They served the country at various times, but have been away from public space. Where could they be at the moment? ELEOJO IDACHABA asks.
Chief Philip Asiodu is a man of many parts. He is a former diplomat, minister and special adviser at different times. Although he is described as someone of the ‘old order’, yet from every ramification, he is the father of modern day boardroom gurus. He joined the public service in 1964 and rose to the position of permanent secretary during Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s regime. As a technocrat, analysts say Chief Asiodu was instrumental to the botched Aburi Accord implementation which eventually led to the avoidable Nigeria Civil War. He is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) being one of its founding fathers. He once sought the presidential ticket of the party to contest the 1999 election but failed. One notable area that this Delta state born technocrat is however noted for is his love for the preservation of the environment.
This he achieved largely through the Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF) which he led as its chairman board of trustees for years. Based on this, President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 during the World Environmental Day celebration gave him an award for his role in the sustenance of the environment.
The president said, “This day reminds us that our world belongs to seven billion others aside from ourselves. And that their habits as people and policies and government determine whether we would treat others fairly. If the environment issues are properly managed, they have the potential to support growth and you have dedicated your time to achieve for this nation. That is why you deserve this award.”
The impact of Chief Asiodu can be felt in many sectors of the economy including as ministers of health, industry, petroleum, energy, mines and power at different times. He has also led government organisations such as the Nigeria Economic Society (NES) and Nigerian Committee of the World Energy Council. According to the journal of the Nigeria Academy of Engineering, “Chief Asiodu exudes greater knowledge and confidence in playing a high profile leadership role in the implementation of Nigeria’s oil and gas policies beginning with the negotiation for Nigeria’s membership of OPEC in 1971. He was also instrumental to the recruitment of many Nigerian graduates for training in oil technology abroad, the decision to establish LNG plants in 1975, the Warri and Kaduna refineries as well as the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI).”
For some time now, no one has heard anything about this man who is in his 80s.
Rufus Ada George
Rufus Ada George was the governor of Rivers state between January 1992 and November 1993. This was during the build up to the aborted Third Republic just before Ernest Shonekan was appointed chairman Interim National Government (ING) before the late General Sani Abacha interrupted the regime. He was elected on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
Ada-George, a former employee of Shell Petroleum Nigeria was alleged to encourage the exploitation the oil giant carried out in the region, a development that made the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) to embark on a violent protest in 1993. It took the intervention of the federal troops to quell the uprising, but that was the beginning of the agitation that finally culminated in the major crisis leading to the death of Ken Saro Wiwa in 1996.
Following the restoration of democracy in 1999, he joined the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) in his bid to serve his people, but after the victory of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he lost out; however, he was said to have sponsored ‘boys’ to unleash mayhem in the state in 2001, a development that damaged his reputation badly. Throughout the regime of Peter Odili as governor of the state, he was never at peace with Ada George for inexplicable reasons. It got to a point that the son of George was allegedly arrested by the police on the order of Odili, for which he cried out to then Inspector General of Police, Musuliu Smith, over the safety of his son.
Ada George has not been popular in recent times especially in the present APC government except when in the early life of this administration when he spoke about the deregulation policy of the government.
“Hopefully, a fairly deregulated downstream sector of our oil and gas industry would completely eliminate the massive, under-the-table, ‘the-more-you-look; the-less you-see’ corrupt petroleum subsidy and some of their pseudo beneficiaries, many of whom were remotely galvanised and became overnight subsidy billionaires. They flagrantly displayed, showed off and taunted other Nigerians.
“Many of such overnight brewed ‘money-miss -road petroleum subsidy billionaires’ flaunting their petrodollars, successfully decorated some of our ill-equipped airports with their then newly acquired sleekly subsidy aircraft,” he had said.
It is not certain what he is doing presently and where he is.
This Kano state-born economist was the minister of finance under former President Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, as acting president between 2008 and 2010. A former special adviser/assistant to a former minister of agriculture and natural resources from 1990 to ’92, he was also at the World Bank, Africa Development Bank and United Bank for Africa at different times and in top management capacity before he was appointed minister. He was before then a former director-general of the Debt Management Office (DMO) before the appointment.
It was said that Mukhtar was believed to be one of the closest aides and allies of the late president, Yar’Adua, whose words in the seat of the government carried immeasurable weight. While speaking on the rationale behind offsetting the nation’s foreign debt during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo where he also served, Dr. Mukhtar said national pride and the need for Nigeria to avoid neo-colonialism were some of the reasons that aided the decision. He was speaking in his capacity as the former boss of the DMO.
According to him, the relief did not come before then due to the loquacious behaviour of past leaders who were saddled with the responsibility of negotiating the relief on behalf of the country. He further chided them for the nonchalant and self-serving attitude towards this all important problem of debt overhang. “There was virtually nothing to show for any form of commitment to really free the country from the debt quagmire. Of course, this unseriousness led us to where we find ourselves today,” he said. It is believed that the presence of Muktar in the World Bank as well as his stint with the Africa Development bank and Islamic Development Bank helped to shape the benefits Nigeria has been deriving from those institutions.
Lately, however, it is not certain where he is, but he is one Nigerian whose imprints in the sands of time cannot be easily erased.