Sunday, 10th December 2023

There is no turbulence, Tinubu is capable, says Akume at grand reception

By Tajudeen Kareem
27 August 2023   |   4:06 am
One of Nigeria's cerebral and edifying public commentators, Okey Ikechukwu, recently in his back page column of Thisday Newspaper, advised the Tinubu Administration to: “Watch out for clear air turbulence”.

Leader of the Senate, Bamidele Opeyemi (left); Senate President Godswill Akpabio; Vice President Kashim Shettima; Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Mr. Dele Alake; and SGF, Senator George Akume

One of Nigeria’s cerebral and edifying public commentators, Okey Ikechukwu, recently in his back page column of Thisday Newspaper, advised the Tinubu Administration to: “Watch out for clear air turbulence”.

This, to all intents, looks like sound advice. But as it were, the top echelon of the Tinubu Administration are not sleeping. While Okechukwu was sounding the warning in his article of Friday, August 18, Senator George Akume, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, by dint of clairvoyance, was also writing a response, albeit unintentional.

The occasion for the riposte was grand in all ramifications, attracting the crème de la crème of the North Central geo-political zone and beyond. Present were a mixed band of well-wishers, friends, family and political associates of Akume, ably led by the Vice President Kashim Shettima. The event: a grand reception for the 20th Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.

For those present, it was indeed time well spent. Every speaker expressed gladness at being part of the event held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

The tone for the evening was set by the Special Guest, Vice President Shettima who described the SGF in superlative terms even as he held him high as a shining example of a successful politician and statesman.

Indeed, Shettima urged present and aspiring political office holders to emulate Akume, whom he said has lived “a life of honour”, as “an idea, a man of honour, a beacon of unity, loyalty and integrity in our nation.”

The Vice President said Nigerians should not only celebrate his appointment but also learn from his life, while positing that Sen. Akume’s political longevity is not an accident, but the result of his unwavering pan-Nigerian principle, reflecting his wisdom and vision of a peaceful, stable and safe Nigeria.

His words: “We are not here to celebrate an individual; we are here to praise the potency of an idea; to raise a toast to a shining beacon of unity and integrity in our great nation. On the path that has led our honouree to this strategic position, we find woven the threads of unshaken belief in the ideals of a united Nigeria. It is this belief that has been the driving force behind his every endeavour.

“The conviction that our strength lies in our unity and diversity, that together we are stronger than the sum of our parts, has guided his steps and fuelled his determination.” Shettima further described Akume “as the ally you can count on with your eyes closed, and that’s the highest compliment you can receive in politics.

“His journey to this height exemplifies his fidelity to the pact he has signed. It’s what you do when you have agreed to uphold the values that our great nation holds dear.

“It’s what you do when you subscribe to the principles of justice, fairness, and equality,” said the Vice President even as he underscored the significance of character for aspiring political office holders. Shettima said: “There are offices for which no amount of academic and professional qualifications is sufficient to earn you.

“Our honoree here today occupies one such office, an office that makes you understand why our learning institutions emphasize character when issuing degree certificates to their graduating students. Our honoree is here today because of his loyalty to a cause greater than himself.

“In a time of wavering political loyalties, Sen. Akume is both a model and a source of inspiration for all those who seek to understand the importance of cooperation in public service.”

Shettima said what truly sets Akume apart was his belief in fostering unity across the rich tapestry of religions, ethnicities and regions that make up our nation. In a land of diverse cultures and traditions, his examples have transcended boundaries, bridging gaps and nurturing understanding.

Governors of the North Central zone, senators and members of the House of Representatives were present at the reception in solidarity with the man they described as their own.

Present were Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa; Governor Yahaya Bello, Kogi; Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, Kwara; Gov. Umar Bago, Niger; Gov. Caleb Mutfwang, Plateau and Benue State Gov. Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia who heaped encomiums on Akume as a proud son of Benue.

Also present were the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio; Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Mr Dele Alake; Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, among other top politicians.

“We are here to celebrate finesse and excellence,” said Alia who described the SGF as a capable statesman to help President Tinubu steer Nigeria to greatness. The governor, largely seen to be a benefactor of Akume’s political influence, thanked Mrs. Regina Akume, a member of the House of Representatves, for “standing strong and supportive of your husband through his political journeys spanning more than two decades.”

Akume, in turn, was effusive in his appreciation to all and sundry. But he had a message for Nigerians. There is no turbulence around Nigeria, he said emphatically. He disclosed that the Tinubu Administration has a clear vision of its mandate and the challenges of governance; even as he explained that “a few hiccups cannot be an excuse to tamper with our organic existence.”

Akume expressed gratitude for “being celebrated by my brothers and sisters from the North Central Zone. I thank you immensely for putting in place this event. I want to thank in a very special way our President, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu for finding me worthy to be appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation.” He described his appointment “as a very special honour” and thanked the president for “a gesture that I and my family and associates and friends can never forget.”

The SGF said the Tinubu Administration “has taken off maybe a little bit bumpy” but assured Nigerians that the man piloting the affairs of the country has enough experience to navigate what appears as a turbulence. “We know where we are going”, he said with emphasis.

“This country is not easy to rule. Nigerians are beautiful people. A few may try to create hiccups here and there, but these hiccups are not sufficient to tamper with our organic unity and our territorial integrity. Our captain is well experienced, so he is at home in this ship and he will take us to our desired destination,” he further explained.

Akume was appointed SGF on 7 June 2023, thus becoming the third indigene of the North Central Zone to occupy the exalted seat, after Mr Abdulazeez Attah of the old Kwara State who served as the 3rd Secretary to the Military Government (as it was then called) from December 1970 to June 1972, and Mallam Shehu Ahmadu Musa who served from 1979 to 1983.

Chairman Planning Committee for the grand reception, Arc. Aliyu Oseze said the forum was organized by the “people of the North Central geopolitical zone to send a clarion message to all Nigerians in other zones that the people of the North Central are a formidable political force under one united Nigeria.”

He also described the large turn out as an endorsement of the choice of the SGF by President Tinubu and a demonstration of the acceptance of Akume and the new ministers by the people of the North Central Zone and by an extension, a sign of their full support for the Tinubu administration.

Vice Chairman, North Central People’s Forum and joint organisers of the reception, Engr. Sani Ndanusa thanked President Tinubu for making a fitting appointment in Akume as the SGF.

“We assure the President that the entire zone will give the SGF the much-needed support and co-operation to assist the administration in meeting the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians, within the context of the Renewed Hope Agenda of the administration,” said Ndanusa.
• Kareem is a public policy analyst.

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