The assemblage of old friends and associates of the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, as members of the transition committee is generating concern given their age, writes Peterclaver Egbochue
As part of the steps to set up his government, the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, has inaugurated a 19-member Transition Committee comprising his old friends to liaise with its Federal Government counterpart to ensure a smooth transfer of power. The committee headed by Ahmed Joda, has Mr. Boss Mustapha, Malam Muhammad Hayatuddin, Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN), Prof. Tam David West, Governor Rotimi Amaechi and Chief John Oyegun.
Also on the list are Mr. Festus Odimegwu, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Mrs. Nike Aboderin, Mr. Wale Edun, Mrs. Bola Adesola, Barrister Solomon Dalong, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Senator Hadi Sirika and Brig-General Lawal Jafaru Isa. From every indication, most of the members of this committee will likely constitute Buhari’s cabinet after inauguration. Political watchers are already casting aspersion at Buhari for assembling what they describe as spent men who are not in touch with the current realities of the 21st century. For some political watchers, Joda’s inclusion in the transition committee as Chairman is giving the incoming administration a bad image; an image of a government by the old at the detriment of the youths who supported his aspiration. “The youths supported Buhari as a leader despite his old age, there is no reason for Buhari not to ‘tolerate’ the youth in his government. That we tolerated Buhari does not mean we will tolerate old men in his government,” a source said.
However, many argue that some members of the committee remains epitomes of integrity which they demonstrated particularly in their working days in the country. Lai Mohammed, the All Progressives Congress (APC), mouth piece said the terms of reference of the committee includes to develop a clear framework for liaison with the out-going Administration for the purposes of a smooth hand-over/take-over and to receive hand-over documents from Ministries, Departments and Agencies and itemise the most important or most urgent issues confronting the in-coming government It said the committee is also saddled with reviewing and making preliminary assessment of the balance sheet of government with particular emphasis on the status of assets and liabilities of government; cash flow position of the government; quantum of public domestic and external debt of government and their deployment; government’s out-standing contractual obligations and its ability to meet such obligations and the status of implementation of capital projects.
The committee is also expected to undertake a preliminary assessment of the security challenges facing the country and the counter- insurgency measures taken by the government thus far; the counter policy measures being implemented in the Niger Delta to deal with unrest and major economic crimes in the area.
The committee will assess in particular, the status of the Amnesty Programme, the readiness of the Police and other national security and intelligence agencies in addressing threats to law and order and provide a brief secover- view of CBN, NNPC, NCC, Customs and FIRS. Other terms of reference of the committee include to suggest “quick fixes” which will result in tangible, visible and practical measures so that “change” will be seen after 30 days, after 100 days, after 6 months of the Administration taking office. The committee will also make any other observations, which in its view would be helpful to the transition and take-off of the new Administration. The committee has two weeks to conclude its work. Speaking at the inauguration in Abuja on Wednesday, the President-elect charged the committee to ”assess the information provided to you and advise me on its quality and accuracy. It is a simple matter that you must have the right information if you are to shape appropriate policy decisions. ”Needless to repeat, that your Committee – and indeed our Government – are not on a witch-hunt or engaged in fault-finding. We want the facts and nothing but the facts. What has been done cannot be undone. Our job is to learn from the mistakes of the past and attempt to avoid similar.”
Mr. Buhari hailed the calibre of the committee’s membership, saying they represent some of the best Nigeria can offer. He described the committee chairman, Ahmed Joda, as one of the few surviving links between First Republic civil service to the present day, a man whose versatility includes farming, industry and 21st Century IT and one of Nigerian’s precious assets. Ahmed Joda – Chairman Malam Ahmed Joda, became Federal Permanent Secretary in 1967 after serving in Northern Regional Government. He has been working before independence and after independence. Born in 1930 in Girei in Adamawa State where he had his elementary school, he attended Barewa Collage and later Moor Plantation, Ibadan. He later had a short stint at Agricultural Centre in Yola in the days of Sir John Macpherson. Joda cut his journalism teeth at Gaskiya Corporation, Zaria.
He was also at Pitman Collage, London in the 50s. After Independence, he worked during the era of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe at the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, serving as the editor of NBC Kaduna. He later joined the Northern Nigeria civil service as Chief Information Officer. He was in this capacity during the military regime of General Johnson Aguyi Ironsi. But before Ironsi, he worked with late premier of Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello. At the beginning of General Gowon’s era in 1967, Joda was appointed federal permanent sec eretary, Ministry of Information. At the end of the Civil War, he was deployed to the Ministry of Education and later Ministry of Industries. He was one of the four super Permanent Secretaries of the Federation comprising Allison Ayida, Philip Asiodu, and E.M.E Ebong while Gowon was Head of State from July 1966 to 1975.
He served as Chairman of Liquefied Gas Company/Commission of Nigeria and chairman of Peugeot Automobile Nigeria PLC. He is believed to know much about the operations of the Federal Public Service. However, the question in the lips of many is with his age now, what impact will he make in the civil service? Lawal Jafaru Isa Brigadier General Lawal Jafaru Isa (retd.) was Military Administrator of Kaduna State from December 1993 to August 1996 during the military regime of General Sani Abacha. In 1996, Isa created several chiefdoms for the Southern Zaria or Kaduna people in order to improve peace in Kaduna State.
In September 2000 he was a leading member of the newly formed Arewa Consultative Forum, a northern political lobbying group. He became a leader of the United Nigerian Development Forum, an association friendly to the election of General Ibrahim Babangida in the April 2003 Presidential contest. He became a director of Bank PHB. Festus Odimegwu A graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with 1st class honours in Chemistry, he joined the Nigerian Breweries Plc and, as one would expect of a man of his brilliance, he rose through the lower rungs of the company to eventually become its managing director and chief executive officer in 1997.
