In 1996, the Federal Government of Nigeria, saw a need to established a specialized Free Zone that will provide import and export incentives to foreign investors, and players in the Nigeria’s oil and Gas Sector. That Free Zone was named OIL AND GAS FREE ZONE, supervised by a government regulatory authority.
The Free Zone was designed in a way that it provides incentives such as; zero customs duties, 75% Import Duty rebate fee, 100% Capital and Profit repatriation for investors who operate in the free zone.
These huge incentives became a major attraction to investors who didn’t waste time in subscribing to the Free Zone initiative by the Federal government, as it significantly reduced their operational cost in the Nation’s Oil and Gas Sector, while creating thousands of Jobs for Nigerians, and Generating billions of Dollars in foreign income for Nigeria.
In 2001, the first Oil and Gas Free Zone in the Nigeria, located in Onne, Rivers state, officially kickstarted operations and subsequently, other Oil and Gas Free Zones were established by the Federal Government, and managed by the government agency known as the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA).
PRESIDENT BUHARI APPOINTS SEN. KAURA OGFZA MD/CEO
Twenty-one years after the first Oil and Gas Free Zone became operational, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Senator Tijjani Yahaya Kaura, to head the organization as its substantive Managing Director/ CEO.
Like the Proverbial Golden fish that has no hiding place; the managerial and administrative prowess of Senator Kaura could not be hidden for so long, before he was once again found by the Presidnecy to head the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority.
His appointment is so significant that, it came at a very critical time when the country needs its best hands on deck to battle the economic challenges facing Nigeria as at today.
TAFIDAN KAURA ASSUMES OFFICE AS OGFZA MD/CEO
With over three decades of successful public service, one could comfortably say that Senator Kaura is a Born technocrat, Administrator per excellence, a prudent manager of men and resources, a nationalist with unwavering patriotism, loyalty and service to Nigeria. A complete round peg that fits in a round hole.
Sequel to his appointment as OGFZA MD, on Monday 1st of August 2022, Kaura headed to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment – FMITI (OGFZA’s Supervising Ministry) to report his official assumption of duty to the Honourable Minister, Minister of state and Permanent secretary of FMITI respectively. Having done that, he headed straight to OGFZA office in Abuja, where he was cheerfully welcomed by the Authority’s staff whom were obviously eager to meet with their new Managing Director.
Irrespective of official hierarchy, Kaura didn’t find it difficult to switch to his usual humble, Jovial approach in interacting with the Staff, in their respective departments and ofifces; giving them a sense of inclusion and value, appreciating their hard work and service to the Authority and Nigeria.
SIGNIFICANT STEPS IN FIRST 30 DAYS IN OFFICE
1. HOLISTIC REVIEW OF THE AUTHORITY’S BOOKS: As a man who strictly does it by the book, the first few days of his assumption of office were spent in reviewing every nesscessary report, document, and operational activities of the authority so far; in order to enable him understudy, and consolidate on the achievements of his predecessors; as well as plan the road map of his own administration.
2. IMPROVED STAFF WELFARE: IT is said that “When you add value to people, you bring out the best in them”. As a seasoned administrator, Senator Kaura understands that improving staff welfare will boost their confidence, moral, sense of value, and thereby lead to increased productivity in the work place. So, without wasting time, he promised a review of OGFZA staff welfare package, which received a thunderous ovation by the happy staff of the authority.
3. TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY: In the over three (3) decades of Sen Kaura’s public service, his two major watch word has always been TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY. These has Been the secret of his successive years of service in the public sector; the shining light on his path, his major guideline, and rule of engagement. So upon assumption of office as OGFZA MD, he demanded absolute transparency and accountability from the entire staff of the authority. An initiative that has now beclouded the authority’s work environment as nobody wishes to be found wanting.
4. EXPANDED WEEKLY MANAGEMENT MEETING: To drive Productivity, accountability, Transparency, and growth, it is crucial that the Management Staff of the Authority lead by example. And as such, similar to the weekly Federal Executive council meetings, Sen. Kaura initiated the FIRST EVER EXPANDED WEEKLY MANAGEMENT MEETING IN THE HISTORY OF THE AUTHORITY, Which included more staff from lower cadre, thereby driving productivity, growth and accountability from Top to bottom.
Indeed, it’s no longer business as usual in OGFZA, as It’s now obvious that an administrator per excellence has taken over the wheels of the authority, and just as he improves staff welfare, he demands productive results from the staff.
4. INVESTORS WELFARE: Irrespective of the incentives OGFZA offers to its investors, it is crucial that the Authority lives up to its responsibilities, and expectations to the investors, by reducing bureaucratic bottle-neck which will enable ease of dong business, provide stable regulation of Free Zone activities, and the basic infrastructures such as; access Roads within the Free Zones. These were also the the demand of the investors during their interaction with the New OGFZA Boss, and seeing the importance, he initiated immediate action on their demands.
5. UPGRADING AND EXPANSION OF OFFICE INFRASTRUCTURE: Another Area that drew the attention of the New OGFZA Boss during his inspection of Offices and facilities of the Authority, was the none availability of certain critical equipments needed to drive workplace productivity in OGFZA offices. A report from each of the departments, quickly highlighted some of these needed equipments, which have now been approved by the MD for purchase, repair or replacement.
