Studying to make entry for the next paper presentation at one of those international conferences on cities development may well be called a hobby for Ibrahim Usman Jibril. A technocrat, reading for leading and for writing has held him away from much of public life, a place where many of his colleagues dwelled with utmost publicity.
The media dwelled on the names that made much public appearances especially in politics, to include Rotimi Ameachi of Rivers; Babatunde Fashola of Lagos, Chris Ngige of Anambra, Kayode Fayemii of Ekiti, Abdulrahman Danbazau of Kano, Lai Mohammed of Kwara, Audu Ogbeh of Benue Aisha Alhassan of Taraba, Kemi Adeosun of Ogun, Solomon Dalung of Plateau, Udo Udo Udoma of Akwa Ibom, and Barrister James Ocholi of Kogi and so on.
Jibril does not fit into this category of ministers-designate the media generated reports about. Not many national newspapers and the broadcast could even spell his name correctly, or put them in the right order. One month on, the media still mixes his name, as they still throw up pictures of some persons other than the minister-designate from Nasarawa State, as though he does not exist. No fewer than four different pictures of other persons in Hausa/Fulani attire have had to go up in the media to support articles about this minister.
He is not one in the Nigerian public eye. But at the global level, Jibril does not disappear from the radar as, yearly, he is being sought after as a resource person at conferences convened across the world to seek solutions to habitat crises facing certain parts of the world, and how to better those parts where planned cities have being developed. President Muhammadu Buhari must have done a thorough search to locate this quiet technocrat, locked away from the Nigerian public life for years.
Jibril had already concluded arrangements to leave his desk as Project Manager of one of Africa’s best executed Geographic Information System (GIS), called NAGIS, which is being implemented by Nasarawa State government; and to retire to his quiet town of Nasarawa, west of Nasarawa State where his farm is located. He has lost all cattle to the escalating menace of rustling over the years, but the farm still boasts of one of the largest poultry in the state, supplying products at competitive speed. The fishery section suffered some setbacks because of a misapplication of chemicals by the farm keepers, but the sheep section is doing great in the competitive market.
At NAGIS, a computerised land administration and management where Jibril, the Project Manager is part of the team turning the state from agrarian to a sophisticated society, the technocrat has rounded up the training of young graduates to take over from him.
“I have read Tom Peters, an American writer on business management practices. He said leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders. That is what we are doing here at NAGIS,” Jibril had said in 2013 when he conducted the Surveyor General of the Federation, Nigeria (SGOF), Professor Peter Nwilo and members of the Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SUCON) round the project. He had led the visiting team into the various sections of the NAGIS Service Centre in Mararaba, at the gateway to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and handed them to the young graduates manning them to take the visitors through the relevant and sophisticated GIS technology.
“The NAGIS implementing partners trained this young men and women. We decided on this deliberate training so they can take over after me,” he had said.
The team of surveyors returned to rank Nasarawa State top among the 36 states and the FCT in the implementation of lands reforms to conform to world best practices.
Inside his office which is overlooking the rest of the sections and units of the service centre, the GIS specialist is almost done with parking his personal belongings – a collection of books worth millions of Naira. There are books on humanities, journals and digests, but Jibril has spent the last three decades collecting and reading more books on the computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying land-related data, as well as urbanization programmes across the world. There are also a collection of books on the teachings of Islam.
But the surprises came, whe the Senate read out the names on the first batch of ministerial nominees sent to by President Buhari.
“I was trying to round up a draft of the next paper presentation I intend to make entry for at the next World Cities Summit. There were two computers before me. Books and folders competed for space on my desk; newspapers of the day waiting at one end of the desk for perusal. My phones were completely buried such that I couldn’t hear them ring. A young man walked in and asked if I watched the Senate proceeding. I told him I was too buried in the studies to complete my draft of the paper presentation I planned making proposals for. He said I was announced as a ministerial nominee,” Jibril was quoted to have said with surprise at his nomination.
With over 30 years working experience, 25 of which he spent at the Federal Capital Administration (FCTA), where he retired as a Deputy Director, Jibril has a background that has exposed him to the world as a resource person in cities development, having coordinated GIS, cadastral cleaning of all of the FCT, area councils’ cadastral planning, harmonization and development of Land Information Systems (LIS) for the FCT Area Councils, and other related professional duties both in FCT and in Nasarawa State.
A holder of M.Sc. in Lands Resources (with Specialization on Land Administration), Jibril proceeded to obtain a certificate in Principles of GIS from the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, (ITC), Enschede, The Netherlands in 2007. He also attended an Advance Training Program in Gavle –Sweden on Land Administration and Geographic Information, organized by the National Lands Survey of Sweden
With this background, Jibril qualified more than a decade and a half ago, to stand at international conferences across the cities of the world, where he is reputed to have presented 14 papers before world delegations at different times and locations. Before his appointment, Jibril was in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa in August where he stood before an international delegation to present a paper at the Africa Geospatial Conference. The title of that paper is: Spatial Data Infrastructure as a tool for Efficient Land Revenue Generation: The case of Nasarawa State.
Earlier in May of this year, he spoke to another international delegation through a paper entitled: “Planning and Land Administration Challenges in Developing New Cities: The Abuja Experience in Nigeria.” The location was Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, and the event was the FIG Working Week. Known as International Federation Surveyors, which he is a member, FIG is a United Nations and World Bank recognized non-governmental organization of national member associations and covers the whole range of professional fields within the global surveying community.
In Washington DC, in the United States in March of 2015, Jibril presented: “Spatial Data Infrastructure, A Tool for Effective Land Administration & Management: – Lessons from Nasarawa State Experience,” to the 16th World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty.
In December, 2014, he presented: “Development of Spatial Data Infrastructure: Nasarawa State Experience, presented at Africa Geospatial Forum,” in Lagos, same year he had discussed: “Nasarawa Development Platform: A Progress Report on the Development of Spatial Data Infrastructure in Nasarawa State – Nigeria, at FIG General Congress Held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“Nasarawa Development Platform: A Strategy for Securing Land Rights, Improving Land use And Efficient Generation Of Land Revenue,” was a paper he presented at the 14th World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty in Washington DC, US, March 2013. “Meeting the Challenges of Housing Needs and Development in Abuja, Nigeria” came at FIG Working Week in Rome – Italy, in June 2012.
“The Return of the Greens in Abuja, Nigeria’s New Capital City” was presented at FIG General Congress, Sydney, Australia, in April 2010. In May of the previous year, Jibril presented: “Squatter Resettlement/Relocation Program in Abuja, Nigeria and the Issue of Land Title Security,” at FIG Working Week, Eliat, in Israel.
Jibril co-wrote: “Land Administration as a Tool for Good Governance: The AGIS Way,” with Roland Klaus, a GIS specialist and General Manager of GIS Transport at the XXIII FIG Congress, Munich, Germany, in October, 2006. “Computerization of the Cadastral and Land Registry:- TheAbuja Experience,” was done previously in March of same year at FIG Regional Conference, Accra, Ghana. Same event, Jibril presented “Resettlement Issues, Squatter Settlement and the Problems of Land Administration in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital.”
Written by Adoo-Ter Andre.