Monday, 27 September, 2021 23:14

Asiodu, the Last Titan After Ahmed Joda

BY Eric Teniola

Following the demise of Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Joda (1930-2021), Chief Phillip Chukwuedo Asiodu (87) remains the last of the titans in the list of those termed as Super Permanent Secretaries who served under General Yakubu Gowon between 1966 and 1975. We owe them a debt of gratitude. We remain ever grateful for their services. We miss them. We missed their competence and counselling. We missed their discipline and adherence to rules and regulations. We are in dilemma today because their likes are not around.  It is not too late to celebrate Chief Asiodu before he returns to his maker. Chief Asiodu, who is the Ogbuefi Akuna Ka of Asaba in Delta State, was born on February 26, 1934. In 1964, he married Eugenia Olajumoke Pereira. He started his education at Sacred Heart School, Calabar, 1939-1942, Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, 1943-1944, St. Paul’s Catholic School, Ebute Metta, Lagos, 1944-1945, King’s College, Lagos, 1946-1952, Queen’s College, University of Oxford, England, 1953-1956; head of Chancery, Nigerian Permanent Mission to the UN, 1960-1962, member, Organisation of African Unity Provisional Secretariat, Addis Ababa, 1963-1964, deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Lagos, 1963-1964, deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Lagos, 1964-1965, acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, 1965-1966, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industries, 1966-1971, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Power, 1971-1975, also, chairman, National Electric Power Authority, 1971-1975, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Lagos, 1975. At present, Chief Asiodu is the Patron of the Council of Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries, of which Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, former Secretary of the Government of the Federation is the Vice-Chairman while my friend, Dr. Goke Adegoroye is the Publicity Secretary.

A lot has been written on Alhaji Ahmed Joda since his passing, and a lot will still be written on him. In my encounters with him, I discovered that his humility was his greatest strength. He was a humble man. He carried his dignity to his grave. No doubt, Alhaji Joda was a rare breed.

Alhaji Ahmed Joda was born in Yola in Adamawa state. He had his education at the Yola Elementary School, Yola Middle School, Kaduna College, 1945-1948, Pittman’s College, London, 1954-1956, joined Nigerian Broadcasting Service, 1956-1960, Senior Assistant Secretary, later Permanent Secretary, Northern Nigerian Public Service, Permanent Secretary, Federal Government, 1967-1978 and retired in March 1978.

Let us take a look at some of those described as Super Permanent Secretaries. There was Chief Ime James Ebong. He was Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport. It was during his time that the Murtala Mohammed Airport was conceptualized and built. He later became Permanent Secretary, Economic Development and Planning. Chief Ebong was the first Executive Secretary and Chief Executive of the Federal Capital Development Authority. He was brilliant and articulate. He took the likes of Wole Okunfulire to Abuja as the first Professional Urban Planners in Abuja. President Joe Biden of the United States of America recently appointed his daughter, Enoh Titilayo Ebong as the acting Director of the United States and Development Agency. He died on August 7, 1989.

There is Chief Allison Akene Ayida (Jun 6, 1930- October 11, 2018) who had his education at the King’s College, Lagos in 1952, Queen’s College, University of Oxford, England, 1956, London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, England, 1957; assistant secretary, Federal of Finance, Lagos, 1957-1963, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development, 1963-1971, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Chairman, UN Commission for Africa, Secretary to the Federal Military Government and head of service, 1975-1977. We also have Alhaji Liman Ciroma who was born on September 30, 1930 in Potiskum, Yobe State. He had his education at the Government College, Zaria, 1949, Institute of Archaeology, London, 1953-1954, South-West Essex Technology College and School of Arts, England, 1954-1956, University of Birmingham, England, 1956-1959; technical assistant, Department of Antiquities, Colonial Administration, 1949-1953, archaeologist, Ile-Ife, Benin and Igbo Ukwu, 1959, curator, National Museum, Lagos, later acting deputy director of Antiquities, Jos, 1960, joined Northern Nigerian Civil Service, 1961, assistant secretary, Prime Minister’s Office, Kaduna, later deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government, Kaduna, Provincial Secretary, Minna, acting deputy secretary to the Prime Minister, Northern Nigeria, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and Community Development, 1965-1967, transferred to North-Western State Public Service, 1967, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, North-Eastern State, 1968-1971, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industries, 1971-1975, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of  Education, 1975-1977, Secretary to Federal Military Government and Head of Civil Service, 1977-1979.

