NNDC: Sar­dauna’s grow­ing le­gacy

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Udu Yakubu

In this mem­o­rable 50th year since the pas­sage of the revered leader and for­mer Premier of the North­ern Re­gion, the Sar­dauna of Sokoto, Sir Ah­madu Bello, the New Nige­ria De­vel­op­ment Com­pany Lim­ited (NNDC) re­mains one of the most crit­i­cal and thriv­ing lega­cies of the Sar­dauna and his foun­da­tional regime. Through nu­mer­ous so­cio-po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic odds and chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics and tech­nolo­gies, the com­pany has ex­hib­ited the prag­ma­tism of a 21st cen­tury con­glom­er­ate, reforming and trans­form­ing it­self to meet the chal­lenges of con­tem­po­rary times, while dis­charg­ing its core obli­ga­tions to the re­gion.

The lega­cies of the truly larg­erthan-life Sar­dauna con­tinue to re­gale our imag­i­na­tion just as they con­tinue to repli­cate them­selves. By 1966 when Sir Ah­madu Bello passed, the en­tire North­ern Nige­ria had just two or three qual­i­fied char­tered ac­coun­tants. That the NNDC alone has di­rectly fa­cil­i­tated the train­ing and qual­i­fi­ca­tion of over 500 qual­i­fied char­tered ac­coun­tants in North­ern Nige­ria from 2007 to date is a strong tes­ti­mony to the grow­ing lega­cies of the Sar­dauna.

When the NNDC was in­cor­po­rated in 1965 un­der the Com­pa­nies Act, the pri­mary agenda of the Ah­madu Bello-led North­ern Re­gion Gov­ern­ment was to fast-track eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in the re­gion. A crit­i­cal el­e­ment of the agenda was to em­power north­ern­ers and po­si­tion them in the driv­ing seat of the re­gion’s econ­omy, and by that ex­ten­sion, the na­tional econ­omy. Thus, the NNDC was a prepa­ra­tion ground for many lead­ing Nige­rian cor­po­rate play­ers of north­ern ex­trac­tion, most of whom were char­tered ac­coun­tants, a pro­fes­sion sig­nif­i­cantly tai­lored for the com­mand­ing heights of all sizes of economies world­wide. Ap­par­ently, the NNDC as it is to­day is out­per­form­ing the achieve­ments of its pre­de­ces­sors in terms of ad­vanc­ing the cause of train­ing and pre­par­ing lead­ers for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

In terms of projects, in­vest­ments and re­turns, it is not yet a pe­riod of glory for the NNDC, not with the na­tional eco­nomic chal­lenges of re­cent years. Cur­rently in the third year of an on-go­ing five-year strate­gic de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme, the com­pany is be­ing re-de­signed and re-struc­tured to proac­tively re­spond to some of its chal­lenges and en­hance its ca­pac­ity for greater profitable re­turns from its far-flung in­vest­ments in var­i­ous sec­tors of the Nige­rian econ­omy. To achieve fur­ther con­sol­i­da­tion and de­vel­op­ment, it is cur­rently stim­u­lat­ing the growth of its in­vest­ments by ren­o­vat­ing most of its prop­er­ties and com­mis­sion­ing new ones.

It has re­cap­i­tal­ized some of its wholly-owned sub­sidiaries such as NNIL Com­mer­cial Com­pany Lim­ited and New Cap­i­tal Prop­er­ties Lim­ited (NCPL), and has em­barked on a com­plete re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Arewa Suites in Abuja. Its flag­ship hos­pi­tal­ity brands, the Ham­dala Ho­tel and Arewa Ho­tels Lim­ited (AHL), are in the process of be­ing strate­gi­cally re­struc­tured to meet the stan­dards of global trans­for­ma­tions in the in­dus­try.

Though it has eq­uity hold­ing in thirty-nine as­so­ci­ate com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Arewa Tex­tiles, Chellco In­dus­tries, Crit­tall Hope, Na­tional Truck Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pany of Kano and New Nige­ria Con­struc­tion Com­pany, its in­ter­est in these com­pa­nies is less than 20% in many cases. This, of course, trans­lates to mi­nor­ity eq­uity, and im­plies that it could only in­flu­ence cor­po­rate de­ci­sions in the as­so­ci­ate com­pa­nies up to a cer­tain level. Thus, to make the most of its par­tic­i­pa­tion in these as­so­ci­ate com­pa­nies, it has in­creased its in­vest­ments in the ones that guar­an­tee best re­turns on in­vest­ment. Amongst these are Song­hai Health Trust Lim­ited, Abuja, Nige­rian Life & Prov­i­dent Com­pany, La­gos, Nige­rian Life & Pen­sions Com­pany, La­gos, Rigid PAK Con­tain­ers Lim­ited, and Newde­vco In­vest­ment & Se­cu­ri­ties Com­pany Lim­ited La­gos.

