By Issa Aremu
Yours comradely attended Senior Executive Course 27 in 2005 as a participant sponsored by Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to the prestigious NIPPS. As an Alumnus I was twice elected unopposed as the Secretary General of the Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI) between 2013 and 2017 under the presidency of Major General (rtd) Lawrence Anebi Onoja, CFR, PhD, mni.
Therefore precisely because yours sincerely is involved (apology to late Nkemba Ojukwu) I bear witness that this week end all roads lead to Kuru Jos by the distinguished 1,848+ Members of the Institute for the Association’s historic 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM). Periodic “grounding” with Kuru through AANI AGMs is a total commitment for me with pleasant reunion with SEC mates and a dose of the serenity of the plateau. Nelson Mandela, the late iconic freedom fighter once observed: “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”
I can bet that this weekend, all AANI members would proudly wear (as they always do!) AANI badge earned through intensive 10 months course that involves, local and global knowledge hunt, serial seminars, presentations and research projects. The badge of Honour represents, “Service, Patriotism and Commitment” towards “a Better Society” which is the mantra-motto of AANI. The Federal Government in 1979 established the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau State.
The Institute was conceived as a high-level centre institution with the primary objectives of serving as the nation’s foremost policy Institute, developing a crop of top-class technocrats of high intellectual capacity, who will conceptualize and anchor the implementation of innovative and dynamic policy initiatives and strategies critical for national development. So far over a thousand policy research papers have been commendably generated from NIPSS.
The Institute has successfully run 42 Senior Executive Courses (SEC) after about 43 years of existence and has graduated close to 2000 members who are members of the National Institute.
On Monday, 1st March 2021, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON inaugurated the Senior Executive Course 43 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies representing President and Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari. I agree with the VP that “Anyone who passes through this institution (NIPPS) belongs to a magic circle of Nigerian thought leaders and public intellectuals. But with this privilege comes enormous responsibility”. No short cut to mni!
NIPSS has produced quality research papers on policy issues, which with political commitment of the successive governments could have accelerated the country’s development process. A quick visit to the active web site of AANI will show that Nigeria does not need policy advice from abroad as it is the case today, if various governments can draw on the original studies carried out by the graduands of the Institute over the years after a yearlong academic engagement, local and global tours and inclusive critical group and integrated work.
The remarkable successes of most successful emerging economies such as India, China, Pakistan and Brazil are attributable to the original policy. The Vice President is on point to task the Participants of SEC 43 “to unlock the mystery of failed or poorly implemented policies and projects in Nigeria but more importantly, provide a practical, nitty-gritty guide to implementing projects and policies.” The theme for SEC 43 is: “Getting Things Done: Strategies for the Implementation of Policies and Programmes in Nigeria”.
The challenge posed by the VP is of profound relevance to SEC 43 participants as much as for members of AANI who have the singular responsibility to steer Nigeria towards a better society devoid of the current preventable uncivil wars of attrition manifesting in banditry and insurgency.
AANI’s objectives are contained in Article 2 of its Constitution which among others task members:
· to promote understanding, unity, brotherhood and cooperation among the members; among others.
· to strengthen the relationship between the Association and the National Institute with a view to maintainingThe cooperation and synergy;
· to interact and collaborate with the Federal, State and Local Governments of Nigeria, as well as other organisations or associations, with similar objectives;
· to establish the means of contributing positively and objectively to national discourse on any issues affecting the development of Nigeria and proffer appropriate recommendations and implementation strategies to Government;
·to serve as think-tank to the Federal, State and Local Governments of Nigeria on all matters of national development;
·to establish schemes for the promotion of the welfare, security and economic advancement of members; and to create and maintain an endowment fund for the proper observance and discharge of any of the objectives of the Association.
AANI’s Membership list includes former Heads of State, serving and past and serving governors, heads of public service agencies, Customs service, military, para-military, traditional leaders, organized labour and organized private sector as well as the civil society. Others are serving and past top level executives from the Banking and financial sector, the presidency, states and local governments and the academia.
AANI currently led by Mr M. D. Abubakar, Inspector General of Police has two administrative organs namely; Board of Patrons headed by former Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, GCFR, mni. Members include former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, GCFR, mni, Late Vice Adm. O.M. Akhigbe (rtd), GCON, mni, Maj. Gen. David Jemibewon (rtd), CFR, mni, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, mni, Lt. Gen. (Senator) J.T. Useni (rtd), mni and Prince J. Adelusi-Adeluyi, mni. The second administrative organ is the Heritage Council which includes His Eminence, Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III mni, Sultan of Sokoto as Chairman, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe, mni Obi of Onitsha, HRM Oba Rilwan Babatunde Aremu Akiolu mni, Oba of Lagos, HRH Alhaji Iliyasu Bashar mni, Emir of Gwandu, HRM Alhaji Sani Sami, mni Emir of Zuru, HRH Alhaji Ahmed Hassan II, mni Emir of Nasarawa and HRM Orhue Felix Mujakperuo, mni Orodje of Okpe.
There is no doubt that the research policy papers for NIPPS over the years have guided governance and even informed formations of enduring institutions in the country. The VP acknowledges this point when he appreciates “the hard work and commitment of the faculty, staff and the illustrious Alumni of the National Institute” in terms of their “…responsiveness to critical national issues through policy briefs, policy advice and other strategic interventions” which he says “is exemplary”.
But as members converge for 43rd AGM, AANI must upscale its advocacy for nation- building especially at times like this when narratives are assuming insular and unhelpful dimensions. There must be an ANNI renaissance which must strengthen partnerships with sister Alumni of National Defense College (AANDEC) to translate various policy students to the desired reality of a better Nigeria. Happy 43rd AGM !