By Bala Garba
There is no gain saying the obvious that, chief executive officers CEOs of most of the ministries, departments and agencies, commonly referred to as MDAs that dot the Federal Capital Territory and other parts of the country often acts as monarchs.
For them, arrogating and misusing power, positions and influence for self-aggrandizement remained acceptable benefits of the positions they occupy.
Most often than not, the progress and development of their agencies are not much of an issue; which explains why some of their new policies, programmes and initiatives are not made to move the MDAs forward but a kind of ploy to do business as usual, reward the leadership of those agencies, their cronies, acolytes, loyalists, family friends or relatives as the case maybe.
In this regard, the morale or productivity of the staff and management of some of these agencies usually plunge into abysmal low while a lot of infighting, bureaucratic squabbles, rancour and acrimony tend to be the order of the day.
Also, ethnic, religious, or sectional wrangling and disharmony might be thrown into the bargain and that would sound the death knell of many organizations. Though on the face value they might be existing because in a multifaceted nation like Nigeria, where there are numerous languages and ethnic groups as well as religious adherents, there are no shortages of partisans ready to line up in defence of their perceived interests and inclinations.
However, there are few notable exceptions. In this regard, the National Hajj Commission readily comes to mind. Until recently, hajj operations in Nigeria had annually been with tears. The tales of pilgrims had never been palatable. But, amusingly, the Commission had gone quite.
The annual outcry of all the debilitating challenges appears to have all fizzled out; which means someone has been at work to make things work towards reversing the old unproductive order.
From the onset, skepticism and doubts greeted the arrival of Alhaji Abdullahi Muhammad Mukhtar whom since assumption of office as the new sheriff has been able to sanitize the system.
The Commission, though a religious agency was without its own
cabal, as there were policy missteps and misdirection. There were allegations of alleged entrenched shadowy cabal that cornered contracts, tenders, pre-qualifications and procurements in collusion with service providers in the airlifting and haulage of pilgrims and their luggage.
Where there is a cabal, there indeed would be difficult challenges in going against their unacceptable ways of doing things. This is exactly what Alhaji Mukhtar had to deal with among many steps he must take to quench the fire of the old order in the commission. First, he instilled the culture of hardwork, competence, professionalism through.
He moved on to instill transparency in every aspect of the Hajj operations right from the point where intending pilgrims purchase seat, through to contracting of airline carriers, accommodation in the Holy land, effective performance of the hajj itself, and the return journey among other basic functions of the commission.
Another courageous step Alhaji Mukhtar took on assumption of office was the comprehensive staff and management audit in order to determine qualified and competent hands to implement the mandate of the commission.
The outcome of this singular effort led to the elimination of the incessant complaints, dissatisfaction and distress by thousands of pilgrims associated with accommodation and missing of luggage during the exercise.
To effectively curb this trend, Mukhtar mandated that, only qualified and competent airlines should be allowed to bid for the airlift of pilgrims. The operators who had a proven track record of handling such operations are shortlisted for patronage while those that had no credible references or track records were shown the decisive way out no matter how influential their backers or sponsors were.
The cabals that had all along cornered most of the crucial contracts and pre-qualifications were effectively neutralized hence the reason for the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Hajj operations successes.
It would be fool hardy therefore to think those influential backers and supporters of the shadowy cabal of airlines, tour and haulage operators would just walk away.
Because it is corruption, they are fighting back. They have been responsible for all manners of smear campaigns to undermine the Hajj Commission. Specifically they are dropping names in high places with the intent of blackmailing, Alhaji Mukhtar over matters that do not exist.
They want the return of the old order where incompetent and inefficient
flight operators would be back, where there would be more complementary seats instead of the actual pilgrims who pay money, thus making the company financially buoyant to fulfill its mandate.
Government should rise against these fraudsters so that the gains of the last four years can be consolidated and sustained.