By Bayo Jimoh
Professor Sulaiman Olanrewaju Abubakar, erstwhile Minister of National Planning, former Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission, (NPC) and currently the Director-General, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) clocked 55 on October 16, 2020. On this eventful day, encomiums and accolades were poured on the Professor of Political Science and International Relations, technocrat and quintessential administrator by prominent Nigerians from different walks of life for his roles in the advancement of democracy and shaping of destinies.
It was indeed a day of celebration for a man, who’s administrative acumen and academic prowess in the management of NILDS, (the research and knowledge management hub of National Assembly) in less than twenty months at the helm of affairs is crystal clear for everyone to see.
Prof. Sulaiman can best be described as a successful and consummate teacher as well as an intellectual of no-mean repute, who has spent over two decades as a lecturer and researcher at the University of Abuja, where he tendered intellectual inadequacies of youths with fatherly hands. This erudite personality has supervised over three hundred Undergraduate projects, thirty-three Postgraduate dissertations, publications of over twenty-five journals and books. Undoubtedly, his immense contributions to the academic world cannot be overemphasized.
During his tenure as Minister of National Planning, Prof. Sulaiman distinguished himself by providing quality leadership within the shortest possible time and ensured the approval of two major policy frameworks for the Federal government.
As a political icon in Kwara State politics, his appointment as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in July 2014 came at a very challenging period to actualise some goals of the government to the people of the state. He facilitated employment into the federal civil service for more than eighty people of Kwara State origin.
Born to the family of the late Alhaji Suleiman Ajimati, of Ilorin, the unassuming and articulate technocrat began his early education at Alore Primary School, Local School Management Board (L.S.M.now Local Government Education Authority (L.G.E.A) Ilorin and later attended Government Secondary School, Balla, where he obtained his Secondary School Certificate.
Professor Sulaiman studied Political Science at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and holds a Masters’ in International and Strategic Studies from the University of Jos and bagged a PhD in 2003 from the University of Abuja. He eventually rose to become a Professor of Political Science in 2014, having started his career with the university in 1997.
On July 23, 2014, he was sworn in as Minister of National Planning, a position he held until May 2015 when he again returned to the University until his appointment as Director-General of NILDS in June 2019.
Upon resumption as the DG, Prof Sulaiman has devoted his time and energy to ensuring that the Institute lives up to its raison d’etre. Given his achievements in his first year as DG; coupled with the guidance as well as the support provided by the Governing Council led by President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman is well-positioned to make history and contribute in no small measure to the overall growth and sustenance of democracy in the country and the sub region.
Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim, who represented Kwara South Senatorial District in the 8th National Assembly, described him thus: “there is no doubt the fact that Kwara State is hugely blessed to have ‘Professor’ as most of us call him, a hardworking, honest, kind and strong team player. As you mark your birthday, we pray Almighty Allah to continue to protect you and grant you good health and long life to do more.”
Also congratulating Prof. Sulaiman on the occasion, his Special Assistant on Academics, Dr Nasir Naeem Abdulsalam said: “Happy Birthday to a leader, a true patriot, my mentor, my boss. I rejoice with you on the occasion of your 55th birthday. Your sterling leadership qualities are second to none. On behalf of my family, I wish you many more years of fruitful service, good health and the blessings of the Almighty Allah”.
Similarly, the Principal Private Secretary to the DG, Joy Makeri in a felicitation message described the celebrant as one with an enviable legacy of achievements, marked by a determination to promote national consensus on critical issues affecting our well-being as a nation. The message further read as follows: ‘As you celebrate this milestone, I pray that you will enjoy many more years of good health, to enable you continue to offer selfless service to this nation and humanity at large’.