For those conversant with the Nigerian economy in the present democratic dispensation, a constitutional agency has created tremendous awareness and public participation on issue bordering on public finance such as monetisation policy, revenue generation, federal allocation and fiscal efficiency. The agency is the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, under the leadership of humble and courageous Engr. Hamman Tukur who was recently named for the conferment of national honours of the Order of Federal Republic (OFR).
Though some leaders have received a lot of accolades from fair commentaries, chieftaincy titles, honorary degrees, sponsored advertorial and solidarity rallies, there are some achievers whose introverted disposition of refusing to blow their trumpets are not widely acknowledged. Engr. Tukur falls in this category. Even though various groups and individuals have nominated him for traditional titles and awards, he often humbly refused such honours that are usually attached to monetary values, unwholesome reciprocation and objectionable conditions. Not all honours are bad but the rate at which honours are dashed to wealthy and public office holders without any commensurate contributions and achievements made the motives of such exercises questionable.
Tributes are also not intended to praise-sing but highlight some emulative sterling qualities and selfless sacrifices made by individuals and organizations towards a better and prosperous society, not to eulogize selfishness and accumulations of wealth. Having been close to the chairman at official and personal levels, due to the nature of my professional calling, I may say that Nigeria is truly blessed with people of high integrity, honesty and piety.
It may surprise many to note that, under his leadership the Commission received tremendous support from the stakeholders, especially from President Olusegun Obasanjo who has magnanimously endorsed most of its recommendations for economic rejuvenations. It is within the first term of the democratic dispensation that the Commission introduced monetisation of public officers’ pay to reduce wastage of funds and instill discipline in the management of public properties; it resolved crises over disputed oil wells among states in the Niger Delta; it proposed fair and just revenue allocation formula and created awareness on the need for transparency and accountability in the oil and non-oil sectors for more revenue to the federation account for the benefit of Nigerian populace. It serves as a forerunner in the campaigns for financial independence of the tiers and constitutional panels. The Commission also successfully reconciled federal and states’ external debts and by extension recommended better measures of managing those debts.
As a man who doesn’t believe in cheap publicity to boost any egocentricity, the deployment of this writer to the Commission on its inauguration in 1999, as Public Relations Officer was received with skepticism. Afterall since the establishment of the Commission in 1988, there never existed Public Relations Department in whatever nomenclature. It took some level of reasoning for the consideration of the officer that information dissemination in a democratic era is vital for maximum public participation in policy formulation and success of people-oriented programmes. The acceptance of the officer also coincided with the decision of the Commission to marshal out best strategies to seek for public contributions through submission of memoranda on some of its constitutional roles and requirements.
As a man who appreciates excellence no matter from which tribe, religion and age, Engr. Tukur allowed this writer to provide full machinery for the Public Relations Unit and to also recommend relevant and qualified officers to beef up the unit without allowing godfatherism and sentiments into the exercise. This was also extended to state representatives in the Commission to recommend experienced and qualified staff from their localities to boost its manpower through a recruitment exercise. The Chairman’s relationships with the committees and departments in the Commission are exemplary.
On personal note, in Public Relations Unit, where the young staff benefitted from regular training to enhance their professionalism, the chairman neither subjects their press releases to his scrutiny nor interferes with media strategies in unethical ways. The environment is so conducive to practice public relations that the officers do have the opportunity to engage the Chairman in hot and cordial debate on public issues on one-on-one basis. To sustain the integrity of the Commission whose activities cut across the tiers and arms of the government, Engr. Tukur initiates an open door policy of listening and attending fairly to issues brought before the Commission. As an avid reader of most national dailies, he studies public moods, accepts constructive criticisms, and acts on those relevant to the workings of the Commission. As a man who values the importance of a well-informed public, the press have access to information that would better the lot of Nigerians and is straightforward in discharging his responsibilities.
Though being the chairman of the Commission, he doesn’t allow his position to becloud his sense of reasoning as he sees himself like every other member. Every session of the Commission is a reflection of Market of ideas where members armed with relevant materials, like lawyers, to debate and take up issues through factual presentations, historical perspectives, legal and constitutional provisions devoid of political undertones and fables. It may surprise many Nigerians that for the past four years as the Chairman, he has never travelled outside Abuja or abroad on official assignments. As a dynamic leader who delegates responsibilities, he prefers members to represent the Commission at most of the public fora. Though he has a higher respect for politicians, but due to his stubbornly principles, he has a strict reservation to partisan politics and sectional alliances. It is in the account of this that he abhors political solutions in place of laid down rules and procedures to resolve sensitive fiscal issues.
Even though to those in the business of mass-communication, goodwill is expensive, not in monetary terms, the chairman created and sustained it through honesty and open interaction with stakeholders. In fact being a constitutional body, the Commission under him does not treat issues and policies based on sentiment, emotion and politics but purely through acceptable technicalities and constitutional provisions for fair judgments.
How come he was able to carry out his roles so meticulously and succeeded? The answer is not far-fetched. He had garnered a lot of experience from the academic circle, bureaucratic environment and structural consulting at different stages of his life. For many years he was the Rector of Kaduna Polytechnic, Managing Director National Electric Power Authority, Director General Ministry of Power and Steels and that of Petroleum Resources and was on retirement when the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo invited him to serve in the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
Though Engr. Hamman Tukur was shocked on learning of the award, he nevertheless credited it to the united family of the Commission, where some of its members like Otunba Ayora Kuforiji-Olubi, General AB Mamman (Rtd), Chief Bayo akinola and Alh. Salihu Jega have received similar awards. The Order of the Federal Republic award to this dynamic Nigerian is truly deserving and timely for his selfless service, patriotism and loyalty to the nation.
This article by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in Daily Trust Dec11, New Nigeria Dec12, Daily Champion Dec19, Daily Times Dec22, 2003, Saturday Times Jan 17, 2004