Chief Asiodu, who is the Ogbuefi Akuna Ka of Asaba in Delta State, was born on February 26, 1934. In 1964, he married Eugenia Olajumoke Pereira. He started his education at Sacred Heart School, Calabar, from 1939 to 1942, then attended Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, 1943-1944; St. Paul’s Catholic School, Ebute Metta, Lagos, 1944-1945; King’s College, Lagos, 1946-1952; and then Queen’s College, University of Oxford, England, from 1953 to 1956.
Following the demise of Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Joda (1930-2021), Chief Phillip Chikwuedo Asiodu (87) remains the last of the titans in the list of those termed as Super Permanent Secretaries, who served under General Yakubu Gowon between 1966 and 1975. We owe them a debt of gratitude. We remain ever grateful for their services. We miss them. We miss their competence and counseling. We miss their discipline and adherence to rules and regulations. We are in dilemma today because their likes are no longer around. It is not too late to celebrate Chief Asiodu, before he returns to his maker.
Chief Asiodu, who is the Ogbuefi Akuna Ka of Asaba in Delta State, was born on February 26, 1934. In 1964, he married Eugenia Olajumoke Pereira. He started his education at Sacred Heart School, Calabar, from 1939 to 1942, then attended Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, 1943-1944; St. Paul’s Catholic School, Ebute Metta, Lagos, 1944-1945; King’s College, Lagos, 1946-1952; and then Queen’s College, University of Oxford, England, from 1953 to 1956. He was head of Chancery, Nigerian Permanent Mission to the UN, 1960-1962; a member of the Organisation of African Unity Provisional Secretariat, Addis Ababa, 1963-1964; Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Lagos, 1963-1964, and 1964-1965; and acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, 1965-1966. He was also Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industries, 1966-1971; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Power, 1971-1975; Chairman, National Electric Power Authority, 1971-1975; and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Lagos, 1975. At present, Chief Asiodu is the Patron of the Council of Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries, of which Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation is the Vice-Chairman, while my friend, Dr Goke Adegoroye is the Publicity Secretary.
A lot has been written on Alhaji Ahmed Joda since his passing, and a lot will still be written on him. In my encounters with him, I discovered that his humility was his greatest strength. He was a humble man. He carried his dignity to his grave. No doubt, Alhaji Joda was a rare breed.
Alhaji Ahmed Joda was born in Yola in Adamawa State. He had his education at the Yola Elementary School; Yola Middle School; Kaduna College, from 1945-1948; Pittman’s College, London, 1954-1956, after which he joined the Nigerian Broadcasting Service from 1956-1960. He was Senior Assistant Secretary, later Permanent Secretary, Northern Nigeria Public Service; then Permanent Secretary to the Federal Government, from 1967 to 1978, after which he retired in March 1978.
Let us take a look at some of those described as Super Permanent Secretaries. There was Chief Ime James Ebong. He was Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport. It was during his time that the Murtala Mohammed Airport was conceptualised and built. He later became Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development and Planning. Chief Ebong was the first Executive Secretary and Chief Executive of the Federal Capital Development Authority. He was brilliant and articulate. He took the likes of Wole Okunfulire to Abuja as the first professional urban planners in Abuja. President Joe Biden of the United States of America recently appointed his daughter, Enoh Titilayo Ebong as the acting Director of the United States and Development Agency. He died on August 7, 1989.
There was Chief Allison Akene Ayida (June 6, 1930 – October 11, 2018) who had his education at King’s College, Lagos in 1952; Queen’s College, University of Oxford, England, 1956; London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, England, 1957. He became assistant secretary, Federal of Finance, Lagos, from 1957 to 1963; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development, 1963-1971; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance; Chairman, UN Commission for Africa; Secretary to the Federal Military Government and Head of Service, 1975-1977.
We also have Alhaji Liman Ciroma who was born on September 30, 1930 in Potiskum, Yobe State. He had his education at the Government College, Zaria in 1949; the Institute of Archaeology, London, 1953-1954; South-West Essex Technology College and School of Arts, England, 1954-1956; and the University of Birmingham, England, 1956-1959. He was Technical Assistant, Department of Antiquities in the Colonial Administration, from 1949-1953; Archaeologist, Ile-Ife, Benin and Igbo Ukwu, 1959; Curator, National Museum, Lagos; and later acting Deputy Director of Antiquities, Jos, 1960. He joined the Northern Nigeria Civil Service in 1961, as Assistant Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, in Kaduna, and later became Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government, Kaduna; Provincial Secretary, Minna; Acting Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister, Northern Nigeria; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and Community Development, 1965-1967, from were he transferred to North-Western State Public Service, 1967; after which he became Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, North-Eastern State, 1968-1971; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industries, 1971-1975; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, 1975-1977; and Secretary to Federal Military Government and Head of Civil Service, 1977-1979.
