By Moses M. Wilberforce
I am personally stunned by his simplicity, decency, gentleness and his intimidating profile of achievements. I can never get bored talking, reading or even writing about him. This piece from my own perspective is only page one, chapter one of a voluminous encyclopaedia about him.
The man is an enigma. He is a magician of sorts. He has technically forced especially his peers to watch, listen and even follow his exemplary leadership qualities with envy. He generally takes people through the realms of wild fantasy and dreams to concrete reality with remarkable ease. Gradually and systematically, he can manoeuvre through an avalanche of rockets and cannon fires with scintillating acrobatics and land his big bird on the runway safely. No doubt, there must be a divine pre-ordained favour in all this.
The personality in reference is a warm but cool, impressive but unassuming, articulate but reticent, intelligent but self-effacing gentleman. One can conclusively assert that he is a genius of our time, squarely positioned for a much higher place in no distant future. I am referring to no other person than Dr. Umar Ardo. A former history lecturer at the prestigious military institution, the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna, a Masters Degree Student of Political Psychology and Leadership Development at the prestigious Walden University, USA, Dr. Ardo holds a Ph.D Degree in Political History from the University of Maiduguri. His inclination to reading not only books, but voluminous ones, is one of the factors that endeared him to some great leaders of our time, among whom are his former principal and the sagacious Adamawa-born politician, Atiku Abubakar; and no less my good humble self.
This citizen is well versed in contemporary history, African history, and current international and political developments globally. He is not only spectacular, but a dynamic, efficient, ebullient, energetic and versatile up-and-coming leader to watch. Dr. Umar Ardo, a practicing politician of several years, fits any position that needs decisive action. As once said of Winston Churchill, if you want a mountain moved in the political cycle, Dr. Ardo is the kind of man to first talk to. He has courage in abundance, and so much understands human, and especially political, psychology that he can, without failing, always galvanize support, goodwill and understanding from the general public. Both in theory and in practice, his understanding and analysis of politics are indeed profound.
In a way you can equate him to being a centre of politics; jettison his views to your peril. I know for a fact that his views and strategies have performed miracles for others and spelled doom to the heedless. In Abuja as well as in Adamawa, Dr. Ardo remains a centre of attraction with great reliable and dependable political skills. His Secondary School classmate, now a Medical Doctor, calls him Albert Einstein of Nigeria. When I asked him why, he said Dr. Ardo has astonishing political proficiency but most people underrate him just like Einstein with his theory of relativity in the world of sciences.
Take for example, Dr. Ardo’s contribution in the killing of the 3rd Term bid. Whosoever watched the AIT Documentary titled Tenure Elongation in Nigeria will indubitably conclude that this was a master piece product from an extremely brilliant mind. Atiku, the lead vanguard of the anti 3rd Term Movement, described it as the last stroke that broke the back of the 3rd Term Camel. By the time the security agents raided AIT and seized the tapes, everybody knew that the tenure elongation bid had already been given a mortal blow and it was over and done with. Many people today hold the view that the courage AIT mustered to air that documentary has helped to further raise the popularity base of the station before a large section of patriotic Nigerians. I hold this view myself.
Dr. Ardo served as Special Assistant to the immediate past Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the Turaki Adamawa, on States and Local Government Affairs between 1999 and 2003, and also Special Assistant on Research and Strategy between 2003 and 2006.
While in the Presidency, Dr. Ardo scored impressive achievements. As Special Assistant on States and Local Government, he initiated and achieved the formation of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON). The idea of ALGON was to give elected Local Government Councils some measure of autonomy from arbitrary State Governments’ manipulation and control. In the days when he was in office, the whole nation can testify, among many other commendable roles played by ALGON, to the checkmating of the excesses of the State Governors over the Local Governments, especially in the former’s lust for absolute control of the latter’s statutory accounts.
As a historian, Dr. Ardo was also the sole initiator for the change of nomenclature of the then Sokoto Emirate Council to its current more appropriate name of The Sokoto Sultanate Council. This is a huge achievement as it rectifies the vestiges of colonial anomalies to this cultural and traditional institution. It also enhances and raises the prestige of not only the Sokoto Caliphate but also the traditional institutions as a whole in Northern Nigeria and the country at large.
Still on the Sokoto Caliphate, it is the same Dr. Ardo who conceived, organized and executed the Bicentenary of the Caliphate in June, 2004. In the history of Northern Nigeria, it is generally acknowledged that there has never before been such a huge mobilization of human beings (including dignitaries) to any occasion. Indeed, even in the history of the country, only the 1977 FESTAC can be said to have surpassed the Bicentenary event. When he started the programme, there was not a single kobo budgeted for it. But Dr. Ardo skilfully sourced for the funding so that by the time the event was over, tens of millions was still left unspent in the Bicentenary account. Thisday Newspaper unreservedly placed the Bicentenary as the “Event of the Year 2004”. Yet, the genius behind the event was unsung. Such is the humility and unassuming disposition of my man! Clearly, Dr. Ardo is an agenda-setter of our time.
