Muhammad Abu Ibrahim: A Round Peg In A Round Hole

The appointment of Muhammad Abu Ibrahim as Executive Secretary, the National Agriculture Development Fund (NADF) by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has gotten me excited beyond measure because of the quality, experience, and passion for the development of agriculture in Nigeria of the appointee.

Muhammad has been my business partner for over 20 years. We co-founded many businesses together and I have witnessed his leadership style, dedication, humility, and drive to make an impact from a very close corner.

A trained accountant, with a sound financial mind, a prudent manager of resources, and a serial entrepreneur, Muhammad has pioneered many innovations in many industries and is on the board of many companies in fintech, health, education, logistics, and agriculture.

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As a leading stakeholder in the agricultural sector in Nigeria, I can confidently state that Muhammad is one of the few Nigerians today who can boldly claim to be a pioneer in mainstreaming the agricultural space through technology.

He co-founded and was CFO of Sponge Analytics (A Data Analytics Company), partnered with MTN Nigeria to develop Animal Identification and Management Solutions (MTN AIMS), the first of the kind in Africa, that was meant to solve the problems of cattle rustling, animal disease transmission, and the underdevelopment of the livestock value chain.

He later co-founded Livestock247.com (Nigeria’s 1st Online Livestock platform) which has changed the business of livestock in Nigeria and continued to initiate many tech-driven innovations in the crop side of agriculture through his involvement with many agritech companies in Nigeria. Through Livestock247, where he served as a founding CFO, director, and later vice chairman of the board, Muhammad managed multi-million-dollar international donor-funded projects for various interventions in Nigeria.

I have known him to be a smart, hardworking, prudent, and passionate advocate for the development of the agricultural space in Nigeria, and he has always been interested in pushing for policies that could improve the lives of Nigerians, especially smallholder farmers.

A perfect gentleman in his early fifties (don’t be distracted by his genetically inherited babyface), and one of the best brains I know. He brings over 25 years of vast experience in Leadership, Management, Agricultural Finance, and Agriculture Technology solutions to this office.

Muhammad has a first degree in Accountancy from the University of Jos and is a Certified Agricultural Finance and Banking expert, he is an Alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School and has also attended the Robert Kennedy College Zurich, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management and a Fellow of Aspen Institute Leadership Initiative for Africa.

A card-carrying member of the APC, who has politely turned down many invitations from his constituency to run for an elective office, but has been actively involved in campaigning for good candidates at the local, state, and federal levels in the past 9 years.

It has always been Muhammad’s nature to promote others selflessly, and he never bothered about the role he plays to get the job done as long as it is for the overall good of all.

Apart from his obvious qualifications and competence, I truly believe this appointment by Mr President is a reward for many years of loyalty, dedication, and service to the agriculture sector in Nigeria.

I can assure Nigerians that Muhammad Abu Ibrahim will leave a legacy in the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

This is indeed a big win for all entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector as one of the very best is now the Executive Secretary of the National Agriculture Development Fund (NADF).

The Act establishing the Fund was signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2022.

The NADF Establishment Act has nine functions all of which are aimed at giving critical financial support that will facilitate rapid and sustainable growth in various aspects of the Nigerian agricultural sector for the benefit of all citizens.

One of the functions of the Fund listed in section 8 in Part II of the Act is the provision of money, “to support agricultural development in Nigeria taking into consideration the need for food production and food security in Nigeria, in all its ramifications, including crop production. livestock, fisheries, poultry, and agro-forestry.”

The Fund is expected to, “provide finance for the implementation of agricultural policies and strengthen agricultural institutions within the framework of national priorities and strategies.” Significantly, it should “provide funds for on-lending to farmers and corporate bodies through financial institutions including microfinance banks, cooperative societies, organizations, farmer groups and institutions on appropriate soft terms.”

I do not doubt that under the new leadership, the NADF will surely have a visible impact on the Nigerian agricultural sector in the same way (or even more ) the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) contributes infrastructure and extends other supports to the tertiary segment of the public education sector in Nigeria.

Ibrahim Maigari Ahmadu writes from Abuja.


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