By Abdullahi Haruna
It’s not everyday one comes across very enterprising and transformational leaders in Nigeria who belong in the youth demography occupying strategic positions especially within the political space.
By some strange designs or arrangements, the youths are perpetually positioned to play the role of assistants or support staff that do the legwork and handle critical assignments on behalf of their principals. The opportunity to have them steer the ship as frontline players rarely presents itself. This is perhaps the Achilles heel confronting the youths in Nigeria.
The fact remains that in spite of the ‘Not too Young to Run Bill’ passed into law by the Nigerian Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, only a slew of young persons are holding important and strategic positions in the administration. The reasons for this obvious shortchange, I can’t seem to fathom immediately.
For instance, in spite of the Nigerian youth being in the majority in terms of population categorisation, none is a serving minister or cabinet member of the Federal Executive Council as revealed by a recent publication of Premium Times. The youngest Minister in Nigeria as at today is Hajiya Safiya Umar Farouk, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development who is 45 years old. This is indeed a far departure from what used to be the case in the past where youths below the age of 30 years held ministerial portfolios.
Well, it’s not all bad news as we also have some young persons holding strategic and influential positions in governmental institutions. Only recently, President Buhari appointed 40-year old Abdulrasheed Bawa to head the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
But one young man whose appointment has continued to excite Nigerians and foreigners alike is the highly cerebral, upwardly mobile and creatively gifted Dr Ohiare Sanusi, who is an Executive Director Rural Electrification Fund (REF) at the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), an interventionist agency saddled with the responsibility of providing electricity access to rural communities across Nigeria. Dr. Sanusi has indeed put a lie to the long-held erroneous claim that a typical Nigerian youth lacks what it takes to occupy an important position and deliver on the demands of that position. The young man has acquitted himself in ways that leave many wondering if he was from another planet. The Nigerian youth is a body of untapped and under-utilized talent. Little wonder they perform wonders and become champions in whatever they venture into, especially outside our shores.
At 36, Dr. Ohiare, with a first degree in Economics, specialty in Energy Finance, a PhD to boot and a compelling background in the private sector and international development, has distinguished himself within a short space of time he has been an ED with the all important agency on rural electrification. The dossier of his achievements and impacts since he assumed office is as exciting as it is encouraging that indeed, Nigeria is home to legends and stars.
Born on 6th of March 1985, in Abuja, Ohiare hails from Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State. Dr. Sanusi Ohiare obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from University of Jos, Plateau State, where he graduated with Second Class Honours, Upper Division (2.1) in 2006. He later attended the renowned Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP), University of Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom(UK), and obtained a Master of Science Degree in Energy Studies, with specialization in Energy Finance in 2011.
To properly prepare himself for the future and become a force to reckon with in his area of specialization, he bagged a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in Rural Energy Development from the prestigious Institute for Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD), De Montfort University, Leicester, UK in 2014 and is currently the only Nigerian with that specialization. What a feat, you would say.
Before his appointment in April 2017, he worked with the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ), as a National Advisor on Rural Electrification, under the Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP), co-funded by the European Union and German Government where he distinguished himself as a star resource and shrewd energy expert.
Cumulatively, Dr. Ohiare has about 16 years experience within the Rural Electrification Space. He is also a member of the International Association of Energy Economics (IAEE), Nigerian Association of Energy Economics (NAEE), Lagos Oil Club, Society for Petroleum Engineers (SPE), and Energy Institute UK.
As stars don’t struggle to shine, so is Dr. Ohiare. He delivers on assignments given to him in record time, and never fails to take advantage of opportunities to upgrade himself in all spheres of life. Reports and news about him are always a delight to the ear. He is a product of hard work, determination and grace. He believes strongly in the fact that whatever the heart desires and works towards achieving it, is achievable. He’s demonstrated this positive attitude a couple of times, even as a student.
Undoubtedly, Sanusi’s achievements as head of REF, proves that with the right attitude, an observant eye and a desire to continue learning, any young man and woman can take up leadership responsibilities and do very well.
The REA board he’s a part of, has attracted close to $560 million dollars from donor agencies and an estimated $1billion from private sector for renewable energy development in rural communities, markets, universities and teaching hospitals.
It was his sterling performance that drew him to global recognition recently. He was nominated, alongside three notable personalities across the continent in the Young Leader category of the 2020 African Power, Energy & Water Industry Awards.
According to the organisers, the category recognizes a person under the age of 35 from a public or private company who has made an outstanding contribution in their sector. Even with the stiff competition from other nominees, Ohiare emerged winner of the coveted award. He is also a Mandela Washington Fellow.
Dr. Ohiare’s pacesetting strides have earned and continue to earn him recognitions and commendations within and outside Nigeria.
In appreciation of the honour he’s brought to Nigeria and Kogi state, the Ejeh Olamaboro, in Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi gathered people of influence, impact and outreach to witness the conferment on young Sanusi the prestigious traditional title of Akiliwo Ejeh Olamaboro, which simply means, (Strength of the King). The epoch making event was significant given the impact inherent in the extension of cultural harmony between the Igala speaking people and their Ebira speaking brethren – a people dialectically integrated in mutual distrust. The award carries on its heel, the propensity to bridge the frightening tribal gulf between the two tribes – it becomes more instructive that the builder of this bridge is Sanusi Ohiare, a new lease of life blinded to the prejudice of tribe, religion and politics. A pointer that young people are the catalysts needed for the new civilization in Kogi state, a civilization founded on the pillars of love, progress and development.
Credit must go to the man leading the collapse of what has been an age –long tribal and political distrust. His Royal Highness, Ujah Simon whose legendary initiative to extend the olive hand of fellowship to the Ebira tribe thus leading to the collapse of cultural peculiarities into one common destiny, and the traditional scion was apt in resting his messenger of harmony on Dr Sanusi Ohiare – a fascinating new kid on the bloc.