Giant strides made by man are usually relieved with pomp and pageantry. While some roll out the milestone amidst glass clinging, others play the breakthrough low but all in praises and in anticipation of a better future. In this momentous instance, the success story always overshadows the nauseating hurdles and barricades accompanying such feats.
However, despite the society’s convulsion threatening the survival of the contemporary society one can still boast of great men as few as they are who stand tall in society, men who write their names in gold.
How else can one describe a core educationist and astute administrator, Ambassador Maryam Yalwaji Katagum, Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, as she clocked 66 on November 18, 2020?.
All she ever wanted as a child in life was to make a difference in other people’s lives. She thought the only way to accomplish this was to engage in a vocation where her impact would be most felt.
Some decades later, Amb Yalwaji is doing what she always wanted to do-impart knowledge. Princess Katagum, a blue blood daughter of the Katagum royal family, is an extraordinary academic who has overcome all manner of obstacles.
People have criticised her guts and sometimes daring academic adventures, but she has the knack for succeeding in virtually all ventures she has embarked upon in life.
Ambassador Katagum is one of the few top public officials who stood firm to ensure that they are not swallowed by the position they occupy, or the power they muster, the chance they got, the excuses they may give, the financial status they may possess, and the institutions they may have as defenders.
Many others in her shoes got intoxicated by the unlimited paraphernalia of power and ultimately got swallowed shrewdly by their positions thereby, forgetting their roles as servants of the people.
Mama Katagum, as she fondly called, combines a rare academic capability with administrative and organisational ability.
This is evident in the many strategic administrative positions and challenges she had been given over the years in her public life and she has discharged with fortitude and uncommon success.
Born on November 18, 1954, at Azare, Bauchi state, Mrs. Maryam Yalwaji Katagum studied in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
She obtained a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and a Graduate Certificate in Education at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1976, a Masters in Administration and Planning at the University of Lagos in 1985, as well as a Certificate in Social Development Policy, Planning and Practice at the University College, London, in 1999.
In 2001, she became the Secretary General of the Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO and in 2006 was given the additional responsibility of supervising the National and International Partnerships Division of the Federal Ministry of Education.
During this time, she worked closely with other agencies such as UNICEF, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), World Bank, UK Department for International Development (DFID), Commonwealth of Learning (COL), as well as national and international Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), NGOs and FBOs. Mariam Yalwaji Katagum has been a member of many organisations and associations.
She was a member, representing the Federal Ministry of Education in the Governing Councils of Kaduna Polytechnic, Federal University of Technology, Minna, and University of Lagos.
She was appointed ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Nigeria to UNESCO on June 1, 2009, and appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 23, 2019 as Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment.
The key achievements in the ministry since 2019 include accelerating growth of the industrial sector, creating an enabling environment for investment ,facilitating trade and maximizing trade relations with other countries as well as accelerating growth of MSMEs being the engine room of the economy.
In a chat with this writer recently, barely one year into her tenure, Amb Yalwaji described the SME as the main engine for economic growth. She expressed the government’s readiness to explore the immense economic opportunities in the sector for the prosperity of the nation.
She said her ministry has come up with a strategic vision and mission to empower the SMEs sector for productivity and wealth creation.
Danyaro writes from Abuja via [email protected]