Adamu Bello: Enduring Footprints of a Visionary Ex-Minister

Adamu Bello: Enduring Footprints of a Visionary Ex-Minister
March 07 08:07 2017

He was given only seven months by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to prove his mettle. Specifically, he was saddled with the task of transforming the fortune of the nation’s agricultural sector from the doldrums to the zenith, seven months within which to perform a feat which others before him had found too tough to accomplish in over two decades. Seven months within which to prove that as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, he can help catapult the Obasanjo government to a higher pedestal.

Despite this one-of-its-kind challenge and the risk involved, Adamu Bello took up the gauntlet with characteristic gusto. Confident, determined and with faith in God’s graciousness, Adamu Bello not only forged ahead, but he did so with such uncommon zeal and vision that he eventually spent nearly seven years on the job, becoming the longest serving minister of the Obasanjo administration’s eight-year tenure.

Ironically, Adamu Bello had offered to quit his ministerial appointment on the very day he was sworn-in along with his fellow newly-appointed colleagues. The reason? Bemused at being asked to sign an undated resignation letter, as was the policy of that government up till then, he refused, calling it demeaning and dehumanizing.

Not only did that principled stand earn Adamu Bello his principal’s respect, even his cabinet colleagues were quite impressed. Little wonder, when he pressed the President to import fertilizer since he had promised to make this all-important farm input available to Nigerian farmers, his boss concurred, of course after some altercations. The single-minded manner Adamu Bello waged an all-encompassing war against corruption further burnished his image as a peerless administrator and political leader. So much so that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development ended up being sacked.

Prior to Adamu Bello’s appointment, international bodies such as the World Bank had stopped supporting Nigeria’s agricultural sector, what with the stench of corruption oozing from there. On taking note of Adamu Bello’s transparent, accountable leadership, however, the global institutions made a retreat and started investing in the sector once again with a renewed vigour. This is even as he introduced a number of policies and programmes that can rightly be described as revolutionary.

Adamu Bello’s innovative leadership also increased Nigeria’s agricultural sector growth rate by a whopping 150 per cent, a feat that is yet to be matched (never mind surpassed) up till now. In fact, during that remarkable era, the agricultural sector contributed to the nation’s economic growth more than any other sector – including the oil and gas sector!

An abiding testament to Adamu Bello’s sterling, enduring and all-inclusive leadership acumen is evident in the fact that two of the Six Permanent Secretaries with whom he worked went on to become Heads of the Civil Service of the Federation – another yet-to-be-equaled record. Working hand-in-hand with three Ministers of State, particularly when the ministry was combined with Water Resources, Adamu Bello carved a niche for himself as an indomitable administrator. Little wonder, none other than Obasanjo himself famously described as an “exportable minister.”

Obasanjo didn’t stop there. On at least four occasions, the President was moved by the evidences on the ground to glowingly describe Adamu Bello as a “A Performing Minister” worthy of emulation by all public servants. Only a certain Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala earned such fulsome accolade.

Little wonder, on the basis of Adamu Bello’s unprecedented achievements and unequaled performance at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations (UN) body, honoured President Olusegun Obasanjo with the coveted AGRICOLA Award – the first and last time any Nigerian had received such an honour. He was given only seven months by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to prove his mettle. Specifically, he was saddled with the task of transforming the fortune of the nation’s agricultural sector from the doldrums to the zenith, seven months within which to perform a feat which others before him had found too tough to accomplish in over two decades. Seven months within which to prove that as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, he can help catapult the Obasanjo government to a higher pedestal.

Despite this one-of-its-kind challenge and the risk involved, Adamu Bello took up the gauntlet with characteristic gusto. Confident, determined and with faith in God’s graciousness, Adamu Bello not only forged ahead, but he did so with such uncommon zeal and vision that he eventually spent nearly seven years on the job, becoming the longest serving minister of the Obasanjo administration’s eight-year tenure.

Ironically, Adamu Bello had offered to quit his ministerial appointment on the very day he was sworn-in along with his fellow newly-appointed colleagues. The reason? Bemused at being asked to sign an undated resignation letter, as was the policy of that government up till then, he refused, calling it demeaning and dehumanizing.

Not only did that principled stand earn Adamu Bello his principal’s respect, even his cabinet colleagues were quite impressed. Little wonder, when he pressed the President to import fertilizer since he had promised to make this all-important farm input available to Nigerian farmers, his boss concurred, of course after some altercations. The single-minded manner Adamu Bello waged an all-encompassing war against corruption further burnished his image as a peerless administrator and political leader. So much so that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development ended up being sacked.

Prior to Adamu Bello’s appointment, international bodies such as the World Bank had stopped supporting Nigeria’s agricultural sector, what with the stench of corruption oozing from there. On taking note of Adamu Bello’s transparent, accountable leadership, however, the global institutions made a retreat and started investing in the sector once again with a renewed vigour. This is even as he introduced a number of policies and programmes that can rightly be described as revolutionary.

Adamu Bello’s innovative leadership also increased Nigeria’s agricultural sector growth rate by a whopping 150 per cent, a feat that is yet to be matched (never mind surpassed) up till now. In fact, during that remarkable era, the agricultural sector contributed to the nation’s economic growth more than any other sector – including the oil and gas sector!

An abiding testament to Adamu Bello’s sterling, enduring and all-inclusive leadership acumen is evident in the fact that two of the Six Permanent Secretaries with whom he worked went on to become Heads of the Civil Service of the Federation – another yet-to-be-equaled record. Working hand-in-hand with three Ministers of State, particularly when the ministry was combined with Water Resources, Adamu Bello carved a niche for himself as an indomitable administrator. Little wonder, none other than Obasanjo himself famously described as an “exportable minister.”

Obasanjo didn’t stop there. On at least four occasions, the President was moved by the evidences on the ground to glowingly describe Adamu Bello as a “A Performing Minister” worthy of emulation by all public servants. Only a certain Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala earned such fulsome accolade.

Little wonder, on the basis of Adamu Bello’s unprecedented achievements and unequaled performance at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations (UN) body, honoured President Olusegun Obasanjo with the coveted AGRICOLA Award – the first and last time any Nigerian had received such an honour.