Tafa Balogun, Godwin Abbe: Where are they now?

These three individuals served the country at different times after their stewardship. ELEOJO IDACHABA writes on where they could be presently.

Tafa Balogun

He was the Inspector General of Police (IGP) between 2002 and 2005, before he was forced into submitting his letter of resignation by former President Olusegun Obasanjo because of widespread allegations of corruption against him. 

Prior to that time, Balogun was police commissioner in Delta, Rivers and Abia states, respectively. He was also an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 1 Kano. Shortly after his removal from office, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under Nuhu Ribadu arraigned him on 70 count charges involving about N13 billion allegedly obtained through money laundering, theft and other sources. As the case progressed in and out of court, he asked for plea bargains in exchange to return some money and property; nevertheless, he got six months sentence, the greatest part of which was spent on a sick bed at the National Hospital in Abuja. 

Speaking about Balogun during his 80th birthday, Obasanjo who appointed him as IGP, disclosed that there was a particular day Nuhu Ribadu, then boss of EFCC, threatened to arrest Balogun in the Villa over reports of corruption both from DSS and EFCC. 

Obasanjo said, “On a particular day, Balogun was in the Villa to see me; Ribadu was also around and threatened to arrest him over those reports. I had a hunch that Nuhu may leak the report to the press as he was close to them. I immediately called Balogun to give his letter of resignation. I told him if I don’t get it within 30 minutes, I will sack him.” 

That incident appeared to have put a final lid on the career of Balogun and since then, he has not been seen in any public outing again thereby prompting the question of where he could be at the moment.

Ndidi Okereke

Madam Ndidi Onyuike Okereke was the director-general of Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), the first woman to occupy that position, before she retired a few years ago through what is known in official quarters as the instrumentality of ‘sack’ by the then Aruma Oteh-led Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Often described as a powerful lady, Onyuike’s impressive performance in board room politics endeared her to many. Although her tenure in NSE was marred by many controversies especially towards the end of her tenure, her contributions towards building a strong capital market to an enviable position are in doubt.

Just before her exit from public service, there were wide-spread rumours about her alleged doctoral certificate forgery from City University in New York and claims that she worked in the New York Stock Exchange before returning to Nigeria. Despite how strong those noises were, Onyuike successfully navigated her way through until she exited public service in 2013. While in office, she allegedly stepped on many toes on account of official assignments like the infamous failed bank brouhaha in which several former bank chiefs paid dearly for it.

Dele Sobowale, while writing about her in one of his columns in Vanguard Newspapers, noted that, “Like most people who have pushed their luck too far, Prof. Onyuike was probably the last to know that the wheel of fortunes was about to turn the other way for her. She had gained prominence and power on account of the bubble in NSE fuelled by bank manipulation and false annual reports by banks.” In the wake of the US election in which a black American, Barrack Obama, contested in 2008, Madam Onyuike caused a stir in the country when under what she called ‘Obama for Africa Project,’ she raised over N100 million in support of Obama’s presidential bid. This, no doubt, attracted wide condemnations, but in justifying her move she said, “I want to make it clear that I am a Nigerian and I have the right to do anything I want to do with my time and money.”

Despite the hues and cries from several quarters over the move, she went ahead with the pet project and luckily, Obama won the election. It is, however, not clear to what extent that financial contribution went in the victory. Many years after, this woman, who many people with ill-motives described as “proud and arrogant” left office, not much has been heard about her again and it is also not clear if she is in the country.

Godwin Abbe

Maj.-Gen. Godwin Abe (retd.) served the country in many capacities both as a military man and civilian. He enlisted in the army in 1967 and was commissioned in ’68. After going through some military training with his postings in different capacities, he was appointed by former self-styled president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida as military governor of Akwa Ibom state from 1988 to 1999 and later of Rivers state from 1990 to 1991. After retirement, he joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and became the chairman of the party in his home state of Edo. In 2007, the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua appointed him as minister of interior. As interior minister, Abbe was chairman of a committee that recommended the amnesty programme for gunmen in the Niger Delta, an important step towards improving output of oil and gas.

Also as interior minister, at a meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government in Kampala, Uganda in November 2007, Abbe met with former British prime minister, Gordon Brown, and asked for assistance in restructuring the police force, which was suffering from low morale due to poor welfare, inadequate training and lack of vital work tools; a move he was carrying out before he was moved to the Ministry of Defence. Abbe who is presently in his ‘70s said while reflecting years back about his age that, “For me, it is exciting and I also welcome the new age with mixed feelings. When you attain this age, you suddenly realise that God has been merciful to you. You thank God for the protection one has enjoyed without money. But basically it is more of gratitude to God because I know that is not by might or right reaching this age.”

Speaking about him, a public commentator, Tony Umor, said, “He is presently joining the group of persons considered as elder statesmen for which the needed strength for national service is no longer available except for a few comments here and there.”