By Thomas Uzah
In 1964, the then American President, Mr. Lyndon B. Johnson in a pithy address to the International Labour Press Association glorified the place of the worker in public life; “You are a part of the conscience of our society. You are always goading. You are never satisfied with the job that is partially done. You are always working and calling for the further advancement of working people, and you speak from a point of view. You speak on behalf of values.”
This position amplifies the dire need to evolve favorable conditions to carter for the welfare of the worker in order to ginger his productivity and excellence in the workplace. But it is often overlooked by employers and leaders in most instances.
However, the leadership of Associate Professor Shuaibu Ibrahim, a serving Brigadier General of the Nigerian Army and the current Director General, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has marketed itself differently.
In appearance, Gen. Ibrahim is unassuming; but his personage is an embodiment of multiple military and administrative talents. He is governed by a doctrine of excellence anywhere he finds his feet and believes in making the best use of all human resources. But good enough, he knows there are unavoidable obligations, any leadership desiring of better results from workers must fulfill.
Therefore, from the outset, Gen. Ibrahim began to tinker with ideas the scheme would adopt to support the Federal Government in funding its operations by thinking outside the box to remain strong and relevant. And to achieve this , the NYSC boss knew, the scheme must inescapably place extra premium on welfare of both staff and corps members. “I appeal to our corps employers to take care of the welfare of members; mentor them,” he appealed soon after his appointment.
Consequently, Gen. Ibrahim deliberately attaches extraordinary premium to all who tastes his leadership anywhere. And in NYSC now, it is an entirely new and exciting experience for staff as well as corps members. As NYSC boss, Gen. Ibrahim has prioritized the welfare of workers and youth corps members to heights hitherto unknown.
The scheme is rated one of the best performing federal government agencies today, because a motivated staff leaves nothing to chance in the performance of their official functions. It is natural that when the worker is motivated to work, he goes the extra mile excitedly.
And Gen. Ibrahim has capitalized on this weapon, by his undiluted and undistracted attention to issues of welfare and remunerations. Timely payment of salaries and legitimate allowances ignite the ambience of a workplace, anywhere in the world. Even the Holy scriptures admonishes that a worker deserve his wages.
Salary payment defines everything in a working environment. It motivates, stimulates, increases productivity and encourages teamwork for excellence. Gen. Ibrahim’s leadership of the NYSC has made it his sacred obligation.
And since, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim is aware of these salient motivational doctrines, which propel productivity and triggers a convivial working environment, he is dispensing a leadership that bows to these demands at all times.
It is unarguable that in Nigeria today, issues of salary payment have been a thorn in the flesh of most government establishments. And the problem seems to exacerbate with the sudden scourge of Covid-19 pandemic, which has dealt a serious blow on global economies.
Even with the increasingly less funds in circulation, Gen. Ibrahim has insulated NYSC staff from this nightmare through prompt payment of basic and lawful entitlements. Quite pleasurably, Gen. Ibrahim has withered the storm in NYSC very conveniently.
By his relentless efforts, the Director General has been able to catapult the NYSC to a comfortable pedestal through investment initiatives. These investments have generated internal revenue for the NYSC, which partly funds the scheme’s operations. The NYSC Director General has registered the strong presence of the scheme in poultry farms; hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice plantations and milling as well as feed mills in different parts of the country are signposts of his remarkable leadership.
Added to it, Gen. Ibrahim has supported the scheme’s funding by resuscitating previously abandoned NYSC water and bakery factories to consolidate on its investment profile. With the returns yielded by these investments, coupled with the federal subventions to the agency, payment of salaries and allowances of staff have been prompt and ceaseless. His favorable disposition to salary payment has earned him the epaulet “Mr. Alert” in all NYSC offices across the nation.
In same manner, the welfare of corps members has been given top priority. Gen. Ibrahim wasted no time in implementing the New National Minimum Wage of N33,000 (thirty-three thousand) as monthly allowance of serving corps members. He boosted the monthly allowance of corps members with an additional N3,000 (three thousand) to serve as incentives to corps members and encourage personal savings. He operates on Lailah Gifty Akita’s the doctrine that “If people are paid well, there should be no poverty.”
To the NYSC boss, it does not matter whether it is staff or corps members, but salary and monthly allowances bank alerts come before the end of every month. Each time he visits NYSC office anywhere in Nigeria or even during media outings, corps members endearingly address hm with the sobriquet “Mr. Welfare,” for his rare and uncommon attention to their comfort.
Gen. Ibrahim has recorded his name as the only Director General of the NYSC who has lobbied State Governments and employers of the services of corps members to pay them additional monthly stipends. He has successful blighted the doctrine of discretionary payment of stipends to serving corps members through gentle persuasion of employers.
And his concentration on the welfare of both staff and corps members goes beyond timely meeting of their financial obligations alone. He has also demonstrated a relentless commitment to their health welfare in same measure. For instance, at the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, Gen. Ibrahim ensured the monthly allowances of corps members were paid without the usual clustering for clearance in order to forestall the spread of the disease.
He stated in a public statement that the; “…payment of monthly stipend for the month of April shall be effected without the usual gathering for clearance, in keeping with the rule of social distancing. It is equally imperative to add that there shall not be clearance for the month of May, 2020. The system shall generate automatic clearance for everyone.”
Conversely, Gen. Ibrahim instantly complied with the directive of the Presidency by enlisting all serving corps members into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). He does not hesitate in approving medical bills and has expended huge resources on critical health needs of corps members by footing medical bills where necessary.
Therefore, it is understandable that Gen. Ibrahim is feted with epaulets such as “Mr. Welfare,” or “Mr. Alert.” And it streams from a genuine heart of excitement from those he has the mandate to lead. The unalterable truth is that Gen. Ibrahim has changed the fortunes of the NYSC amazingly. He is indeed, a national asset both in intellect and capacity to do things differently.
Uzah PhD is Head of Department, Mass Communication, Kwararafa University Wukari.