By CHIDI OBINECHE
PERHAPS he epitomizes Frank Perdue’s adage that “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken”. From his actions since he assumed office as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, it is easy to deduce that he is used to being the big tough guy, the bodyguard type. By his own admission, “the office of the Secretary to the Government is the punching bag of everybody. And that is how it should be”. After his appointment on August 27, 2015, his first task was to swiftly debunk insinuations that he was nursing the ambition to become Adamawa State governor. His critics accused him of throwing his weight around in the state, which according to them is indicative of his ambition. He subsequently began to swim in a swirl of controversies.
First, he unilaterally gave his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, a clean bill of health in the government’s anti- corruption drive. He said: “It is obvious that even if we had corrupt men in the APC, they did not have the opportunity to steal, and that is assuming we had. I cannot, in all honesty, say that all of us in APC are saints, but the truth is, we did not have the opportunity also to reject the stealing. So, let them roast in their stew. Let them carry their cross.
“They can make all the noises and try to deflate APC, but our hands are clean by providence”. Then he took on the 2014 National Conference report , saying it does not deserve implementation because it was “ essentially diversionary and a sort of, maybe, a ‘job for the boys’, because if you remember, it was reported that almost everybody in the committee got N7m, and we consider it essentially as job for the boys”. He did not stop at that. Next, he stirred the hornets’ nest and put the senate on collision course with the executive branch of government over a comment he made on the constituency projects of the National Assembly in the 2016 budget, which he said may not be fully implemented. Following the comment, the Senate summoned him to explain what he meant. According to the sponsor of the motion, Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South), “ it was unbecoming of the SGF to declare that N60 billion constituency projects in a budget of N6.08 trillion, would not be implemented.” Outlining some of his sins, Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn N’allah pointed out that, “this Senate is aware that the SGF is not the finance minister, this Senate is equally aware that that he is not the minister of budget, this Senate is equally aware that the SGF is not the spokesperson of the Federal Government. I want to say that what was alleged to have been said by the SGF cannot be the position of Mr. President.
“We should not dignify comments from improper authority. The SGF does not have the authority to speak for the Federal Government.”
Senator Biodun Olujimi, Deputy Minority Whip went a step further to indirectly put on him the attire of garrulousness. “In the last few months,, we have had an SGF that has been speaking carelessly and meddling in the affairs of the other tiers of government and that is not right.” He spurned the Senate invitation severally before honouring it. He has ridden the storm more than any SGF in the current democratic dispensation. He has in more ways than one demonstrated a knack for loquaciousness for an office that is often associated with taciturnity, and smoothness in operations. Some people also allude that his attitude is becuase of his closeness to the president with whom he has been since 2003.
Born October 2nd, 1954, he hails from Hong Local Government Area in Adamawa State. He was national vice chairman (North East) of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Before his foray into politics, he was a pastor. He graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with a Bachelor of Engineering degree. His working career included stints at Delta Steel Company, Aladja, Nigerian External Telecommunications Limited, and Data Science Limited. He established his own ICT firm in1990 – Rholavision Engineering Limited. He is a member of the Nigeria Computer Society, The Nigeria Society Of Engineers and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria.