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Kayode’s Day of Glory at Abuja Chamber by Olawale Rasheed

 Nigeria is a nation with men of great ideas and propositions. The tragedy has been that few, very minute number, ever succeeds in getting their ideas realized.

Former defence and Justice Minister, Adetokunbo Kayode, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was a lucky man. Before his eye, his brilliant expositions emerged a living reality right before his eyes.

That is the story of Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Within a year of assuming leadership, Kayode succeeded under ingenious circumstances to change the fortune of the chamber, placing it on  a pedestal no member ever dream is possible.

The business model was exponentially transformed, creating platforms for triple earnings and booming prospects for members.

From inherited save and spend system, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria infused a new model, invest and multiply business opportunities and multi-dimensional revenue generation.

Within a year, a six story ultra modern secretariat was completed. A 1000 sitter capacity convention center was built and completed. Four centres with multiple mandates were created.

In short, a miracle of sort happened. It all happened with a deep mind, imagining the prospect of a chamber located within the federal capital, emerging quite prosperous through creation of wealth rather than sharing of inherited resources.

It is simply that Abuja Chamber was transformed into a laboratory of ideas, an avenue to put into practice many governance proposals, which are giving little or no considerations in other climes.

A lawyer transformed into a businessperson injected a fresh breath, changing the ways the chamber works, reorienting the staff, expanding the reach and internationalizing a once local entity.

Many onlookers were shocked at the rapid change at the chamber. They wondered aloud how such changes were made possible.

Some asked how such fund was sourced and deployed for such legacy projects.  Others are puzzled at why Kayode and his team executed such landmarks projects instead of serving their own interests.

It is not only Nigerians who were pleasantly shocked. Foreign experts who came to the chamber also expressed amazement.

Nobody thinks any set of Nigerians still exists, capable of pursuing best practice even at the expense of their own gains and comfort.

However, those who know Kayode as a government minister will not be surprised a bit. Few Nigerian leaders pursue excellence as a passion.

Few leaders engage in policy laboratory where governance issues are thrown up, dissected, and modeled. In the presence of the former Labor minister, no moment can go without rigourous policy discourse.

His thinking and agenda for good governance are too deep for many to countenance. While in government, his policy agenda left many wondering if the man is truly a Nigerian.

Kayode wants the right thing done the right way. The Nigerian system prefers otherwise. In all ministries where he served, he left indelible marks in term of fundamental policy thoughts.

As a private citizen, he pushed ahead with his innovations as a public-spirited figure. When he took over the Presidency of Abuja Chamber, he realized the excellent opportunity to put into practice the best practice mindset he had since all these days.

With a dedicated team, Kayode launched into action, taking the chamber with such far-reaching concepts that rattled many traditionalists.

Impatient with fools and unaccommodating of self seeking moves,Kayode enforced a legacy agenda.

While his closest friends wondered what he was up to, the former culture minister was undaunted in his drive. The results a year after, is a monumental accomplishments, surpassing any previous records in chamber management in Nigeria.

At the AGM of the Abuja Chamber this Monday in Abuja, Kayode himself looked back and convincingly affirmed:” Since the last AGM, several inspiring developments have been recorded. Great vision of a rebranded chamber has become a reality.

“Great ideas have materialised. In the beginning there were ideas in the book; today, great thoughts stand indisputably in material forms before all visitors and stakeholders.

“Yes, we took off on a challenging note. However, we all painstakingly pushed for reforms. Today, we are all proud of our achievements in many areas”

Indeed, the administration of the chamber received a deep review. As he put it, we envisioned an efficiency driven chamber delivering on its crucial mandate. That philosophy engenders the creation of four new Centres alongside the secretariat.

This has widened the coverage and depth of the Chamber even as that singular reform has extended our capacity to boost businesses and influence issues and policies in the country.

“Our goal was to excite innovation, encourage new thinking, reduce red tape, enhance efficiency and achieve a lean but efficient work force. Our reform has achieved job specification and established benchmark for personnel performance review. Redundancy has been eliminated and job duplication is hopefully outdated”, he said.

Within a year, he has created four centres namely Abuja Trade Centre, Policy Advocacy Centre, Business Entrepreneurship Skills and Technology Centre and Dispute Resolution Centre. He reorganised the trade groups for more functionality. He broadens s business support for members.

He signed many functional MoUs with local and international organisations. Under his leadership, the Federal Capital Territory Administration has approved Abuja chamber as the host of all trade fairs and exhibitions in the FCT.

Members of the chamber at the AGM took time to review and praise the man and his team. Key chamber leaders see a new dawn. Some worried about the pace of transformation.

I mean some are finding it hard to comprehend the tsunami of developmental initiatives flooding the once sleepy kilometre 8, airport road, Abuja.

There is a consensus however-that it is possible for good governance ideas to become a reality. That what is required is a leader single-mindedly fixated on getting the right thing done, the right way and at the right time. Prince of Ikaram, Tokunbo-the law-is one of such developmental leaders.

•Olawale Rasheed is the Director, Policy Advocacy Centre, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He can be reached on policycentre@accinigeria.com

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