Gov. Bello Wears His Heart on His Sleeves – DG Protocol

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The first thing you will know about the Director General  of Protocol to the Governor of Kogi State, Mr. Abdulkarim Jamiu Mohammed is that he is not one to back down from  a challenges especially when it comes from number one citizen in the state, His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello. The Pharmacist turned Protocol officer, tells Mary Amodu and Eunice Emmanuel-Bagi about the intrigues that come with the career shift and people management.
My name is Abdulkarim Jamiu Mohammed, an indigene of Kogi State, Okene Local Government to be specific. I am from the family of Alhaji Salawu Abdulkareem from Oruvucheba in Okene. In  1989, I began my academic pursuit. I had my primary Education at the LGEA Primary School in Obangede,Okehi Local Government.  In 1993, I gained admission into the Abdulaziz Memorial College (AMCO) for my secondary education and in 2002, I gained admission into the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria where I studied Pharmaceutical Science and graduated in 2008. After graduation, all Pharmacists are obligated to go on a one year mandatory internship program. Before I embarked on the National Youth Service Program, where I served at the Garki Hospital, Abuja this was between 2010-2011. I had my internship at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH) between 2009-2010.
After my youth service program I gained employment with H-Medix Pharmaceuticals in Abuja as a superintendent Pharmacist. I worked with H-Medix Pharmaceuticals until 2013 when I gained employment with the Maritime Academy in Oron, Akwa Ibom State as the Head of Pharmacy Unit. I was there as a Federal Civil Servant until January 2016 when God Almighty miraculously enthroned the Governor of Kogi State in person of his Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello. I served him as his family Pharmacist during my stay in Abuja and due to my good conduct when I worked with him, he saw me worthy of joining his New Direction Team as the Director General to the Governor of Kogi State. I received the appointment on 23rd February, 2016.
As a Federal Civil Servant, I had to seek for a two year leave of absence to enable me to proceed to Kogi State to serve in the capacity of DG Protocol to the Governor of Kogi State.
What was your experience while growing up?
I have always been an extrovert, I am very forthright, I call a spade a spade and I enjoy human relationships.  There was the occasional peer group influence especially during the teenage years but I have always tried to make sure that academic pursuit and academic excellence was my ultimate goal. I like to mingle. I love meeting people because for you to succeed in life you must keep the company of good people. People, who will spur you to greatness, people who will motivate you to be the best version of yourself. I learnt early in life to be hardworking, patient and humble. These values have stayed with me all my life and they have helped me a great deal.
How do you manage family time with work?
Like I said earlier I studied Pharmaceutical Science in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and it is one of the most challenging courses in that institution. We were trained to be able to withstand challenges and immense pressure. As an undergraduate, our lectures were Monday to Saturday. On Sundays we did our laundry and prepared for the new week. The trainings I received in ABU, Zaria has made me well equipped to handle challenges.  I am used to working under pressure and also managing my time effectively. Idleness on any level is something that I do not condone, my family is aware of this. However I will not fail to say that there must be a price to pay for everything. I have little time for family issues as I am always on the move with his Excellency, most times than not, my family has to take the back-sit but that doesn’t mean  I do not care for them, I absolutely adore my family.
As a trained Pharmacist, How have you been able to handle this job?
When I was given this appointment, a lot of critics said that since my job before now only had to do with dispensing drugs I had no business with a position that had to do with Protocol. What they failed to see however, is that even as a pharmacist you get to meet different client’s everyday and so that way you learn the art of people management. But his Excellency saw the potential in me, he knows that I am diligent and that I can deliver on any task given to me. He told me that he was giving me this job as a challenge and he did not expect me to fail. When the number one citizen of a state has so much believe in your abilities, failure is the last thing you should expect.  Since then I have been trying to deliver myself; I go to seminars, I take elocution trainings and various trainings in order to provide premium service to his Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
What does your present position entail?
The position as Director General Protocol to the Governor of Kogi State entails a lot. I am responsible for all the logistics and management of his Excellency, the Executive Governor of the state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.  The traveling arrangements within or outside the country is purely in my schedule of duty. I anchor his meetings within and outside the state, I am also in charge of hospitality for guests of His Excellency and I work with others as a team to ensure smooth sailing of affairs within the Government House.
On people management, how have you been able to deal with the challenges that come with people management? 
Like I said earlier, I am a people person. I enjoy the company of people and I try to build a healthy human relationship with everyone whose part I come across. Coming into politics I must say is a different ball game. Here you meet people with hidden agendas, as a Professional who is coming from a Pharmaceutical background I live by the slogan “As men of honor, we join hands”. I am not willing to lose the attribute of honor just because I am in politics. I try to live by humility, honor, decency and a sense of decorum in my dealings with people.
Still on challenges, what other challenges have you experienced on the job?
My greatest challenge is time; time management is a skill I have horned in the process of handling my schedule of duties. I close from office by twelve midnight sometimes one’ o clock in the morning and I still have to wake up by five in the morning. This where opportunity cost comes to play, I rank all activities by priority and solely on the mandate of his Excellency.
Having worked so closely with the Governor, what area of his life do you admire the most?
I have worked with him as a personal Pharmacist since 2011, the quality I admire the most about him is his courage to deliver on whatever he sets out to regardless of seeming difficulties. He deals with everyone regardless of where you are from with so much humility. Honesty is yet another quality in him that I admire. He has nothing to hide, he wears his heart on his sleeve, when he is angry he shows it and when he is happy he shows it. There is no pretense or scheming where he is concerned, he calls a spade a spade. He doesn’t play politics with people or their lives, he has a clear conscience. He has a strong sense of equity and fairness. This is the only time in governance were the people from each of the senatorial districts in Kogi State are seen as equal stakeholders in the helm of affairs. Infrastructural developments and even political appointments were done with equity. These are some of the many qualities I admire about him.
It’s been a year in office, how has that been for you?
This experience has been an exciting and intriguing experience. I learn something new about human management every day. Effective human management is the best skill that any can have, being an image maker of the Government has exposed me to various demographics of people. Being DG Protocol has given me a broad view of life when it comes to human relationship.
Advice to people of Kogi State
I want to appreciate the people of Kogi State for believing in the New Direction Government. At the beginning, people undermined our abilities because they felt that we were so young and we lacked experience. But after we laid out our road map of the five thematic areas we wanted to work on, Kogians are beginning to see why they should key into the vision of the New Direction Agenda. I would appeal to the people of Kogi state to please be patient with the New Direction Government under the leadership of his Excelency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
We met a state in that was badly in need of resuscitation, even paying Civil Servants their dues was a huge task for the then Government. Civil Servants in the state were being paid 40% of their incomes and that was why we started with the Civil Service Reform. It was met with sabotage and a lot of hitches and that is why the screening process has gone on this long. So, I am pleading with the people of this state to have faith in this government. We are done with the pensioners and we have paid them 100% now we are doing the salary reconciliation. Once that is complete, every genuine worker in the state will be paid their arrears. When we came into Kogi State everywhere was filthy and smelly but today it is wearing a clean look. When you go out at night you can see the street lights adding to the aesthetic appeal of the state capital and we are only just getting started.

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