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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

RETEAN And Her Many Giant Strides Under The Leadership Of High Chief Alh. Musa Isiwele

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  • RETEAN Poised To Bridging The Unemployment Gap
  • Pledges To Empower Over 16million Nigerians
  • High Chief Alh. Isiwele’s Passion For A More Vibrant RETEAN Rooted In Unity, Patrotism And Nonviolence

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For those who know High Chief Alh. Musa Isiwele, most will attest to one virtue that stands him out from his contemporaries – His passion for empowering those around him seems a trait he is willing to take to anywhere life and fate take him.  ‘Being someone who walked his way to the top through toils and tears, sheer hard work and loyalty, I have vowed to help anyone that comes across my way who has the passion to succeed through self-exploration and sheer determination.  It is the legacy I want to leave for myself, my children and for Nigeria before I am called up yonder’.  I don’t have monopoly of knowledge nor do I boast to be the best person for this job or in other areas for that matter, but I know that my concept of leadership is deeply rooted in selflessness.  I as well know how to encourage hard work, identify hidden opportunities not for self-aggrandizement but for the betterment of those that I lead and anyone who is willing to climb the rung of the ladder to the top through the virtue of hard work.

‘I could as well say that I know how to reward commitment to duty and loyalty.  For instance, he said {pointing to a picture of a massive building on the wall which is the Lagos RETEAN office}, I will be leaving for Lagos State with other executive members of the Union.  You may ask me what I will be going to Lagos to do right?  On 4th of November, I will be honouring some State Chairmen of the Union, other committed members of RETEAN and RETEAN AFFILIATES and other strategic partners of the Union whose commitment, dedication to duty and supports have helped us to realise out set objectives for the year.  I am a leader that rose to leadership through service.  I do not believe in jumping the rungs of the ladder to the top.  Leadership to me is the hardest thing because managing human and material resources entail a lot.  It gives you sleepless nights.  While others sleep, leaders are awake, planning, strategizing and re-strategizing on how to achieve set objectives.  You know as a leader, others look to you for so many things.  You don’t only need to be a leader but a role model to those that look to you as superior.  You must do away with those traits that get others disappointed at you.  You must strive to strike a balance, met out punishment where necessary, encourage good behaviours and dedication.  I have served this nation where I rose to the enviable heights in the office through dedication to duty and hard work and for those that know me, they will all tell you that I love to grow people and any institution I found myself’.  He said

High Chief Alh. Musa Isiwele is a man who has garnered many titled cutting across all the regions of Nigeria not because he sees titles as rung to get to the top but because those that confer him with titles believe he is on a mission to affect lives positively, especially that of the youths.  Alh Isiwele exudes a very rear leadership charisma and from all indication, he is a man who understands the virtues of team work and inclusiveness in decision-taking and implementations.

Recently, our Abuja team engaged Alh Musa Isiwele on an interactive session as a platform to address some issues ranging from his vision for the Union, his desire to leverage on his wealth of experience to aid the government of the day led by President Mohammadu Buhari, his relationship with the former President Goodluck Jonathan, controversies surrounding distribution of Union vehicles, among other issues.  The interview session revealed a lot around the activities of RETEAN, all the storms the Union has weathered and how they arrived at the stability and unity that has characterised the union.  Light Iheoma Shedrack led the team and the discussions that ensued and the answers that followed are worth anyone’s reading pleasure:

Our Team:                           Sir, it is our pleasure to be here today to discuss some issues that need to be addressed.  I hope you don’t mind if we request to know you, your activities as the President of RETEAN?

Alh. Isiwele:                       I don’t mind please.  After all, good leadership entails that your door must be constantly open to receive friends and foes {if any} and thus find a common ground to douse tensions, heal wounds and address burning issues.  For me, I look out for more friends than many countless enemies. Friends make us glow while keeping enmity make us shrink and make us look older than our age. To that extent, you’re welcome.

Our Team:                           Tell us about yourself and about your organisation RETEAN:

Alh. Isiwele:                       My name is Alh. Musa Isiwele

Our Team {cuts in}                 May we add High Chief and other titles because on the walls are different pictures of coronation and turbaning. Are you shying away from them?

Alh. Isiwele:                       {Laughs} Ahhhh, truly you’re into investigative journalism.  Do I even know that you have subtly scanned every corner of my office and took note of even the least issue I did know will count.  No wonder they say you hit at the very edge of the belt.  {All laughs}.  Anyway, like you noted, My name is High Chief Alh. Musa Isiwele.  I am currently the National President of the Association called Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria {RETEAN}.  By God’s grace, I am a Nigerian, though some say a patriotic Nigerian, from Edo State.  I am a father and grand father.  You could as well add that I am a successful public servant who has served his nation and rose to the position of a commissioner {rtd} in Nigeria Police Force.  Aside that, I have served at the other leadership positions.  I was a delegate to the last National Confab representing the transport and self-employment sectors.  Permit me to add that Allah has been faithful to me as well and has blessed me with great family and successful business outings.

