AbdulRashid Garba: Turning a new leaf at NECO

2 mins read

IN 2012, workers of the National Examinations Council (NECO), in Minna, Niger state, were locked in a major battle with the Professor Promise Okpala led management of the organisation. The issue was about the unionisation of the workers, which Professor Okpala interpreted as a personal affront. He tried to destroy the unionisation drive by dispersing the workers in different directions through punitive transfers. The embittered workers took their case to the National Industrial Court and they won against the arbitrary anti-worker posture of NECO boss, Professor Okpala.

But he chose to obey the court’s decision selectively and the crisis generated by his high-handedness lingered through his reign at the national examination body. I followed the workers’ struggle because one of their leaders, Ibrahim Ali, has been my friend for about twenty-five years, dating back to our days at the Bayero University in Kano.

This background has become particularly relevant because of the changes that have begun to take place at the National Examinations Council (NECO), with the appointment just over 100 days ago, of Professor AbdulRashid Garba as the new Registrar/Chief Executive of the organisation. One of the first issues that he unknotted was the unionisation problem which had hung on NECO’s neck like an albatross, by initiating a process of strengthening union activities as a step towards consolidating the rights, welfare and the general condition of service of members of NECO staff.

Participatory engagement: Another innovation introduced by the new chief executive is the committee system to investigate and present reports on the best ways to revitalise service delivery and organisational behaviour. Pursuit to that, Prof. AbdulRashid Garba said he believes in ‘participatory engagement’ and integrity as core leadership traits. Prof. Garba comes with a very solid pedigree as an educationist and scholar who found his scholarly métier in educational guidance and counseling, and is in fact a Fellow of the Counseling Association of Nigeria (CASSON). He had posted over a quarter of a century of experience as a teacher and researcher at the Bayero University in Kano, while he has taught, researched and collaborated with professional colleagues around the world and has similarly published in scholarly journals around the world. He brings to his new assignment as Registrar/Chief Executive of NECO, the exacting standards of my alma mater, the Bayero University, Kano. And those standards have begun to manifest; for instance, the previous leadership of the organisation unfortunately, instituted a deliberate policy of dividing and playing members of staff against each other, on the basis of ethnicity and at a point, NECO was divided between members of one ethnic group against all other Nigerians. That is a wound now being healed as well as entitlements of the workers that were previously neglected, but have also been fully paid. But in my view, these efforts to heal the festering sores within the organisation are merely the first necessary steps to improve organisational responsibility as well as service delivery.

A vision of repositioning: When staff are incentivised and properly mobilised, they will most likely buy into the vision of the new leadership of the organisation. Prof. AbdulRashid Garba has his vision of how to re-position a national examination organisation as important as NECO. And that importance will be consolidated in the years to come as more and more Nigerian youth become mobilised for examinations that will be launch pads for tertiary education and a life of work to build our country. When institutions get the leadership that can inspire confidence and unfold new visions then newer vistas of development will surely open. NECO deserves a shiny place in the sun of Nigeria’s educational development and that is the central plank of the vision which drives Prof. AbdulRashid Garba’s leadership. That will gradually unfold in the years ahead and they will redound to the benefit of NECO and all its publics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.