Ernest Ndukwe, Anthony Okpere: Where are they now?

These three individuals who were reckoned with while rendering public service have been missing at public engagements. SUNNY IDACHABA asks: Where are they now?

Ernest Ndukwe

Dr Ernest Ndukwe is a former executive vice chairman of Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC). A telecommunications engineer with over 38 years’ experience in business management and in the telecommunications industry.

He is a fellow of several bodies like the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE), Nigerian Institute of Management (FNIM) and Nigerian Academy of Engineering.

Engr Ndukwe while in NCC represented Nigeria at various international events and is a regular resource person at local and international conferences and events.

He was appointed the CEO of NCC in 2000 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to midwife the mobile telecommunications revolution in the country, an assignment he successful delivered in 2003 following the licensing of two telecoms companies like MTN and ECONET.

After his initial tenure, he was re-appointed for a second term of five years because of his exceptional performances.

Ndukwe thereafter proceeded to preside over the building of an internationally-respected institution thereby earning the commission the reputation of a strong, transparent and open regulatory agency. Also, under his tenure at the NCC, the ICT industry witnessed tremendous growth and transformation, leading to what is now referred to as ICT telecommunications revolution.

Prior to his stewardship at the NCC, he had held several senior and top level executive positions in leading multinational telecommunications companies to the extent that he became the vice chairman of the International Telecommunications Union Telecom Development Advisory Group representing Nigeria.

He began his professional career with Radio Communications Nigeria (RCN) Limited in 1976 and left for an in-service training while in the service of the Radio Communications Nigeria to the United States.

On his return to Nigeria in August 1977, he continued his service with RCN and rose to the position of a maintenance supervisor in 1978 and later assistant engineering manager in 1979.

Much later, he was appointed as president of Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON). Aside serving as chairman of the Administrative Council of the African Telecommunications Union, he was also chairman of West African Telecom Regulators Assembly (WATRA).

He had served on the Presidential Committee on Jobs Creation, served as Co-chairman of the Presidential Committee to Develop Strategy and Roadmap for Universal Broadband Access for Nigeria. After the expiration of his second tenure, he left office and went into private practice. Since that time, it is no longer public knowledge about his present sojourn and what he is doing.

Dr Ndukwe from every ramification, however, did not disappoint Nigeria in all the assignments he undertook on behalf of the country. He is one ex-public servant whose tenure remains evergreen in the minds of many Nigerians. However, it is not clear where he is now.

Mike Ahamba

Chief Mike Ahamba was conferred with the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1992, is the former legal counsel to General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) before they parted ways for inexplicable reasons. He is a household name in legal matters in the country and in every respect a legal luminary.

Chief Ahamba’s professional experience spans a vast area of adjudicative and procedural laws.

He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), among others. He was appointed a notary public in 1991 and appointed Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) on July 20, 1992.

Ahamba studied Law at the University of Maiduguri and graduated in 1981. His first working experience was as legal trainee in Kano after which he worked with Legal Resources Consortium in Imo state from 1986 to 1988 before he established Mike Ahamba & Associates in 1989. Chief Ahamba is a member of various professional and social organisations and has presented several papers of various issues of law and practice.

Besides being a sportsman and ardent golfer, Chief Ahamba is also a humanitarian. His firm is one of the leading law chambers in the country with over two decades of operation and core experience in a wide range of national and international legal services.

His firm has developed an enviable portfolio of clients cutting across various industries and economic sectors and has handled over 1,000 cases that have contributed to jurisprudence in Nigeria.

The firm’s experience spans through commercial and financial transactions, corporate legal services, capital market operations, privatisation, telecommunication, maritime law, constitutional law, oil and gas and litigation.

As a constitutional lawyer, he has criticised the National Assembly for not initiating impeachment proceedings against presidents who have deployed troops in civil operations without their approval.

In particular, he said the actions of Presidents Obasanjo and President Muhammadu Buhari who deployed troops in peace times without parliamentary approval were unconstitutional.

He cited Operation Python Dance in the South-east, the Odi and Zaki Biam military operations and the use of military during elections as serious constitutional infractions which ought to be punished under the Doctrine of Checks and Balances. According to him, “The National Assembly should explain why they have not initiated impeachment proceedings against all these presidents. If you look at Section 143 of the constitution, breach of the constitution is impeachable.

“Now, things go wrong in this country because the institutions that are supposed to carry out the letters of the constitution have refused to do their work,” he said.

It is on record that Chief Ahamba has never occupied any public office but was very vocal on public matters especially election matters; however, in recent times, not much have been heard about him and it’s not clear where he is at the moment.

Anthony Okpere

Anthony Ebehijele Okpere is a retired Airforce General who served under former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida as a member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC). While in the military, he was also a managing director of the defunct Nigerian Airways and minister of aviation as well.

A native of Uromi in Edo state, Okpere enlisted into the military in 1979 and turned down the opportunity of working in the Central Bank of Nigeria, having acquired an ‘A’ Level certificate at an early age.

That singular step took him to the Command and Staff College in Jaji after which he furthered his military education at the Air War College, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, USA.

In the course of his career, he has held several positions, for instance, he was director of operations, Air Force Headquarters, Lagos, member, Governing Council, University of Benin, director, Air Faculty, Command and Staff College, Jaji, aside being the minister of aviation and MD of Nigeria Airways.

Okpere at another time was Air Officer Commanding, Training Command Nigerian Air Force, Kaduna before he retired.

As a colleague of late Gen Sani Abacha with whom he served under IBB, Okpere said while in service he almost reported Abacha to IBB over certain comments, but was restrained by then Chief of General Staff Augustus Aikhomu (now late).

According to him, “There was a day Abacha met me after a meeting we had and asked why I was always supporting whatever Aikhomu said. I said it wasn’t so that I always spoke before Aikhomu because we spoke in alphabetical order.

“It couldn’t have been possible for him to speak before me. Gen Ike Nwachukwu was even aware of it and said I shouldn’t take the matter lightly. I went to Dodan Barracks to report the matter to Babangida but I saw Aikhomou who said I should just ignore the matter.”

Now in his 80s while reflecting on life he said, “I feel fulfilled. I am blessed to have children, family and friends around me that value whatever I have done to impact them in life. I am blessed to see that whatever problems there are, from nowhere, help comes from God.

“We all have different callings in life. Some are clergymen, some are teachers, but for me, if I see any person in distress, I do whatever I can do even if I don’t have the means to help.”

It’s not clear where he is and what he is doing after he retired from public service.