Grace Ekpiwhre, Kalu Idika Kalu: Where are they now?

It is not clear where these former public servants are now and/or what they are doing; ELEOJO IDACHABA writes.

Grace Ekpiwhre

Madam Grace Ekpiwhre is a former minister in the administration of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. She served in different capacities in that cabinet before she was finally removed in a cabinet reshuffle. For instance, she was appointed into the cabinet in 2007 as minister of science and technology and later deployed to the Ministry of Works, Housing and Urban Development in December 2008 as minister of state.

A graduate of Zoology from the University of Lagos way back in 1972, she began her career in the old Bendel State Civil Service as a fisheries officer grade II and moved up through the ranks until she reached the position of director by which she was considered as director general, women affairs when Delta state was newly created. She later became a permanent secretary in 1999 and at another time, she was in charge of housing. Later in the course of her career, she became the Head of Civil Service of the state as well as chairman, Civil Service Commission in 2007, just before she came to the federal level.

As minister in charge of science and technology especially when Nigeria was at the threshold of transiting into the technological web, she did a lot, for instance, while commending the effort of this woman, a social commentator, Abubakar Aminu, writing said, “The minister of science and technology, Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre, has a very herculean task ahead of her.  The task is not made easier by the obstacles on her path, both human and institutional, that seemingly appear insurmountable like the proverbial albatross of the ancient mariner.

“Essentially, the task is that of liberating science and technology from the incubator, as it were, and placing it at the service of the good people of Nigeria, but the good old lady remains undaunted at the enormity of the task ahead.  The pivotal role of science and technology in the social-economic development of any nation is universally acknowledged.  The history of Europe, nay the western nation, cannot be complete, without acknowledging the role played by its scientists especially during The Enlightenment.

“Long before the Enlightenment, scientists had always stood apart from the larger society, carrying on as if science and society were two poles apart.  The moment the ‘bug’ of science caught up with the people in the western world, society began to experience an unprecedented progress in all spheres of national life.”

It was not a rumour that while she was in the works and housing ministry, she supervised the sale of government houses. She however brought her weight to bear when she refused some public servants who hitherto occupied some of those government official quarters to purchase them. This, she did in the interest of the country as it received the endorsement of Yar’Adua. She rather wanted a fairly competitive bidding in which anyone qualified should take it.

Many years later this Delta state-born former minister left office, sometime in 2014, not much has been heard about her again.

Kalu Idika Kalu

Nigeria has never lacked economic advisers from time immemorial. One of such rights from the military years in governance is in the person of Kalu Idika Kalu who was twice appointed as finance minister. He was at different times as minister of national planning and at another time as minister of transportation all in the military administration of former President Ibrahim Babangida through the time of late Ernest Shonekan up till the administration of late Gen. Sani Abacha under whose administration Kalu introduced Value Added Tax (VAT) in his capacity as finance minister which subsequent administrations have adopted since then.

Prior to his stewardship at the federal level, he was commissioner for finance and planning in the old Imo state. Aside from cabinet assignments, he served in various capacities outside the country like as chairman, ECOWAS Council of Ministers and chairman, Development Committee of the World Bank. A former student of Kings College Lagos from 1954 to 1960, he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Economics in 1964 and Masters of Arts in Economics in 1965 and a Doctorate Degree in Economic Development and Public Finance in 1972 at the University of Wisconsin. In the current democratic dispensation, Kalu was in 2003 a presidential aspirant under the platform of The New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

However, he was earlier a founding member of the Justice party, but chose to contest the presidential slot on the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) during that election for reasons best known to him. He later joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the days the party was in power and later decamped to the All Progressives Congress (APC), but how much influence the party has rubbed on him is what cannot be readily ascertained. At the moment, it is not clear where he could be and what he could be doing even though age is no longer on his side.

Patrick Ekeji

Dr. Patrick Ekeji is a former player and coach of the national team, The Green Eagles. He is a complete sports personality who was a delight to many, especially journalists, when he was in service. Before he was appointed national director of sports at the National Sports Commission in 1994, Ekeji was also a director of sports in Imo state. At one point, he became director of sports development at the National Sports Commission in 2001 and director-general, National Sports Commission in 2009, a post he retired from in 2013.

While commenting on the problem of sports development in Nigeria after his retirement, Ekeji who had seen it all in the sub sector said, “The first challenge is that of administration. When I say administration, I need to explain it. For the ordinary people out there, when they look at sports administration, they zoom in on the National Sports Commission as that is where the problem is, but the problem is not really at the National Sports Commission. NSC is a government body that is expected to come out with policies and these policies are now expected to be driven by other sub-players.

“For instance, at state levels, the state sports councils are not funded at all, not to talk of being properly funded. At the school levels, they have their programmes but the NSC, even as much as we try to admit them into our games, cannot make them align their programmes with what we have at the NSC. I can tell you that the National Sports Policy which was passed in 2009 is one of the best in the world, but sadly, we cannot enforce those policies on these schools where the first talents are to be sourced form.”

He added that, “At the state level, there are many unqualified staff. At the local government level, they have sports committees, which are non-existent. Now at the NSC, what do you expect us to do with the products brought by all the other levels of sports administration?”

Since he retired from service almost 10 years ago, nothing has been heard about this ex-footballer and sports administrator par excellence.