RMRDC: CATALYST FOR DIVERSIFICATION OF NIGERIA’S ECONOMY
Dr. Ibrahim Hussaini Doko, who hails from Doko, Lavun Local Government Area of Niger State was born on the 24th of September, 1962. He began his educational pursuits at the North Primary School, Doko (1968-1974), before obtaining the West African Examination Certificate (WAEC) with an outstanding performance from the Government Secondary School, Kontagora (1974-1979).
Dr. Hussaini Doko Ibrahim was appointed the 5th substantive Director General of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) to take over from the 4th DG, Prof. Peter Azikiwe Onwualu, with effect from the 8th of April, 2014.
Ibrahim proceeded to the School of Basic Studies, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, where he did his ‘A’ Level (IJMB), before he earned a place in the full Degree Programme of the University to study Textile Science and Technology in 1980.
He obtained his first degree in 1984 with an outstanding performance. His performance won him the Oba of Benin price for Best Final Year Student of the Department of Textile Science and Technology, ABU, Zaria for that year. As a result of his academic performance, he was offered immediate employment as a Graduate Assistant at the Ahmadu Bello University after his completion of the mandatory one-year National Service (NYSC) programme.
He began his public career as a Graduate Assistant with his alma mater in 1985 and rose to the post of Lecturer 1 in the same University before he joined the Raw Materials Research and Development Council in 1994.
Ibrahim began his professional career in the Council as Assistant Scientific Officer. True to his hardworking nature and commitment to the organization, he rose through the ranks to become a Chief Scientific Officer/Head of Division in 1996 and was, thereafter, promoted to Deputy Director in charge of Research, Evaluation and Monitoring. In October, 2002, following a series of written examinations, he emerged the Director of the Industrial Chemicals and Minerals Department (ICMD), RMRDC.
In the course of his public career in the University, in the Council and at inter-ministerial levels, Dr. Hussaini has served in several committees. Among which were: member, Departmental Committee for Undergraduate and Post-graduate programmes, Junior Staff Disciplinary Committee, Technical and Editorial Committees of some of the council’s publications, National Consultative Committee on the Industrialization of Scientific Research Results (NCCISRR), Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, National Committee on Deletion Programme for Industrial Raw Materials among several others.
Dr. Hussaini has travelled widely in the course of his official assignments to several countries of the world, some of which include: South Africa, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Republic of Ukraine and host of others.
He is a fellow of several professional bodies; namely, Fellow Textiles Technologists of Nigeria and United Kingdom; Fellow, Institute of Management Consultant (FIMC); Fellow, Nigeria Institute of Management (MNIM); Fellow, Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria (FICCON), etc.
Dr. Hussaini’s experiences in life both personally and professionally are inexhaustible. Suffice to say that these varied and rich experiences have prepared him for the important role of Director General of the nation’s leading organization on Raw Materials Research and Development and Exploitation, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council. In an interview with Mr. Humphrey Onyima, the publisher of Scorecard International, Dr. Hussaini presented a clear picture of the role of Raw Materials Research and Development Council in the diversification of the Nigerian Economy. Except:
Nigeria just turned 55 on October 1. What is your assessment of the nation and her journey from October 1960, when she was given independence by the colonial masters?
We thank God for the progress which Nigeria has made, so far, as we celebrate our 55th Independence Anniversary. The country started well as a dynamic and focused nation piloted by our founding fathers, namely; Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir. Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alvan Ikoku, Chief Anthony Enahoro and Herbert Macauley were all prominent in the nationalistic movement that pushed for the independence of Nigeria in 1960. At that time mineral resources and agricultural commodities were basically our major source of income before the discovery of oil in the Niger Delta. Back then, we had the great groundnut pyramid of Kano, the cocoa plantations in the Western Region, as well as oil palm and coal exploration in the Eastern Region. By the time oil was found, at the early stage, we were generating enough revenue from our solid minerals and agriculture.
Later in life, Nigeria moved from oil ‘boom’ to oil ‘doom’. Our leaders looked away from other sources of revenue and concentrated on petroleum resources. The big money generated from oil was not properly utilised and huge-scale resources’ wastage ensued.
Presently, though, with the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari, change is here and the country’s economy stands a better chance to be repositioned for the better.
The establishment of Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) has its background in over-reliance on import for the supply of raw materials and spare parts in the 1980s. In response to the situation, the government, through the Federal Ministry of Industry and in collaboration with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other stakeholders convened, in July 1983, a National Workshop on Raw Materials for Nigerian Industries. The workshop was a public-private sector dialogue aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the problem of raw materials availability for the industries. An outcome of the workshop on raw materials was the recommendation for the establishment of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council. After due consultations and meetings, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council was established under the Federal Government Act No 39 of 1987.
