They served the country in different capabilities and at different times. However, unlike some former public servants, the whereabouts of these ones is not known; ELEOJO IDACHABA writes.
Dr. Magnus Kpakol was the chief economic adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo from July 2001 to May 2003. While serving in that capacity, he was also the chief executive officer of the National Planning Commission and automatically a member of the Federal Executive Council, working with the minister of finance and governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on fiscal and monetary policies.
As senior special assistant to the president, he was also the national coordinator of the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), one of the major programmes of that administration he helped to midwife.
His stint at NAPEP saw the development of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme with a Poverty Reduction Accelerator Investment (PRAI) component. He also adopted the Village Economic Development Solutions (Village Solutions) and initiated the Promise Keeper Partnership (PKP) programme for poor people in faith based organisations. In respect of some of these programmes he implemented at NAPEP, stories were published in the media about his being indicted by then Senate, with claims of misappropriation of funds and the Senate’s refutal of such stories.
Kpakol for a long while was also the host of Magnus Kpakol Live, a television series broadcast on Africa Independent Television and shown around many countries in Africa and outside the continent. Before this appointment in Nigeria, he was a senior economist in the planning and research department of JCPenney Company based in Plano Texas and also a visiting professor of Economics at the University of Dallas.
Prior to that, he was also an adjunct professor of Economics in the same university where he taught in the Graduate School of Business. He served as a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and has spoken in conferences around the world. Kpakol who is a prolific writer, speaker and trainer of personnel was a member of the Board of Trustees of John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, member of the Dallas Economists’ Club, also a member of the American Economic Association. For a long while now, not much has been heard about him.
Professor Mvendaga Jibo is a scholar, journalist, author and politician. In the 70s, he was the editor of New Nigeria Newspaper in Kaduna. During the Second Republic, he was at one time the commissioner for education in Benue state under the administration of Aper Aku, then governor of the state. He later became the deputy publicity secretary of the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) in 1982. Jibo was born in Zaki Biam, Benue state, and attended Zaki Biam Primary School before he proceeded to the Government Secondary School, Katsina Ala. Thereafter, he went to St. Louis College in Jos and later attended the University of Ibadan. While at Ibadan, he was the student union’s public relations officer. In search of further knowledge, he later went to the University of Birmingham on a commonwealth scholarship.
In 1974, he joined the Political Science Department of the University of Calabar. Jibo later entered journalism as a political writer of a Marxist and idealistic bent. He was at one point with the Daily Times of Nigeria from 1977-1979 where he wrote in a column titled ‘The Political Notes of Mvendaga Jibo’. In 1977, he entered politics and defeated a veteran politician to win a seat at the Constituent Assembly. While in the assembly, he teamed up with the likes of Paul Unongo, Paul Belabo and Solomon Lar to form Club 19, a political association that later merged with other groups to form NPP. He, however, later joined the dominant National Party of Nigeria (NPN) but the relationship was short-lived as he returned to NPP in 1982.
Jibo at other times was also at the Political Science Department of the University of Jos. In an interview published in Intervention Newspaper in 2016, he was misquoted as describing the Idoma race as narrow-minded people for which he protested. The said interview published under the title: ‘Joseph Tarka: Mvendaga Jibo’s Explosives’ dealt essentially with the forgotten legacy of late Joseph Tarka. In it, Jibo was reported as saying that Idoma people have the problem of producing the governor of the state because they are narrow-minded. According to him, the analogy he was connecting to, did not call for that. He said he was merely recasting Professor Billy Dudley, his former teacher’s analysis in the book: ‘Parties and Politics in Northern Nigeria’ in which the author said that Idoma and other ethnic minorities in the Middle Belt abandoned Tarka’s agitation for creation of states.
“This did not follow that I would single out Idoma and describe them as narrow minded,” he maintained. He said such a statement is too far from the way he has been trained to reason and from the reality he has dealt with. Jibo stated that he was not brought up to deny whatever he says but that the context and subject matter of the interview did not warrant what was attributed to him. If not corrected, said Jibo, that portion of the interview stood to make him an enemy of so many friends of his from the Idoma ethnic group as well as of Senator David Mark whom the portion of the interview held up as having deceived the Idoma people in relation to creating Apa state.
In the recent past, not much has been heard about this man who was one of the founding fathers of the modern Benue elite class.
Justice James Ogebe, a retired Supreme Court judge, was also a one-time Chief Justice of Benue state. He was born on March 22, 1940 and went through primary school in Igumale and Katsina-Ala all in Benue between 1946 and 1955 respectively. Thereafter, the quest for secondary education took him to the famous Government College, Keffi and thereafter to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria between 1963 and 1967 where he studied Law. He was called to the bar on June 28, 1968.
He joined the civil service as a state counsel in the Ministry of Justice of the former Benue-Plateau in 1968 and began the long and steady progression through the ranks until he became the acting director of public prosecutions in 1971. Ogebe eventually climbed to the judicial arm of the government in 1974 and held several positions, including the acting Chief Judge of the state in September, 1987. On October 31, 1991, he was further elevated in the judicial hierarchy when he was appointed a justice of the Court of Appeal and sworn in on December 3, 1991. He was eventually elevated to the Supreme Court in 2008. While in that capacity, he spoke extensively against same sex marriage, capital punishment and others.
However, his career almost got messed up because of the controversial ruling he gave about the 2007 presidential election which the winner himself, late Yar’Adua admitted was flawed. He was the chairman of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which accepted to validate the heavily-flawed April 2007 election of Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan ticket in return for alleged gratification.
Justice Ogebe, who led a pack of justices of the Court of Appeal to declare the election free and fair, could not attend the final session when the panel was to give its ruling because he was said to have compromised himself beyond redemption. He allegedly left the job to one Justice John Fabiyi, whose performance was according to analysts both “comical and hysterical.”
Since he left the Bench, not much has been heard about him again.