We equally have Erediauwa (June 22, 1923 – April 2016), who later became the 39th Oba of Benin, in Edo State. Formerly known as Prince Solomon Akenzua before ascending to the throne, Oba Erediauwa’s full title was His Royal Majesty Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I. He was succeeded by Ewuare II.
Oba Erediauwa took on the title and duties as traditional head of state and rightful heir of the Benin Empire when he was crowned, thereby succeeding his father, Oba Akenzua II, in a ceremony held in Benin City, Nigeria, on March 23, 1979. He was a Super Permanent Secretary. He was the most senior federal civil servant who attended a meeting of the Supreme Military Council of Nigeria held in Aburi, Ghana between January 4 and January 5, 1967. He was then Permanent Secretary of the Federal Cabinet Office, Lagos. Other top civil servants who attended the Aburi meeting were Mr. P.T. Odumosu (Secretary to the Military Government, West); Mr. N.U. Akpan (Secretary to the Military Government, East); Mr. D.P. Lawani (Under-Secretary, Military Governor’s Office, Mid-West) and Alhaji Ali Akilu (Secretary to the Military Government, North). The role played by Prince Akenzua on arrival in Lagos from Aburi is already part of history.
Mention must be made of Chief Gray Adetokunbo Eromosele Longe (1932-2007). He married Olufemi Olufunke. He had his education at the Government School, Warri, from 1940 to 1944; Warri College, Warri, 1945-1950; and University College, Ibadan, 1951-1955. He was Assistant District Officer, Ibadan Province; Assistant Students Officer; Administrative Officer, Office of the Agent General, Western Nigeria; Acting Senior Assistant Secretary in several ministries, and was seconded to the Federal Government in 1961; Senior Assistant Secretary, deputy Permanent Secretary, later permanent secretary, various ministries, head of the Civil Service of the federation, 1979-1983, reappointed secretary to the Federal Military Government and head of the Civil Service, 1984-1986, retired in 1986. I was present at his funeral at Sabongida-Ora in Edo state.
There is Alhaji Musa Daggash, born in Maiduguri in 1918. He had his education at the Higher College, Katsina, 1934-1938, University of Oxford, England, 1950-1951, University of Manchester, England, 1960-1961, joined Department of Forestry, 193-1959, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Mines and Power, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Defence, later Chairman, Defence Industries Corporation, General Manager, Chad Basin Development Authority, member, Constituent Assembly, 1977-1978 and Commissioner, Local Government Service Board, Borno State, 1978.
At the meeting of the Secretaries to the Military Governments and other top officials held in Benin between February 17 and February 18, 1967, Chief H. A. Ejueyitchie was the acting Secretary to the Federal Military Government. He was a brilliant civil servant and an Itsekiri from the present day Delta State. Another civil servant worth mentioning was Abdul Aziz Attah (1920-1972), who later became Secretary to the Federal Military Government…
Mention must be made of Alhaji Ibrahim Maina Damcida (1933-2012). He had his education at the Westminster College, London, United Kingdom, 1954-1956, North-Western Polytechnic, London, United Kingdom, 1956-1958, Economic Development Institute of the World Bank, Washington DC,USA, 1965, trainee manager, John Holt, 1951-1953, accountant, Ministry of Trade and Industries, former Northern Region, 1959-1961, deputy Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Lagos, 1962-1965, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Trade, 1966-1971 and Ministry of Defence, 1971-1975.
I need to mention Prince Festus Ibidapo Adesanoye (1930-2006). He was a mentor to so many in the civil service. He served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministries of Defence, Petroleum and Health. He later became the Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom in Ondo State and held the title of Osungbedelola II. He married Olori Anike, who is from the famous Bademosi family in Ondo city. My friend, Mr Tunde Kamilu Kasali, a lawyer, who retired recently as Executive Secretary of Revenue Mobilisation Commission was special assistant to Prince Adesanoye during his tenure as Permanent Secretary.
Mention must be equally made of Chief Olatunde Lawson. He was born on March 20, 1919 and attended Wesley College, Ibadan; University of London, England; University of Oxford, England, and Imperial Defence College, London, 1959. He started as a teacher in primary schools, and then at Wesley College, Ibadan, and Hussey College, Warri, before working at the Federal Department of Statistics from 1947 to 1957. He was Senior Assistant Secretary, Council of Ministers, 1958; Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, 1960; Secretary, the last Constitutional Conference before Nigeria’ Independence; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, 1961-1965; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications, 1965-1970; and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, 1971-1972. He was Secretary to the Federal Military Government, 1972-1975.
There is also Chief Stanley Olabode Wey. He joined the civil service in 1943, and became Assistant Secretary, Nigerian Secretariat, 1946-1956; he was at the Department of Defence in 1956, and became Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, 1958-1959; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, 1960-1961; Secretary to the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, 1965, and he retired from the civil service in 1973.
