OPINION: Bolaji Nagode: An Epitome of Patriotism at 58 by Abubakar Imam

Date: 2020-08-10

Your greatest trophies are the tears you
wipe away from peoples faces not the
things you acquired.
-Anonymous

Many years ago, some of our elites who were privileged to hold influential positions in government, institutions of higher learning and other areas of public service were often described in the typical Ilorin parlance as alaiwulo . The derogatory labelling was and still informed by a number of reasons. One of the reasons is because many of such people "found it extremely difficult" to respond to our religiously mandatory asalam alaykum salutation because they would not want to listen to the likely subsequent request for assistance from their less privileged compatriots. Greet them in Yoruba Language, they would respond in English Language as an indirect way of telling their lessprivileged compatriots that they are not welcomed.

I know as much because I was a repeated victim of such appalling treatment from the people who often forgotten that to Allah belongs everything and who always find it too difficult to offer innocuous assistance on simple matters pertaining to the progress of younger ones for reasons best known to them. They prefer giving the slots of Ilorin Emirate to candidates from other places for peanuts or inconsequential rewards. Such a tendency accounted for the unencouraging level of human resources development of the southernmost Emirate.

Time and space would not permit me to give instances of my experiences in the hands of such senior compatriots and their ingenious style of saying "go to hell" to aspiring candidates who needed support to enter the few institutions of higher learning available then and frustrated applicants who would not mind any job just to preserve their integrity and dignity.

But in the last two and a half-decades or so the trend has been progressively changing for the better . The number of distinguished and favoured sons and daughters of Ilorin Emirate who are willing to help the younger ones to grow in learning and career is on the rise. This is not notwithstanding the fact that the magnitude of those who required such assistance are getting higher and higher by the day, a situation which is, however, making the efforts of the restlessly patriotic senior compatriots insignificant.

Among the generations of such outstanding patriots, who are strongly changing the manner of thinking in the upper echelons and are seriously working at leaving glittering footprints in the sand of time, is a distinguished technocrat and current Director-General of the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria(NAPTIN), Alhaji Ahmed Bolaji Nagode, who is celebrating his 58th birthday today(Monday August 10, 2020).

Before I go further, I must concede it to those who will describe this piece as an effort in sycophancy. My offer to such a category of individuals is the popular saying that "one good turn deserves another" coupled with the fact that, at the risk of being misunderstood, I find it extremely difficult, if not impossible to ti owo ore bo aso . I will be the last person to keep the good done to me or to anyone I know, most especially from Ilorin Emirate, to myself. If we don't say it out, who will or do we recommend to younger ones to emulate?

The name Nagode became known to me in the mid 1990s when I was still a student of the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Some of us who were members of the Samaru(Main) Campus chapter of the Ilorin Emirate Students Union(IESU) formed an Ilorin Assembly at the ICSA/Ramat Hall of the institution. It was there we normally assembled to discuss Ilorin and its affairs in our usual informal way while relaxing with nothing but aroye . That was where and when I first heard of the name Bolaji Nagode. The name was often mentioned as that of one of those who held strategic offices in the then National Electric Power Authority (NEPA). It was often said that whoever approached the then General Manager, Investment and Treasury of the Authority, Mallam Isiaka AbdulRazaq, for job placement was often referred to Alhaji Nagode, who would not failed in finding a space for the evidently qualified and truly competent candidate a commensurate job in the organisation.

By then, the thought of working in NEPA did not cross my mind. What would a prospective graduate of Mass Communication do with wires and transformers, I had innocently thought? But as Allah would have it, I eventually found myself as a staff of the organisation, not through this birthday boy, but through the Chairman of the Consumer Consultative Committee of the then Ilorin District of NEPA, Alhaji M. B. Olohundare.

As soon as I settled down in the erstwhile NEPA, the image of this great son of Ilorin Emirate became compelling and larger than life for the numerous roles he was playing in not only securing employment opportunities for indigenes of Ilorin Emirate in the Authority but also supporting their career progression in all the facets of the then nation's power industry. He was an effective rallying figure and a good Ambassador of Ilorin Emirate at the Corporate Headquarters of the power firm following the exit of the equally patriotic Mallam Isiaka AbdulRazaq who left as a consequence of the reform introduced by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo in the early 2000s.

