Since they left office years back, no one has heard anything about them again; hence ELEOJO IDACHABA in this piece seeks where they could be now.
Professor Jibril Aminu is a former lecturer, diplomat and politician. He was Nigerian Ambassador to the United States between 1999 and 2003 before elected to represent the people of Adamawa Central Constituency in the Senate between 2003 and 2007. A member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), prior to this time, he had served the country in many capacities, for instance, he had held office as education minister as well as petroleum and mineral resources minister in the military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida. As petroleum minister, he was president of African Petroleum Producers’ Organisation and president of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
During the 1994 to 1995 National Constitution Conference by the Late Abacha, he was also one of the delegates to that conference. While in the Senate, he served on the committees on foreign affairs, education, air force and health. A major newspaper in the country while doing a mid-term evaluation of senators during his time said Aminu never sponsored any bill while in the House but only contributed to debates and motions. As chairman of the foreign affairs committee, he was said to have managed its affairs well and at the same time committed to the activities of the committee on education. Writing about Aminu in ‘African Achievers’, Professor A. Pate of the Department of Mass Communications, University of Maiduguri said, “The name Jubril Aminu evokes multiple, in fact, sometimes, strikingly contrasting reactions from different people in the country. This is because in most of his public life, the fellow has remained an issues man; never afraid of controversies, ever strong on his positions which are often well-informed and based on strong convictions and vision. “For being strong willed, forthright and intelligently defensive on whatever he saw as right, even if unpopular, he was called names, threatened and even victimised. But he was never cowed.
“While enjoying his job at Ibadan as a lecturer, Gen. Yakubu Gowon appointed him as the pioneer executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) in March 1975. The news of the appointment surprised him. At 35, with a PhD and a fellowship in Medicine, he was happily performing his job as a young academic and consultant cardiologist at the UCH in Ibadan. He had no cause to want to leave when his career progression was satisfactorily in his favour. However, in life there come moments when individuals must take fundamental decisions that may appear painful, but inevitable. That was the type of choice that Aminu had to make in 1975 that eventually altered his progressive career in the field of Medicine. There, he was in love with his career in Ibadan, enjoying the full support of his senior colleagues on one hand and the request by the Head of State who was his senior and mentor in the secondary school asking him to take up a challenging and pioneering assignment, on the other. Whichever option he took, he was bound to make somebody that he respected unhappy. Literarily, he had to subdue his inner self to take leave of absence from UI for service to the land at a higher level in NUC by accepting the offer from General Gowon.”
Professor Aminu has, therefore, traversed major sectors in the nation’s life. Presently, not much has been heard about him, especially after he left the Senate in 2007.
Lt.-Gen. Donaldson Oladipo Diya, a man described as “the proverbial cat with nine lives,” was the Chief of General Staff in the regime of the Late Gen. Sani Abacha. He is described so because in his military career, he was face-to-face with death severally, but on each occasion, he came out alive. That position he occupied in Abacha’s regime is equivalent of today’s vice-president in a democratic setting. He was in that position between 1993 and 1997 before he was implicated in what was generally described as a phantom coup plot to overthrow Abacha. Prior to this time, he had served on various military assignments like governor of his native Ogun state from January 1984 to August 1985 under General Muhammadu Buhari as head of state. He was also Commander 31, Airborne Brigade, General Officer Commanding 82 Division in 1985, commandant, National War College and Chief of Defence Staff.
In 1997, he and others who allegedly planned to overthrow the Abacha regime were arrested, and were tried in a military tribunal and given death penalty, but owing to the untimely death of Abacha in 1998, he was pardoned by Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar who succeeded Abacha. It was believed in many quarters that the said coup was nothing, but a ploy by Abacha to do away with him because of his increasing popularity, especially among the opposition parties, for his moderate views on the situation in the country then for which Abacha’s loyalists had made attempt on his life twice, failure which the coup was their next launch pad. His arrest, however, signalled divisions within the military and heightened by Abacha’s intention to transform himself into a civilian president. After his release from detention, Diya simply maintained low profile while at the same time fighting behind the scene to recover his various properties seized by the government when he was in detention. While congratulating him on his 75th birthday sometimes ago, President Buhari described him as someone whose wealth of experiences is still of immense value to the country, having held important positions ranging from military governor to becoming the number two person in the country. His last known public outing however was on May 29, 2015 at the Eagles Square when Buhari was being sworn in. Since then, no one has heard anything about him again.
Fidelis Tapgun is the former governor of Plateau state in the Third Republic aborted by the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s coup. He was also at various times an ambassador and minister. For instance, after the return to democracy in 1999, he was appointed as Nigeria’s ambassador to Kenya. Tapgun was also the director-general of Obasanjo-Atiku Campaign Organisation between 2002 and 2003, where he helped to ensure that Obasanjo was re-elected in the 2003 General Elections following which his name was forwarded to the Senate for confirmation as minister of industry. When in 2004, Obasanjo declared a six-month state of emergency in Plateau, Tapgun was among the elders from the state who argued that the state of emergency should last longer for a lasting peace. As minister, he was concerned with the issue of competitiveness of local products for which he announced the formation of two new standardisation bodies to help improve quality of products. In December 2005, Tapgun emphasised the role of private sector in developing the country while reiterating government’s intention to support the initiative. With the then soaring prices of cement due to lack of supply, Tapgun was head of an inter-ministerial committee that assessed investors. In the process, he visited the site of a closed cement factory in Ebonyi state stalled due to a dispute between the management of the company and state government with a view to solving the differences even though the plant could not reopen years after.
His last known public outing was way back in 2010, when he was appointed by the late Yar’Adua to act as co-chairman of a 15-member committee set up to find a lasting solution to the constant crises in Plateau state. Since then nothing has been heard about this ex-governor/minister.