Ahead of the much anticipated November 16 Kogi state governorship election, the electorate seem to have lost count of the number of aspirant jostling for the top job in the state.
From retired military top brass to sport administrators and experienced businessmen amongst other top professionals, the list of contenders keep growing daily.
However, shining like a meteor among stars is a young gentleman, Henry Anibe Agbonika.
Henry Anibe Agbonika is a development practitioner with about two decades of experience in development planning and implementation. Specializing in policy development, conceptualization, design, and implementation of projects at national and sub national levels, Mr Agbonika boasts of a broad and well informed depth of experience.
Born in Wusasa, Zaria, Kaduna State on August 26, 1977, Mr. Agbonika completed his primary education at the ABU Staff School, Kongo, Zaria. He then proceeded to Therbow Schools, Zaria for junior secondary school, and Ochadamu Community Secondary School, Ochadamu, Kogi State for senior secondary school education.
Upon completion of secondary education in 1994, he joined Arewa Textiles Limited, Kakuri, Kaduna as an operative in the new weaving mill. In 1997, he proceeded to the Bayero University, Kano to study for a Diploma in Library and Information Science.
At the turn of the new millennium, he gained admission at the Kogi State University (KSU), Anyigba for a degree in English and Literary Studies. It was in this institution that the works of several revolutionary thinkers such as Ngugi wa Thiongo, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Amilcar Cabral, Ousemene Sembene, Samir Amin, Franz Fanon, Walter Rodney, Femi Osofisan, Bode Sowande and a host of others, transformed his mind. Through their writings, he began to understand the issues of underdevelopment, inequality, corruption, poverty, and the dominant hegemony prevailing across the African continent.
Mr. Agbonika was introduced to the field of Development Communication by one of his mentors and he decided to pursue a Master’s degree in this area. He therefore proceeded to the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria this pursuit. In ABU, he embraced the full consciousness of development under the tutelage of late Prof. Jenks Z. Okwori, a globally renowned professor of participatory development.
In 2007, he joined the services of The Street Hawker Entrepreneurship magazine, and rose to become Deputy Editor, and Head of Operations/Abuja Bureau Chief. Working with a passionate and committed team made up of the publisher and other professionals, the magazine was repositioned to become a leading resource on entrepreneurship and enterprise development in Nigeria. Through this platform, Mr. Agbonika and his team were able to disseminate specialized knowledge to a specific audience in dire need. It was, for the young man, an opportunity to understand the role of the private sector in economic growth and development and be involved in building the capacity of its actors. Considering the inability of the sector, to provide employment, and effectively driving the economy towards inclusive growth, Mr. Agbonika began looking for yet another pathway to development.
In 2009, Mr. Henry Anibe Agbonika undertook a consultancy for the then National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) that saw him monitor projects across 16 states in Nigeria. Part of the output for this activity was the first ever NAPEP SUCCESS STORY, a knowledge product capturing stories of Nigerians in rural areas whose lives were impacted and lifted out of poverty. This consultancy afforded him the opportunity to understand poverty in all its ramifications across Nigeria.
Henry Anibe Agbonika joined the international development sector as a Program Officer with the Nigerian Program of the then Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), now Global Affairs Canada (GAC). In this role, he worked with a team of experts and professionals in Canada and Nigeria, in the conceptualization, design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of projects funded by the Government of Canada.
Specifically, Mr. Agbonika was involved in the Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate Change (BNRCC) project, which informed responses to climate change in Nigeria by enhancing capacity at the community, state and national levels, implement effective adaptation strategies, policies and actions, while ensuring informed responses to the impacts of climate change through improved livelihood, health, access to natural resources, equality and governance.
A key output from the BNRCC is The National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change on Nigeria (NASPA-CCN), which was approved by the Federal Government and put forward as a case study at the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference. Other results achieved as of the end of the project (December 2012) include: three socio-economic research reports on community-based strategies to adapt to climate change in key sectors and eco-regional zones, including an assessment of vulnerabilities and needs.
In 2012, Mr. Agbonika became the Technical Analyst and Advisor (consultant) on Stimulating Sustainable Economic Growth/ Extractive Industries (SSEG/EI) to the Canadian aid agency in Nigeria. In this capacity, he was saddled with the responsibility of contributing to the development and achievement of the objectives and expected results of CIDA’s SSEG/EI strategy and other related development agenda in Nigeria.
He led efforts in understanding the character and nature of Nigeria’s solid minerals sector for possible development intervention by the aid agency. All of the efforts paid off in 2013 with the preparation of a Strategic Roadmap for Mining Sector Development in Nigeria by the World Bank through an Externally Funded Output (EFO) financed by the Canadian and Australian governments from 2012 to 2016.