At the meeting of the Secretaries to the Military Governments and other top officials held in Benin between February 17 and February 18, 1967, Chief H. A. Ejueyitchie was the acting Secretary to the Federal Military Government. He was a brilliant civil servant and an Itsekiri from the present day Delta State. Another civil servant worth mentioning was Abdul Aziz Attah (1920-1972), who later became Secretary to the Federal Military Government and Head of Civil Service. Attah died on June 12, 1972 at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
On October 3, 1975, the following were appointed Permanent Secretaries: Mr Musa Bello, Mr B.A. Ehizueien, Mr G.P.O. Chikelu, Mr E.O. Olowu, Mr S.B. Agodo, Mr A. Alhaji and Mr G. A. Fatoye. They later became first class administrators.
Recently, the first architect to be appointed Permanent Secretary in the federal civil service, Chief Isaac Folayan Alade (1933-2021) died. He attended St. Phillip’s School, Aramoko in Ekiti State from 1940 to 1945; Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, 1946-1951; College of Technology, Ibadan, 1953-1955; College of Technology, Zaria, 1957-1961 (Diploma in Architecture); and the Architect Association School of Postgraduate Studies, London, 1964-1965. He joined the Ministry of Works in the Western State from 1961-1964, and 1965-1967, while he served as architect between 1967 and 1968, before later getting appointed as Director of Works,in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Lagos.
There is a need to mention Alhaji (Dr) Umaru Sanda Moshna Ndayako (CFR, OFR), (1937 – September 8, 2003), the 12th Etsu Nupe from one of the ruling houses of Bida. His parents were Muhammadu Ndayako (CBE), the late ninth Etsu Nupe, and Aisha Nuadoro.
Ndayako started elementary school at Elementary School Bida in 1945 and later went to Ilorin for middle school in 1949, finishing in 1951. He obtained his high certificate at the prestigious Government College, Zaria (now Barewa College, Zaria), from where he graduated in 1956, and then attended the Nigeria College of Art, Science and Technology Zaria in 1957, before proceeding to the University College Ibadan (now University of Ibadan), and obtaining a Bachelor’s degree there in 1962.
A woman that deserves special mentioning was Mrs Francesca Yetunde Emmanuel (September 19, 1933 to April 8, 2020). She was the first woman Permanent Secretary in the federal civil service. Multitalented and highly brilliant, she joined the civil service in 1959. Emmanuel was appointed Permanent Secretary in July 1975 and served with great distinction, first at the Cabinet Office and subsequently in several Ministries…
Ndayako started his government career in the early 1960s as an Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Kaduna State, whilst also being the Assistant District Officer in charge of the Tiv Division, before being transferred to Kano State, where he served as District Officer for Urban Planning in 1965. He was Principal Secretary, Ministry of Housing in Lagos, and was also the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Political Division, after which he later became the Permanent Secretary.
There were also Alhaji Aminu Saleh, Chief Olu Falae, Chief Ben Osunsade, Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed, Alhaji Adamu Fika, Alhaji Gidado Idris, Chief Ufot Ekaette, Ambassador Victor Adegoroye, Mr C.A.N. Ebie, Mr A.S.N. Egbo, Mr M.E.P. Udebiuwa, Chief Chukwemeka Ezeife, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, Alhaji Seidu Bada, Alhaji Shehu Ahmadu Musa, the Makama Bida, Chief J.E. Uduehi, and many more. These men and women are seldom mentioned but they led with intellect, vision and grace. Their mentorship produced a generation considered as the golden age of the federal civil service.
I must also add the following who were Permanent Secretaries, and whose services were appreciated: Chief Henry Omenai, Alhaji Tatari Alli, Mr M.I. Alege, Chief J.B. Ojo, Mr E.E. Ojumu, Dr. P.E. Japa and Mr Oduah.
A woman that deserves special mentioning was Mrs Francesca Yetunde Emmanuel (September 19, 1933 to April 8, 2020). She was the first woman Permanent Secretary in the federal civil service. Multitalented and highly brilliant, she joined the civil service in 1959. Emmanuel was appointed Permanent Secretary in July 1975 and served with great distinction, first at the Cabinet Office and subsequently in several Ministries, including Establishments; Health; Science and Technology; and Social Development, Youth and Sports. She is best known as an outstanding civil servant, regarded as a woman of grace and an epitome of graciousness.
