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We don’t want minister of state again

By Eric Teniola
11 April 2023   |   3:46 am
“We don’t want Minister of State again. It is like a condemnation, if you are in the office, they can’t bring file to you, if you are having a gathering like this, you can’t talk, you will seat down with your colleagues like a “Mumu”, you won’t talk...

[FILE] Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a group photograph with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

“We don’t want Minister of State again. It is like a condemnation, if you are in the office, they can’t bring file to you, if you are having a gathering like this, you can’t talk, you will seat down with your colleagues like a “Mumu”, you won’t talk, if you go to federal executive council meeting, you can’t present a memo, it is the Minister that has the power, we don’t want that again”.

Those were the exact words of Chief Donald Omotayo Alasoadura (73) at an event last year. He should know what he was talking about, for he has served as Minister of State for Niger Delta between 2019-2022. He has also served as Commissioner of Finance and Planning under my friend Dr. Olusegun Kokumo Agagu (16 February 1948 – 13 September 2013), the late Governor of Ondo state. On Wednesday, September 13 this year, it will be ten years anniversary of the demise of Dr. Agagu. My condolences always to his beloved family. Time flies over us but leaves its shadows behind.

The former Minister of State, was a Senator who represented Ondo State Central Senatorial District in 2015. Chief Alasoadura is a powerful community leader in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo state. What he said was his frustration as a Minister of State. This frustration is no doubt being experienced and has been experienced by every Minister of State in Nigeria. A look at the 1999 Constitution shows that there is no provision for Minister of State, all we have is Minister same with the 1979 Constitution.

Between 1979 to 1983, and from 1999 to the present, every President to date has committed this great error. From President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari GCFR (25 February 1925 – 28 December 2018) to President Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR (85), to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua GCFR (16 August 1951 – 5 May 2010) to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR (65) and to President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR (80). I hope the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will not commit this error. Worse still, the Senate that should have corrected this error, has failed to do so.

Since 1979, the procedure has always been for the President to send the list of Ministers to the Senate for confirmation. After the confirmation, the President on his own declassifies certain Ministers to be Ministers of State and he gets away with it.

The idea of Minister of State or Junior Minister, surfaced in the first Republic, for there is no provision for it in the Presidential System of Government.

On August 30, 1957, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa formed the first all Nigerian Federal Executive Council. He selected his ministers not only from the N.P.C., the N.C.N.C., and the Kamerun National Congress but also from the Action Group. The membership of the Federal Cabinet was—Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa:  Secretary to the Prime Minister; Colonel P.H.G. Stallard: Principal Private Secretary; Mr. R.J.D.M. Kinsman: Assistant Private Secretary: Malam Ahmed Karfi.

The Ministry of Communications and Aviation consisted of Chief S.L. Akintola (Minister), Mr. C.E. Wool-Lewis (Permanent Secretary), Mr. A.K. Edwards (Private Secretary) and Mr. A.J.U. Ekong(Parliamentary Secretary). The Ministry for Lagos Affairs, Mines and Power consisted of Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu(Minister), Mr. J.F.G. Sykes (Permanent Secretary), Mr. G.C. Thomas (Private Secretary) and Malam Ibrahim Usman (Parliamentary Secretary).

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry consisted of Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe (Minister), Mr. J.H.D. Stapleton, Mr. C.R. Henniken-Heaton (Private Secretary) and Mr. U.O. Ndem (Parliamentary Secretary). The Ministry of Transport consisted of Mr. R.A. Njoku (Minister), Mr. A.M. Muir (Acting Permanent Secretary), Mr. P.G. Abbey (Private Secretary) and Mr. F.E. Offor (Parliamentary Secretary). The Ministry of Works and Survey consisted of Alhaji Muhmmadu Inuwa Wada (Minister), Mr. V.H.K. Littlewood (Permanent Secretary), Mr. J. Taggert (Private Secretary) and Malam Usman Sarki (Parliamentary Secretary).

The Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Internal Affairs consisted of Mr. Mr. J.M. Johnson (Minister), Mr. H.A. G. Action (Permanent Secretary), N.R Ugo (Private Secretary) and Chief O. Oweh (Parliamentary Secretary). The Ministry of Research and Information consisted of Chief Kolawole Balogun (Minister), Mr. D.H. Griffiths (Permanent Secretary), Mr. C. Okigbo(Private Secretary) and Mr. O. Bademosi (Parliamentary Secretary). The Ministry of Education consisted of Mr. Aja Nwachukwu (Minister), Mr. C.J. Mabey (Permanent Secretary), Mr. P.C. Ndibe and Mr. D.C. Ugwu (Parliamentary Secretary).

