These prominent Nigerians served their fatherland meritoriously before they retired. Years after their retirement, Nigerians are wondering where they could be now.
Madam Ndidi Onyuike Okereke is the former director-general of Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), the first woman to have occupied that position, before she retired a few years ago through what is known in official quarters as the instrumentality of ‘sack’ by the then Aruma Oteh-led Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Often described as a powerful lady, Onyuike’s impressive performance in board room politics endeared her to many. Although her tenure in NSE was marred by many controversies especially towards the end of her tenure, her contributions towards building a strong capital market to an enviable position cannot be in doubt.
Just before her exit from public service, there were wide rumour about her alleged doctoral certificate forgery from City University in New York and claim that she worked in the New York Stock Exchange before returning to Nigeria; however, strong those noises were, Onyuike successfully navigated her way through until she exited public service in 2013.
While in office, she stepped on many toes on account of official assignments like the infamous failed bank brouhaha in which several former bank chiefs paid dearly for it. Dele Sobowale, while writing about her in one of his columns in Vanguard Newspaper said, “Like most people who have pushed their luck too far, Prof. Onyuike was probably the last to know that the wheel of fortunes was about to turn the other way for her. She had gained prominence and power on account of the bubble in NSE fuelled by banks manipulation and false annual reports by banks.”
In the wake of the US election in which former black American, Barack Obama, contested in 2008, Madam Onyuike caused a stir in the country when under what she called ‘Obama for Africa Project,’ she raised over N100 million in support of Obama’s presidential bid.
This, no doubt, attracted wide condemnation, but in justifying her move she said, “I want to make it clear that I am a Nigerian and I have the right to do anything I want to do with my time and money.” Despite the hues and cries from several quarters about the move, she went ahead with the pet project and luckily, Obama won the election.
It is however not clear to what extent that financial contribution was made towards the victory. Many years after this woman whom many people with ill motives described as proud and arrogant left office, not much has been heard about her again and it is also not clear if she is in the country, but one certain fact remains that her indelible marks in the industry is unparalleled.
Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe was the 7th Chief of General Staff under former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, between 1985 and 1986 before he was retired owing to some perceived cold war between him and Babangida. The position he occupied as Chief of General Staff is an equivalence of what is today known as vice president in a democratic dispensation. Ukiwe was succeeded by the late Augustus Aikhomu in the same capacity.
This Abia state born ex-naval officer had, prior to this time, held several military postings such as military governor of Lagos and Niger states, respectively, during the military era. He was also the flag officer commanding Western Naval Command between 1984 and 1985 just before he became the Chief of General Staff.
On retirement, he was said to have pitched his tent with a pro-democracy group that supported the presidential bid of MKO Abiola in the 1993 Presidential Election. After that bid failed, he was touted by a now-rested news medium (Newswatch magazine) to contest the 2007 presidential election, an attempt he made even though he unsuccessfully failed to secure the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), the platform he wanted to use in order to get the position. Ukiwe is described in many quarters as a highly principled man who is not flexible enough for the position of a president.
Writing on Ukiwe many years after he left office, Jossy Nkwocha said, “Ukiwe is highly principled. His political undoing seems to be his unresolved quarrel with Babangida, his former boss.
In the present dispensation where Babangida plays the role of a king maker, Ebitu Ukiwe will find it extremely difficult to become the president without Babangida’s support and blessing. He is a rigid and highly temperamental person who may find it difficult to play the game of compromise required in politics.”
Until a recent meeting of the National Peace Committee which saw him appearing among members in a group photograph, not much have been heard or known about this man whom many prominent Igbo sons say is the new Igbo leader.
Mrs. Farida Waziri is a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and ex- chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under the Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, but was removed in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan over accusations bothering on selective investigation by the anti graft agency.
Apart from that, it was alleged that she was involved in what analysts call conflict of interest with the then minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, under whose jurisdiction the commission operates. She was, for example, allegedly accused of compromising investigation into the financial misappropriation against Timipreye Sylva, the former governor of Bayelsa state who then was having political logjam with President Jonathan.
Although she later refuted all these allegations long after she left office, her tenure as the boss of the anti graft agency was not spared a thorough scrutiny by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences (ICPC).
For instance, during her time, she was alleged to have offered clearance letters to former governors indicted for corruption as well as the controversial authorisation letter she gave and its cost to one Victor Uwajeh to help investigate Politically Exposed Persons.
While speaking at an event in Lagos about her removal by Jonathan in 2010, she defended is saying that she remains grateful to the former president for the sack because she would, according to her, been traumatised by what she called the grand corruption going on in that regime.
“I am only glad that those things didn’t happen under my watch as the EFCC chairman because it would have been so traumatic for me. That is why if I see former President Jonathan today, I will kneel down to thank him for the honour done by removing me as the EFCC chairman at that time. My first, strong premonition of what was ahead was when I began the probe of the monumental oil subsidy fraud going on then.
I came to Lagos on a vital intelligence on the scam and as soon as I arrested a key suspect, I got a call from the presidential villa asking me to release the suspect because in their words, “he is our person’ but I refused to let him go off and days later, I was removed from office.” Mrs. Waziri has since then been missing from the public space.