Muhammad Bello Abubakar – Managing Director/CEO, Galaxy Backbone Ltd (GBB)

Professor Muhammad Bello Abubakar has held forth as managing director/CEO, Galaxy Backbone Ltd (GBB) since the beginning of 2020. So far, he has pursued his mandate with great milestones attained in new capacity building for the organisation.

This is towards the realisation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s objective of creating a digital economy as part of his next level agenda. He has introduced comprehensive plans and actions to support all stakeholders to actualize performance targets through ICT infrastructures and services.

His leadership ability to create new dynamics for the organisation was tested as soon as he assumed office in January. The emergence of coronavirus pandemic and the consequent economic lockdown challenged the attainment of government objectives. A new and unprecedented demand was placed on the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to develop digital platforms for keeping the economy up and running.

As government activities leaned heavily on ICT during the lockdown in order to reduce physical interactions that could spread coronavirus, one of the value propositions of Galaxy Backbone was born of innovation in time of necessity.

GBB rose up to the challenge of the time with the support of the ministry by launching virtual interaction platforms that enabled communication and collaboration in government from the federal executive level to intra-MDA functions. Connectivity was provided at the residences of key government functionaries, which provided seamless government operations, meetings and decisions for the effective management of the pandemic.

By knowledge and experience, Abubakar is generally endorsed as the man whom the shoes fit perfectly at Galaxy Backbone. The Gombe State-born professor of petroleum geosciences is an alumnus of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi where he obtained B. Tech in applied geology and M.Sc. and Ph.D. in sedimentology/petroleum geology.

He also holds German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and is a recipient of several awards among which is National University Commission’s best Ph.D. thesis award in physical sciences from all Nigerian universities.

Abubakar’s deep academic knowledge is further enriched by over two decades of working experience spanning the academia, oil and gas exploration research, development and innovation institutions. He is a strategic thinker with strong leadership and management skills topped by an impressive exposure to global best practices in the field of energy.

Prior to his appointment to head GBB, he was executive director and principal start-up for the establishment and development of the National Centre for Petroleum Research and Development of the Energy Commission of Nigeria.

There, he spearheaded a cross-cutting edge research that developed the conceptual exploration model deployed in the successful oil and gas exploration in the frontier basin of the northeast Nigeria. He was also a research consultant to NNPC on oil and gas exploration.

Bringing his deep knowledge and experience to Galaxy Backbone, Abubakar moved decisively to articulate and communicate the position where he plans to place the organisation in the next five years. He soon rolled out a strategic business plan underpinned by six strategic pillars, which are government priorities, data sovereignty, financial sustainability, customer satisfaction, operational excellence and improved capabilities.

He set clear goals for the next five years and mapped out activities to be undertaken to achieve the goals. The goals and the roadmap are tailored towards supporting the key policies of the federal government under the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Enhancing operational efficiency was his key consideration in view of which he reviewed the organization structure of GBB to sharpen its value delivery channels to all stakeholders across the value chain from engagement and planning to implementation and support.

In line with the objectives of the Buhari-led government to promote digital economy, Abubakar has introduced functional units and departments for accelerated realisation of the objectives. He has come up with a number of initiatives to drive value improvement, recharge operating agility, rationalise costs and improve the quality of services.

The initiatives cut across redressing of technical and financial operations, human resources and capability development tactics – all in the determination to reposition GBB for greater service to the government and the nation. On execution also are many initiatives aimed at promoting collaboration and partnership with all stakeholders, including public institutions, MDAs’ customers, suppliers and channel partners. Three areas identified for this purpose are cyber security, cloud computing and e-connect.

He has set the organization to pursue high-level short, medium and long-term objectives under his leadership. The highlights include increasing the revenue-base of the organization, especially from non-mandate sources to ensure self-sustainability in two years.

All MDAs are expected to be brought onboard the services of the organisation in four years. Transversal applications and automated government processes are to be developed for majority of MDAs to support attainment of their mandates over the same period.

Under the plan, GBB’s infrastructure for the whole country is expected to be developed in five years and the plan is that the organisation should be a competitor to all ICT providers primarily in Nigeria and in Africa especially West Africa in five years.

In just a year and a few months of Abubakar’s leadership of GBB, he has a number of historic achievements to show in new capacity building that has set the organisation on a new pedestal to deliver on mandate, support the attainment of the objectives of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) and Nigerian eGovernment Masterplan amongst others. He has sought innovative approaches to technical resources acquisition the most significant of which is the review of procurement process for service capacity. Bandwidth capacity requirements of the organization have been aggregated and redesigned to ensure effective utilization of technical resources. This has provided significant cost savings and improved quality of services via better network traffic management.