We equally have Erediauwa (22 June 1923 – April 2016), the 39th Oba of Benin, the traditional ruler of the Edo people in Benin CityEdo State, Formerly known as Prince Solomon Akenzua, Oba Erediauwa’s full title was His Royal Majesty Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I. He was succeeded by Ewuare II.

Oba Erediauwa took on the title and duties as traditional head of state and rightful heir of the Benin Empire when he was crowned, succeeding his father, Oba Akenzua II, in a ceremony held in Benin City, Nigeria, on 23 March 1979. He was a Super Permanent Secretary. He was the most senior Federal Civil servant that attended a meeting of the Supreme Military Council of Nigeria held in Aburi, Ghana between January 4 and January 5, 1967. He was then Permanent Secretary of the Federal Cabinet Office, Lagos. Other top Civil Servants that attended the Aburi meeting were Mr. P.T. Odumosu (Secretary to the Military Government, West), Mr. N.U. Akpan (Secretary to the Military Government, East), Mr. D.P. Lawani(Under-Secretary. Military Governor’s Office, Mid-West) and Alhaji Ali Akilu (Secretary to the Military Government, North). The role played by Prince Akenzua after his arrival in Lagos from Abuja is already part of history.

Mention must be made of Chief Gray Adetokunbo Eromosele Longe(1932-2007). He married Olufemi Olufunke. He had his education at the Government School, Warri, 1940-1944, Warri College, Warri, 1945-1950, University College, Ibadan, 1951-1955, assistant district officer, Ibadan Province, assistant students officer, administrative officer, Office of the Agent-General, Western Nigeria, acting senior assistant secretary in several ministries, seconded to Federal Government, 1961, Senior Assistant Secretary, Deputy Permanent Secretary, later permanent secretary, various ministries, head of the Civil Service of the federation, 1979-1983, reappointed secretary to the Federal Military Government and Head of the Civil Service, 1984-1986, retired in 1986. I was present at his funeral at Sabongida-Ora in Edo state.

There is Alhaji Musa Daggash, born in Maiduguri in 1918. He had his education at the Higher College, Katsina, 1934-1938, University of Oxford, England, 1950-1951, University of Manchester, England, 1960-1961, joined Department of Forestry, 193-1959, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Mines and Power, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Defence, later Chairman, Defence Industries Corporation, General Manager, Chad Basin Development Authority, member, Constituent Assembly, 1977-1978 and Commissioner, Local Government Service Board, Borno State, 1978.

Mention must be made of Alhaji Ibrahim Maina Damcida (1933-2012). He had his education at the Westminster College, London, United Kingdom, 1954-1956, North-Western Polytechnic, London, United Kingdom, 1956-1958, Economic Development Institute of the World Bank, Washington DC, USA, 1965, trainee manager, John Holt, 1951-1953, accountant, Ministry of Trade and Industries, former Northern Region, 1959-1961, deputy Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Lagos, 1962-1965, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Trade, 1966-1971 and Ministry of Defence, 1971-1975.

I need to mention Prince Festus Ibidapo Adesanoye (1930-2006). He was a mentor to so many in the Civil Service. He served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministries of Defence, Petroleum and Health. He later became the Osemawe of the Ondo Kingdom in Ondo state and held the title of Osungbedelola II. He married Olori Anike, who is from the famous Bademosi family in Ondo city. My friend, Mr Tunde Kamilu Kasali, a lawyer, retired recently as Executive Secretary of Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission(worked directly with) Prince Adesanoye during his tenure as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence.

Mention must be equally made of Chief Olatunde Lawson. He was born on March 20, 1919. He attended Wesley College, Ibadan, University of London, England, University of Oxford, England; teacher, primary schools, teacher, Wesley College, Ibadan, teacher, Hussey College, Warri, worked at Federal Department of Statistics, 1947-1957, Senior Assistant Secretary, Council of Ministers, 1958, Imperial Defence College, London, 1959, Principal Private Secretary to Prime Minister, 1960, Secretary, Last Constitutional Conference before Nigeria’ Independence, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, 1961-1965, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications, 1965-1970, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, 1971-1972, Secretary to the Federal Military Government, 1972-1975.

There is also Chief Stanley Olabode Wey. He joined the Civil Service in 1943, assistant secretary, Nigerian Secretariat, 1946-1956, Department of Defence, 1956, Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, 1958-1959, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, 1960-1961, secretary to the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, 1965, retired from the Civil Service in 1973.

