BY CHARLES KUMOLU
“Strong enough to make holes in the rock are tiny drops of water that persist to fall. Persistence is the attitude that breaks down mountains one rock at a time.”
These were the words of Ghanaian inspirational writer, Israelmore Ayivor in his book, Leaders’ Watchwords.
Indeed his assertion which implied that everyone can be a leader because everyone has gifts found relevance in the Founder of IPI Solutions, Mr. Adamu Garba II.
It was the realization that he possessed innate talents to prosper, that saw him rising from a rusticated undergraduate to an internationally recognized entrepreneur, who heads a multi-million naira Information Technology firm. If he is called a renegade with a cause, it may not be wrong because his refusal to conform with certain societal boundaries has placed him on a global stage. Despite making his fortune at a time most of his peers are probably thinking of how to have a start in life, Garba is still hungry for bigger challenges.
Some may describe it as a tall dream but the resilient entrepreneur is confident about becoming the President of Nigeria. Perhaps, his audacity is being powered by the same courage that aided his journey from an Alamajiri school in Adamawa State to the global stage.
In the beginning:
I was born to an Islamic scholar father. My mother, who was a petty trader, is also an Islamic scholar. At that time there was so much emphasis on children going to Almajiri Islamic school. And my farther toed that line by insisting that all his male children attended an Almajiri school. I was the second son. My mother protested against it, saying that it could never happen. She said I had to attend a conventional school. But my father insisted that I must go to the Almajiri School. They eventually had an agreement that I should attend the Almajiri School and proceed to a conventional school when I am eight. I was at the Almajiri School from the age of four to eight. I did everything an Almajiri child did. We will go to the bush to pick aluminum which we sold to get money. At a point, a conventional primary school was established in my community. The pupils sat under a tree because the school didn’t have classrooms. It was an opportunity for my mother to say that I should proceed to the school. I attended two different schools because I was moved to another primary school when I was in primary three. They were all public primary schools.
I was preaching one nation
After my primary education, I proceeded to Kano State University, Wudil, where I was admitted to study Electrical Engineering. At three hundred level, the students recognized the qualities in me and wanted me in students’ leadership. I was preaching one nation because there is a certain perception about one nation over there. I am a Muslim and son of a religious scholar but I don’t see any difference between any other person and myself. My one nation slogan became a very serious issue because the authorities were not comfortable with it. At that time we used to go to Bayero University Kano, BUK, for practicals. When I went to BUK for one of my practicals, the authorities in my school said I should not come back. I left school for my home where I sat down to plan the next step for my life.
On next step
I have always been a talented person, who is always curious. Even at the University, I was always inquisitive about the things they taught us during practical. I have a habit of challenging myself beyond what the lecturers were teaching us. Even some of the lecturers were not even too vast in what they were teaching. As a lover of technology, I decided to move to NIIT where my potentialities would be fully developed. When I found myself home, my father wanted me to continue at FUTH Minna but I disagreed, saying that I wanted to study computer. At NIIT I did a nine-month course.
I left home for Lagos
At 24 I left home for Lagos. When I came here, I got a job in Apapa where I was earning N10,000 monthly. I began to practice what I was doing and found out that it was really working. I got another job with Torrent Technology. I got another job with an oil company in Warri where I worked for nine months and resigned. I came back to Lagos because I know Microsoft Solutions very well and joined another company but I resigned after six months to set up my firm at 26. It was challenging for me when I resigned I had just N52,000 in my account but I told myself that I will make even within two years. At that time, I trekked from Surulere to 1004 Estate to do my work but I was not bothered because it only energized me and made me focused on my goal. My family was not happy that I did not follow their advice to go to FUTH Minna. I had to remove my sim card and break it to ensure that they stopped bothering me. I knew I was on the right path. For nine months they could not reach me because I destroyed my sim card. I shut my ears to anything and it was a push for me. The result of that is what my company has become today.
I am very proud of our exclusive focus on Microsoft Solutions. I don’t think we would have developed and achieved the competencies and capacities we have achieved if we split our focus between other partnerships with many vendors. We would have made more money but not enough competencies and capabilities we build over this period. Our ability to connect customers demand correctly with Microsoft solutions is giving me some sense of fulfillment that we are doing what we know best and are passionate about. And that what makes me proud of every single member of this company.
On wisdom, experience
Two things are needed to lead a country and they include wisdom and experience from those who have led. If you check the people that defined the world order, you will discover that they did that while young. Roosevelt was young, Churchill was 29 years old while Bismarck was 26 years old. They prosecuted the first and Second World Wars and even created the Briton Woods Institutes. Henry Kissinger joined the Foreign service at 22 and did so many things including unlocking the Chinese to the world. If you go back to the history of this country, you will discover that all the people who are leading us in this country were leaders then. They had the energy, ideas, and capacity to lead at that time, but they lack it now. I don’t think one needs to be old to be a leader. The achievements of these people while in their youth, convince me that I can become the President of this country. I respect the present crop of leaders we have and I value them. But that does not mean that I should hesitate in telling them that the future of this country belongs to the youths. We are telling them to quietly retire and allow the youths to take their rightful place in the 21st century.
This country has to work for everyone by being an inclusive environment. Everybody must contribute his quota when I become the President.
On becoming President
My wife and other people have asked why I am going into politics when God has blessed me. But sometimes I feel guilty to watch things go wrong and not doing anything. We need to do something by coming to get people to talk about how to position this country. The passion to do that is there.
It is important for us to chart a better way for our nation. In leadership, age is not a barrier, wisdom is key. I have an excellent manifesto on how we can improve the life of ordinary Nigerians by deliberate and committed effort to transit from poverty. A manifesto that will transform us from the current supplier nation to a real free market economy. Our manifesto will change the entire education system to skill-based knowledge and training systems; a manifesto that will define the soul of a true Nigerian identity. A manifesto that will unleash the power of 180 million Nigerian spirit to the world, to create impossible innovations and produce very successful talent pool as is obtainable in advanced countries. I think Nigerians should start to prepare for a new Nigerian dream by our great Nigerian renaissance project where each citizen will transparently measure our government in four key metrics namely: Better education and training for our children; better standard healthcare facilities for all Nigerians; better market to transact in goods and services and more money in their pocket as a result of improved trade.