Seeing as the president knows the importance of the raw materials’ sector of the economy, we are bound to perform better, seeing as we now have a willing government; one that is ready to explore the raw material resources in Nigeria.
Is there hope for Nigeria with President Buhari’s anti-corruption war?
Yes, there is hope. With President Buhari’s anti-corruption war, we now have value for our money; value for our honesty; value for our sweat; value for our integrity and citizenship; value for our commitment to nation building. With the anti-corruption war, criminals in the public service have no hiding place, the lazy ones will have no food to eat, therefore, they have to engage themselves meaningfully because no more idle funds to cart away.
The value of our Naira depreciated because it is not in commensurate with our level of productivity. Our Naira fell because we are less productive. So, with President Buhari’s anti-corruption war, we can now add value to our resources and the value of our currency will increase. The misguided, uncoordinated and misinformed GDP of the past where Nigeria was placed as the best economy in Africa without any significant impact on the standard of the living of the citizenry will certainly be corrected through the anti-corruption government of President Muhammadu Buhari. As I speak to you, many sectors in our country are now changing their pattern, take a look at power sector, petroleum sector are now up to the task; even our image in the international community is changing, all because of the personality of the President we have at the moment. The former GDP is a theory not a reality. In reality there is poverty, hunger, high level of illiteracy, insecurity, etc in the land due to corruption. But with the present leadership, agriculture and mineral resources will help strengthen the diversification of the economy away from oil.
As of the time of your appointment as the Director-general RMRDC, what were your visions and possible challenges?
Actually, my vision for RMRDC was to build a formidable capacity for human capital development with digital framework, to reposition the working modalities for efficiency and productivity in line with the council’s mandate on the development of agricultural and mineral resources. Applied researches, promoting local fabrication of machinery, processing equipment and establishment of resource based model factories were part of my vision and, to a large extent, I have achieved the goal so far.
My challenge earlier was and still remains funds. Inadequate funding and late release [of funds] delay our progress. As for the agricultural resources, it is easier to get entrepreneurs to be involved in its development, because, unlike the solid minerals’ sector, it has a very short gestation period and our entrepreneurs are not very interested in projects that have long gestation periods. Understandably, this is because they want to get their money back and make profits on it, as well within a short time. So, my strategic agenda and cluster concept for the RMRDC has brought about a significant turn-around in the council since my appointment as director-general. I developed a template of raw materials’ deposit in every electoral ward in Nigeria, in order to form a cluster for the exploration of agricultural and mineral resources at the grassroots level. So, to lubricate the wheel of progress in moving away from oil-based economy, the RMRDC is a catalyst for the diversification of the Nigerian economy, owing to the fact that the sole mandate of the RMRDC is to help create a sustainable industrial growth and development.
Your Council is into research and development, what significant progress can you say the council has recorded under your leadership?
Well, government policy as a matter of fact is a continuous progress. I cannot claim all the progress made so far in Raw Materials Research and Development Council. But just as I said earlier, RMRDC under my leadership has made tremendous achievements. Right from the pioneer Director General to the previous ones before me did their best. Research and Development is continuous and not a one day job. When I came on board, for example we promoted the proliferation of kaolin processing plants in Gwarzo (Kano State), Kankara (Katsina State), the use of moringa for water treatment, promotion of Castor production and processing, increase in the local content of the solid minerals sector, strategic collaboration with National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDP) and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), development of local fabrication of machinery and equipment, establishment of resource based factories and promotion of basic and applied researches. You can find out for yourself when you go around to our Research Institutions and 36 States Offices of the Federation.
What is the role of the RMRDC in the area of revenue generation?
Raw Materials Research and Development Council is a catalyst for the diversification of the Nigerian Economy, owing to the fact that we have the mandate and the vision to be an indispensable catalyst for industrial growth and development in Nigeria; and with the mission to promote the development and optimal utilization of Nigeria’s raw materials for sustainable industrial growth. We promote the reduction of the volume of raw materials imported into Nigeria; thereby encourage local production and processing of the local content of our raw materials, which will in turn help revamp our dwindling economy thereby create jobs for our teeming unemployed youths. We have a critical role to play in the development of value chain towards the diversification of the Nigerian economy, especially, in the area of agricultural activities vis-à-vis revenue generation at the local government level, state and the Federal at large.