Currently, I am the National President of RETEAN by providence and hard work.  I came to this position out of my sheer determination to right societal wrongs or at least contribute my quota to national development so that when at least Allah summons, I could have had legacies to leave behind…. Not legacies of gold and silver alone {though I love them if Allah provides them} but legacies of empowering people, legacies of fighting corruption and standing for the down trodden and those who have become victims of societal injustice.  As a matter of fact, that was one of my driving factors that made me to contest for the National Chairman of this association.  Before I took over, RETEAN was synonymous with gangsterism, looting of Union fund by past leaders who see leadership as a platform for self-enrichment, administrative lapses and improper coordination of national, zonal and unit affairs.  RETEAN was in total shambles while embezzlement continued.  There were threats of disintegration among members, there were rancour and in-house fighting and witch-hunting and division was in the offing.  When most members couldn’t endure it again, knowing my antecedents and my outspokenness to call a spade by its name, they insisted I should run.  I ran for the position and overwhelming won.  Today, RETEAN is a major employer of labour, helping the government to bridge unemployment gap.  Today, under my leadership RETEAN has become a force to reckon with.  I equipped this office you see and set a standard for other zonal offices.  Look at this picture here {pointing to a framed picture in the wall.  This is our Lagos Office.  We built if from the scratch and I commissioned it}.  Today, through RETEAN and vibrant leadership, companies are coming from overseas to partner us to boost the transport system in Nigeria.  Just last month {September 2015}, some members were delegated to visit a car manufacturing company overseas to ascertain on-the-spot assessment of their activities and soon, Nigerians will begin to benefit from this pro-peoples’ scheme.

Our Team:                           What are your other achievements?

Like I said, if you had visited this office when RETEAN was in total shambles of unsound leadership, you may be sitting on a bench or at best a plastic chair.  I upgraded this office to what you see today and when one of our foreign partners visited us, he remarked that this office is one of the most organised offices he has recently entered since he visited Nigeria.  For those that know me, wherever I found myself to lead, I like to leave a legacy.  I like to be missed when I’m no longer there.  So, current RETEAN has well organised and functional offices in the whole 36 States of the Federation and each State Chairman is elected on the basis of sound knowledge, sound leadership prowess and he must be a leader who leads by example.  We have raised our standards.  I hate it when people look at the association I lead as collection of motor park touts.  Let me add here that we are no touts.  We are not motor park drivers.  We are owners of cars, trucks, buses and other means of transporting goods and people.  We are not drivers.  We are employers and an employer expectedly should not act like employee.  So everyday, we are raising our standards of operation to live up to our name and our corporate objective.  Again,  RETEAN has successfully signed a partnership agreement with the Federal Ministry of works to use its workshops  nationwide to assemble vehicles and provide aftersales maintenance under its National Mass Transit Scheme. RETEAN today has a unit both at National, State and Unit level called ‘RETEAN SENSITIZATION UNIT’.  They engage members on interface orientation, reorientation, training and retraining programmes.  That Unit is saddled with the responsibility of preaching unity in duality.  In view of the prevailing restiveness and divisions along ethnic and religious lines, RETEAN made it compulsory that members should not be judged, witch hunted or segregated against on basis of religious, tribal, cultural or political affiliation or ideology.  We preach unity of man irrespective of our social affiliations.  RETEAN has been severally rewarded and honoured by virtually all the states commissioners of transport because of the key role we are playing in that sector.  We have been honoured by the police traffic unit because of the role we are playing in managing traffic especially in places like Lagos. Our Lagos State Chairman has been doing tremendous work there.  So also other State Chairmen.  The team I built is a near perfect one and we are always striving to upgrade.

Let me tell you.  Cult clash has been the order of the day among rival unionists.  I can authoritatively tell you that no member of this organisation has been arrested or even jailed for cult activities.  This is what we preach every month in our meetings and I charge each State chairman to device every legal means of growing their chapters and growing members along by developing uncommon strategies that will help us sustain and empower our over 16million members across the country.

Our Team:                           Can we go a bit political now?

Alh. Isiwele:                       Why not!  Yes, after all it is said that man is political specie.

Our Team:                          During the last election, you were prominent.  You had a preferred candidate. Can it be right if we conclude that RETEAN is another political party?