It is worthy to note that the roadmap provided the basis for designing many key elements of the current Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification Project (MinDiver) of the World Bank in Nigeria.Considering that Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) activities have consistently dominated the country’s solid minerals sector, it was Mr. Agbonika’s desire to have an intervention geared at improving the safety, efficiency, and profitability of ASM with the view to increasing its contribution to local economies.
Mr. Henry Anibe Agbonika was also instrumental in laying the foundations for CIDA’s sustainable economic programming in the country, particularly in the focus states of Cross River and Bauchi where efforts are ongoing to create sustainable long term economic growth that will increase revenue generation, create employment, and lead to poverty reduction. In the early days of his engagement with communities and actors in the North East and South-South, it became apparent that agriculture holds the greatest promise for development. Agbonika believes improvements in agricultural productivity and innovation can drive economic growth, while recognising that barriers to trade, market access, and infrastructure, insecure land tenure, high input costs and poor access to technology remain stumbling blocks. He has thus spent the last seven years in search of innovations that can dismantle these obstacles.
From experience over the years, he understands the imperative of sound public policies in the drive towards inclusive growth, and as such embraced the opportunity to join the Nigerian Economic Summit Group(NESG) as Head, Abuja Office responsible for northern operations and later on becoming Head, Policy Intelligence and Innovation until his voluntary resignation. The NESG is Nigeria’s leading private sector think tank committed to the development of a modern globally competitive Nigerian economy. Highlights of his time at the NESG include engagement in the national trade policy process, particularly as a delegate to the National Committee on the Continental Free Trade Area(NC-CFTA) which advised government as the national multi- stakeholder technical platform on the CFTA negotiations on goods, services, investment, competition and intellectual property; monitoring the negotiations and undertaking analysis to ensure that the negotiations and emerging results approximate the goals for the negotiations established by government; and as well identifying the opportunities and challenges facing the country in trade with other African countries, both intra and Inter-Regional Economic Communities (REC).
Mr. Agbonika was also a delegate to the sub national technical working group of the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES) with the mandate to drive reforms aimed at benchmarking performance and promoting peer learning through healthy competition and cooperation among states on key socioeconomic measures of development and growth. The important drivers in this regard are transparency, efficiency and reduction in costs to the SMEs.
Mr Agbonika believes that critical to our nation’s development is the ability to galvanize energies, resources and capacities of people and communities across board towards achieving the common good. For him, it is first of all, about local strategies, values, institutions, and resources. This world view has been shaped by his experiences and associations from citadels across West Africa, East Africa, South East Asia, Europe and North America.
Trained in agricultural value chain development under the livelihoods and markets program of the Coady International Institute of the Saint Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Canada, Henry is very passionate about agribusiness and the promises it holds for the transformation of local economies and contributions to economic growth across Africa. He is currently working with several actors, influencers and supporters to build capacity and strengthen value chains through The Kogi Agribusiness Services and Value Added (KASAVA) initiative.
A Certified Knowledge Manager (CKM) of the Knowledge Management Institute, works with organizations in developing knowledge management culture and putting in place systems and processes. He designed the Knowledge Management strategy for the country’s National Malaria Program. He has also consulted for private sector organizations and institutions of government over the last 10 years and is currently the lead consultant/CEO of Post Development Synergies Limited – a development advisory committed to providing home grown solutions to Nigeria’s development challenges. During his first visit to the south East Asian country of Vietnam in 2013,
Mr Agbonika witnessed first-hand the results of galvanizing the energies of the people toward productive endeavours particularly across rural areas. He saw what it meant to stimulate economic development and put the people in charge of their own lives.
Henry recalls with Nostalgia a conversation over dinner with his hosts in the country’s coastal regional. He was told: “Henry, we have come a long way as a people. Ten years ago, it was impossible to dine like we are doing tonight because our economy was so bad and life was difficult. The average family usually had a piece of fish and some vegetables for dinner. But today, thanks to the vision, and commitment of our leaders, life has changed.” These words remain ever fresh in Henry’s mind and he hopes that someday, people across Nigeria, particularly his home state of Kogi would share in this narrative of positive change and transformations At various times, he served as Secretary of the Igala Economic Summit Organizing Committee, and the Igala Environmental Watch (Igala Project).
Mr. Agbonika was actively involved in initial advocacy to secure appropriate benefits for mining communities in Okobo, Enjema District, Kogi State, and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
In view of his contributions to the sustainable development of the Igala nation, Kogi state, and Nigeria, Henry Anibe Agbonika was recently conferred with the award of the Arise Igala Man of the Year 2017/2018. He was also conferred with the honorary Chieftaincy title of Otunba Adelakin of Ekirrin-Adde land in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State.
A proudly devoted lover of God, Mr. Henry Anibe Agbonika is happily married to a lovely wife and they are blessed with three children.
Henry Anibe Agbonika will be a round peg in a round hole is elected to lead Kogi state out of its current sad state. He will surely deliver as he has always done.
– Andrew Ojotule H. wrote from Lokoja.