I must confess that his name opened doors for those of us from Ilorin who were working in then Ilorin District of NEPA. Those of us who worked at home and under high-ranking non-indigenes would have been more totally neglected and comprehensively relegated as inconsequential ones, and most annoyingly on the land of our forebears, but for the presence of the likes of Nagodes and Alapansanpas of this world whose names we always mentioned to protect ourselves against those who hated seeing indigenous people in the services of the firm.

Each time some of us were arranged for needless punishments, we would say Boda Bolaji lo ran wa ni se or Engr. Yahaya was interested in the matter. Matters, which would have earned us serious reprimands instantly found a space in the morgue. I recall an instance at Ibadan in 2008. A friend of mine and I needed the urgent intervention of Alhaji Nagode to navigate a challenge. We had no choice than to give him a call directly just to seek his brotherly favour. After introducing myself as his brother from Ilorin and telling him what I wanted, he just told me to go and tell the person who we needed his help that he should call him ni bukata babiya .

Besides those joint patronage, I was also among those who benefited tremendously from his favour in many ways, despite the fact that he did not know who I was( I am sure if we come across each other today he would still not recognise me). The only variable, which recommended me to him was my being a son of Ilorin Emirate. Twice, my well-deserved promotions were to be kept in abeyance for no reasonable reason(s) but for the interventions of this birthday boy who often come to my rescue. Four different individuals were also assisted to get appointments through him at my instance. One of such beneficiaries is a younger brother of mine who was unexpectedly offered a placement at the Benin Electricity Distribution Company just through the magic of a phone call while the rest were from different parts of Ilorin Emirate one of whom is now a leading staff member of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company.

Alhaji Ahmed Bolaji Nagode, a political scientist, administrator and community leader, was born to the illustrious family of the late Alhaji S. A. Nagode(1924-1983), a technocrat, former Honourable Commissioner in the Government of Kwara State and ex-Federal Commissioner in the National Population Commission, and Alhaja Hanatu Nagode(d. 2019), who was a descendants of the 7th Emir of Ilorin, Shaykh Shuaib Bawa(who reigned from 1915 and 1919). This birthday boy, who was born on August 10, 1962, is a distinguished member of the popular Idiagbon family, Ajia-Ijesha Quarters in the Ita-Kure area of Ilorin.

Alhaji Nagode begun his exciting educational pursuit as a pupil of Ireti Primary School, Ikoyi, Lagos in 1968. He was later brought to his ancestral home, Ilorin, where he was enrolled as a pupil of the famous United Primary School, Ilorin, in 1969. He eventually earned his First School Leaving Certificate from the first school established by the Ilorin community in 1974. His contemporaries at the first community-owned primary school in the erstwhile Northern Region were the softspoken Alhaji Abubakar Adebayo, a retired Principal Manager in the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria; Lt. Col. Aduagba Edun (rtd); Engr. Tunji Ahmed, a staff of the World Bank and Alhaji Abdullahi Sadiq, the incumbent Baba-Isale of Ilorin. It is important to say that this outstanding patriot, like several other compatriots of his , combined his primary education studies with the attendance of the traditional Quranic school, which was targeted at making him a dutiful Muslim, patriotic Ilorin man and decent member of the human community that he is.

On the completion of his primary education studies, Alhaji Nagode was admitted into the premier post-primary institution in Kwara State, the Government Secondary School, Ilorin, where he pursued his West African School Certificate between 1974 and 1979. His contemporaries at GSS, Ilorin, included another epitome of patriotism and the Director, Test Administration, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, Dr. Yusuf Bolakale Lawal;my own brother, Barrister Isiaka Adisa Yusuf, a former National Publicity Secretary of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union and the bridge between this birthday boy and I during our days in the defunct NEPA/PHCN ; Alhaji Ibrahim Saadu, an high-ranking staff of the National Examinations Council; Engr. AbdulRahman Giwa, a prominent businessman; and Engr. Toyin Asaju, a top brass of the National Communication Commission, who for many years I turned-down his advice that I should make sure the NAPTIN DG knew me in person for obvious reasons, to mention but a few.

