Jerry Ugokwe, Iyabo Anisulowo: Where are they now?


Former lawmaker as well as Nigeria’s former ambassador to Austria, Jerry Ugokwe; former minister in Gen. Sani Abacha’s administration, Iyabo Anisulowo, and former information minister Chief Dapo Sarumi are some Nigerians who were very prominent while in public office, but now appeared to have retired unofficially. ELEOJO IDACHABA writes on where they are now.

Jerry Sonny Ugokwe

He was a former law maker who represented Idemili North and South federal constituency of Anambra state in the House of Representatives in 1999 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was very vocal while in the House and was noted for the passage of many bills especially the bill for the award of the contract of Onitsha/Owerri road which was in a complete state of disrepair and a death trap to many road users then. He was also very outspoken on the government poverty eradication programme which, according to him, was the only way to improve the welfare of the masses. A bold and courageous law maker, he always stands for what he believes in.

Despite his robust contribution as lawmaker, however, he could not return to the House after 2003. In 2008, former President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as Nigeria’s ambassador to Austria at a time that the rating of Nigerians in that country was so bad. He was able to turn the situation around few years after he assumed that position. Writing on the personality of Amb Ugokwe, Uzoma Ahamefule, a Nigerian based in Austria said, “Before the coming of Dr Jerry Ugokwe as Nigerian Ambassador to Austria in 2008, the image of Africans particularly Nigerians was so bad that every black person on the street was suspected to be a criminal or a drug dealer and would be the first to be arrested within the scene of any crime. That Dr Ugokwe has been overwhelmingly acknowledged by many as a good leader in Austria cannot be a mistake or by accident because people are judged and remembered in life for two things, the problem they solved and the problem they created.

Across ethnic lines, political affiliation and religion, Dr Ugokwe helped over 30 Nigerians to sustainable working positions in the UN, a feat many people in his status may not have bothered to use their positions to influence. He was a dynamic and a selfless leader. With his good deeds boldly printed in the heart of many Nigerians in Austria, history will be fair to him and we will never forget him.”

Although removed as ambassador to that country, it is on record that the enviable record of this architect-turned politician made impressionable marks in Austria such that the negative stigma which was a burden on Nigerians in that country was removed. He has since been quiet even when his political associates have been making desperate efforts to out-do each other on the political scene.

Iyabo Anisulowo

She was the former minister of state for education in the late Gen Sani Abacha’s regime. An indigene of Ogun state, she has, according to pundits, retired to her country home of Ilaro where she now sees Nigeria from a distance. However, she was before then very prominent in Ogun politics, having served as secretary in a local government and commissioner in the state civil service commission. Later, she also served as commissioner for agriculture, rural development as well as water resources. To prove her political sagacity, she once contested the gubernatorial position of her state on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (APP) even though lost the position. In 2002, she joined the PDP and represented Ogun West in the Senate between 2003 and 2007.

While in the upper chamber, precisely in October 15, 2004, following allegations that she withdrew N500, 000 and N700, 000, respectively, from the pockets of the Senate Committee for State and Local Governments, Senator Anisulowo was physically assaulted by a colleague, Isah Mohammed, from Niger state. She, however, denied the allegation saying the money was for the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to be held that year. However, since then, it has not been on record that she has ever been prosecuted or convicted of any crime. Not much was heard about this former Ogun senator until 2016, when information had it that she was kidnapped by a gang of four men who waylaid her vehicle in a commando style. She was later released though. Since then, not much was heard about her until the last governorship election in the state when she was alleged to have lashed out at the vice-president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, and APC chairman Adams Oshiomole, for, according to her, sponsoring the crisis in the political crisis in the state.

Dapo Sarumi

Chief Dapo Sarumi is from Lagos state. He was the former minister of information under former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former governorship aspirant in Lagos on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), but was later disqualified. He is now a member of the PDP actively involved in the politics of the state. In 2014, this former minister who was also alleged to be eyeing the governorship seat of Lagos was rumoured to have developed stroke, a rumour he came out to deny, saying, “Those peddling the rumour of the ailment have a dirty mind and sinister motive for such a rumour. The person who told you that I am sick lied in every way. Is he a doctor? Even if I have stroke, how does that stop me from contesting? Is that one of the criteria or qualification to contest? I was in Aso Rock Villa recently where I spoke with many prominent people. As you are speaking with me, do I sound like someone who is sick?”

Chief Sarumi came into the national consciousness of Nigerians in the defunct Third Republic when he and his compatriot from Epe town, the late Dr Femi Agbalajobi contested for Lagos Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship ticket in 1991. Both were disqualified when none was willing to step down for the other and the acrimony between them was heating up the polity.

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