Connect with us

News

Abeg, where is “WHITE LION”?

Published

on

Share this story

By Tunde Olusunle

There’s always the tendency to ascribe our failings and flailings in our developmental and democratic growth as a nation, to our amoeboid leadership recruitment process. I differ slightly though from this perspective. My contention is that prospective leaders must first be identified and groomed before they can be deployed to the various sectors we expect them to function. Tunji Olaopa’s 2022 essay titled “Nigerian Civil Service and the Trajectory of Public Administration” illuminates the evolution of Nigeria’s civil service which was inaugurated in 1954. He alludes in the paper to “a very strong and professional civil service regarded as perhaps the strongest of the colonial legacies bequeathed to Africa.” Olaopa speaks to the “quality of the officers who founded the civil service and the institutional quality of the public service itself.” He lists Nigeria’s “civil service pioneers” to include: Simeon Adebo, Jerome Udoji, Samuel Manuwa, Ahmed Talib, Abubakar Koko, Sule Katagum, Joseph Imoukhuede, Ojimiri Johnson and Fola Ejiwunmi. This generation of public servants Olaopa notes is what we now describe as the “golden age of the public service in Nigeria.”

The second generation of public administrators and civil servants who grazed the limelight between the 1960s to the early 1970s are those popularly described as “super permanent secretaries.” This is the generation of Allison Ayida, Sunday Awoniyi, Liman Ciroma, Philip Asiodu, Abdul Aziz Atta, Festus Adesanoye, Olu Falae, Solomon Akenzua, Francesca Emmanuel, Ahmed Joda, Gilbert Obiajulu Chikelu, Gray Longe, M.A. Ejueyitchie, among others. Olaopa reminds us that the actual core of this generation who were festooned with the broche of “super permanent secretaries” were so described because they were called up at a period of grave national emergency. It was during the Nigerian civil war and they were requested to avail the country their “administrative acumen, competencies and wisdom,” to steer Nigeria through the war and stabilise the polity thereafter.

Olaopa observes that beginning from the 1975 civil service purge by the Murtala Mohammed/Olusegun Obasanjo government and onwards to the era of the Ibrahim Babangida Structural Adjustment Programme, (SAP), a de-institutionalisation process had begun. The concomitant value-orientation of the inherited civil service had been damagingly eroded. He laments that his own generation of permanent secretaries came at an age when, according to him, the service “was already deeply embroiled in the dynamics of the bureau-pathology that had debilitated the civil service.” He laments that his generation of public servants was mentored by the icons of decades past who connected them to the ideals of the golden age “in terms of their passion, professionalism and knowledge-propelled zeal for service.” Such was the archetypal stuff the pioneering Nigerian civil service was made of.

I needed to lay this background to underscore the rigour, the exertion, the perspiration which typified the discovery and grooming of those who operated the levers of public administration in decades past. They were an integral part of the conceptualisation of government policies and also contributed largely to their actualization. I should equally remind us that the famous, now ancient, “fattening rooms” of the Kalabari, Efik and Ibibio in south south Nigeria admitted women in their puberty and prepared them for womanhood. Among others, they are grilled on marital etiquette, their culinary capacities improved upon even as they were tutored in acceptable social customs and comportment. They were usually admitted in facilities away from their families and could be so boarded for various lengths of time, the minimum being for one month.

Reports in recent weeks and months have alluded to the disappearance of Yahaya Bello, the immediate past governor of Kogi State from the prying lenses of the public and press. The initial rumour was that he had made himself a permanent guest of Lugard House, Lokoja, the government house of the intriguing state capital which sits at the confluence of Nigeria’s two largest rivers, the Niger and the Benue. Not satisfied with the eight full years of his despotic, even demonic over-lordship in Kogi State, he has chosen to encamp permanently within the same facility on an extended post-disengagement vacation. Elsewhere in the media, it has been suggested that Bello is now a permanent member of his successor, Usman Ododo’s convoy on all his travels. Ododo is his official shield from investigators on his trail.

After hectic, sweaty public service immersion over long spells, the tradition has been for public officers to embark on extended holidays and rest. Willie Obiano, immediate past governor of Anambra State, left for the United States on extended rest, immediately after he handed over to his successor Chukwuma Soludo in March 2022. Babatunde Fashola was chief of staff in Lagos State; governor of the state for eight years and minister under the Muhammadu Buhari regime for eight years. He served notice during his valedictory conversations that he wanted to return to be “president” of his home, after being a virtual absentee for 20 years! The practice of former governors pursuing “residency programmes” in the very same addresses where they operated from for years, is novel.