Alh. Isiwele:                       Hahahaha, Ok.  If you insist that RETEAN is another political party, maybe we can choose a name like PDP-APC/RETEAN PARTY {Everyone laughed}.  Well, it may interest you to note that I am a Nigerian who understands his social rights and obligations.  One, patriotism entails that any government in power and any constituted authority must be obeyed and supported, whether they come from our preferred party or not.  Yes, I am political but RETEAN is apolitical.  Members could be political.  Members are enjoined to contribute their social quota in any possible way.   You could ask any member here or any other State Chapter if Isiwele met with any of them and foisted a candidate on him or her.  In fact it may interest you more that this office during the campaign period between PDP and APC was decked with flags of APC and PDP by willing members depending on their political affiliations.  Some even brand their vehicles APC or PDP.  Members wear APC and PDP shirts to office and no one, I repeat no one was ill-treated because of his political affiliation.

One mischief maker and some press men {like you or may be not like you} even claimed that former President Jonathan gave me Isiwele billions of Naira to campaign for him.  Well, my answer is if Jonathan had given me billions, what am I still doing here.  I would have been somewhere that’s worth billions.  I never, I repeat, I never collected a dime from anyone in the name of campaigning for him, rather I made my choice as to where I pitched my political tent which is my right as a Nigerian.  Look at this picture, I was turbaned in the North, I have lived most of my lives in the North and by virtue of that, I am a friend of even the current President and former President.  I congratulated President Buhari on his victory and we celebrated with members from that political affiliation.  I guess the problem here is that Nigerians are yet to mature politically where they have to separate sentiments from politics; where politics should not be played on basis of tribal, regional or religious sentiments.  I share much with Jonathan as much as I share with Buhari.

It may interest you to know as well that when this allegation of collecting billions from Jonathan was made from someone I feel should be more responsible, I headed to the court and press for charges.  Till today, he’s yet to provide the court with any evidence that this actually happened.  I am not a money monger.  I have started giving out money and living like a full man before coming here.  I have trained my children and they are all doing well.  I have a child who is contributing her social quota for national development as a lecturer, others are found in other vital sectors where they are all doing well.  At one point, I wanted to retire and start to rest but my members screamed NO NO NO, not now Alh.  We need you, we need your experience and we need your ideas.  Well, like I said, I am bent on giving my best before these bones wear out.

Our Team:                          You’ve talked so much about empowerment.  What is RETEAN doing extra-ordinarily to aiding the government in providing employment for the teeming Nigeria youths:

Alh.  Isiwele:                      {Bringing out a signed and sealed document from his brief case}.  See this {Stretching a letter to our team leader}, though it’s premature to announce it. This is off record for now, but I want you to have the privilege of knowing what RETEAN under my leadership is poised to achieve.  Coming to the question of empowerment, RETEAN currently has membership strength of over 16million Nigerians.  Now the implication is this.  Before you register as a member of RETEAN, you must have at least one vehicle {Car, truck, luxury bus, etc}.  Some members have many of those vehicles.  The implication is that RETEAN could have succeeded to provide employment to over 16million Nigerians who work in the transport sector. In RETEAN, human development is important to us.  We train and retrain our members.  We orientate and re-orientate them.  We have good number of graduates on our payroll here and in all the State Chapters and we made it compulsory that staff are paid very well.  A cleaner here earns as much as basic salary of over N45,000.  Outside that, we have concluded arrangement to expand our mass transit scheme in partnership with other Automobile Companies here and overseas.  We flagged off a mass-transit scheme previously, although we did not source as much vehicles as we needed because of certain limitations that bordered on bureaucratic bottlenecks.  We even encouraged members who have made contribution to either wait for us to conclude the arrangement or take their contributions {if they so wish}.  As many as have indicated interest to collect their contributions pending when the arrangement is finalized have received theirs.  {calling on the National Secretary Comrade Yusuf Adeniyi to provide me with evidences of refunds the Union have made to the members willing to have their contributions back}.  I am one person that believes that the only way to quell the tide of restiveness is through providing employment for the Nigerian youths and that is a vision I hold dear to myself.  I am exploring ways, I mean so many ways of doing that so that we can become willing partners in progress with the government in filling this gap of unemployment.

Our Team:                          Is there anything you want to use this medium to reach out to the people or the constituted authorities?

Alh. Isiwele:                       My motto has been let love lead Nigerians. Let unity be the word we feed on, sleep on and take everywhere we go.  Let the right thing be done by leaders and followers.  Let us heal more than we wound others through our actions, utterances, body language or even our thoughts.  Let us not only dream of a greater Nation, but let us unite and work towards the best Nation we can have.

Our Team:                           It’s been great talking with you.  May Allah bless and continue to grant you the enablement to actualize your tall dreams.  Amen.

Alh. Isiwele:                       Ameen.  Thank you too for finding time to come.  Continue your good work in aiding to build a greater Nigeria where love only leads.

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