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From Varsity Dropout To Building Electric Vehicles



From Varsity Dropout To Building Electric Vehicles

Despite dropping out of the University of Maiduguri at 300 level, Mustapha Gajibo, a Borno Citizen is making waves and realising his world by embarking on the journey of manufacturing electric vehicles.

The feat achieved by Gajibo has been a clear message that Borno aside from decades of insurgency that ravaged the State can boast of producing vibrant youth that can shape the future.

With his innovative skills in renewable energy, the young Gajibo builds electric cars, tricycles, and generators and he does that with local manpower.

The young entrepreneur who started building electric vehicles in the year 2017 has attracted the attention of many including the Borno state governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, an indication that a very great thing is happening in the State.

Moved by his ambition in life, Gajibo quit University of Maiduguri because he was given admission to study General Agriculture instead of Electrical Engineering which he passionately wanted to study in a bid to realise his destiny.

Having heard about the wonderful exploit of  Gajibo, Zulum had presented five mini-busses and N20 million cash to the talented Borno man who specialises in converting buses with petrol engines into solar-powered electric vehicles.

The support was passed to Phoenix Renewable Energy Group owned by Mustapha Gajibo.

When LEADERSHIP Weekend visited the workshop of the Phoenix Renewable Energy located around Pompomari Industrial Layout in Maiduguri, there was a beehive of activities with workers coupling some already converted petrol-powered vehicles to electric vehicles.

According to Gajibo, “I ventured into solar system installation and later to the building of electric vehicles amid my passion for solving societal challenges.”

He said from childhood, he had always developed a passion for solving problems whenever he sees them in his community.

The young entrepreneur said with funding, access to raw materials, and foreign exchange, the company can produce 5,000 electric vehicles yearly.

He added that when produced his vehicles would checkmate the cost of imported vehicles, and bring down the cost of transportation caused by the high cost of petroleum products since his car won’t depend on petrol to operate.

He said: “I always love to get ideas on how to solve those problems, so I grew up with such passion. I started with a renewable energy company that was into producing solar systems for residential and industrial sectors.

“Going forward, I ventured into electric vehicles because of the problems the whole world was facing such as high cost of petroleum products, high cost of transportation as a result of the cost in fuel. And another alarming issue was the issue of global warming largely contributed by emission from petrol powered vehicles which is hazardous to the environment.

“Looking at all these problems I decided to come up with ideas of electric vehicles and also to contribute my quota in reducing the emissions in our environment.

“We started by converting normal tricycles with petrol power to fully electric,  and then we moved from that to converting petrol mini buses to electric buses.

“Phoenix has now moved on from converting vehicles to full design and building of vehicles. We have built full electric buses which have a sitting capacity of 12 passengers and can cover a distance of 200km per charge. And it is fully air-conditioned with the latest technology including a voice command system.

“I’m proud to say that these vehicles were fully designed and built here in Nigeria, adding that 60 to 70 per cent of materials used for production were sourced locally.

Support from government and others

As for getting support from the state government or individuals, Mustapha Gajibo said the company has received support especially, through the Nigeria Automotive Design and Development Council which has given Phoenix Renewable Energy necessary technical support.

He said the Company has issued Phoenix licence to manufacture and assemble electric vehicles in Nigeria, adding that the director general has been very supportive of his Company.

“He has been recommending us and he has even talked about our project even at the recent summit on climate change at Glasgow in his speech.

“Coming to the State level, you know I am from Borno State, I brought this whole idea to the State to see the development of our dear State to depict that something good can come from the State. And we have received support from the State government.

“I have met with the governor and he has facilitated a way for us to participate in the MSME clinic which was conducted last three to five months, where Phoenix Renewable Energy emerged as winners. We received the award of National Excellence on technology and innovation.

“The State government has supported our project with funding and they have promised us to also see how we develop and scale what we are doing,” he said.


Narrating his challenges, Gajibo said the fact that the innovation was new and strange to the people, they initially doubted his ability to run what he had proposed.

He said the first challenge he faced was in the beginning when he felt like he was alone on his own planet.

He said,”  This is something that has never been done in Borno State, so everyone wanted to see how it was going to work. Nobody understands what you are doing. So bringing people who would think the way I think, who would share my type of vision was a challenge.

“So, the formation of a team that could come up with such technology was a challenge. But thank God I was able to get good people that share the same dream and we formed a formidable team.

