For a long time, the fastest and sometimes only way to be gainfully employed in Nigeria is to know a top politician or buy your way (bribe) to be considered. However, this is fast becoming the outlier rather than the norm now, thanks to one woman, Muheeba Farida Dankaka who is changing the narratives at the Federal Character Commission (FCC), the body saddled with the responsibility of ensuring balanced and equal representation of qualified Nigerians into Federal agencies as well as political appointments.
President Muhammadu Buhari did not make a mistake when he appointed Muheeba Dankaka as the Chairman of the Commission in March 20220 to spearhead reforms urgently. Her appointment shows that President Muhammadu Buhari also underscored the direction of the new Nigeria: a nation where mediocrity will no longer find space; a nation where the patriotic and incorruptible citizens will be harnessed to re-work a country that totally ran down by successive uncaring and insensitive governments.
By entrusting the herculean task of reforming one of the most important agencies of government to Dankaka, President Buhari seemed to dispel all sentiments of his aversion to women inclusion in government. The appointment also signaled the intentions of his administration to tackle corruption and job racketeering that had characterized most agencies of government prior to her appointment.
A successful business woman and former chairman of Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Dankaka’s vast experience in ensuring accountability and transparency in the private driven sector world has been instrumental in terminating systemic corruption and repositioning of excellence in performance and delivery of quality services within a year of her appointment as the head of FCC.
It took less than 6 months for her to fish out the bad eggs sabotaging the system. Investigations revealed that the vacuum created before the appointment of Dankaka and other Commissioners led to the illegalities being unearthed now.
Of course, many of these lapses were corrected when Dankaka came on board but as expected, the evil machinations profiting from the illegalities also fought back by planting spurious allegations in the media in the bid to spoil her hard-earned reputation. It was even laughable that an accomplished entrepreneur, who was decorated with a National Honour by President Buhari in 2019 would be linked to a N35 million fraud, this is an amount that’s not up to one quarter of her worth as a successful business woman who had and continue to contribute immensely to the economy of the country.
Despite the media trial she was subjected to, Dankaka was able to manage the crisis and restore sanity to the Commission which is now on the right track to delivering on its constitutional mandate. She has as a matter of fact continued to confound critics with her determination, poise and dedication to duty. She is taking everything in its strides, unafraid to make tough decisions and demonstrating clearly that the change mantra of the present administration is not a mere attempt at sloganeering.
Dankaka has proved herself to be a noble ambassador for women in governance, fastidiously assisting the president in his thankless job of restoring order and sanity to the public service, weeding out the bad eggs and restoring the confidence of Nigerians in government. The serial entrepreneur has succeeded in bringing the private sector priority of efficiency and prompt service delivery to bear in the discharge of her duties as the head of this very strategic national agency. She has kept the delays and time wasting antics prevalent in the civil service out of the way in her dealings. Dankaka makes sure that all files brought to her desk are attended to as promptly as they should without compromising attention to details. As a team player, she without fail secures the inputs of subordinates when she needs to. Her commitment is to make sure that every task is given the priority attention it deserves. She does not shirk responsibilities nor get involved in idle politicking to the detriment of her official responsibilities. For Dankaka, working late hours to get the job done is routine.
Beyond restoring a sense of purpose to the FCC, Dankaka is repositioning the agency to become a model of public service efficiency, accountability and transparency. She is currently liaising with other state agencies to explore opportunities for training, support and other forms of inter-agencies engagements. The fruits of these initiatives are expected to start manifesting in the next few months and the benefits would continue to accrue long after the Amazon is gone.
Leveraging on her experience in the private sector, Dankaka appreciates the importance of staff training and retraining. She is exploring measures to introduce a programme that would see staff across cadres go for various professional trainings on a regular basis to enhance their suitability for the job and promote the overall efficiency of the organization. The agency under her watch is currently in talks with several organizations in the public and private sectors to make regular staff training at FCC a reality.
While we continue to bemoan the decay and dysfunctions in the public service, we must be honest to acknowledge the sincere and genuine efforts of diligent patriots like Dankaka who is working hard to make a mark in government and justify her appointment by the president who has graciously shown that there is a place for women at the table. Thankfully, Dankaka and others are proving the president right despite the shenanigans of naysayers.
Kehinde Abdulsalam writes from Abuja