As governor of Kogi State, Bello hailed and serenaded himself, by himself with his own *oriki* whenever he had a microphone. He introduced himself with flourish as “His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello, CON, the Executive Governor of Kogi State.” Humility, civility and restraint had no place in his thesaurus. He beaded himself with the moniker of “white lion” and rechristened Government House, Lokoja the “lion’s den.” Yahaya Bello apologists and boot-lickers defaced the public space with billboards celebrating their idol, throwing him in the face of a populace so mercilessly trampled upon by him. He never left people in doubt about his limitless powers as a governor cum demigod who could do whatever he wanted and get away with it.

Bello cast a permanent pall on the people of Kogi State. Mentions of his name were in cover-mouthed whispers. Remember the depiction of the former Ugandan carnivore, Idi Amin Dada in the film titled *The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin.* The character, Maliya Mungu was his undisguised hitman. Bello reportedly recruited spies in various WhatsApp groups who reported the direction of discourse to him and fed him with the names of his critics. He mutilated the payrolls of hapless civil servants and paid them preposterous percentages. Workers and pensioners dropped dead like flies during his reign, unable to cater for the basic needs of their families. By its very characteristic the economy of Kogi State is fuelled by the civil service. Staccato remittances of workers salaries was therefore going to affect the burgeoning business community in the state.

Elections were weaponised in the vilest of fashions. Bello’s goons were condemned to win every and any election “by force, by fire.” There were mortal consequences for failure. His aides moved around on election days with platoons of vagrants and policemen, scaring voters with gunshots, seizing ballot boxes and rewriting poll results. For dissenting with poll riggers in her unit, hapless woman politician, Salome Abuh was on November 18, 2019, burnt to death in her home in Ochadamu. Bello’s men reportedly dug trenches around Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan’s community, Ihima, all in a bid to disenfranchise her during the February 2023 senatorial election which she contested. Yahaya Bello indeed corroborated the action saying he was helping to build a security hedge around her during the election.

Yahaya Bello is the first governor I ever heard about, who launched a post-disengagement media and public relations salvage project. Some officials and members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE), about a month ago honoured an invitation to visit Kogi State to tour some of Bello’s so-called legacies. Curiously, for all the time the team led by the President of the NGE, Eze Anaba spent in the state, the most senior state official they encountered was the Kogi State information commissioner. They could neither meet Bello at whose instance they visited, nor his successor, Usman Ododo. I sent private notes to some of our colleagues who went on the needless voyage asking them a few questions: Apart from being herded through so-called Yahaya Bello’s achievements, did you go to the streets to find out the last time civil servants and pensioners were paid their monthly entitlements 100%? Did you check about the last time workers were promoted after writing promotion exams? Did you find out how many Permanent Secretaries own official vehicles? Did you try to obtain contract award documents about Yahaya Bello’s so-called “legacy projects?” Did you endeavour to compare with the costs of similar projects elsewhere? Did you ask for example to be driven through the “State Secretariat/House of Assembly/DSS road”? Do you know that all through his years in office, Yahaya Bello didn’t rehabilitate that all-important road?

Bello is validating the title of a classic novel by the legendary American thriller writer, James Hadley Chase. Back in 1957, Chase wrote *The Guilty Are Afraid* a blockbuster which gained global appeal and readership in its days. This is the same Bello who was showcasing his boxing skills to the world on social media, virtually calling for a match with Anthony Joshua. We have seen him working out on the treadmills too, thumping his chest as he reminded us that he will flatten Mike Tyson in a fitness contest. So why wouldn’t Bello move around freely, “flex” as we say in contemporary Nigerian lingo, the way his former contemporaries are free birds? It is uncharacteristic for the lion, king of the wild to be mirrored cringing beneath the bed of his successor.

We are indeed talking here about a “white lion,” a very rare *albinoid* species native to the *Timbavati* region in South Africa. Public discourse in recent weeks has thrown up the thesis about Bello evading arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) for the monumental heist his regime committed against Kogi State during his reign as *King Herod.* The weekend edition of *Aljazirah* newspaper of April 6 and 7, 2024, had Bello’s photograph and that of the EFCC chairman, Ola Olukoyede with the headline: *Ex-Gov Yahaya Bello Seeks Safety in Kogi Govt House.* Bello is said to be reaching out to former first lady, Aisha Buhari, even as the EFCC is hot on his trail. The President, Bola Tinubu is said to have distanced himself from Bello’s plea to be given a soft landing in his matter.

