By Saleh Bature
Professor Muhammed Ali Pate, Nigeria’s former Minister of state for Health, former Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), and 3-time guber candidate in Bauchi state is a familiar name that does not ordinarily need further introduction.
However, Pate is better known in the global health firmament where he worked in various capacities for close to three decades. He was the “global director of health, nutrition, and population global practice of the world bank, and director of the global financing faculty for women, children, and adolescents based in Washington, D. C. He was also a Julio Frenk Professor of the practice of public health leadership in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of public health. Pate has dedicated his career to strengthening public health systems and building innovative partnerships to combat preventable causes of mortality.” This long quotation is from the Harvard T. H Chan School of Public Health
Most tellingly, he did not get those jobs on the platter. His past monumental records of achievements had worked for him. According to the World Bank, “Mr Pate was selected to the position through the Bank-wide competitive managerial selection process.”
Thus, there is no gain in saying the fact that Pate’s nomination by Mr. President to serve as a minister in his government is a wise decision taken in the best interest of the nation. As a technocrat cum politician, the Professor is expected to bring his expertise to bear on the decadent Nigeria’s health sector, especially in areas of preventable maternal, new-born, child, and adolescent deaths, and improve the health and quality of life of women, children, and adolescents in the world.
The decision he took to come back home to contribute to the development of poor health infrastructure in his home country in preference to the more lucrative job offered to him by GAVI, the vaccine alliance is commendable. Pate’s resignation as the honcho of the multi-billion dollar Gavi Vaccine alliance in Geneva to take a ministerial appointment in Tinubu’s government demonstrates his unshakeable love for Nigeria. Resigning appointment as the Chief Executive Officer of a multi-billion dollar global organization that” helps vaccinate almost half the world’s children against deadly and debilitating infectious diseases” is the highest peak of patriotism, which most politicians in this country are lacking.
Pate is the most misunderstood politician in Bauchi, his home state. Politicians mischievously call him “Bature” (Hausa equivalent of a white man). “Bature” which in other words means someone who has individualist attitude is derogatory term which the Hausa culture frowns at. Those who say this about him say so because they don’t know him, or they say it with the intent to detract him. The truth is they don’t know him. Their opinion about him is influenced by the bandwagon effect. They use the opinion of his detractors to judge him. Whoever comes close to Pate would attest to the fact that the man is a gentleman par excellent, a chummy and rarefied figure who is respected both at home and internationally.
Pate is a selfless person who has an uncommon passion for service to the nation.” Nigeria needs Pate”, our brother Senator Abdul Ningi told his colleagues during the screening of ministerial nominees on Tuesday 2nd August, 2023. He is technocrat of the first order who is passionate in providing good governance and true dividend of democracy to the people. He is a politician whose political savvy, brainpower, propriety, sophistication, dignified mien and cosmopolitan disposition are not only misunderstood by the common man, but are qualities that caused him envy and anger of the political class.
Nominee Professor Ali Pate who stood in the hallowed chamber to answer questions from the senators stole the day. He answered all the question thrown at him to the admiration of distinguished senators of the Federal Republic. “The long awaited nominee” as he was addressed by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, stole the day when he spoke on vaccine’s production, human papillomavirus, Nigeria having the worst immunization coverage in the world, worrying incidence of cervical cancer among women in Nigeria, concerns about mass exodus of trained Nigeria doctors to other parts of the world, and an appeal to the National Assembly to work in tandem with the executive arm, sub-national groups, professional groups, and civil societies to chart a new course for the health sector in our country.
Pate has a big dream for the Nigeria’s health sector. Through investment in local resources, he hopes to make Nigeria into a hub for health not only for our country but also on the African continent. He intends to bring Nigeria closer to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), ensuring that no citizen of this country is left behind.
With his Cigari Foundation busy addressing massive crises in basic education, literacy, and numeracy as well as health, to safeguard the future of Nigeria, Professor, Ali Pate, the Cigarin Misau, proves beyond doubt that he is one politician who pays a high premium to the wellbeing of his people. We,, therefore beseech Allah to hold his hand, guide him and make his tenure as a Minister in President BAT’s cabinet successful.
Saleh Bature wrote in this piece from Limpopo street Maitama, Abuja. He can be reached via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org