicken sells for $5, a reasonable estimate even in Nigeria.
  3. So 40 chickens x $5 = $200 every three months.
  4. We have four 3 months (quarters) in a year
  5. Therefore, 4 x $200 = $800.

So it’s not $1,000 as Bill Gates estimated.  But I guess if the offspring of the hens also produce their own chicks, the money would approximate Bill Gates’ figure.

Gates has championed a good deal of ideas to reduce poverty in developing countries – from drinking water made from poop to making high-tech toilets.  But this may be his best idea yet.

And it isn’t as if it’s a new idea.  In Nigeria here, it’s difficult to find a house in the village which doesn’t keep chickens.  But Gates puts a refreshing twist on it by showing us (with concrete numbers) how it can reduce poverty.

I’ve been dreaming of using goats (after crossing local breed with Boar goats from South Africa) for the same purpose.  But using chickens appears to be faster, cheaper and not very risky.

In the light of this, we’re going to do a pilot of this idea by giving five chickens each to selected women in Bida.  We’re estimating N1, 000 per chicken.  Thus, with N5, 000, you can remove one woman from extreme poverty.  Let me know if you want to contribute to the project.


What about you?  How powerful do you think this idea is in reducing poverty?




Angela Duckworth just released her long awaited book:

Grit:The Power of Passion and Perseverance

“In this must-read book for anyone striving to succeed, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows parents, students, educators, athletes, and business people—both seasoned and new—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

Drawing on her own powerful story as the daughter of a scientist who frequently noted her lack of “genius,” Duckworth, now a celebrated researcher and professor, describes her early eye-opening stints in teaching, business consulting, and neuroscience, which led to the hypothesis that what really drives success is not “genius” but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance.

In Grit, she takes readers into the field to visit cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, teachers working in some of the toughest schools, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. She also mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance. Finally, she shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers—from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll.

Among Grit’s most valuable insights:

*Why any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal
*How grit can be learned, regardless of I.Q. or circumstances
*How lifelong interest is triggered
*How much of optimal practice is suffering and how much ecstasy
*Which is better for your child—a warm embrace or high standards
*The magic of the Hard Thing Rule

Winningly personal, insightful, and even life-changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that—not talent or luck—makes all the difference.”

Buy the book here:

Grit:The Power of Passion and Perseverance