However, in spite of his brilliance and successful career, he had exposed himself long before his appointment as chair of National Population Commission (NPC) as one of the most sycophantic Nigerians when, in the twilight of his brewing career, he chose to become one of the arrowheads of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo’s infamous Third Term Agenda. This perhaps, brought his otherwise brilliant career to an ignominious end when, rather than leave on his own, he seemed to have been gently shoved off for playing too much politics at the expense of his job as the boss of Nigeria’s top brewing company. He later showed interest in the governorship race of Imo state in 2011 but could not win the support of his people. Sometime in 2013, he allegedly berated the Nigerian political class; accusing government at all levels of corruption and ineptitude- failings he said were enough for the Nigerian military to seize political power in the country.
Tam David West
David-West was born in Buguma, Kalabari, in what is now Rivers State. He received his higher education at the University of Ibadan (1956–1958) and earned a BSc degree at Michigan State University (1958–1960), an MSc degree at Yale University (1960– 1962), and a PhD degree at McGill University (1964–1966). David-West was consultant virologist and senior lecturer at the University of Ibadan in 1969 and was subsequently promoted to professor of virology in 1975. David-West served in Nigerian government as commissioner of education and a member of the Executive Council of Rivers State (1975–1979), as a member of the fifty- person Constitution Drafting Committee for the Federal Military Government of General Murtala Muhammed (1979), as federal minister of Petroleum and energy under General Muhammadu Buhari (1984–1985), and as minister of mines, power, and steel under General Ibrahim Babangida (1986). He was eventually removed as minister and arrested by the Babangida’s regime for allegedly contributing to the economic adversity of the country; He was discharged and acquitted of these charges by Nigeria’s Special Appeal Court on 08 August 1991. David-West has been an outspoken and controversial critic of Nigerian government policy since his purge and arrest under the military regime of General Babangida.
Dr. Ogbonaya Onu
He was the National Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), until its amalgamation with other opposition parties in February 2013, which gave birth to the All Progressives Congress. Born on December 1,1951, in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Dr. Onu obtained grade one with distinction in his West African School Certificate examination at Izzi High School, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State. He also obtained distinctions in Physics and Chemistry at the Higher School Certificate examination at the College of Immaculate Conception (CIC), Enugu, graduating as the best overall student. By 1976, he graduated with First Class Honours degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos. He later obtained his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, UC Berkeley, California, USA, in 1980. He worked as a Research Staff and Consultant at the Engineering Research Center, Western Electric in New Jersey, USA. While in UC Berkeley, Dr. Onu was the President of the African Students Union; Member, Graduate Assembly of the University of California, Berkeley and President of the Nigerian Association of Northern California, Inc. On return to Nigeria, he started lecturing as the pioneer Head, Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, Acting Dean, Faculty of Engineering in 1985 and was also elected by Senate into the Governing Council of the University.
In 1989, Dr. Onu served as a Directors of the Nigeria Cement Company, Nigercem, Nkalagu; Visitor of Abia State University, Uturu. He was the pioneer National President of the Raw Materials Society of Nigeria; Member, Pioneer Board of Governors of the Federal Government Raw Materials Research and Development Council. In 1991, he was elected the first Governor of old Abia State. He commenced work on the establishment of a Technology Village and the introduction of computers into public schools. He was the first Chairman, Conference of Nigerian elected Governors. He was honoured with the Governor of the year (1992) award and also the Star Governor award. In 1999, he emerged the first Presidential Flag bearer of the then All Peoples Party (APP), which later became the All Nigeria Peoples Party, (ANPP). Speaking on the role he played in the formation of the APC in a recent interview, Onu said, “The formation of the APC was actually the first time parties that formed governments came together in a merger in the political history of Nigeria.
It is an event that so many people played very important roles. “So many, but with all humility, I will say I initiated the processes that finally led to the formation of APC. The idea of parties coming together in a merger had been on for some time but each time the process started, it would collapse. But this one, which I believe God used me to accomplish, succeeded. It’s a long story. May be I can summarise it: By 2004, which is about 10 years ago, the caucus of the ANPP in the National Assembly— all the senators, and members of the House of Representatives —invited me to speak on a very important topic: ‘Nigerians should not allow one party rule.’ At that time, members of the ruling party (the Peoples Democratic Party) were making predictions that the PDP will be in government for up to 60 years and nobody challenged them. “I felt it was necessary to go and show Nigerians why that will not happen. In the process, I made it clear that the only way that would not happen was if all the opposition political parties came together to provide an effective alternative to promote competition in the political arena.”
Chief Audu Ogbeh was born on July 28, 1947, in Otukpo, Benue State, of Idoma background. He attended King’s College, Lagos (1967 – 1968), then studied at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1969 – 1972) and the University of Toulouse, France (1973 – 1974). He lectured at the Institute of Education, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1972 – 1976) and headed the Department of Humanities, Murtala College of Arts, Science and Technology (1977 – 1979). In 1979 he ran for office in the Benue State House of Assembly on the Platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), becoming deputy speaker of the house.
In 1982 he was appointed Federal Minister of Communications, and later became Minister of Steel Development. His term of office ended in December 1983 when a military coup brought Major-General Muhammadu Buhari to power. In 2001 he was appointed National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), replacing Chief Barnabas Gemade. He held this position until January 2005, when he was forced to resign due to his criticism of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s handling of a crisis in Anambra State. Talking to reporters, however, Ogbeh claimed that he resigned only to avoid conflict within the party, and due to a desire to return to farming. Political watchers argue that although many of the committee members are men of impeccable character, most of them are not likely to identify with the demands of the youth should they later form part of Buhari’s cabinet.