Tajudeen Suleiman writes that in less than two years upon his assumption of office as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha has made such an impact that would undoubtedly become a reference for future holders of the office
Charisma is what every leader need. It is a force of personality and strength of character that inspire devotion among the followership. No one is a leader without it, unless they pretend. Leaders who lack it often find out they cannot run the long distance because they’re alone.
But when the leader also has the gift of vision, they are revered and adored. They inspire hope because they make people dream. They are charmers who make us dream and push us beyond the limit of our abilities. No matter in what role they are, they always leave their footprint.
One of these leaders during the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari is Boss Mustapha. His experience in private practice as a lawyer and management consultant with deep involvement in government affairs may have prepared him for the job. In less than two years he served as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mustapha made such an impact that would undoubtedly become a reference for future holders of the office. And he did this so unobtrusively.
For instance, many in the first term cabinet of Buhari would not forget in a long time how they were driven so hard to deliver on the mandates of their offices by pure innovative thinking. With the authority of President Buhari, the OSGF initiated an accountability process for cabinet members whereby every member, including the SGF did physical presentation of the policies that were initiated by their ministries, the contracts approved and programmes executed.
The process helped in no small measure to track government policies and programmes and ensured details of all projects were available and domiciled in the office of the SGF. This initiative led to the eventual launching of a compendium of about 1,042 pages of council’s memos initiated by the Buhari administration in its first term.
As if this was not enough pressure to contend with, the office of the SGF also scored another first when it caused the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to sit three times within one week in an effort to help the administration concluded its first term seamlessly. It was the first time in the history of the country that FEC would sit thrice in a week to deliberate on national issues and consider over 100 memos, sitting for ten hours in one day.
Boss Mustapha’s experience in governance, private sector and politics is well known. But as a writer once explained, what marks him out is not so much the richness of his experience, but how that impacts on his vision. Mustapha is driven by a collective vision that takes Nigeria as a whole, and not a collection of entities. It is a vision ably represented by President Buhari but for which he had not been given credit-largely because of those who puts their political interests above that of the country and the people.
It is this vision that motivates him and it is why he is such a great asset to President Buhari’s administration. When President Buhari appointed him SGF in October 2017, he came into office as if he had been waiting for the appointment. It didn’t take him a week to prepare an agenda for his tenure, and he applied himself to the job in a way that immediately created a desired impact.
First, he realized there was an urgent need for a national dialogue among states and the Federal Government to promote cooperation and understanding and bring down tension in the polity. He immediately revived a quarterly meeting that used to hold between the OSGF and those of the 36 states which has not been taken place for a couple of years.
It was a strategic step to ensure federal government policies and programmes are understand at the state level and that all parts of the country are on the same page with the government at the Centre. The venue of the meeting was rotated among the states and zones to give everyone a sense of belonging.
Speaking about the interaction with the states in a media interview recently, he said: “When we started the meeting, I realized that so many things that were decided at the Federal level never took hold in the states. There was big communication gap. But that meeting provided us with a platform where we shared ideas, experiences of how things were done in different states and many of the states began to learn from the experiences of other states. “
As a result, states were able to embrace many of the federal government initiatives, including the Anchor Borrowers Programme for Agriculture and the School Feeding programme.
But more than any other, it is in the way the SGF enabled a synergy among government institutions and promoted a seamless transmission of information and document in coordinating government activities that would be the hallmark of his tenure. The SGF, perhaps unknown to many, succeeded in fostering a positive liaison between the executive and the legislature which greatly reduced the adversarial relationship between the two arms of government.
Mustapha also used his office to become part of the solution to the security challenges of the country. The Special Services Office in the OSGF, which provides the secretariat to the office of the national security adviser became more active under him. Security meetings were summoned and held with permanent secretaries at the different levels of different states with their permanent secretaries to ensure there was synergy in dealing with security matters plaguing the country.
His office coordinated these meetings which became routine, sometimes monthly, sometimes quarterly, depending on the level of threat. It provided a forum to discuss the security implications of whatever was happening all over the country. Thus, he turned the office not just into an overtly active secretariat for security matters in the country, but also provided perspective and intellectual analysis of security threats to states and federal government.
At a time of unprecedented security challenges, his office provided intelligence, and other logistics support to contain the different dimensions of the security challenges.
The 62-year-old lawyer, management consultant and politician is also a workaholic. There are reports in the media that most often than not, he leaves his office as late as 2am because he had to attend to all files. He cuts more of the image of a technocrat than a politician for which he seemed better known.