Describing the role of the Super Permanent Secretaries, one of them, Chief Allison Akede Ayida wrote, “during the interregnum of July 29 to August 1, 1966 when for four days there was no Government in Nigeria. A group of Federal Permanent Secretaries visited Ikeja Barracks amidst the ‘rising grass’ and were introduced to combat troops therein as members of the Civil Service Tribe. They played the critical role in averting the instant disintegration of Nigeria. Sometimes I am asked if the game was worth the candle or whether Nigeria should have been allowed to break up? I used to be an incurable optimist but sometimes I wonder in moments of doubt whether this is the mistake of my life. We took much risk then but others have made the supreme sacrifice for Nigeria. I still regret the late Abdul Atta and I did not accept Colonel Gowon’s invitation for us and the then Solicitor-General, Justice Kazeem to stay behind and write his ‘take-over’ speech. “The basis of unity is not there” would not have been the albatross of the Federal propaganda effort during the Civil War and the Gowonist era of One Nigeria.
I still believe this country is worth saving but only on one condition, namely that it is preserved for the benefit of all Nigerians irrespective of state of origin or religion. There shall be no second class citizens, this should be an article of faith observed and seen to be observed scrupulously by the leadership at all levels. A rethink is basic to the future stability and objectivity of the career public service. From the family viewpoint, the third contender for the one mistake is that I did not leave the Civil Service in 1973 for the greener pasture in the private sector. My Presidential address “the Nigerian Revolution” to the Nigerian Economic Society in 1973 was meant to be my valedictory speech to the Public Service as well. However, the feeling of nostalgia is ever present. The pertinent question is whether Nigeria should continue to lose the services of her trained and experienced manpower through early retirement? I can only recall what a colleague, Mr. S.B. Awoniyi told the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, General O. Obasanjo, after the mass retirement of 1975; “You have asked us to remain in the Service and continue to serve the Government and country loyally and faithfully because we are the good ones. But the bad ones whom you have asked to go, will go into the private sector and become the millionaires of tomorrow and in their own time, take over the Government if they so wish.” This may be one of the considerations why the Obasanjo administration tried so hard to disqualify retired public officers during the 1979 elections.
Mr Awoniyi was vindicated. Some of our retired colleagues came back as Governors and Ministers, and king-makers and the power-behind-the-throne and successful business tycoons of the Second Republic. In the search for a solution to the nation’s current socio-economic problems, the impression is often given that Nigeria is a poor country with too large a population and limitless investment needs. This may well be true but such an approach does not focus sufficient attention on the potential wealth of nation. A third World country which produces nearly 1.5 million barrels of crude oil a day and exports over 1 million barrels per day, should not be at the bottom of the league of poor and needy nations. Nigeria does not deserve to be, nor is she so short of foreign currency as to be, in her present predicament of debtor nation without an independent national economic policy. What we have experienced and are experiencing and may continue to experience is not a cash flow or liquidity problem but a management crisis. The solution lies in better management of our resources in a context of clearly defined priorities and an acceptable system of values and public probity at all levels, in the conduct of public affairs.
The Nigerian economy was effectively managed in the civil war years, 1967 to 1970, to sustain the Federal Government war effort as well as satisfy the basic needs of the people. This was accomplished without depending on revenue from petroleum resources or external loans. If we could survive a three year civil war without external borrowing or oil money, it is difficult to justify the current increasing external debt burden. Although some of the methods employed during the civil war may not be appropriate in peace time governance, it appears that the right lessons have not been learnt from civil war experience. In the final analysis, if Nigeria is to survive as a viable entity, the moral dimension cannot remain as the missing link in our public and private lives. The quest for social justice which entails equal access to education and employment opportunities, is meaningless without a recognition of the moral aspects of injustice and inequality of power distribution and sectionalized patronage. The moral minority of today must become the moral majority in the Nigeria of tomorrow. Any power base which is not rooted in that which is just and morally defensible is bound to crumble from internal contradictions in the long run. This is the critical factor in the excessive pursuit of materialism in present day Nigeria. The Nigerian society must reorder its scale of moral values in order to arrest the current decline and establish a new and dynamic society.”
The Awoniyi he was referring to was the Aro of Mopa in Kogi State, Chief Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyi (1932-2007). Chief Awoniyi was trained at the Nigeria College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria, Nigeria from 1954 to 1956; the University College (now University of Ibadan), Ibadan, 1956-1959; and the Imperial Defence College, London, UK, 1970-1971. He was a divisional officer for the Bauchi, Lafia and Nasarawa Division between 1959 and 1960, and was appointed Provincial Secretary, former Niger Provinces, Minna in 1964; and the Plateau Provinces, Jos, in 1964-65; Deputy Secretary to the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Kaduna, 1965-1966; first Permanent Secretary (now director general), Ministry of Finance, Kwara State, 1968-1970; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, Lagos, 1971-1975; and Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Lagos, 1975-1977. He retired voluntarily from the federal public service in 1977 and was elected as a member of the Constituent Assembly between 1977 and 1978.
Eric Teniola, a former director in the Presidency, writes from Lagos.
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