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Ajanah, Kogi Chief Judge in the eye of the storm

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Ajanah, Kogi Chief Judge in the eye of the storm

The Chief Judge of Kogi State, Justice Nasir Ajanah, has been having a running battle with the executive and the legislative arms of government in the state with the lawmakers recommending his removal. YINKA OLADOYINBO looks at the issues surrounding the ensuing judicial crisis in the state.
Justice Nasiru Ajanah the Chief Judge of Kogi State

By YINKA OLADOYINBO

Justice Nasir Ajanah, the Chief Judge of Kogi State, has been in the eye of the storm in the last couple of months as his position as the number one judge in the Confluence State is being threatened following a face-off between the executive arm of government and the judiciary on one hand and the legislative arm and the judiciary on another hand. Already, the state House of Assembly has recommended to the executive that he should be shown the way out because of an alleged gross misconduct.

The travails of Ajanah became a public knowledge when members of the state chapter of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) decided to boycott the table payment system adopted by the state government for payment of salaries of its workers. The government had become worried that, in spite of series of staff verification exercises it embarked upon, which lasted several months, the main objective of reducing its wage bill could not be achieved. The more the screening exercises continued, the more it became difficult for the total amount being spent on wages to reduce as expected.

Following the discovery, the state government had, last August, directed that every worker should be paid his or her salary through personal appearance, which again appeared to be another round of screening aimed at ascertaining the actual state work- force. The directive however generated controversies as the workers in the judiciary arm of government said they would not participate, arguing that they are working for a distinct arm of government that should not be taking directives from another arm.

They further said they had never been part of the screening exercises organised by the state government, wondering why the executive insisted that they should come forward for physical payment of salary. The chairman of the state chapter of JUSUN, Emmanuel Waniko, had stated that the state government’s decision to embark on table payment of part of the arrears of salaries owed the workers was not acceptable.

Waniko also argued that the government’s refusal to implement an upward review and timely remittance of the age-long monthly subvention due to the state judiciary could worsen the looming crisis between the union and the three levels of court in the state.

According to him, the combined management of the state’s High Court, Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Court of Appeal was reportedly requested by the union to explain the modalities and time of payment of the five-month outstanding salaries owed staff of the judiciary. The union however frowned at the attempt by the executive to muscle the state’s third arm of government against the constitutional provisions that guarantees the financial independence of the judiciary.

For the Kogi JUSUN chairman, the development contravenes the recent legislative amendment to the constitution assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari and was aimed at strengthening the financial autonomy of state judiciaries and legislatures.

Prior to the introduction of the table payment arrangement, the executive was said to have stopped the monthly subvention of the judiciary which had led to the non-payment of the salary of workers in that arm of government. The workers consequently embarked on an industrial action to press home their demands as their salary was outstanding for about four months. The strike action had made the courts in the state to be locked for almost five months now.

The government was said to have made several entreaties to Justice Ajanah to prevail on the workers to come forward for the table payment but the Chief Judge was said to have sided with his people on their stand that the judiciary is not an appendage of the executive. The development made the executive, through the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mrs Folasade Ayoade, to write to the state legislature, asking the lawmakers to intervene in the looming crisis.

In the letter to the state House of Assembly, read by the Speaker, Matthew Kolawole, the SSG revealed that she had written a letter on 14 November, 2018, informing Ajanah of a request for the state judiciary’s payroll in preparation for table payment and pay parade exercise. But the Chief Judge replied, via a letter dated 16 November, 2018, declining the request on the ground, among others, that it impugned the independence and autonomy of the judiciary.

According to Mrs Ayoade, the stance of the state Chief Judge negated the earlier stand of the state House of Assembly of encouraging civil servants working in the legislature to participate in the exercise. She said the principle of Separation of Powers (SOP) stipulated that civil servants working in the state judiciary could not appear in their own workplace for the purpose of physical identification and collection of biometric data for the state integrated data base of its workers.

She said efforts she made to reach out to JUSUN to assure them of priority attention enjoyed by the state legislature and accord them same expeditious and respectful manner, were rebuffed.

The development made the state House of Assembly to set up a six-man committee, headed by the Majority Leader, Hassan Abdullahi, to interface with the judiciary and report back within a week.