Another challenge, according to him, was the sourcing of raw materials. This is something that has not been done. It is not something you would go to the market to buy the materials. In fact, for some materials you have to source them outside Nigeria, some you have to go outside the state.

Speaking further, the inventor said, “Access to funding was another challenge, the whole issue needs a lot of funding. For instance, building prototypes, deploying proof of concept, and pilot schemes need a lot of funding. We faced challenges doing that because, from the beginning, we did not get support from any individual or government.

“It was the proceeds from other projects that we were using to go into the electric vehicles. Another big challenge for us is access to foreign exchange. Foreign exchange to source for raw materials outside the country.”

Gajibo lamented that most of the government policies are not favourable for his business. For instance, he said that he has not been able to source Forex at the official price.

“We have to go getting them through the black market,” he said, which according to him, in turn, makes the cost of production extremely high.

He said, “We call on stakeholders to come up with policies that would make companies like ours have better access to foreign exchange.

“It is through companies like ours that the value of Naira can appreciate to Dollars. As I am speaking, we have a lot of people outside Nigeria who are interested in our products.

“We have interests from Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau. All these countries are ready to buy our products and we can sell to them in Dollars, and we will be bringing an inflow of Dollars and, in turn, adding value to our Naira.”

He urged stakeholders to look at the problems in the sector and address them.

“The government and critical stakeholders in the finance and manufacturing sector should be thinking about policies that encourage start-ups, that was how the Chinese made their currency strong.

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ECOWAS Probes Alleged Marginalisation Against Nigerians



ECOWAS Holds Retreat For Interdepartmental Trade Facilitation C’ttee

The Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Sidie Mohammed Tunis, has set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate allegations of marginalisation against Nigerian candidates in the ongoing recruitment process at the regional parliament.


A statement issued on Sunday by the Communications Division of the ECOWAS Parliament, Abuja, said the Speaker constituted the ad-hoc committee following written complaints from the 1st Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase, and the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Musa Sani Nuhu.

“The action of the Honourable Speaker is in conformity to Rule Thirty-three (33) and Thirty-four (34) of the Rules of Procedures of the Parliament which provides that a Special Committee may be set up to address specific matters. The Speaker, in response to pressing emergencies, can set up an Ad Hoc Committee, in consultation with the Bureau, and inform Parliament at its next Session.

“The Adhoc Committee would be headed by Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, Chairman of the Committee on Administration, Finance, and Budget,” the ECOWAS Parliament said.

Other members of the committee include Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu (Nigeria); Fatoumatta Njai (The Gambia); Amadou Djibo Ali (Niger); Kounon Nahou Agbandao (Togo); Caramo Camara (Guinea Bissau); Moussokora Chantal Fanny (Cote d’ Ivoire) and Arboncana Oumarou Dicko, Clerk to the Committee.

“The Terms of Reference of the Ad Hoc Committee shall be as follows: Investigate allegations of inappropriate conduct in the ongoing recruitment process at the ECOWAS Parliament;

“Investigate allegations of marginalization of Nigerian Candidates in the current recruitment process;

“Investigateand determine if indeed the plenary adopted any Resolution concerning the subject matter (Recruitment of Staff), using normal parliamentary procedure;

“In the execution of its mandate, the Committee shall be granted access to all documents relating to the recruitment exercise and work with the Advisory Committee on Recruitment and Promotions at the ECOWAS Parliament, to under-study and review the exercise. The Adhoc Committee would be guided by the provisions of the Supplementary Act and the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The work of the Ad Hoc Committee is expected to commence on 22nd August 2022 and its findings are expected to be reported to the Honorable Speaker in one week, following which a Bureau meeting will be convened to consider the report for onward submission to the Plenary.

“In the meantime, the Right Honourable Speaker has directed the suspension of the ongoing recruitment exercises, pending the outcome of the investigation by the Independent Adhoc Committee.

“Finally, the ECOWAS Parliament, under the leadership of Right Honourable Dr. Sidie Mohamed Tunis, affirms its stern commitment to fair labor practices and is devoted to upholding and protecting the rights of all Citizens of the Community to aspire for positions in any Community Institution, in line with the provisions of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations and all related Protocols,” the ECOWAS Parliament also said.