Alhaji Nagode, thereafter, proceeded to the then School of Basic Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, for his pre-university qualifications which he pursued between 1979 and 1980. Despite passing the final examination of the school, he missed admission into a degree programme that year.

He was subsequently admitted into the Department of Political Science of the prestigious University in 1981 and graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor's degree . While at ABU he was a prominent member of the Ilorin Students Union, now known as the Ilorin Emirate Students Union, and a Student Representative at the Suleiman Hall of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1982. His contemporaries at "the Largest University, South Sahara(Desert)and North of(River)Limpopo" included Alhaji Ahmed Ladan Gobir, an Honourable Commissioner in the last military administration in Kwara State and currently Group General Manager, Dangote Holdings; Barrister Abdulfatai Salman Bakini, a former Honourable Member of the Kwara State House of Assembly; and Alhaji Agboola Ibrahim Saadu, who all through his education was a mate to the birthday boy.

Alhaji Nagode was also educated at the University of Ilorin. He studied Public Administration at the professional Master's level at the better by far University between 1989 and 1991 at the end of which he obtained Master of Public Administration (MPA) in flying colours.

From 1994 to 1995, he attended the prestigious University of Lagos where he received a Diploma Certificate in Management . He had undergone the programme in order to enhance his managerial capabilities.

Alhaji Nagode started his working career as a Member of the National Youth Service Corps(NYSC). He offered his mandatory youth service in Benue State following his graduation from ABU, Zaria.

As soon as he completed his youth service programme and upon his return to his home-town, this illustrious son of Ilorin Emirate was offered employment by the then Kwara State Education Management Board as an Education Officer. He was posted to Iyeru-Okin Comprehensive High School, Offa, where he taught briefly before his redeployment to the Headquarters of the Kwara State Ministry of Education, Ilorin, as a Personal Assistant to the then Honourable Commissioner for Education, the late Dr. Rahamatu Abdullahi, a daughter to the foremost statesman, ex-Chairman of the influential Northern Elders Forum and former Minister of Internal Affairs, Alhaji AbdulRahman Okene(1914-1999).

In 1988, this great son of Ilorin Emirate willingly sought redeployment to the classroom and to Baboko Community Secondary School, Ilorin, he was posted, which was closer to the Mini-Campus of the University of Ilorin to enable him pursue further studies with minimal stress. He, therefore, taught at the Baboko Community Secondary School, Ilorin, one of the six Schools established by the Ilorin Emirate Emirate Descendants Progressive Union in October, 1980, from 1988 to 1992. At the school, just like in the previous one, he was able to leave lasting and positive impressions on his students and co-teachers.

Alhaji Nagode left the classroom in late 1992 to pursue greener pasture . In February, 1993, he joined the services of the then National Electric Power Authority(NEPA) as Manager(Personnel and Administration) in-charge of Recruitment . In 1996, he was promoted Senior Manager in-charge of Promotion at the Personnel and Administration Unit of the Authority, the position he held till 2001. Between 2002 and 2005, he was a Principal Manager with Recruitment and Promotion as his schedule of duties. He held the strategic management position from 2002 to 2006.

Alhaji Nagode served as the Head(Learning and Performance Management) at the Headquarters of the succeeding Power Holding Company of Nigeria in 2007 before he was promoted to the exalted rank of the Assistant General Manager of the same unit in the same establishment. He held the position from 2009 to 2013.

In preparation for the eventual privatisation of the nation's power industry, Alhaji Nagode was one of those high-ranking personnel of the nation's electricity industry who were saddled with the responsibility of coming- up with a training outfit for the anticipated human resources development of those who will continually oil the progress and stability of the industry. The assignment eventuated in the establishment of the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria(NAPTIN). He consequently served between February and December, 2013 as the Deputy Director (Training Programme)of NAPTIN.

Between December, 2013 and February, 2014, he served as the Ag. Director(Business Services) of the Institute. He subsequently served as the substantive Director, Business Services of the same training outfit between 2014 and 2016.

