Katsina 2023: Analyzing Dr. Dikko Umar Radda – By Malam Naini Musa
He has been described on SMEDAN website as “an astute politician, entrepreneur, teacher and banker with wide administrative experience” Dr Dikko Umaru Radda is the current Director General of Small and Medium enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). He was a former banker, local government chairman and classroom teacher. He served as the chief of staff to the present governor of Katsina state before his appointment as DG, SMEDAN. Mr Umaru is well known for his philanthropic ventures through his foundation, Gwagware foundation.
As one of the candidates rumored to run for the office of Governor, Katsina state, if Mr. Umaru does decide to join the race, few candidates can rival his extensive academic CV. He holds an NCE from College of Education, Kafanchan. B-Tech. Agric Economic and Extension from Tafawa Balewa University. He also holds two masters degrees from ABU in International Affairs & Diplomacy and MSC Agric Extension & Rural Sociology respectively. And in 2015, he append his academic CV by obtaining Ph.D. in Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Haven achieved so much, his relatively young age (compared to his rivals) goes unnoticed. Although age seems particularly important to so many voters. In 2015, some people who oppose the candidacy of General Muhammadu Buhari expressed fears that he is too old to rule. It had been a recurrent theme all over Nigeria, some people feel that the people who are deciding the future of Nigeria are not even going to be in it; they are too old. Perhaps this key sentiment if amplified and believed by katsina voters can work in favor of Mr. Umaru. He just turned 52, In Nigeria that is as young as you can get.
Age is not his only factor though. Mr Radda has done a splendid job in SMEDAN. abusites.com reported that he was honored in 2019 by the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU), for the implementation of the Conditional Grant Scheme for micro-entrepreneurs in Nigeria – a program in which over 20,000 entrepreneurs have received N50,000 each – and the implementation of the One Local Government One Product initiative, where over 25,000 entrepreneurs under various cooperatives have benefitted.
Mr. Radda is also accredited to have raised the welfare standard of SMEDAN staff. This plays right into the picture of an “altruistic man” as preached by his many supporters. Through his Gwagware foundation, Mr Dikko consistently provides relief items for disaster struck communities. Also, he had in numerous times extended his philanthropic activism into distribution of food items to help ease the scourge of poverty especially at this hour of need. His philanthropic activism is documented by his Gwagware foundation which maintains many social media accounts,
Probably his most admirable idea was his job creation formula which was to be achieved by empowering MSME’s with the desired hope that they employ at least one more person, inevitably creating at least 41 million Jobs. This was aptly captured in a thetop10magazine.com.ng article which stated “He is quite optimistic about the critical mass of 41 million MSMEs in the country as revealed by a joint survey with National Bureau of Statistics in 2017. He is working to assist them to grow, considering the job creation potential of each of them employing just one more person. In view of the quantum leap in employment this would involve, Radda is pressing forward for government to put more effort in this direction.”
Haven been everywhere, from unsophisticated classrooms to the corridors of powers at local government, state government and now in federal government, Mr. Radda had not escaped controversy. A December, 2020 report compiled by Aderemi Ojekunle and published by the Media research and data analytics organization, dataphyte, alledged that SMEDAN under the leadership of Dr. Radda disbursed N1.3b to 33 unverified contractors. It further went on to claim that SMEDAN made some of those payment without descriptions, made some double payments and even violated some financial regulations (2009) and OTP guidelines.
The dataphyte report stated that SMEDAN thwarted efforts to answer those allegations when it said “Efforts to reach SMEDAN for comments proved abortive. An official of the company who picked the reporter’s call hung up and failed to pick several calls after listening to the reporter’s questions on the fictitious and questionable companies. Several messages sent to the line were also not answered. More so, Dr Dikko Umaru Radda, the Director-General of the agency, did not reply to messages sent to his official Twitter account.”
Whether that alleged “misconduct” can be attributed to him personally has not been established. However, according to dataphyte, they had reached out to SMEDAN and its DG. Public servants and institutions are subject to scrutiny, shutting out queries is not the proper way of dealing with such matters. At the very least, their handling of the matter was unprofessional and unbefitting of the kind of accountability promised by president Buhari’s administration or any administration for that matter.
Controversies aside, if Dr. Umaru wants the governorship of katsina state he would have to battle it out with others with resumes just as impressive and many years of public service under their belts as well. The likes of Mustapha Inuwa, Arc. Ahmed Dangiwa, Dr. Usman Bugaje, Alhaji Mannir Yakubu and many more. These people are no push-overs. It is an uncertain race with many more names to join. However, one cannot ignore his meteoric rise in political fortune in the last two decades. He also has two more factors in his favor; he is very popular amongst youth and has garnered lots of goodwill through his generosity conveyed via his Gwagware foundation.
Dikko, a giant in stature and accomplishment is facing a giant task. His precedent suggest he is going to battle it out. Katsina is facing challenges like never before. Katsina state is literally going bankrupt with little or no plan on ground to dig us out of this financial tragedy. Then there is the ever present threat of being completely overwhelmed by banditry. Never before had our condition demanded bright and capable leaders like today. Whether Dr. Radda is the answer remains to be seen. It will be interesting to hear about his proposed solutions to these problems and many others. However, it is certain that many people will be excited about the possibility of having a person with his resume on the ballot.
Mallam Naini Musa
Mallam Naini Musa is a writer and social critic.
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