Many years after they left office, these individuals who worked meritoriously in service of their fatherland are no longer visible. ELEOJO IDACHABA asks where they could be at the moment.
Colonel Yakubu Bako (retd.) was a military officer in the Nigeria Army before he was forcefully retired some years in 1997. Prior to his retirement, he was military administrator of Akwa Ibom state, precisely from December 1993 to August 1996 during the military regime of the Late Gen. Sani Abacha. After being appointed Akwa Ibom administrator in December 1993, Bako developed infrastructure in the Bakassi area of the state which unfortunately was ceded to Cross River state. It’s on record that while he was military administrator of that state, he built the first ever-state liaison office (Akwa Ibom House) in Abuja. Although a Muslim by religion, he established Akwa Ibom state Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board and was the first governor to send 50 Christians to Jerusalem. He built the present state-of-the-art University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, thereafter, he retrieved from the natives the land being used as farm and developed the present Ibom Le Meridien Golf Course. While reeling on his achievements as the man behind the golf course, he said in an interview that, “Sometimes in 1994, the Calabar Golf Course had an amateur golf tournament and the then military governor of the state, Group Capt Ibrahim Kefas, invited me as guest of honor in my capacity governor.
After the tournament, while returning to Uyo, I asked the then commissioner for works, Engr Akan Udi, to look for land where Akwa lbom state can also build a golf course. I was made to understand that an area in Nwaniba in the outskirts of Uyo had been acquired for the development of golf course by former administration of Group Capt. ldongesit Nkanga but it was being used as cassava farm by the villagers. I came around with some commissioners and visited the site. I gathered all the farmers and asked them not to plant any new crop after harvesting their crops in the designated area. “Towards the end of the year, 1994, the construction of the golf course began and the contract was given to one Engr. Etuk, an Akwa lbom indigene who was also a golfer. The first nine holes made of brown putting areas were completed around June 1995. By December 1995, an 18 hole, (brown putting areas) were completed. I also constructed four chalets by the golf course, club house and a lawn tennis court to attract tourists and visitors of the Mobil Oil Company at Eket.
“Thereafter, Engr. Etuk was given the contract to maintain the course on yearly basis. When I left and handed over to Navy Capt. Joseph Adelusi in 1996, he continued the course maintenance payment. Group Capt. John Ebiye, from 1998, also continued with the payment.”
Analysts are of the opinion that he was instrumental to drawing up the blueprint for the eventual development of the state today. Bako was in December 1997 implicated in the alleged coup against General Sani Abacha and was jailed alongside others like the former Chief of General Staff, Gen Oladipo Diya. However, in March 1999, he was among the convicted individuals that were granted clemency and released from detention. In 2003, former President Olusegun Obasanjo granted him full pardon. Since he was granted pardon, he has not been visible in the public square again.
Mrs. Omobolaji Johnson is a former minister of communication technology, a ministry established by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan to transform the technology sector of the country as part of the transformation agenda of that administration. A technocrat and the honorary chairperson of the global Alliance for Affordable Internet, Mrs. Johnson, according to analysts, has left indelible marks in the ministry that no one has been able to surpass. She earned several public commendations after taking up her first government assignment as minister in 2011.
This is due to the numerous achievements of her ministry notably among which is the launch of the NigComSat-IR Satellite. This, no doubt, helped to complement the country’s efforts at fibre connectivity and the provision of greater bandwidth. The ministry under her watch also deployed more than 700 personal computers to secondary schools in the first phase of School Access Programme (SAP) while about 193 tertiary institutions in the country were connected to the internet in the Tertiary Institution Access Programme (TIAP) and 146 communities have access to Community Communication Centres deployed around the country.
On 30 May 2013, she presented the Nigerian National Broadband Plan from 2013 to 2018 to President Jonathan. Following a minor cabinet reshuffle by President Jonathan in September of that year, she was saddled with more responsibilities of supervising the operations of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, which is like a sister ministry to Communication Technology.
Mrs. Johnson is a trustee of the World Economic Forum’s Future of the Internet Initiative, a founding chairperson and trustee of Women in Management in Business and also served on the board of a number of leading Nigerian and multinational corporations. She has a Bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Manchester; a Master’s in Digital Electronics from King’s College London, and a Doctorate in Business Administration from the School of Management of Cranfield University. While writing on her, Efem Nkanga said: “Mrs. Johnson is a known workaholic with a knack and passion for turning around challenged entities and makes them viable. At Accenture, a world renowned consultancy firm where she worked for 25 years, her legacies still speak loudly and no doubt, the ICT ecosystem is benefitting from her expertise. The creation of the ministry was an answer to the clamour by stakeholders for the creation of a separate ministry that would focus and fast-track the development of ICT in the country and transform Nigeria into a digital economy.”
The effect of Mrs. Johnson, according to Nkanga, was felt when immediately she resumed as minister, in collaboration with ICT stakeholders, she set in motion a harmonisation and development of a national ICT policy to drive the digitalisation agenda of the federal government. Since she left the cabinet in 2015, she seems to have put behind her everything about political appointment in the country. This is not a surprise, though to analysts who say she is not a politician but a technocrat.
Chris Adighije was a senator on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and represented Abia Central Senatorial Constituency in the National Assembly between 2003 and 2007. He is according to a major newspaper in the country, “Someone who is remembered by political historians as the honest man of the Senate who brought sincerity and truth to the fore in the face of the sophisticated twists and turns of many of his contemporaries at the time of one of the most salacious scandals to have swept through the National Assembly. Since Sen. Adighije left the upper chamber, every attempt he made to return to the red chamber had proved abortive but report indicated that he found his way into the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission where he heads a unit; that appointment, however, appears to have put a permanent lid on his political career.
While commenting on this in an interview recently, he said, “Obviously my period At RMAFC greatly reduced my political activities. The responsibilities at RMAFC demanded some degree of neutrality, since we needed to be impartial arbiters at the local, state and federal levels. I am now in APC because the PDP especially at Abia threw democratic principles overboard. PDP became a one man show where divergent views became treasonable felony.”