Also, Dr. Ardo, being an indigene of a border community, initiated the lead memo that crystallized in the enactment into law a Federal Border Communities Development Agency in 2003 as amended in 2006. This Agency, when constituted, will in no small way help to develop our border communities across the country, thereby giving robust to our sovereignty and territorial integrity. Certainly, Adamawa state with its long international borders will be a major beneficiary of this well-thought-out Federal Agency.
For the records, let it be said that circumstances of his appointment in the Presidency indicate that merit was the key underlying consideration of the Vice President in nominating him. This, therefore, imposed on him, as a “technical man”, to be innovative and to bring his knowledge, expertise and ingenuity into play by conceiving, devising and advising on implementing new initiatives in resolving problems facing the nation and achieve high efficiency in delivering the dividends of democracy to our people. As we have just seen, he not only achieved that, but was also able to define the broad vistas of his office in relation to the whole government, and how the Vice Presidency under Atiku’s leadership helped make the government a success in its first term of office. That is what the Vice President, and indeed the nation, was expecting of him and he delivered superlatively!
My man did demonstrate that good ideas are not sufficient; but drive, decision and follow-through are equally important, though often insufficiently applied within the present Nigerian context. It is to this end that Dr. Ardo initiated and drove these strategic changes and organizational renewal in our Local Government system, traditional institutions, federal parastatals and the defence of democracy as visible focal vehicles of improving, enhancing and sustaining our democratization process.
These are just a tip of the ice berg in the numerous achievements of my man, many more of which will follow in the weeks to come.
His surname “ARDO” in Fulfulde means leader of a kindred Fulbe Clan. His father was Ardo Kojoli in the present Jada Local Government area of Adamawa State. This naturally makes him a prince with a Midas touch, one that was brought up with a silver spoon. Unlike others who push their blue bloodedness and weight about, Dr. Ardo does not wear the toga of arrogance. He is always humble and gentle with a warm character.
Still in his late 40s, he is one of the patrons of Nigerian Youth Association and President of Yelli Youth Development Association. As a man of piety and sympathy, he is also a co-founder and life trustee of Disability General Care Initiative, an NGO that specializes as database on disability information and general care for the disabled persons within our society. He is a researcher, an author and a public policy analyst per excellence. Add his intimidating educational, social and political attainments and you roll out a man of tremendous qualities. Put together, these have made him a conscientious dreamer. You may not be wrong if you describe the young man sometimes as a reckless and risky dreamer. But let no one be fooled, he believes in his dreams nonetheless. The scenario of what we expect from such dreams can be likened to David’s audacity to challenge an amour beleaguered Goliath with a stone in a sling.
His heart, in a manner of speaking, is gold plated and nerves made of pure steel, unblemished steel you may say. As an agenda-setter, we should be sure of seeing my man coming out to shift the political paradigm of not only Adamawa state but also of Nigeria, our beloved country. My optimism to this assertion is inspired by the election of Barack Obama as the first dark skinned President to call the shots from the White House in America, since the enthronement of Democracy in that country over 200 years ago.
Like the dreamers that invented electricity, aero plane, steam engine and the rest, Obama was dead right in spite of herculean obstacles. From the onset, he conceived a wild dream that crystallized into unbelievable reality. With the audacity of Moses, he struck at the Red Sea and it parted and suddenly black people the world over had their dignity restored. Dr. Ardo shares the same and equal dynamism and impressive political qualities of the current American president, Barack Obama. These classes of people are role models, naturally groomed to have a part to play in nation-building.
I once asked Dr. Ardo whether he would one day put himself forward for an elective office, and he said to me: “To pursue power for the sake of lording it over fellow human beings or adding to personal pomp is to debase the essence of power. On that account I won’t seek it. But to seek power with the desire to exercise it worthily is among the noblest of human pursuits. On this account I may be one day tempted to step forward”. I could not agree less.
But as the countdown to 2011 ticks away fast, will Dr. Umar Ardo be the next new generation of leaders to emerge? Of course, only time can tell.
Moses M. WILBERFORCE (Pen Name) is one of the most intelligent indigenes of Adamawa state. His publications have appeared in several newspapers, magazines and websites for several years. He is a Public Affairs Analyst and can be reached on 08055831656 (sms only)