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JUST-IN: Buhari’s Nephew Dumps APC



JUST-IN: Buhari's Nephew Dumps APC

A lawmaker representing Daura/Sandamu/Mai’Adua federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Fatuhu Muhammed, has dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).


The lawmaker, who is a nephew to President Muhammadu Buhari, resigned his membership of the party, stating that he ceased to be a member of the APC effective July 15, 2022.


The lawmaker’s decision was contained in letter dated July 13, 2022 and addressed to the APC chairman in Sarkin Yara A Ward of Daura local government area of Katsina State.


“This is to notify you that I have resigned my membership from the All Progressives Congress (APC) with immediate effect commencing from Wednesday the 13th day ofJuly 2022. Attached herewith is my party Membership Registration Slip with slip No. KT/DRA/10/00002.


“While I thank you and the party for the opportunity given to me to serve the interest of the people of Daura/Sandamu/Mai’Adua Federal Constituency while working with the party, accept my best wishes please,” the lawmaker said.


LEADERSHIP gathered that the lawmaker might be planning to join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), even though he was yet to make public a next choice of political party.


Recall that earlier in June this year, Hon. Fatuhu decried alleged manipulation of the APC primary election in his constituency, where he alleged change of the delegates’ list, a development he blamed for losing a re-election ticket.

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‘What Kaduna Has Spent On Students’ Scholarship’



‘What Kaduna Has Spent On Students’ Scholarship’

Kaduna State Scholarship and Loans Board has been giving scholarships to students to study abroad for almost two years now. Why did it take so long to commence the award to students studying in Nigerian tertiary institutions?

I think it is not a case of it taking so long. Between April 2019 and February 2021, we gave out local scholarships to 6,858 students as bursary and we disbursed N675.17 million and each of these students got N109,000. But in February 2021 to March 2021, we suspended bursary and we decided to replace it with Need-Based Scholarship. With bursary, we didn’t have a means of identifying the indigent status of students. So, it was an all-comers affair. It is the policy of Kaduna State Government to award scholarships based on merit and need. The award of Merit-Based Scholarship is straightforward, we give students based on their academic performance. But with the bursary, it was just going to everybody who applied, passed the essay, irrespective of the student’s capacity and capability to pay. That was why we suspended it in March. So, we now decided to come up with the Need and Merit-Based Scholarship modules and government directed that we should come up with a guideline of processing and accessing scholarship.

Before now, awarding scholarship was at the discretion of the Executive Secretary and senior government officials. So, it was necessary to have a standard guideline. I can tell you that we are now the only scholarship board that has an elaborate guideline, where applications have to go through a lot of administrative processes.


How are beneficiaries selected for both the Merit Based and Need Based Scholarship modules?

With the Merit Based Scholarship, we did a pilot flag off, we wrote to our state tertiary institutions to give us a list of their merit students who have the minimum GPA of 4.0. We then worked with Social Investment office to access the state social register. The register has about two million people that have been adjudged to be indigent. It is the go-to data, we integrated it into our data base. So, when a student applies with his National Identification Number (NIN), the first thing that the system does is to check if he is on the social register. Once his name is there, the system automatically takes the name of the student to verify if he is a student and he gets paid. But if you are not on the social register and you are applying for a Need Based Scholarship, we will ask you to submit tax documents for economic evaluation, to be able to determine your indigence. But if you are a merit student, it is just your academic record; any student in any Nigerian tertiary institution, that has 4.0 upwards should apply.

So, a lot of students applied but we suspended the process because we needed to come out with a standard guideline that will be the unifier of processing scholarship. And now that has happened. We suspended scholarship award until this time. Now, that we have it, by August we will continue. We have already collated state own tertiary institutions and this payment will start. We have N520 and something million on ground. We are already paying N219 million to state own tertiary institutions and the balance is available for every resident that applies and he is qualified.


A cursory look at the beneficiaries of those who were given cheques on July 20 suggests that only students from Kaduna state owned tertiary institutions were awarded scholarships. Is my assumption correct? If so, when will students from other institutions benefit?

That is not correct because the 6,858 that I told you cut across every institution in the country that applied. But in this new scheme, we started with state owned tertiary institutions but it does not end there. So, every student can apply but the only difference is the bursary that we were giving out before and the scholarship that we give now. One, in the latter, you have to show that you are indigent in your economic evaluation. Two, unlike when we were paying students N109, 000 per session, this time we are going to pay their tuition fees till graduation. Then three, unlike before that we were paying the money to the students, and we had situations where some diverted the money, now this money will go directly to the schools. So, these are some of the highlighted changes that differentiates the Need Based Scholarship from the bursary. So, it is a better one. With bursary, you apply this year and there is the tendency that you may not get it next year.

