Putting the record straight on Prof. Ali, UBRBDA boss

The lingering tirade directed at Professor Abdulkarim M. Ali over his appointment as the Managing Director of the Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority, UNRBDA, since July 2017, comes across as, at once, a self-serving campaign of calumny and vendetta couched in a pile of obfuscation and outright twisting of facts.  This is evident in the latest of one of such assaults by one Mohammed A. Mohammed in a published article titled: “Appointment of MD, UNRBDA: Case for Niger State.”  The crux of the argument of Mohammed in the said article, the same as regurgitated over time, is that Professor Abdulkarim Ali is not an indigene of Niger State but Kano State.  In their opinion, since the position was allocated to Niger State, his appointment is tantamount to short-changing the state of its due.


Before going into primordial cocoons of his detractors, the facts and details of the state of origin of the renowned Professor of Agricultural Engineering, two points need to be raised.  First, in a world where qualification, experience and competence are universally considered as foremost in appointments of persons to positions, we are being told here by some people that, the rather primitive ancestral origins should be the sole and most critical factor.  Otherwise, what logically should it matter if a Nigerian from any part of the country is given a position of responsibility on account of the consideration that he has the capacity to deliver on a given assignment in another part of the country other than his primordial ancestral home? Secondly, in this particular instance, we are talking of a professor with specialization in agricultural engineering being asked to superintend an agency that demands a thorough know-how in food production, irrigation and related mechanisms and sciences.  

Coming down to the pedestrian and mundane question as to the ancestry of Professor Abdulkarim M. Ali, an honest search that is not beclouded by hate, avarice or vendetta will reveal that the man is as good an indigene of Niger State as any bonafide citizen of that state can be. The writer of this article, himself a proud indigene of Niger State in his sixties, challenges any one to contradict the following statements of fact. The current Managing Director of UNRBDA is a scion of the royal dynasty of Masaba of Bida, his biological father, late Malam Mahmoud Abdulmalik, popularly known as Alhaji Bakenni, was well known and revered as a prince of Bida.  The father of Malam Bakenni, that is, the grandfather of Professor Abdulkarim, Malam Abdulmalik Kolo held the important traditional title of Rofyan Nupe. The MD’s late aunty, Hajiya Hauwa Nnani who held the traditional title of Niwoye Nupe was married to the then Yariman Nupe (Shaba ) Mallam Abdulrahman.  The present or reigning District Head of Kataerregi, Malam Abdulrahman Mohammed, who also doubles as the Lukpan Nupe, is the head of the family to which Professor Abdulkarim Ali is a member.  The Lukpan Nupe is there to tell if he is an uncle to the MD or not.  That is, if the doubting Thomases will believe Him.


​True indeed, Professor Abdulkarim Ali was born in Kano way back in 1962 and has been largely away from his ancestral home of Niger State as a result of the exigencies of his places of education and work.  However, in all his credentials, he has never identified Kano as his home state just as he has never shied away from proclaiming or identifying with his Nupe ancestry.  His father in pursuit of commercial interest had relocated to Kano before his birth and as such, the young lad was a child of the circumstances of his parents.  He found himself growing up and schooling in Kano because that was where his parents were resident at those formative years of his life.  As an exceptionally brilliant student who made division one in his West African School Certificate and 2nd Class Upper Division in his first degree, he was offered an automatic employment first as a lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University and went on at various times to teach at the Bayero University, the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi among other placesthat he had worked before his appointment as the MD of UNRBDA in July 2017.

We should thank the Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman Adamu for recommending a highly principled professional with upmost integrity as the current Managing Director to midwife the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari in the agricultural sector. It is further pertinent that, contrary to the claims of his antagonists, there is nowhere in the Act establishing all the River Basin Development Authorities that the position of the Managing Director should be reserved for indigenes of the states of their location.  That those who deemed the present managing director as possessing what it takes to drive the Authority knew what they were doing, the man has been succinctly proved his mettle by his accomplishments within a spate of one year. For example he has paid all outstanding salary arrears of both Junior and Senior Staff while the casual staffs are in the process of being converted to a permanent staff.  Contractors’ outstanding five years payments are being verified and paid accordingly. 

Perhaps, one of the sins of Professor M. A. Ali is that, true to his trade mark trait of probity and accountability, he has refused to succumb to blackmail and whimsical sentiments.

Ndaminin wrote this piece from Bida, Niger State

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