Yahaya Bello is a very good example of the post-1975 degeneration of the public service to which Olaopa alluded. He was neither scouted for leadership nor was he trained for the job. He was reportedly an anonymous personnel of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission, (RMFAC). He reportedly made good for himself ostensibly through corrupt enrichment and floated a transport company, *Fairplus Transport* with a handful of mini vans. With this, he sold the impression of a nouveau riche to delegates to the 2015 gubernatorial primary of the All Progressives Congress, (APC). Bello emerged second behind the late governor Abubakar Audu in that contest. He was hoisted to the gubernatorial high stool courtesy of some unprecedented judicial interpretation of the constitution, upon Audu’s mysterious death before the results of the governorship election! We must revert to the leadership grooming process of the pre-independence era and its immediate aftermath to begin the sanitisation of governance and leadership. And beyond the EFCC, Bello should have his day in court to defend his appalling human rights record during his eight year sojourn in Government House, Lokoja. Hopefully, victims of his queer and insensitive governance model will have the last laugh.

Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (FANA)

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Kano Gov reinstates Sanusi Lamido as Emir

Published

on

By

Share this story

The Governor of Kano State, Abba Yusuf has reinstated Malam Sunusi Lamido Sunusi as the new Emir of Kano.
This came following his assent to the Kano Emirate Councils Law (Repeal Bill) 2024 which repealed the establishment of the 5 new Emirates earlier established in the state.

Yusuf announced the reappointment shortly after assenting to the Repeal Bill at the Government House,Kano.
The Governor ordered the former Emirs and other officials whom operated under the extinct law to move out of their official residences and palaces within the next 48 hours.
The Governor also directed them to hand over all government properties in their possession to the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, who is also the Deputy Governor of the State,Comrade Amin Abdulsalam Gwarzo

Continue Reading

News

PTDF promotion scam allegations prompt calls for Governments intervention

Published

on

By

Share this story

The Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), saddled with the training of personnel for the oil and gas industry, is under intense scrutiny for alleged promotion irregularities.
Ongoing investigations have revealed significant concerns about the agency’s promotion practices.

For precisely three years, while the former executive secretary, Bello Gusau, was heading the organization, it was discovered that twenty-four PTDF officials were sent on a training course called the Chief Officers’ Course, followed by a qualifying examination to move to deputy manager positions. The agency camped these twenty-four officers in a hotel in Utako for about nine weeks. After the conclusion of the examination exercise, the management, led by Bello Gusau, chose ten out of the batch for promotion, citing insufficient space to accommodate all officers due for promotion.

This decision was met with significant rancor, especially since management had earlier declared fourteen managerial positions vacant. An anonymous PTDF official noted, “It was almost obvious that the former ES organized the course as a sham, having predetermined who would be promoted and who would be discarded under the excuse of insufficient space.” This sentiment was echoed by other staff members who felt that the process was deeply flawed.

Moreover, double promotions were swiftly granted to management members within a year. Immediate pressure from the PTDF branch of PENGASSAN led to expedited promotions for junior officials, further masking underlying favoritism, tribalism, and discrimination. This prompted our reporter to embark on a fact-finding mission to uncover the truth behind these allegations.

The present ES, Alhaji Galadima, who took over from Alhaji Gusau, is allegedly planning another round of promotions despite purported vacancy limitations. According to findings, Alhaji Galadima has recently concluded promotions for top management staff, predominantly from the North, granting some double promotions while claiming there were no vacancies.

A staff member speaking anonymously highlighted the lack of a board of directors, which has centralized power in the hands of the Executive Secretary, allowing for unchecked influence over promotions and other matters. “The absence of a board of directors has allowed the ES to wield unchecked power, influencing promotions and other crucial decisions,” the staff member stated.

Another Chief Officer criticized the system for favoring the northern region, alleging, “They monopolize top positions and rotate power among themselves, perpetuating a cycle of exclusion and marginalization.”

Further investigations revealed that the same staff member had vied for the Executive Secretary position when the tenure of the immediate past Executive Secretary elapsed. He attributed his failure to favoritism perpetrated by the northern hegemony ideology, which many staff members believe is taking over the PTDF.

“Alhaji Galadima plans to merge previous course attendees with recent promotees, cherry-picking favorites for promotion to management cadres,” another staff member explained. “Some staff who have been due for promotion and waiting for nearly ten years are forced to answer to their juniors. This further perpetuates nepotism and favoritism.”

These practices have led to a significant decline in staff morale. Employees lament that merit and diligence are reportedly overlooked in favor of ethnic and religious affiliations. An anonymous staff member remarked, “Merit and diligence have taken a backseat to ethnic and religious favoritism. It’s demoralizing and undermines the integrity of our organization.”