The Ministry of Health consisted of Mr. Ayo Rosiji (Minister), Mr. M.N.H. (Acting Permanent Secretary), Mr. S. Agodo (Private Secretary) and Chief Duro Phillips (Parliamentary Secretary).

The Ministry of Finance consisted of Chief F.S. Okotie-Eboh (Minister), Mr. G.G. Carlyle (Permanent Secretary), Mr. E.M. McConchie (Private Secretary) and Chief H. Omo-Osagie (Parliamentary Secretary). Ministers of State were Mr. Victor Mukete, Malam Zanna Bukar Dipcharima and Private Secretary, Mr.M.O. Nwakwo.

Office of the Governor-General consisted of the Deputy Governor-General, Sir, Ralph Grey, Secretary to the Governor-General and Council of Ministers, Mr. F.F.P. Newns, Mr. D.J. Brown (Private Secretary) and Aide-de-Camp, Mr. D.G. Angus.

The Chambers of the Attorney-General consisted of Mr. E.I.G. Unsworth, Q.C., and Solicitor General Mr. L. Brett, Q.C. The Privy Council consisted of the Governor General; Sir Ralph Grey: The Attorney-General; Sir Kofo Abayomi: The Prime Minister; Mr. R.A. Njoku; Sir Samuel Manuwa.

After discussions between the N.P.C. and N.C.N.C. officially described as friendly and cordial, a new Federal Government was formed on the 20th December 1959. N.P.C. had ten ministers and N.C.N.C. seven. The Coalition Government consisted of Prime Minister Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu (Lands and Lagos Affairs), Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh(finance), Mr. Raymond Njoku (Transport and Aviation), Alhaji Inuwa Wada (Works and Survey), Mr. Z.B. Dipcharima(Commerce and Industries), Mr. Joseph Johnson (Labour and Welfare), Mr. Aja Nwachukwu(Education), Mallam Maitama Sule (Mines and Power), Mallam Shehu Shagari (Economic Development and Natural Resources), Mr. Olu Akinfosile(Communications), Mallam Usman Seriki (Internal Affairs), Mr. Theophilus Benson (Information), Mallam Waziri Ibrahim (Health),  Mallam Yisa Yar’adua (Pensions, Establishment & Nigerianisation) and Mr. Matthew Mbu and Mr. Olarewanju (Ministers of State) .

The list of the 11 Ministers without portfolio but with Cabinet rank appointed to the reorganized Federal Cabinet on March 31, 1965 was as follows—Alhaji Nuhu Bamali—Minister of State in the Ministry of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, Mr. Jaja Nwachukwu—Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. M.T. Mbu—Minister of State in the Ministry in the Ministry of Defence (Navy), Alhaji Usman Maitambari—-Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport, Alhaji Hashim Adaji—-Minister of State in the Ministry of Works, Alhaji Ibrahim Tako—-Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence (Army), Mr. T.E. Orodi—-Minister of State in the Ministry of Lagos Affairs, Chief H.O. Davies—Minister of State in the Ministry of Industries, Chief A. Akerele—Minister of State in the Ministry of Information, Alhaji Abdul Rasaq—-Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Mr. D. Ibekwe—-Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs.

In a new government, the Portfolios being distributed were as follows—Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa(Prime Minister and External Affairs), Alhaji Muhmmadu Ribadu(Defence), Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh(Finance), Alhaji Shehu Shagari(Internal Affairs), Alhaji Muhhammadu Inuwa Wada(Works), Alhaji Zanna Bukar Dipcharima(Transport), Mr. Raymond Njoku(Communications), Dr. Kingsley O. Mbadiwe(Trade), Mr. Jaja Nwachukwu(Aviations), Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya(Housing and Survey), Chief A.M.A. Akinloye(Industries), Chief Ayo Rosiji(Information), Mr. R.A. Akinjide(Education), Mr. Adeleke Adedoyin(Labour), Mr. Alade Lamuye(Natural Resources and Research), Alhaji Yusufu Maitama Sule (Mines and Power), Alhaji Waziri A. Ibrahim(Economic Development), Dr. T.O. Elias (Attorney-General and Justices, Dr. M.A. Majekodunmi(Health) and Chief J.C. Obande(Establishments).

To be continued tomorrow

Teniola, a former director at the Presidency wrote from Lagos.

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