However, sensing the trend of the events and the likely steps that can be taken by the executive and the legislature, the judiciary approached the state High Court, sitting in Koton Karfe, to seek for an injunction restraining the legislature from taking any step that may affect the Chief Judge and the Chief Registrar of the court, Yahaya Adamu, from performing their constitutional duties. The court, presided over by Justice Alaba Ajileye, granted the prayers of the applicants and this prevented the lawmakers from proceeding with activities brought about by the letter of the SSG.

As the Chief Judge was about to heave a sigh of relief and enjoy the peace that was occasioned by the injunction, the legislature came up with another joker that caught many of the followers of events in the state unawares. The lawmakers, at their sitting on April 3, 2019, received the report of the House Public Accounts Committee that looked into the financial dealings of some government organs and agencies.

Unfortunately for the Chief Judge, the judiciary was one of the organs that were investigated. At the end of the sitting, the state House of Assembly concluded that the judiciary was guilty. Chairman of the public accounts committee of the House, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed, while presenting the report to the executive, said the Chief Judge should step aside to defend himself over his alleged indictment by the Auditor-General of the state.

According to Mohammed, the committee was set up at the plenary sitting of the House on December 24, 2018, in line with Section 103 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). He said the state judiciary was said to have, in December 2016, spent its budget above the approved limits provided in some sub-heads as contained in the 2016 Appropriation Law to the tune of N7, 574, 850 without the approval of virement application.

He said: “It was also reported by the state Auditor-General that Kogi State High Court made huge cash withdrawal to the tune of N137, 607,334.11). The cash was withdrawn from High Court Bank account in the year under review. This transaction breached the provisions of chapter 6, regulation 632 which stipulates that “the use of cash for payment is hereby prohibited.”

The committee therefore, recommenced the removal of the Chief Judge for alleged gross misconduct or in the alternative he should step aside, pending his appearance before the House Committee on Public Accounts to defend himself.

Expectedly, the action of the lawmakers has been generating ripples in the state with many saying that the state government was only using the legislature to get at the Chief Judge as it appeared that the executive wanted Ajanah out of office at all cost.

Observers also argued that there was more to the executive/judiciary face-off than meet the eyes, particularly when the governor and the Chief Judge are of the Ebira extraction from the same Kogi Central Senatorial District of the state.

Speaking on the involvement of the legislature in the logjam, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Kolawole said the legislative body can never be used by an arm of government to fight another arm of government. He said the report of the auditor-general had indicted the judiciary for spending more than the amount appropriated to it by the house.

He further explained that the public accounts committee of the house invited the Chief Judge on three occasions to defend the allegations but he refused to honour the invitations. He said such action, under the constitution, amounted to gross misconduct, saying it was one of the offences for which a chief judge could be removed from office. Kolawole noted that the legislature did not flout any court order by going ahead with the activities of the committee on public accounts, saying the issue was never before any court of competent jurisdiction.

According to the Kogi Assembly speaker, the issue that was taken before the Koton Karfe court by the embattled Chief Judge was the one that originated from the letter written to the SSG, seeking the intervention of the legislature in the impasse.

Again, not prepared to be caught napping, the Chief Judge and the Chief Registrar instituted another suit at the same Koton Karfe court, seeking the nullification of the resolution of the state House of Assembly. He argued that the resolution was arrived at in defiance to a subsisting order of the court. In a motion filed by their counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, the duo said the recommendation should be quashed as it was illegal, null and void.

Awomolo said the Motion on Notice HC/KK02M/201 was brought, pursuant to Order 11, Rules 1 and 2 of Kogi State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2006, to counter the action of the state legislature in defying the court order in the impasse between the legislative and the executive arms. The motion has Kogi State House of Assembly, Speaker of the House, Matthew Kolawole,

Honourable Bello Hassan Abdullahi, chairman of the ad-hoc committee; governor of Kogi State and the Attorney-General of the state as defendants.

According to the plaintiffs, the House of Assembly went ahead to sit and issue a resolution on the matter, despite the pendency of Suit NO. HC/KK/11CV/2018 and an interim injunctive order of the court. They prayed for an order of the court nullifying and setting aside the resolution passed by the House at its plenary sitting of 2 April, 2019, in defiance of the pendency of the suit.

The claimants also brought the motion on the grounds that the purported resolution of the first-third defendants was made during the pendency of the suit and a subsisting order of the court restraining the defendants from taking any steps in respect of the substantive matter. However, on 12 April when the motion was to be moved, the court had to postpone its sitting on the matter indefinitely, based on the pervading security situation around the court premises.