The revelations underscore the urgent need for comprehensive reform within PTDF to ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability in its operations. There is a growing call for government intervention to rectify the situation and restore confidence in PTDF’s promotion process.

“The need for government intervention is urgent,” emphasized another staff member. “We need reforms to ensure fairness and transparency. Our organization’s integrity is at stake.”

As investigations continue, the hope remains that the PTDF will address these issues promptly to rebuild trust and uphold its mission of training personnel for the oil and gas industry with integrity and fairness.

Continue Reading

News

Andrew Chapman explains why scouting produces better leaders for better society

Published

on

By

Share this story

The Chairman, World Organisation of Scout Movement (WOSM), Mr. Andrew Chapman, has explained why scouting has the potency to produce better leaders who will take the society to greater heights

He said they better and more useful in the society than their peers who did not have scouting experiences.
Mr. Chapman made the assertion while fielding questions from journalists in Abuja, at the National Parade and Presidential Awards, organised by WOSM.
According to him, scouting is all about building confidence and self-esteem, learning important life skills and leadership skills, team building, outdoor adventure, education, and fun, stressing that Scouts learn how to make good choices and to take responsibility for their actions so that they are prepared for their adult life as independent persons.
The WOSM boss noted that this year’s scout jamboree taking place in the nation’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), would remind the young people that they are party of the global community.
Mr. Chapman, who came to Nigeria from Chicago, to witness the Scout jamboree and Presidential Awards, expressed optimism, that scouts who would become leaders at various levels in the country in future, would apply the noble skills and values they acquired in their early years in life, to render examplery and exceptional leadership to the nation.
“Scouting reminds the young people and even the old people that we are all interconnected. So, we coming here reminds the young people that they are part of the global community. And during their bids to become the governors, the mayors, the presidents of this country, I believe they will demonstrate those values instilled in them in scouting.
“We have done a lot of studies on the social impact of scouting, and we have evidence and proofs in every continent of the world, that young people who joined scouting, later in life become much more likely than their peers to get better jobs and to be more stable in the family.
“They are more likely to have better formal education; they are more likely to make more money throughout life and they are more likely to get along with other people because what we do in scouting cascades to after life. We teach young people how to get along with each other. Imagine if all the leaders of the world today are being involved in scouting, they will know how to get along with each other” he said.
Also speaking, the Director, African Region of WOSM, Mr. Frederic Tutu-Tutu Kama Kama, noted that highly qualitative Scouts have been trained in Nigeria, assuring that they are going to have positive impact on the lives of the Nigerians and the country at large.
He explained that, in scouting, they teach young people how to love each other, live in peace among themselves and give peace to the society in general, stressing that the way to achieve world peace is not by war or use of weapons, but through heart to heart and love for each other.
Mr. Kama Kama underscored the importance of recognising and rewarding people who had made meaningful contributions to the development of the society, pointing out that troubles do erupt societies because those who contributed so much to the society are not rewarded or given recognition.
“Our visit is not just to meet the leaders or the patron; our visits is also to meet the Scouts, to look at the quality of the vocational skills we are giving to the young people today. And the quality of that offering is also a reflection of the quality of the Scouts we have formed in Nigeria. And the quality of scouts in Nigeria is also going to have impact in the lives of these young people
“Our leader, Paul Baden Powell was a two star general of the British Army. He fought in India, he fought in South Africa and he fought in Ghana. However, what was important he said was, if you want world peace, it’s not through war; it’s not through weapons, it’s through heart to heart. In scouting, we teach the young people to love each other.
Like the experience these young people are having in this jamboree, is one that will last a life time. Between them, it’s very difficult for them to raise hand in violence against each other.
“Psychology teaches us that a character we have in life is what we develope through our young age. And if you miss instilling characters in young people, later life is useless. So, what we do to the young people today is to teach them friendship, love, characters, discipline. And these are the things that are going to present them as responsible citizens later in life and to be peace lovers.
“The significance of the award is much of recognition. Sometimes in life, we have disgruntled people because many people are not recognised. From my country, from Kenya where I work, and from around the world, many of the people, especially the teachers, the health workers, the soldiers, we have trouble in the society because these people are doing much and not recognised.
“So, the world needs to recognise the contribution of each of these persons to the development of the society. Scouting in very important to the development of the community, the development of the society and the development of the world scouting is for the development of the society. We don’t have the Nobel praise prize to give, but in the world, it is a recognition that you have made a contribution and it’s very important for us to recognise you”he said.
About 1500 delegates across the 36 states of the federation including the FCT are taking part in the Nigerian National Scouts Parade and Presidential Award, which is the second edition, and the largest scouting jamboree in Africa

Continue Reading

Trending