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Asiodu, the last titan after Ahmed Joda – Part 2

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Chief Philip Asiodu

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.

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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. 

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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 where 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, Chief Ben Osunsade, Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed, Alhaji Adamu Fika, Alhaji Gidado Idris, Chief Ufot Ekaette, Ambassador Victor Adegoroye, Mr. CAN Ebie, Mr. ASN Egbo, Mrs. Francesca Emmanuel, Mr. MEP Udebiuwa, Chief Chukwemeka Ezeife, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, Alhaji Seidu Bada, Alhaji Shehu Ahmadu Musa, the Makama Bida, Chief J.E. Uduehi, and many whose names cannot be accommodated now not deliberate anyway. These men and women are seldom mentioned but they are led with intellect, vision and grace. Their mentorship produced a generation of the golden age of the Federal Civil Service. 

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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. 

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 a 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.

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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 which 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.

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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 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 in order 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.

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Concluded.


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