The attempt to remove the Chief Judge of Kogi State is another avenue to test the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) on the removal of judicial officers. Section 292 (1) of the constitution provides that “A judicial officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances: (a) in the case of –

(i) Chief Justice of Nigeria, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and President, Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, by the president acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate;

(ii) Chief Judge of a state, Grand Kadi of a Sharia Court of Appeal or President of a Customary Court of Appeal of a state, by the governor acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly of the state-praying that he be so removed for his inability to discharge the functions of his office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or of body) or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct;

(b) in any case, other than those to which paragraph (a) of this subsection applies, by the president or, as the case may be, the governor acting on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) that the judicial officer be so removed for his inability to discharge the functions of his office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or of body) or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct.”

It is expected that the processes on the removal of Ajanah as the Chief Judge of Kogi State would have to be brought before the NJC, a body that is constitutionally empowered to recommend the removal of any judicial officer to either the president or the governor as the case may be.

Culled from Nigerian Tribune

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Personality

Sokoto Varsity Alumni honours HYPADEC MD, Malami, others

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Sokoto Varsity Alumni honours HYPADEC MD, Malami, others

The Abuja chapter of Usmanu Danfodiyo University Alumni Association on Thursday honoured the Attorney General and Minister for Justice Abubakar Malami SAN and others for their meritorious service to Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto.
In his welcome remark, the chairman of the Abuja Chapter of the association Alhaji Kasimu Yahaya indicated that the dinner was basically to celebrate one of their own who was recently appointed as the Pioneer Managing
Director and CEO of Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPADEC) Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Yelwa.

He also pointed out that it was also an occasion to appraise the performance of Abuja chapter of the association and to chart the way forward.

Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State among other guests commended the association for being a robust platform for steering the growth and development of not only their Alma mater but the country at large.

Kebbi State is blessed Usman Danfodio University is blessed because you could not have found a better person appointed in his position.
He paid glowing tribute to HYPADEC MD/CEO who until his recent appointment was a commissioner in Kebbi State.
He attributed the success story recorded in the Housing sector in the state to the hard work and dedication of Alhaji Sadiq Yelwa, even as he urge him to replicate his experience in the new commission.

Those honoured by the Alumni include Abubakar Malami SAN,
Attorney General and Minister for Justice for his dedication to duty and nation building.
Also honoured was Dr. Muhammed Zayyanu Abdullahi, Emir of Yauri and former Vice-Chancellor, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto for peace and Integrity.
Others include Muhammed Sanusi, as best Alumnus of the year 2020 for his support to the Abuja chapter and theUniversity and Alh. Abubakar Musa, honoured for his tireless support and cooperation to the chapter.
Responding on behalf of fellow awardees, former Vice-Chancellor, Dr.
Muhammed Zayyanu Abdullahi commended the Abuja chapter of UDUS Alumni for the honour done to them and the University authority, even as he urged them to continue the good work.
Prof. Samaila Kamba represented the Vice-Chancellor on the
occasion.
He called on the Alumni association to support the University in the area of accommodation which according to him is inadequate for the huge student population. This call become very imperative as there was fire incident at the girl’s hostel at the main campus of the University recently.
National president of the Alumni association Prof. Risqua Shehu was represented by Alh. Bashir Muktar who in his good will message thanked the organizers for the successful event.
In his closing remark, Sen. Abubakar Sodangi, BOT chairman of Abuja
chapter UDUS Alumni commended the organizers and task them to do more in the service to the chapter and the Alma matta.
Senator Abubakar
Sodangi BOT chairman
Sokoto university said the institution has come a long way and we are equal to the task that can be confirmed with our physical infrastructural facilities.
The Abuja chapter Chairman said Usman Danfodio University is known for Academic and character, “So we know that the person appointed by the President to serve as the Managing Director he would reflect that good character because we have seen him exhibit that in various capacities where he did his best. “That is a good signal because the product of the university have been doing well in this country.
The celebrant Abubakar Sadiq Yelwa in his comments promised to do more for Nigeria and humanity.
“I am grateful to the president for the opportunity he has given to me to represent sent Nigeria in this very highly elated position.”

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Dame Patience Jonathan bags Most Outstanding, Distinguished First Lady of the Decade in Nigeria Award

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Dame Patience Jonathan bags Most Outstanding, Distinguished First Lady of the Decade in Nigeria Award

The former First Lady of Nigeria from 2010-2015 Dame (Dr) Patience Faka Goodluck Jonathan, is to be honoured by the People’s Security Monitor (PSM) Conference and Recognition Awards scheduled to take place at the Merit House, Abuja, on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.