6. FREE ZONE TOUR AND MEETING WITH HOST COMMUNITIES: Upon assumption of office, Sen. Kaura quickly hit the ground running by visiting all the Free Zones under the Authority’s Regulation, for an on-the-spot assessment and review of activities in each of the zones. Not just did he visit the zones, but also took time to interact with investors operating there; the challenges they are facing, and areas where they seriously need Government’s intervention. He also meet with youths and leaders of the host communities, and promised them all necessary support for a harmonious relationship between them and OGFZA.
The completion of the Free Zone tour, equally gave Sen. Kaura an in-depth view of ongoing operations in the Zones and how he could resolve the challenges encountered in the Zones, which he has already started to resolve.
A WORKAHOLIC SETS TO WORK
At 63, Sen. Kaura resumes work at 8:00am in the morning, and at the very least closes by 9:00pm at night. A fit never before achieved by any of his predecessors. But to him, this is just a normal work routine, as long as he is serving his country.
The task and challenges before him are daunting, President Buhari’s Economic directives to all Managers of the Nation’s economic and revenue generating agency are sacrosanct. The Oil and Gas Free Zones Presents an enormous opportunity, to attract Foreign Direct Investment, and reshape our economy. And Sen Tijjani Yahaya Kaura is bent on delivering on President Buhari Mandate to reshape our economy.
The long working hours he puts in daily are a pointer to that. The authority’s staff have gotten the message clearer “It’s no longer Business as Usual, and Civil Service is not for Lazy folks who comfortably come to work by 10am and close by 5pm. There is a Paradigm shift now, and everyone must be at their best”.
STABLE HANDS ON STABLE COURSE
The antecedents of Senator Tijjani Yahaya Kaura over the past three decades of his service in public sector, proves that he is a STABLE HAND ON STABLE COURSE.
The ingenuity, experience, and sterling leadership qualities he brings to every position he occupies, sets a pace that neither his predecessors nor successors could achieve.
About 3 Decades ago, out of sheer foresight, Senator Tijjani Yahaya Kaura Saw the need to set up the Kaura Namoda Community Development Bank, to Carter for the banking needs of the people of Kaura, as well as provide a local financial institution that will serve as an economic back-bone for their trade, agricultural ventures, or other economic pursuits.
The Ingenuity and innovation in Sen Kaura, didn’t allow him to idly wait for normal commercial banks to come open branches in his community when they choose to.
He also didn’t allow his people to be shut-out of the 21st Century Banking services. He saw the need ahead of time, and set up the bank. Till today, the success stories of the famous Kaura Namoda Community Bank are there for everyone to see.
In his financial dealings, he is frugal, diligent, transparent, and prudent. In his expenses, he is austere, and accountable. No wonder the People of Kaura insisted that he lead them twice as their Local Government Chairman.
Even at that, the developmental projects he initiated during his tenure as LGA Chairman, are yet to be surpassed by either his predecessors or successors.
Indeed, Gold fish has No hiding place.
His huge successes at the Local level immediately skyrocketed him to the state Level where he served at the Secretary to the State Government of Zamfara, and within a short time he moved to the Federal Level as a Federal Commissioner at the National Population Commission, and subsequently Federal Minister of state for Foreign Affairs.
These are no mere fits. These are not magical elevations. Rather they are years of hard work, honest, diligent, and forthright Patrotic service, Coated with exceeding wisdom and patience, to his people, and the Nation at large. And as the saying goes, the only reward for a Job Weldone is “More Job”.
Few years after his service as Minister of State for Foreign affairs, the people of Zamfara North, looked at their worthy son whom has done them proud at the federal level and insisted that he remain at the Federal Level, but this time as an elected Senator at the Red Chambers of the National Assembly. When the election came he was elected on a landslide victory.
At the Red Chambers, the statesman in Senator Kaura was brought to bear on critical National deliberations and legislature. His legislative approach was a collusion of a seasoned administrator, Diplomat and technocrat; a melting point of ingenuity, experience, excellence and innovation. No wonder he earned the respect of all and sundry at the National Assembly.
As the country now faces daunting economic challenges, with an urgent need for experienced men to saddle sensitive leadership positions, and together help the President to keep our country on stable economic Path; it wasn’t long before the searchlight of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration found Sen. Tijjani Yahaya Kaura, and immediately appointed him to head the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority.
Kaura is tested, Trusted, urbane, polished, experienced, exposed; a teacher, Leader, statesman, technocrat, bureaucrat, manager of men and resources, a workerholic, ingenious, innovative, Jovial, savvy, conservative, humble, and above all Loyal to his Party and country.
Over 30 years down the line, the stewardship account of Senator Kaura could be simply summarized as “STABLES HANDS ON STABLE COURSE”. He is neither tired nor done with serving his country, as there are still more he could offer, and as he clocks one month in office as the Managing Director/ CEO of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, the Nation will yet again feel the impactful stewardship of his service in OGFZA.