OBITUARY: Ufot Ekaette: Nigeria’s longest-serving SGF

The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SSG), Ufot Ekaette. [PHOTO CREDIT: The News Nigeria]
The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SSG), Ufot Ekaette. [PHOTO CREDIT: The News Nigeria]

Obong Ufot Joseph Ekaette, Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR), member of the National Institute (mni), Knight of St. Christopher (KSC), was an economist, administrator and politician.

He was born on April 17, 1939 in Ikot Edor in Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

He died on September 25, 2019.

He was married to Eme Ufot Ekaette, a senator and holder of the national honour of the Member of the Federal Republic. They have two children.

Education, Certification

He attended the University College, Ibadan (now University of Ibadan) between 1961 and 1964; King’s College, Lagos (1959-1960); Qua Iboe Mission Secondary School, Etinan (1954-1958); Ndo Eyo Group School, Onna (1952-1953), and Ikot Edor Group School, Onna (1946-1951).

He received the Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Economics, Second Class Lower Division (1964); Higher School Certificate (1960); West African School Certificate (WASC), Division One (1958); First School Leaving Certificate (1953)

Public service

He joined the Federal Civil Service as Administrative Officer Class IV on July 28, 1964 and was posted to the Federal Civil Service Commission with responsibilities for disciplinary matters.

Between April and October, 1966, he worked in the Cabinet Office, where he served as an Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Economic Adviser to the Federal Government.

In October 17, 1966, he was reposted to the Federal Civil Service Commission as Acting Administrative Officer (Principal Grade) in charge of recruitment, promotions and transfers in the Federal Civil Service.

He was promoted Administrative Officer (Principal Grade) in November 1, 1967, before being promoted to the State House as Principal Private Secretary to the Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (August, 1968 – September, 1975).

He was promoted Administrative Officer Grade II (April 1, 1971) and Administrative Officer Grade I (April 1, 1973).

Later, he was posted to the Federal Ministry of Industries on September 8, 1975 and worked till November 13, 1975, as the Deputy Permanent Secretary and concurrently as the Chairman Industrial Training Fund during the period.

He was promoted Principal Secretary Grade, Level 15 (October 1, 1975), before being posted to the Federal Ministry of Information as Principal Secretary (November 14, 1975 – February 1979).

Meritorious service

During this period, he also served as a Board Member of the Nigerian Television Authority and presided over a number of ad hoc Committees on the restructuring of the Nigerian Television Authority and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria as well as the establishment of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and the Press Council.

He was also at the Federal Ministry of Education as Secretary (February – May, 1979) and Chairman of the Governing Council, National Teachers’ Institute, Kaduna.

Between May 7, 1979 and January, 1984) he was Secretary for Finance and Administration, Federal Ministry of National Planning.

Also, between January 12, 1984 and January 31, 1985, he was the Secretary, Public Service Department in the Office of the Secretary to the Federal Military Government and Head of Service.

He was also the Director, External Finance, Federal Ministry of Finance and Alternate Governor for Nigeria on the Board of the African Development Bank (February 4, 1985 – January, 1986).

He was Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industries (January, 1986 – February, 1987); Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing (February – May, 1988); Director-General, the Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFFRI) (June, 1988 – March, 1989).

He was also the Director-General, Federal Ministry of Social Development, Youth & Sports (March, 1989 – January, 1990) and Director-General, Planning, in the Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning (January – September, 1990).

Between September, 1990 and January, 1992, he appointed the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State/ Vice Chairman, State Executive Council and State Security Council; Chairman, Finance and General Purposes Committee and State Boundaries Committee.

He retired from the Federal Civil Service in February, 1994 after 30 years of distinguished career and engaged in private business thereafter.

Politics, private life

He was a non-Executive Director of First Bank of Nigeria PLC (March, 1996 – May, 1999) before resigning his position following his appointment as Secretary to the Government of the Federation by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

He was the longest serving SGF in Nigeria between May, 1999 and May 2007.

In January, 2009, he was appointed the pioneer Minister in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua till March 17, 2010.

He was a member of the National Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (May 1999 – May, 2007); member, State Caucus, Akwa Ibom State PDP (May, 1999 – May, 2007).

Honours, awards

He was decorated with national honour of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) (November, 2000) “For sense of integrity, devotion to duty and selfless service to the Nation in the field of Administration”.

He held the Chieftaincy titles of Obong Ifiok Akwa Ibom by the Akwa Ibom State Traditional Rulers Council; Adaidaha ke Efik Eburutu by the Obong of Calabar, Cross River State (December 15, 2001); Bobagbimo of Ondo Kingdom by the Late Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom, Ondo State (May 10, 2002).

He was also Obong Unwana of Onna, by Onna Local Government Traditional Rulers Council; Atta of Eket Traditional Rulers Council, Eket Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State “in recognition of outstanding contributions towards the Development of Eket generally, and particularly in the enhancement of the Status of Integrity of Eket nation”.

Community Service

He was Life Patron, Onna Development Union; Patron, Afigh Iwaad Ekid, (Eket Youth Association, Akwa Ibom State) (October, 2002); Patron – Youth Association of Core Oil Producing Communities of Akwa Ibom State, and Patron, Akwa Ibom Professionals Association.

He was a devout Christian and Knight of St. Christopher (KSJ), and Chairman, Church of Nigeria’s (Anglican Communion) Committee for National Award for Integrity and Excellence (August – July, 2008).

Being extracts from Obong Ufot Ekaette’s entry in the Biographical Legacy & Research Foundation (BLERF)’s ‘Who Is Who in Nigeria’ edited by Nyaknno Osso

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