Christopher Kolade, Fidelia Njeze: Where are they now?

Not many people of younger generations would remember these individuals, except their records are brought to bear. SUNNY IDACHABA writes about the records of these former public officers and asks where they could be at the moment.

Christopher Kolade

Dr. Christopher Kolade was first and foremost broadcaster and rose to become the director-general of then Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation before he moved into the corporate world. For many years, he was chairman of Cadbury Nigeria Plc whose products is a household name in Nigeria. Aside from these, he was a lecturer and chancellor of many public and private universities in the country. This former Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, said to be his 90s now, is the son of an Anglican missionary. He completed his secondary-school education at Government College Ibadan and Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

In 2013 owing to his contributions to the corporate world, the Christopher Kolade Centre for Research in Leadership and Ethics (CRLE) was launched with the primary aim of positively influencing the Nigerian and African environment through research in the area of leadership and ethics because those were areas that the sage has been passionate about and had taught and mentored younger people. Dr Kolade is a prominent advocate for business integrity in the country and has held leadership positions in organisations like the Convention on Business Integrity and Managing Business for Christ. He also previously chaired the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme Board in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. He is known for his emphasis on self-respect and self-restraint, guided by the principles of what is popularly known as Omoluabi. He values respect for others and is committed to serving God, his country, and humanity.

In an interview sometime ago, he said, “I respect people. I have a very healthy respect for people, probably because of my background and my relationship with God. Only God creates people, human beings don’t. And whatever a human being is going to become, it will derive directly from what God has created to be.”

Since his last public appointment under Jonathan, it’s not clear what he has been doing since then.

Fidelia Njeze

Ambassador Fidelia Akuabuta Njeze was the minister of aviation under former President Goodluck Jonathan from 2010 to 2011, when Jonathan was in an acting capacity. The former president announced his new cabinet following the death of Musa Yar’ Adua, his late boss. Before then, Njeze had served as minister of state for agriculture and water resources and also as minister of state for defence all under Yar Adua. This University of Nigeria Nsukka-trained pharmacist from Enugu state began to assume leadership position when, in 2004, she was appointed a member of Enugu State Health Services Management Board to help transform the health sector.

In the wake of the 2011 general elections, she endorsed and campaigned extensively for Jonathan. After winning the election, Jonathan appointed her to head one of the inauguration committees that would usher in the new administration. She was eventually nominated for an ambassadorial position after which she was screened and confirmed by the Senate. Njeze was then appointed Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein till Jonathan’s tenure ended. During the 23rd convocation ceremonies of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) on March 5 2011, the university awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree to her thereby conferring on her a Doctor of Management Technology.

She has also been recognised by various professional bodies most of which are in the pharmaceutical line; these awards were given to her because she was seen by many as an outstanding ambassador in the profession.

 In 2015, this woman caused furore at the headquarters of the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) when she resumed there as coordinator of the organisation without being officially deployed, a development that sparked off protest among some staff members of the organisation. She, however, said she was earlier appointed by the former secretary to the government of the federation, Anyim Pius Anyim. A staff of the organisation that reacted to the development, said, “It is only the president of Nigeria that has the right to appoint his special adviser on NEPAD, but in this case, we saw a different title when the entire organisation structure has not been changed. If you want to have a coordinator/chief executive, then you must have the structure changed.

“As it is now, the organisation’s structure is still the same and it is not even a parastatal but a department under the Office of the SGF. So we, NEPAD staff, are saying that if you want to become a chief executive, there should be enabling laws that would make it happen. You cannot change your own appointment overnight when there is a change in government.

“What we are saying categorically is that President Muhammadu Buhari should appoint a special assistant on NEPAD. There is nothing like a coordinator and chief executive. This organisation is not a statutory agency and there is no tenured appointment. Assistants are appointed by the president and as a special assistant, once your boss is leaving, you leave with him.”

Since that furore, not much has been heard about her again.

Hadiza Mailafiya

Hajiya Hadiza Mailafiya was the minister of environment under former President Jonathan. Under her as minister, Nigeria made advancement in the area of addressing desertification problem, for instance,  during the National Conference on Environment held in Makurdi in 2013, she announced a federal government’s  commitment of N10 billion towards the implementation of the United Nations-backed environmental programme with a view to addressing desertification, enhance natural resource management and promote ecosystem integrity in the dry land of the northern parts of the country stretching from Zamfara and Kebbi states in the North-west corner to the extreme eastern border in Borno state.

The Great Green Wall, as it was called, aims to bring together 11 countries to plant trees across Africa to literally hold back the advancing Sahara Desert menace with a swathe of greenery, lessen the effects of desertification and improve the lives and livelihoods of communities. She did not stop there, but went further to seek legislative alliance in order to transit to green growth which, according to her, is more than environmental issue, but an economic revolution that presents tremendous opportunity for business.

She said, “To achieve an effective policy blueprint, we need the lawmakers’ collaboration, commitment, support and, most essentially, strong legislative backing to establish a framework to guide the actualisation of this pathway.

“Furthermore, effective green growth would not be achieved without the push from the private sector. Direct leadership by business would help guide policy development and demonstrate a resolute commitment to drive forward the transition to a profitable green economy. Indeed, there is a clear requirement for a stronger web of collaboration, partnerships and regulation that span between levels of government and the private sector. Based on this premise, the Ministry of Environment welcomes this laudable initiative of pursuing a legislative agenda to enhance Nigeria’s green growth and the development of an efficient oversight framework for resources governance.”

For a long while, nothing has been heard about this woman again thereby prompting the question of where she could be presently