Boss Mustapha: Stabiliser, Coordinating Govt Bureaucracy


Tajudeen Kareem

”I am writing to personally recognise your competence and commend the way you organised and led the ministers’ Retreat. The benefits derived from the committee’s discussions were enormous, and the added values to the ministers’ and Permanent Secretaries’ experiences very much appreciated.

”Your comprehensive speech at the beginning of the second day of the retreat proved your capacity and experience. For those of us who missed the first day of the retreat, the speech adequately prepared us for the second and final day of the occasion. I am happy to write this short letter of appreciation to you because I am very impressed with your performance”.

President Muhammadu Buhari gushed effusively in commendation to the Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha soon after the successful handling of the 2020 Ministerial Retreat. It was rare but fitted the emerging profile of a tried and tested bureaucrat who gets things done unobtrusively.

A knack for exploring peaceful interaction and cooperation for the common good motivated his visit to then-Senate President, Bukola Saraki and House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara just days after his inauguration as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Subsequently, he espoused his philosophy on political aspirations and accession to the highest office in the land, the Presidency, based on dialogue and negotiations with all power blocs, at a meeting with a delegation of South-East leaders.

Walking the talk, Boss Mustapha has discharged his duties with panache, competence, patience, dedication and total commitment to the realisation of the yearnings of Nigerians for quick delivery of the dividends of democracy. As the coordinator of the machinery of the federal government, he has passionately tasked ministers and other aides to deliver on Mr President’s promises to Nigerians; regarding such as a sacred duty to the populace.

At the recent Ministerial Retreat in Abuja, Mustapha identified nine priority areas critical to attaining the objectives of good governance: building a thriving and sustainable economy; enhancing social inclusion, reducing poverty; enlarging agricultural output for food security and export, attaining energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products as well as expanding transport and other infrastructural development.

Others are expanding business growth, entrepreneurship and industrialisation; access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigerians; building a system to fight corruption, improving governance and creating social cohesion; and enhancing security for all.

Barely three years in the saddle, Mustapha has functioned as the ‘stabiliser’ and the non-controversial intellectual bulwark in the Buhari administration.
His appointment as Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 gave the public some peep into his flair for hard work, diligence and commitment. It is no surprise that the committee’s painstaking national mobilisation effort has stemmed the feared havoc of the global pandemic on the nation. It fetched him the gratitude of the country.

President Buhari joined the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Federal Executive Council to celebrate the SGF at his 64th birthday anniversary recently. He greeted “family, friends, professional and political associates of the legal luminary, party stalwart and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, whose visionary and inclusive leadership style continues to strengthen the governing party and the administration, with remarkable results.”

The president affirmed: “Mustapha has provided strong and commendable leadership as a rallying point for the Federal Executive Council and demonstrated high-level patriotism by accepting the demanding position of chairing the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. He congratulated him and the team for steadily guiding Nigerians amid health and economic uncertainties.”

With sincerity and deep understanding of their invaluable roles, the SGF has engaged traditional rulers, religious leaders, governors and foreign envoys with open arms and a listening ear to broaden and enrich the quality of governance.
It is not surprising then that the Ministerial Retreat he convened recently elicited another glowing acknowledgement of his boss in a rare open letter of commendation.

He has brought that knack for successful management of the many interests in teams and groups to the Presidential Task Force on Covid19. The scope is as broad as the primary remit of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
The PTF on COVID-19 comprises technical and administrative experts from various fields. Add the states and local governments with their different healthcare and ancillary professionals. Boss Mustapha was able to forge a structure and systems that work. The result has been an outstanding success in the management of the pandemic by Nigeria. The statistics are revealing.

Nigeria has achieved 96 per cent success in tracing victims while activating 71 laboratories to conduct tests nationwide. It is one of the many that make up the African success story that Western experts and analysts consider surprising. The results and backing data do not surprise the team at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

Coordination is the robust suite of the Presidential Team. It has managed successfully the efforts to bring all stakeholders to a standard table to tackle the national emergency. They include states and local governments, health sector stakeholders, players in the private sector as well as development partners. Effective coordination has earned the confidence and trust of all.
Mustapha is a lawyer, management consultant, politician, businessman and boardroom guru of high repute and considerable experience.
Born in Adamawa State, Mustapha attended Hong Secondary School, Adamawa State and North East College of Arts and Science, Maiduguri, Borno State, crowning it with WASC and HSC in 1976. He earned his Bachelor of Law (LL.B) from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1979 and was called to bar in 1980. From 1980 to 1981, Mustapha did the compulsory National Youth Service Corps at the Directorate of Legal Services at the Army Headquarters and was in charge of the review of Court Marshall Proceedings.

After his National Service, 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.
With his law practice in full bloom, Mustapha became a principal counsel in the firm of Messrs Mustapha & Associates. His legal interests and expertise spanned privatisation and commercialisation of public companies and government parastatals. He was also involved in the preparation of various and miscellaneous banking documents such as debentures, guarantees, mortgages, bonds and loan syndications.

One of his career highlights was his appointment as a member of the Interim Management Committee of the defunct Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund, serving meritoriously from 2000 to 2007. At the PTF, he was responsible for the production of an up-to-date comprehensive project and programme report, including location, coverage and whether performed, performing or abandoned production of the final information of assets and liabilities, the examination of the administrative structure and cost-effectiveness of PTF projects and services, among other duties.

Recall that Mustapha also played key leadership roles at the Nigeria Bar Association serving as Social Secretary and Chairman at the Yola branch. Not surprising, therefore, after his stint at the PTF in 2007, he returned to full legal practice and was appointed principal partner at Adroit Lex, a thriving law firm.

With a burning desire to serve the larger society, he was at various times, a member of the Constituent Assembly (1988-1989), Chairman, People’s Solidarity Party-Gongola State (1989-1990), State Chairman, Social Democratic Party, Gongola State (1990-1991) and emerged the 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. He was Secretary, APC Presidential Campaign Organization Mobilization (2015) and member, APC Transition Committee (2015). He is also a member, APC Board of Trustees.
He served as Managing Director of Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority from June 2016 till 30 October 2017, before he was appointed the SGF.

•Kareem is a media consultant in Abuja.