Tasks Before the New SGF

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With less than two years to the end of the current mandate of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, has a huge responsibility to deliver as FG scribe, writes Daji Sani

For any government to run good and at least, present a semblance of structured organisation, the office of the secretary to the government, whether at the local, state or federal level is the cynosure of attention here. How well any government functions relies to a credible extent, on the capacity and the ability of the occupier of that office to get things done.

Unfortunately, President Muhammadu Buhari had suffered greatly in this respect. Apart from taking several months to settle for the sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, his eventual choice was neither justified with the deportment of a man, who would later grow up to become the “presidency” himself and the corruption scandal that trailed one of the critical committees he was assigned to chair.
Perhaps, the appointment of Boss Gida Mustapha as a replacement to him would begin to reset the government and its focus.

And perhaps also, it was the reason Adamawa Stakeholders received his appointment with a lot of excitement. This is because of his mutual relationship with the people and his long standing political experience in the state.
The choice of Mustapha was also perceived by the stakeholders as one of the right decisions ever taken by President Muhammadu Buhari, following his vast experience in different facets of life. He is an experienced lawyer, a successful businessman and a onetime gubernatorial candidate of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Adamawa State in 1991.

The general belief is that with his wealth of experience and his good relationship with the people, he would mend bridges in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) nationwide and ensure that everybody is carried along in the discharge of his duties as the new SGF.

Importantly, the people of Adamawa are also happy because the president has replaced the former SGF with someone from the same state and the same Hong Local Government Area.

Senator Abubakar Girei, who represented Adamawa Central Senatorial District between 1999 and 2003, said the appointment of Mustapha was a master’s stroke and that because of his appointment, the six states in the North-east would vote for Buhari in 2019.

He explained that Mustapha was competent for the position and has the capability to bring everybody together in the region, saying the fight against the insurgency and the workability of the North East Development Commission was certain because of the coming on board of Mustapha.

“Without fear or favour, with the calibre of the new SGF, I want to assure the president that he will win the six states of the North-east and Mustapha will mend all fences across the APC nationwide. This appointment is a milestone in Buhari’s government and it will bring his administration back on track, because of Mustapha’s integrity and wealth of experience,” he said.

Challenges before the new SGF
Unfortunately, for the new SGF, he has not been invited to a tea party. He has been asked to not just replace a failed candidate, but to come and help give the administration a new face and image. Thus, some of the challenges before him range from administration to politics and strategy. In all of these, the administration had failed before his coming onboard.
Again, there are a lot of expectations by the people on his performance in office. Therefore, it is expected that he would put in his best to meet these expectations and act differently from those before him.

Curiously, he would be confronted with the challenge of local politics. He has a responsibility to mend fences in the Adamawa APC. This is because of the lingering rivalry amongst key stakeholders in the state like former Governor Mutala Nyako’s factions known as “Black Cap”, Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar faction (Atiku boys) and the incumbent governor, Jibrilla Muhammed Bindow, whose faction is known as Red Cap.

But checks have revealed that it would only take political brinkmanship to bring the three factions in the Adamawa APC together because of their deep-seated animosity, coloured by interest and ambition.

Adamawa state has more than eighty six tribes and the Kilba tribe, where the new SGF comes from is just one tribe among other tribes. He must therefore do his best to carry everybody along, because tribes and religion have great influence in Adamawa politics. It is believed that due to the cultural diversities in the state, he may face a difficulty of trying to satisfy everybody.

But the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ahmed Sajoh, has said the state government received the appointment of Mustapha with a lot of excitement and commended the president for choosing the right person for the job. He believes that Mustapha will not face much challenges following his experience, more so that he has been in politics a long time ago and so, he is abreast of the political landscape, both in the state and country at large.
In the same vein, Dr John Ngamsa of the Moddibo Adama University of Technology, Yola and one time commissioner for Information during the Boni Haruna administration, said Mustapha was the right person for the job. The university don said there was no challenge that Mustapha could not handle, because of his kind of person, adding that his appointment was a good decision by the current administration.

“I know him for quite some time now. I assure you he is the right person for this job, not because he is a Christian but he is qualified for the job and he can handle any situation,” he said

A Sterling Profile
Mustapha, a lawyer, management consultant, politician, businessman and boardroom guru of considerable repute, was the Managing Director/CEO of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
Born in Adamawa and attended Hong Secondary School, in Hong Adamawa and North East College of Arts and Sciences Maiduguri Borno State, he sealed that phase of his education with WASC and HSC in 1976.

He earned his Bachelor of Law (LL.B) from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1979 and was called to bar in 1980. Mustapha did the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at the Directorate of Legal Services at the Army Headquarters and was in charge of review of Court Marshall Proceedings from 1980 to 1981.

After his NYSC, he joined Sotesa Nigeria Limited, an Italian consultancy firm, as an Executive Director in charge of administration, leaving in 1983 to join the law firm, Messrs Onagoruwa & Co in Lagos.
He has been for decades, a progressive, since joining politics in the late 1980s. He later established his own practice as Principal Counsel in the firm, Messrs Mustapha & Associates.

In 2000, the Olusegun Obasanjo administration appointed him a member of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the defunct Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF). He served till 2007. He returned to legal practice in 2007 as Principal Partner of the law firm, Adroit Lex.

As a politician, he was a member, Federal Republic of Nigeria Constituent Assembly (1988-1989), Chairman People’s Solidarity Party, Gongola State (1989-1990), state chairman, Social Democratic Party, Gongola State (1990-1991) and was even a gubernatorial candidate for SDP in Adamawa State in 1991.

He was the Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria from 2010 to 2013. In 2007, he played a prominent role, serving as the Deputy Director-General of the party’s Presidential Campaign Organisation. His services remained in high demand after the fusing of ACN with other parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He was the Secretary, APC Presidential Campaign Organisation Mobilisation (2015) and member, APC Transition Committee (2015). He is also a member, APC Board of Trustees. And until his new appointment, he was the Managing Director/CEO of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).

Like Lawal, he is a Christian and he is the National Vice President, Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International Nigeria. As it is, only time will tell, whether Mustapha truly meets the expectations of Nigerians especially the North-east zone of the country, where he comes from – a zone ravaged by the activities of insurgents with huge humanitarian crisis.