- •Nigerians must emulate him, says president
Bennett Oghifo in Lagos and OmololuOgunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has paid glowing tribute to former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the late Allison Ayida, who was buried in Lagos friday, saying Ayida exhibited remarkable commitment to the progress and unity of the country
The family of Mr. Ayida also received condolence messages from former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Military President Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
Prior to the burial, which took place at the Vaults and Gardens in Ikoyi, a funeral service took place at Our Saviour’s Church, TafawaBalewa Square, Lagos, presided by The RT. Revd Dr. Humphrey Bamisebi Olumakaye, Diocesan Bishop of Lagos and Missioner.
In attendance at the funeral service were: President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, ex-Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, former President OlusegunObasanjo, Chief Jim Ovia, Chief Felix Ohiewere, TundeOgbeha, Phillip Asiodu, and Amb. TayoOgundurele, among other distinguished guests.
In his tribute, President Buhari urged younger Nigerians and public servants to emulate the uncommon patriotism of Ayida.
The president also commiserated with the family of the deceased, the government and people of Delta State on the transition of their patriarch.
In a statement, the president’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina said as the remains of Ayida, whom he described as a political economist and board-room guru, were interred, the president recalled the deceased’s decades of public service to his fatherland, saying his wide experience would be missed.
He quoted the president as saying, “Nigeria will surely miss his wide experience in public and private services. We need people like him and his colleagues, the celebrated super permanent secretaries, who exhibited remarkable commitment to the progress and unity of the country.”
Adesina added that the president prayed the Almighty God to comfort the family, close associates and admirers of the late former federal permanent secretary, and grant his soul eternal rest.
In his condolence message to the family of the late Commander of the Federal Republic, Obasanjo recalled with “a feeling of nostalgia, but with gratitude to God, the several accomplishments of late Mr. Allison Ayida as a seasoned technocrat, inimitable administrator, quintessential diplomat and a consummate man of ideas.”
He said for over two decades, Ayida served the nation with distinction and commitment to the high ideals of the public service.
The former president traced Mr. Ayida’s service to the nation from his humble beginning as an Assistant Secretary of the Federal Public Service which he joined in 1957, serving in various capacities and rising through the ranks to the exalted public service position of the Secretary to the Federal Military Government and Head of Service in 1975, a post he held till 1977 when he retired from the service.
Obasanjo added: “Ayida belonged to the pantheon of those thoroughbred and genuine career civil servants who worked assiduously to position and develop the Nigerian Civil Service Commission and who are glowingly revered for keeping the toga of Super Perm Secs till date.
“He was one of the special breed of Permanent Secretaries allowed to attend the meetings of the Supreme Military Council as observers and pass memos to the Head of State without recourse to their Ministers.
“Mr. Ayida, who was a hardworking and committed member of my administration as the then Military Head of State, put in his best during his lifetime to ensure that our policies were appreciated and understood by the general populace. His amiable disposition and national outlook were qualities which served him well on the job.”
In his condolence message, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation said: “The late Allison Ayida was an exemplary Public Servant, a patriot, devoted Christian and Community Leader who will be remembered for his pursuit of honesty, forthrightness and selfless service to the nation.”
The SGF said Mr. Ayida had great influence on government during his time in service, stating that “This was demonstrated in his counsel as the Chairman of the Council of Permanent Secretaries to the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, which led to the creation of 12 States from the then Regional Government structure. Also, his patriotism and astuteness was instrumental to keeping Nigeria as one nation through his advice to General Gowon not to accede to the agitation to split the country.”
Mustapha also recalled the role Mr. Ayida played as a member of the committee that was instrumental for the upward review of salaries of Civil Servants popularly known as UdojiAward which took effect from January 1975. “I make bold to say that the memory of his sterling contributions to successful and peaceful governance will remain indelible on the sands of Nigerian history.”
Babaginda said, in his condolence message, that Mr. Ayida “carved for himself a special place in the history of public service as one of Nigeria’s most reputable public servants and that he reached the peak of his career with his appointment as the fifth Secretary to the Government and Head of Service of the Federation.”
The former president said, as a seasoned, intelligent and highly qualified experienced development economist, Ayida “brought to bear on the reconstruction programme of post civil war Nigeria.”
He stated that “Allison Ayida was a man of high moral integrity and brought his unquantifiable qualities and wealth of experience to the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club and the King’s College Old Boys Association. As an accomplished son of Warri Kingdom, his community acknowledges him with immense pride. He occupied the position of Chairman of the Itsekiri Leaders Forum and member Itsekiri Leaders of Thought.”
Babaginda said Nigeria would miss his wisdom, counsel, experience and courage at a time when such qualities are much needed for the economic, social and political development of our country.