At the meeting of the Secretaries to the Military Governments and other top officials held in Benin between February 17 and February 18, 1967, Chief H. A. Ejueyitchie was the acting Secretary to the Federal Military Government. He was a brilliant Civil Servant and an Itsekiri from the present-day Delta State. Another Civil Servant worth mentioning is Abdul Aziz Attah(1920-1972), who later became Secretary to the Federal Military Government and Head of Civil Service. Attah died on June 12, 1972, at the Royal Free Hospital, London.

On October 3, 1975, the following were appointed Permanent Secretaries. They were Mr. Musa Bello, Mr. B.A. Ehizueien, Mr. G.P.O. Chikelu, Mr. E.O. Olowu, Mr S.B. Agodo, Mr A. Alhaji and Mr. G. A. Fatoye. They later became first-class administrators.

Recently, the first Architect to be appointed Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service, Chief Isaac Folayan Alade(1933-2021) died. He attended St. Phillip’s School, Aramoko in Ekiti State, 1940-1945, Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, 1946-1951, College of Technology, Ibadan, 1953-1955, College of Technology, Zaria, 1957-1961(Diploma in Architecture), Architect Association School of Postgraduate Studies, London, 1964-1965; joined Ministry of Works, Western State, 1961-1964, 1965-1967, Architect, 1967-1968, later appointed director of works, Federal of Works, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Lagos.

There is a need to mention Alhaji (Dr) Umaru Sanda Moshna Ndayako (CFR, OFR), (1937 – 8 September 2003, the 12th Etsu Nupe from one of the ruling houses of Bida. His parents were Muhammadu Ndayako (CBE), the late 9th Etsu Nupe and Aisha Nuadoro.

Ndayako started elementary school at Elementary School Bida in 1945 and later went to Ilorin for middle school in 1949 finishing in 1951, he obtained his high certificate at the prestigious Government College Zaria (now Barewa College Zaria) there he graduated in 1956, and then he attended Nigeria College of Art Science and Technology Zaria in 1957, then later proceeded to University College Ibadan (now University of Ibadan) and obtained Bachelor Degree in 1962.

Ndayako started his government Careers in the early ’60s as an Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Local government Kaduna State also being the Assistant District Officer in charge of the Tiv Divisions and letter he was transferred to Kano State there he served as District Officer for Urban in 1965 he was Principal Secretary Ministry of Housing Lagos and was also Deputy Permanent Secretary of Political Division, he later became Permanent Secretary.

Mention must be made of Alhaji Aminu Saleh, Chief Olu Falae, Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed, Alhaji Gidado Idris, Chief Ufot Ekaette, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe and Alhaji Shehu Ahmadu Musa who were very brilliant Permanent Secretaries; it is no surprise that they ended their careers as Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

I join in remembering Chief Ben Osunsade, Alhaji Adamu Fika, Ambassador Victor Adegoroye, Mr. C.A.N. Ebie, Mr. A.S.N. Egbo, Mr. M.E.P. Udebiuwa, Chief Chukwemeka Ezeife, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, Alhaji Seidu Bada, Chief J.E. Uduehi, and many whose names cannot be accommodated now not deliberate anyway. These men and women are seldom mentioned but they led with intellect, vision and grace. Their mentorship produced a generation of the golden age of the Federal Civil Service.

I must also add the following who were Permanent Secretaries also and whose services were also appreciated. Chief Henry Omenai, Alhaji Tatari Alli, Mr. M.I. Alege, Chief J.B. Ojo, Mr. E.E. Ojumu, Dr. P.E. Japa and Mr Oduah.

A woman that deserves special mentioning is Mrs. Francesca Yetunde Emmanuel (19 September 1933- 8 April 2020). She was the first woman Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service. A multitalented and highly brilliant officer. She joined the Civil Service in 1959. She was appointed Permanent Secretary in July 1975. She served as Permanent Secretary with great distinction, first at the Cabinet Office and subsequently in several ministries including Establishments, Health, Science and Technology, and Social Development, Youth and Sports. She is best known as an outstanding civil servant. She was regarded as a woman of grace and an epitome of womanhood.

