Halima Usman: Adding One More Feather to Her Glorious Cap
By Alex Enemanna
It was William Shakespeare who said, “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”
For Halima Usman, an embodiment of humble beginning, personification of perseverance and determination in the true sense of it, greatness couldn’t have come in any better way than through resilience, doggedness and sturdy strength of mind. Having weathered the storm of childhood, the many faces of marriage, and stomaching most hurtful and debilitating remarks from those who ought to guard and guide her, she had her eye permanently fixed on living positively and dying well, and that may not be too far from the road to stardom.
Little wonder like the golden egg, her strength of character, commitment and zeal has consistently made her unique and outstanding amid the crowd. It was on this premise that she was on Saturday, July 31st, 2020 honoured with award of Fellow Institute of Business Diplomacy and Financial Management (IBDFM) in Abuja to the admiration of family, friends, and well-wishers. Who would have believed that that little girl born without a silver spoon in a local community in Bauchi would rise to dine with kings and queens? Who would have imagined that, that little daughter of nobody who never enjoyed the luxury of attending an elite school would stand in the same podium with those who matter for recognition? How did she who was raised with the bread of humility and water of meekness rise to become a shining light in the good page of history, dwarfing myriad of hiccups? Again, like we say in our local parlance, na God!
Expectedly, the brand new feather on her cap has opened the floodgate of felicitation from friends, colleagues, associates, well-wishers and indeed all those who believe in reward system for leadership, excellence and diligence. The first to roll out the red carpet in her honour was the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources where she had over the years demonstrated resourcefulness and brilliance in the discharge of her functions. In a sector which is largely looked upon as unproductive, populated by lukewarmness, sometimes absentee and ghost staff, Halima Usman has held her head high, handled her duties like a personal business established to make gains and not as a no-man, fund-guzzling sector where salaries must be paid even without a commensurate or no productivity at all.
Are you in shock as to why a reception was organized in her honour which had top echelon of the Ministry, the Minister of Petroleum Resources Chief Timipre Sylva in person, the Permanent Secretary, Bitrus Bako Nabasu, Directors and staff of the Ministry as well as colleagues from other Ministries were all in attendance?
It became a veritable platform for the Permanent Secretary to counsel other staff of the Ministry to take a cue from Halima whom he said has remained an asset to the civil service generally. Lest I forget, it was on the instruction of the Minister himself, Chief Timipre Sylva that she was redeployed back to the Ministry of Petroleum just weeks after she was earlier deployed elsewhere on the account of the noticeable vacuum her absence created.
To you my esteemed reader, this leaves you with the poser to ponder, will your absence be felt when you leave that office? Will anyone beseech for your return on the account of the difference you have made? How impactful has your service been wherever you are working, conducting your business, schooling or anything you’re engaged in as a means of livelihood? Somebody somewhere is watching.
Spending from her meagre salary to meet targets, using her personal effects in discharging the functions of the Ministry to close lapses are some of the things she does with every grit of cheerfulness and without grudges. Call her a quintessential civil servant, you will not be wrong.
For Halima, in her mien of humility, the award was not just an opportunity for merry and fanfare alone, but a task for more commitment, hard work and effective service delivery. Hear her shortly after her decoration: “For me, this comes with a lot of responsibility, not just fanfare. It is a responsibility in terms of business and financial management. It is a responsibility in terms of delivering effective service to the Federal Civil Service and to my country, Nigeria. I will uphold the rules governing the institute in terms of morality and integrity in line with principles and the oath I just took.”
Coming just two months after she was re-elected unopposed for a second term in office as the chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Abuja chapter, 2020 despite its barrage of challenges has been a year harvest of abundant blessings true to her optimism and ability to see positivity in any situation around her. The collection of milestones recorded during her first term is such that left doubting Thomases marveled.
Apart from stabilizing the once turbulent chapter of foremost authors’ body in Nigeria, she brokered a new, reinvigorated direction for the branch in terms of partnership with various stakeholders, corporate social responsibility, mentorship scheme for younger and intending authors as well as quality of members’ works before final production.
As a philanthropist and humanist, she has embarked on numerous life-touching adventures courtesy of her non-governmental organization (NGO) HalimaFactor Community Initiative. From those enrolled in scholarship schemes in various public primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the country, she has rolled out empowerment programme for widows and small-scale business owners in Gombe and Abuja with supporting capitals all in an effort to improve their standard of living and that of their dependents. She had also supported a young entrepreneur who just started a gas venture in Jos with the sum of N50,000 to inject into his business, as her own contribution to him and in line with the YEAR OF GAS declared by her Minister. From her little income as well, she was able to acquire a Sketch-Pad to assist an artist carry out his creative venture to greater. She has also sponsored the publication of books written by other young writers.
Hers is an evident manifestation that who God has blessed, no man can curse. Her heart for the less privileged, devotion to duty, willpower to forge on are the critical ingredients that have shaped her life, making it the envy of others. In our little ways, we must strive to be that difference we crave for. In our little enclaves, we must lead that paradigm shift. In the tightness of circumstances, we must be that smile someone craves for.
For Halima Usman, hers is an honour well deserved. Hurray!
Alex Enemanna writes from Abuja