One call away

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By Ibraheem Abdullateef

Interviewing the President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) Dr Rahman Adetunji Lateef yesterday brought back the memory of a song by American singer Charlie Puth in his debut album, ‘One Call Away’. It is a pop soul released in 2015, by Atlantic Records as the second single from the hugely successful album Nine Track Mind. It is about a man offering to support another emotionally and physically. The song preaches love, sacrifice, and care for others.

Whereas it is only a song, the lessons therein are vital, more so in the emerging Nigerian society where they appear becoming scarce. The loss of virtues such as honesty, compassion, and humility, amongst contemporary leaders account for the inherent collapse of justice, equity, and fairness, and the attending consequences on the society.

We only have books to consult, not many models are available. Books are, errhm…, just books. Acting is different, maybe difficult. And Albert Schweitzer captured it thus; the three most important ways to lead people are; by example… by example… by example. I agree.

The dearth of living examples is Nigeria’s Achilles’ heel. One such person, though, challenging the status quo is Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, as events over time have proven. The latest testimony to the ‘Superman’ status as Charlie Puth sought with another in his song, One Call Away, is the approval of interest-free loans to private school owners in Kwara to relieve them of debts and hardship. He is the first and only Governor to do so in Nigeria.

In early July, the NAPPS President Dr Rahman Lateef sent an appeal to the Governor over their plights as school owners and teachers bearing economic hardship occasioned by school closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the letter, he asked for three things; palliative care, loan/grants, and tax holidays. A few days after, Governor AbdulRazaq directed relief materials be given to those grooming future leaders according to available resources.

Columnist Ibraheem Abdullateef with President of NAPPS, Dr Rahman Adetunji

But before that intervention, something happened. The Governor had earlier called him. “Hello, my name is AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq,” the receiver couldn’t believe his ears. He wondered if it was truly the Kwara First Citizen. It was him. His namesake. He’d still be struggling for breath before the Chief Servant asked; “What can we do for you?” And the partnership that bore the fruits of enumeration and eventual disbursement in the coming days for 1,119 private school owners began.

The visibly pleased Rahman couldn’t hide his happiness. He was glad he could get loans for his people who alongside the health workers are the foremost COVID-19 victims. You’d be happy really if you were him, too. No good leader should be at peace with his members suffering and in red. These Rahmans are punching above their weights? No. You must politely seek comfort for your people. The Holy Book enjoined us (Mathew 7:7); “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Kwara has set aside N135m under the Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP) as an interest-free loan to 1,119 private school owners across the state. The interested (not compulsory) 1,119 private schools have been grouped into two, each category receiving between N200,000 and N100,000 depending on their staff strength.

Those schools with 20 staff above (236 of them) will receive N200,000 each to support their workers. Others with 19 or less staff (883 of them) are to get N100,000 each. The enumeration has begun today.

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is redeeming the pledge made in a recent virtual meeting held with the umbrella bodies of school owners to provide support for their workers, and save many from the pangs of poverty surge in the education sub-sector.

Like I said in an article on Monday during the flag-off for the disbursement of Owo Isowo, another component of KWASSIP, to 21,263 petty traders across Kwara by Governor AbdulRazaq, the pace at which Kwara is moving to recover and reinvent the economy during and for post- COVID-19 is outstanding. It is a matter of time before the effects start manifesting in folds.

The lessons to draw is that man’s great by the manner he helps others to grow. The position of authority is responsibility, not luxury. Yet, leadership is also not about being on the seat. Wherever and whenever one finds him/herself with a voice, he may play the role of leader for others’ welfare. With tact, patience, and understanding. Unlike the crude, arrogant, judgemental dimension some youths employ to get nowhere. Yes, nowhere. But we are not going there today.

When you believe in a project, you stand a great chance to succeed in it. In the words of Dr Rahman Lateef, “na lie, na lie don dey turn na true.” That is a knack for Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, the ‘Superman’– putting his back on the ground for people to ride on comfort and prosperity. Kwara is clearly grappling for finances to run projects, living on prudence, but not buckling in the heat of it.

Yet, he still comes through. Making a meal of money, myth, and time. He’s no Charlie Puth but he’s just as ready to take the pains to make Kwara better. He’s just a call away.

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