It is not very clear where these former public officers are at the moment, even though they were celebrities of sorts during their time. ELEOJO IDACHABA in this piece seeks to know.
Jibrin Martins Kuye
He was a minister under the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan respectively on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Before then, he was a senator in the aborted Third Republic. Towards the end of the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime, he was a member of the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP). After the death of Abacha and the transition programme was set in motion under Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, he joined the PDP in order to run for Ogun state governor, but he lost the election. Probably as a form of compensation, he was appointed by Obasanjo as minister of state for finance. Under his watch as junior minister, Savannah Bank of Nigeria folded up in 2002, a controversial move he said was due to non-compliance with regulations rather than financial distress as was generally perceived. As finance minister, he announced that Nigeria’s GDP had grown by four per cent in line with the World Bank’s estimate, which was the highest rate in 10 years. Kuye, in those days, often described himself as the “god-father of Ogun politics” by leading the conservative group of the state PDP. For instance, he said he was the one that installed Gbenga Daniel as governor, but they later parted ways due to irreconcilable differences. Therefore, when in 2010, his name appeared on the ministerial list submitted by former President Jonathan to represent the state, his nomination was met with stiff resistance, especially by Daniel. He was nevertheless cleared and given the portfolio of minister of commerce and industry. In that capacity, he called for a 100 per cent improvement in the quality of implementation of the nation’s budget, especially expenditure on programmes and projects that have direct impact on the living standard of the people. Kuye, no doubt, was not acceptable at home, especially among the political class. For instance, while writing on the initial rejection of his nomination as minister, a public commentator, Ademola Oni, said, “The observation that Martins-Kuye, a former senator who later became a minister during the first term of ex-President Obasanjo, appeared to be off curve for a minister‘s job at his age, swayed the legislators, comprising the 15 lawmakers who have been engaged in a running battle with the governor, Otunba Daniel. As it turned out, the nomination of Martins-Kuye meant many things to many people, depending on the political affiliations of the people involved, especially within the PDP.” Since he left that position, this Ago Iwoye-born chartered accountant has not been in public glare, but unconfirmed report says he tried to join the now governing All Progressives Congress (APC). Since then not much has been heard about him.
Brigadier-General Dominic Oneya (retd.) was the military administrator of Kano and Benue states. In Kano, he was administrator between 1996 and 1998 under the late Gen. Abacha. In the transitional administration of Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, he was posted to Benue and remained there until he handed over to George Akume in 1999. As governor in Benue, he initiated a major fertiliser plant with the state government paying about N70 million for preliminary works. However, there were delays and setbacks before the project was finally competed in 2007. Whether the project is still functional or not is another matter entirely. Oneya is one of the military officers that were advised by Obasanjo to retire from service because of their involvement in politics. Before his appointments as administrator, he had held several military postings and commanded several posts like adjutant, 31 Infantry Battalion, Instructor, 4 Division Training School, Instructor, Nigerian Army Military Training College, Jaji and Commander, 16 Battalion, Nigerian ECOMOG Contingent in Liberia and then director of administration, Training and Doctrine Command, among others. To that extent, he was a core military officer. Apart from these, Oneya is a sports lover. In 2000, Oneya was appointed chairman of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA). In 2002, he said Nigeria should have gained more than a bronze medal at the African Nations Cup given the wealth of talent among Nigerian footballers. To that extent, he called for the replacement of Amodu Shuaibu (now late) by Festus Onigbinde. In 2008, he headed a team that investigated allegations of corruption in the local league in response to comments from a former Kano Pillars coach, Kadiri Ikhana. Amazingly, long after he left the football house, nothing has been heard about him again despite the flurry of political activities in the country.
Achike Udenwa was the former governor of Imo state between 1999 and 2007, on the platform of the PDP. He was also appointed as a minister of commerce and industry in 2008, by former President Jonathan. According to political analysts, Udenwa’s tenure in Imo witnessed gross infrastructure deficit unequalled in the history of the state. For instance, he was said to have left a sour mark for his successor, Ikedi Ohakim, who equally could not move the state forward because of the rot Udenwa’s administration had left behind, the reason for which analysts are of the view that he has lost his voice in the political calculation of the state. While speaking on the poor performance of Udenwa, the immediate past governor, Rochas Okorocha, said, “Chief Udenwa is adjudged the worst governor Imo state has ever had both during the military and civilian administrations. He blew away the eight years he held sway as governor and should not blame anybody, but himself.
“If he feels that this claim is false, let him be patriotic enough to publish his achievements for the eight years he was governor and let Rochas Okorocha publish his own achievements for eight years also, since it is now eight years versus eight years.
“In fact, he is envious of Okorocha because while he left no positive footprint behind, Rochas Okorocha is leaving behind enviable footprints as Imo governor for eight years.”
For some time now, no one has heard much about this ‘non-performing’ former governor.