Describing the role of the Super Permanent Secretaries, one of them, Chief Allison Akede Ayida wrote, “during the interregnum of July 29 to August 1, 1966, when for four days there was no Government in Nigeria. A group of Federal Permanent Secretaries visited Ikeja Barracks amidst the ‘rising grass’ and were introduced to combat troops therein as members of the Civil Service Tribe. They played the critical role in averting the instant disintegration of Nigeria. Sometimes I am asked if the game was worth the candle or whether Nigeria should have been allowed to break up?  I used to be an incurable optimist but sometimes I wonder in moments of doubt whether this is the mistake of my life. We took many risks then but others have made the supreme sacrifice for Nigeria. I still regret the late Abdul Atta and I did not accept Colonel Gowon’s invitation for us and the then Solicitor-General, Justice Kazeem to stay behind and write his ‘take-over speech. “The basis of unity is not there” would not have been the albatross of the Federal propaganda effort during the Civil War and the Gowonist era of One Nigeria. I still believe this country is worth saving but only on one condition, namely that it is preserved for the benefit of all Nigerians irrespective of the state of origin or religion. There shall be no second class citizens, this should be an article of faith observed and seen to be observed scrupulously by the leadership at all levels. A rethink is basic to the future stability and objectivity of the career in public service. From the family viewpoint, the third contender for the one mistake is that I did not leave the Civil Service in 1973 for the greener pasture in the private sector. My Presidential address “the Nigerian Revolution” to the Nigerian Economic Society in 1973 was meant to be my valedictory speech to the Public Service as well. However, the feeling of nostalgia is ever-present. The pertinent question is whether Nigeria should continue to lose the services of her trained and experienced manpower through early retirement? I can only recall what a colleague, Mr. S.B. Awoniyi told the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, General O. Obasanjo, after the mass retirement of 1975; “You have asked us to remain in the Service and continue to serve the Government and country loyally and faithfully because we are the good ones. But the bad ones whom you have asked to go, will go into the private sector and become the millionaires of tomorrow and in their own time, take over the Government if they so wish.” This may be one of the considerations why the Obasanjo administration tried so hard to disqualify retired public officers during the 1979 elections. Mr. Awoniyi was vindicated. Some of our retired colleagues came back as Governors and Ministers, and king-makers and the power-behind-the-throne and successful business tycoons of the Second Republic. In the search for a solution to the nation’s current socio-economic problems, the impression is often given that Nigeria is a poor country with too large a population and limitless investment needs. This may well be true but such an approach does not focus sufficient attention on the potential wealth of the nation. A third World country that produces nearly 1.5 million barrels of crude oil a day and exports over 1 million barrels per day, should not be at the bottom of the league of poor and needy nations. Nigeria does not deserve to be, nor is she so short of foreign currency as to be, in her present predicament of debtor nation without an independent national economic policy. What we have experienced and are experiencing and may continue to experience is not a cash flow or liquidity problem but a management crisis. The solution lies in better management of our resources in a context of clearly defined priorities and an acceptable system of values and public probity at all levels, in the conduct of public affairs. The Nigerian economy was effectively managed in the civil war years, 1967 to 1970, to sustain the Federal Government war effort as well as satisfy the basic needs of the people. This was accomplished without depending on revenue from petroleum resources or external loans. If we could survive a three-year civil war without external borrowing or oil money, it is difficult to justify the current increasing external debt burden. Although some of the methods employed during the civil war may not be appropriate in peacetime governance, it appears that the right lessons have not been learnt from the civil war experience. In the final analysis, if Nigeria is to survive as a viable entity, the moral dimension cannot remain as the missing link in our public and private lives. The quest for social justice which entails equal access to education and employment opportunities is meaningless without a recognition of the moral aspects of injustice and inequality of power distribution and sectionalized patronage. The moral minority of today must become the moral majority in the Nigeria of tomorrow. Any power base which is not rooted in that which is just and morally defensible is bound to crumble from internal contradictions in the long run. This is the critical factor in the excessive pursuit of materialism in present-day Nigeria. The Nigerian society must reorder its scale of moral values to arrest the current decline and establish a new and dynamic society.”

The Awoniyi he was referring to was the Aro of Mopa in Kogi State, Chief Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyi(1932-2007). Chief Awoniyi was trained at the Nigeria College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria, Nigeria, 1954-1956, University College (now University of Ibadan), Ibadan, 1956-1959, Imperial Defence College, London, UK, 1970-1971, divisional officer for Bauchi, Lafia and Nasarawa Division, 1959-1960, appointed provincial secretary, former Niger Provinces, Minna, 1964 and Plateau Provinces, Jos, 1964-65, appointed deputy secretary to the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Kaduna, 1965-1966, first Permanent Secretary (now director-general), Ministry of Finance, Kwara State, 1968-1970, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, Lagos, 1971-1975 and Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Lagos, 1975-1977, retired voluntarily from the Federal Public Service, 1977 and elected member, Constituent Assembly, 1977-1978.

Eric Teniola, a former Director at the Presidency wrote from Lagos.

 

 

Author: Ifah Sunday Ele

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