Alhaji Nagode was appointed as Ag. Director-General of NAPTIN in December, 2016 and eventually confirmed as the substantive Director-General and Chief Executive of the organisation in June, 2019 by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Bulgari, GCFR, and he has been doing the Ilorin Emirate proud in the exalted office.

A well-trainned technocrat and accomplished administrator, Alhaji Nagode had always taken advantage of several seminars, workshops and conferences to sharpen his knowledge, skills and professionalism, which he consequently employed in giving all the organisations he had served the very best of his services. Alhaji Nagode has also presented so many fascinating papers at several intellectual fora as he had served on not a few other strategic Committees within and outside the power industry over the years.

For the avoidance of doubt, Alhaji Nagode is one of the patriots who loved and served Ilorin Emirate with all their hearts. He is also among those who have a very strong belief in the destined greatness Ilorin Emirate and are still working towards the all-round progress of their ancestral home . His days in NEPA/PHCN would be particularly remembered for good as he teamed up with a few other Ilorin compatriots, most especially Mallam Isiaka AbdulRazaq, who later returned to the organisation as the Executive Director, Finance and Administration during the tenure of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, in the power firm at various times to facilitate employment opportunities and career progression for so many indigenes of Ilorin Emirate not minding which part of the Emirate they hailed from as earlier stated. Many of those who benefited from his patriotism are currently among high-flying operators of the nation's power sector. He offered assistance to his compatriots without denying others Kwarans and fellow Nigerians their rights and privileges in the erstwhile monopolistic organisation.

Alhaji Nagode, a foremost community development practitioner, is a founding member of the Third Estate of Ilorin Emirate, a socio-cultural organisation peopled by selected outstanding professionals of Ilorin Emirate origin, which has been in functional existence since 1993. He was the General -Secretary, Vice-Chairman and Vice-President I of the body at one time or the other . He is, at present, the President of the organisation.

This illustrious son of Ilorin Emirate, who was recently celebrated for being among the most accomplished 100 alumni of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, is also a member of several other professional organisations including the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management and the Chartered Institute of Management.

Apart from his readiness to serve, Alhaji Nagode is also a profoundly humble gentleman who always gives respect to all those who deserved it. I recall vividly in 2008 when his portrait was recommended for appearance in the following year's(2009) annual calendar of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union. As the Secretary of the old Ilorin Branch of the Union, I had mooted the idea to honour him for his services to the Ilorin Emirate community in his sphere of influence. While the recommendation was instantly approved by the Union under the pragmatic leadership of the late veteran Journalist, Alhaji Ahmad Hameed (d. 2009), Alhaji Nagode told those who requested for his picture that he would prefer the honour given to Mallam Isiaka AbdulRasaq before him. He did not budge on his conviction until he was evidently convinced that the honour had been previously granted to Alhaji AbdulRasaq two years earlier.

One other aspect of his alluring attributes, which I think should be emulated is his selflessness. He was once reported to have said that he preferred occupying a position where he would be able to facilitate employment opportunities for the younger ones than securing a gold mine that would of benefit to only him but devoid of privileges of getting jobs for others. Only a pure patriot would say that even for the fun of it.

Alhaji Nagode is, no doubt, a patriot who has done very well and is still doing greatly for himself and the Ilorin Emirate community. I am very sure that the more of Nagodes Ilorin produces the better for the Emirate. He is happily married and blessed with children who are doing very well in their various careers.

May I therefore urge those of us who are upcoming to emulate the likes of this birthday boy for us to always move forward. His straight forwardness, humility and perpetual readiness to help without expecting anything in return and not minding the part of Ilorin Emirate his intending beneficiaries come from are among the several attributes, which stood him out among his contemporaries . He is, indeed, one of those who deserved perpetual celebrations not only for whom he is but also for what he has done and still doing to ensure that the human resources capacities of Ilorin Emirate waxes better and stronger.

As this great son of Ilorin Emirate celebrates his birthday today, it is my hope and request that you would join me in praying that may Allah bless him the more with more decades of enviable sojourn on earth with sound health, greater wisdom and limitless prosperity. Aamiin.

Imam is the National Publicity Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union

 


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