Like these 1,251 students that have been earmarked to be paid, their money is going to be paid till graduation. The only reason that we will withdraw it is if they fall below the acceptable GPA—for merit is 4.0 and for Need Based Scholarship it is 2.5. Once you step down, we will withdraw the scholarship.


Government is a continuum, why is Kaduna State Government in a hurry to pay the tuition fees of students on scholarship, till their graduation?

Yes, government is a continuum but Malam Nasir El-Rufai, the Executive Governor of Kaduna state, has given a clear directive that he wants to pay every tuition fee to the institutions before he leaves this government. He says that he doesn’t want to have any burden of raising the hopes and aspirations of students and getting them dashed under any circumstance. Yes, he believes that government is a continuum but we should help the students and even the incoming government, to at least take this off their shoulders.


The Board has been giving out scholarships to undergraduates and post graduate students in the last two years. Can you give a figure as to how many have benefited so far and how much has been expended?

With the foreign scholarship for example, at every point in time, we have over 120 students outside the country – as this set graduates, another comes on board. But at every point in time, you have this number. Those that went in September 2021 and came back, they are currently doing their internship for two years, for Kaduna State Government. And we are posting a lot of them to tertiary institutions so that they can give back by also teaching students. The essence of spending huge amounts of money on them is to allow them study courses that are not available in Nigeria or those that are in short supply.

We have disbursed over N819.79 million as loans to people to finance their education. N2 billion was on ground and out of that, over N800 million has been disbursed to about 509 beneficiaries. This loan gives opportunity for parents to be able to finance their children’s education and pay back over a period of time, especially parents whose children are in institutions that school fees have been increased. Or even parents that sent their children outside the country and got stuck financially, they can access the loan. So, with about 509 beneficiaries, it is also funds that have been unlocked for the purpose of education financing in Kaduna state.

N675.18 million was disbursed from April 2019 to February 2021, to 6,858 students as bursary. Another N524.13 million has been cash backed for payment of merit and need based scholarships in 2022. Tuition fees will be paid directly to schools.   Kaduna State University will be paid N158.53 million for 755 students, Kaduna State College of Education, Gidan Waya will receive N33.45 million for 317 students and Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic will receive N27.6 million for 179 students. The remaining funds will be spent on Kaduna state students across the country. From 2020 to date, over N1.5 billion has been expended on foreign scholarships. N2 billion was set aside for students’ loans and N819.79 million has been disbursed to 509 beneficiaries. So, over all, over N3 billion has gone into scholarship and over N800 million has been spent on loans. Government has expended up to N4 billion in financial intervention to scholarship. This is unprecedented.


How is your Board able to determine that an applicant is a citizen of Kaduna state?

For us, it is not about citizenship; it is about residency. So, even if your state of origin is Kaduna state and you are not resident in Kaduna state, you cannot benefit from the scholarship award. So, it is only for residents and they can come from wherever as long as they are residents and as long as they have stayed a certain minimum number of years in Kaduna, they are residents. We have people like Opeyemi and Co that are in the UK and government is paying their school fees because they are qualified and were residents of Kaduna state.


Is it correct to say that one of the conditions attached to sponsorship abroad is that beneficiaries will spend two years teaching in Kaduna state when they complete their studies?

Yes, they will spend two years giving back to community as the government deems fit. Some of them will teach, others will work in our Ministries, Departments and Agencies. They will need to identify a transformational project that they will execute. They went to study abroad and they have learnt best practices and everything. So, they learnt new things. So, they are expected to identify a gap in wherever we post them to. And together with the MDA, Scholarship Board and the beneficiaries, we will agree on one particular project that each one will embark on within the period of those two years. So, that is their contribution to the development of the society.



-N675.17 million was disbursed from April 2019 to February 2021, to 6,858 students as bursary;

-Another N525 million has been cash backed for payment for Merit Based students in 2022;

-From 2020 to 2021 date, over N1.5 billion has been expended on foreign scholarships;

-N2 billion was set aside for students’ loans and N819.79 million has been disbursed to 509 beneficiaries.

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