In line with the NNDC’s five-year strate­gic plan, the con­struc­tion of a state-ofthe-art shop­ping mall lo­cated along Muham­madu Buhari Way, Kaduna, was re­cently com­pleted. The de­vel­op­ment of a size­able num­ber of res­i­den­tial es­tates owned by the com­pany have also ei­ther been com­pleted or reached ad­vanced lev­els of progress. Good ex­am­ples are the Degel II Road Kaduna Hous­ing Es­tate and the 50-unit Golf Course Road Hous­ing Es­tate.

In 2005, the NNDC made its first foray into the oil and gas busi­ness fol­low­ing the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s in­clu­sion of the acreages of North­ern Nige­ria in the 2005 oil blocs bid round. The com­pany took part in the bid and won four of the oil blocs in the Chad Basin and the Benue Trough. But only re­cently did it suc­ceed in se­cur­ing a part­ner­ship with a UK-based oil and gas com­pany, Savannah Pe­tro­leum Plc, to de­velop the blocs. Ef­forts are cur­rently be­ing made by the man­age­ment of the com­pany to­wards ac­tu­al­iz­ing this dream. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Nige­rian Na­tional Pe­tro­leum Cor­po­ra­tion and the Depart­ment of Pe­tro­leum Re­sources, the com­pany has also ven­tured into and is ex­plor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in the down­stream oil sec­tor.

Work­ing with for­eign part­ners, the NNDC is also cur­rently pro­mot­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of Agro In­dus­trial Parks (AIPs) and a Com­mod­ity Mar­ket­ing Com­pany for the nine­teen North­ern States. Very fun­da­men­tal to the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the North is the ca­pac­ity of small and medium busi­nesses to thrive. We cer­tainly can say this as well of Nige­ria as a whole. If these busi­nesses can­not suc­ceed, all the good works of the NNDC, or any gov­ern­ment for that mat­ter, will amount to lit­tle. The NNDC has also been work­ing to­wards es­tab­lish­ing a pri­mary mort­gage in­sti­tu­tion and a mi­cro­fi­nance bank that could be uti­lized for home own­er­ship and for ac­cess­ing funds for small and medium scale en­ter­prises in the re­gion.

The NNDC has taken sev­eral gi­ant steps to­wards re­sus­ci­tat­ing the ail­ing tex­tile in­dus­try in the coun­try. With the sup­port of the North­ern States Gov­er­nors’ Fo­rum in 2010, it en­gaged Gherzi Tex­tile of Zurich, Switzerland, to con­duct a study to­wards the re­struc­tur­ing and re­open­ing of the Kaduna Tex­tiles Lim­ited (KTL). The re­sult of the en­gage­ment is the cur­rent ef­fort to­wards the es­tab­lish­ment of Armed Forces Gar­ment­ing and Polypropy­lene out­fits in the pre­sent lo­ca­tion of KTL. The Is­lamic Cor­po­ra­tion for De­vel­op­ment (ICD), an arm of the Is­lamic De­vel­op­ment Bank, has al­ready com­mit­ted it­self to sup­port the re­struc­tur­ing process of the KTL. What is re­quired at this point is the buyin of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment through the Min­istries of De­fence and the In­te­rior. These are min­istries with the high­est num­ber of mil­i­tary and para­mil­i­tary out­fits, and they pro­vide a ready mar­ket for the prod­ucts en­vis­aged. There is no doubt that the gov­er­nors of the north­ern states have some work to do in this re­gard, es­pe­cially as the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment it­self has re­peat­edly ex­pressed in­ter­est in re­sus­ci­tat­ing the Nige­rian tex­tile in­dus­try.

Sev­eral sim­ple facts and fig­ures speak to the ef­forts be­ing made by stake­hold­ers in the NNDC in fa­cil­i­tat­ing and fast­track­ing con­crete de­vel­op­ment in North­ern Nige­ria. I imag­ine that the Sar­dauna him­self would be proud that af­ter so many decades down the line, the com­pany has be­come a stronger source of eco­nomic strength and re­plen­ish­ment for the North than it ever was, all de­mo­graph­ics con­sid­ered. We can only hope that in line with the re­cent thoughts ex­pressed by the Emir of Kano, Al­haji Muham­madu Sanusi II, which I be­lieve is shared by the lead­ers and peo­ple of the re­gion, the owner-states will of­fer more strate­gic sup­port - in all ram­i­fi­ca­tions - to en­able the NNDC achieve far more than its cur­rent five-year de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme, and be­come a much more for­mi­da­ble eco­nomic bas­tion in North­ern Nige­ria. Dr. Udu Yakubu is a bi­og­ra­pher and cor­po­rate his­to­rian. (udu.yakubu@gmail.com)

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