The Executive Producer/CEO and Chairman, Organizing Committee of the 2021 PSM Conference and Recognition Ceremony, Comrade Isiaka Mustapha, in a statement issued in Abuja, said honouring the former First Lady should not be a surprise to Nigerians knowing fully well her larger than life personality even after leaving office 6 years ago.

Mrs Jonathan popularly known as ‘Mama peace’ is also former President of African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM) and Chairperson of A. Aruera Reachout Foundation (AARF) and Chief Executive, of Women for Change and Development Initiative (W4CDI).

Comrade Mustapha placed emphasis on the bold initiatives of taking care of the children with “hole in their hearts”; the mass mobilization of women and youths helping the less privileged in the society and her laudable accomplishments while she was in Office as the First Lady.

Her achievements till date he said have been acknowledged as they are there for all to see.

He said “Show me any other First Lady alive” that has impacted so much on the lives of the ordinary women, Children and Nigerians if not Dame Patience Jonathan.”

He described her as a woman whose heart is so dear to all not minding where you are from or to which religion you belong. “She is a promoter of peace known nationally, continentally and globally for her concern for peace and harmonious co-existence amongst all people that earned her the name “Mama Peace.”

The Chairman of the Organizing Committee reiterated that his organization is very lucky to have noticed it earlier than any award organizers and institutions that this great Nigerian should be honoured for her selfless, openness, forthrightness and love for the women of this country, especially now when she is not in government and still doing things privately for the benefit of humanity.

“That this resourceful, energetic, focused and committed former First Lady, a good mother and champion of the empowerment of the Nigerian women, mother of orphans, friend of the needy, supporter of indigent who need no introduction.

“Her life personifies the saying that some individuals are born great; some had greatness thrust upon them by fate while some also have their way through hard work to become great.

“For Dame Patience Jonathan, she is a product of fate and hardwork, who have fought tirelessly for the equitable inclusion and participation of women in all arms of government.

“She is always convinced that political and economic change and the empowerment of the women can only be complete when women actively participate in making and implementing policies that affect them which has been the goal of her NGO, the Women for Change and Development Initiative (W4CDI).”

Comrade Mustapha said Dame Patience’s NGO has been able to change and re-orient our women to the belief that they can aspire to any position of leadership without fear of discrimination.

“Through her campaign and mobilization, many states in Nigeria then approved the 35 percent affirmation slot for women in governance, a feat that no women alive have surpassed and a feat worthy of emulation and commendation, as well as put her name on the sands of time.

“Her other NGO, the A. Aruera Reachout Foundation, has been at the forefront in training women to earn meaningful means of livelihood by equipping them with marketing skills, provide them with capital and starter packs to enable them start their businesses. “The foundation also distributes farming and fishing equipment to subsistence farmers and fishermen, as well as provides scholarships and support for orphans and indigent girls; rehabilitate prison inmates, especially female inmates and sponsors children with heart ailment for surgery abroad till date.

“Dame Patience is known for the passion and steadfast dedication to the betterment of the lives of Nigerian women, children, youths, the physically challenged and the aged. As a “Global Child Online Protection Champion” given to her by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU/IMPACT) which was given to her on May 10, 2013.

“She will be honoured this year along with other deserving awardees that have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen endeavours, by People’s Security award as “The Most Outstanding and Distinguished First Lady of the Decade in Nigeria”.

“We enjoin all men and women including youths of good faith to join us to celebrate Mama Peace on that eventful date.”

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BEN EGBUNA WAS NOT A TRUE NIGERIAN !

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BEN EGBUNA WAS NOT A TRUE NIGERIAN !

By Victorson Agbenson

‘What nonsense DG are you?’

‘No, Honourable Minister, you can’t talk to me like that, with due respect Mr. Minister, you better mind your language… You cant be insulting me just because you are a minister, anybody can be appointed a minister, but it takes some good hard work to rise through the ranks and become a Chief Executive, so please caution yourself, I won’t employ the lady just like that , she must go through the interview process like others to determine her competencies, period!’

That was Ben Egbuna in a heated argument between him and the then Minister of State for Information( look for his name – na Emmanuel Ogbeche and Jackson Lekan Ojo-Fatoye friend).

The Minister wanted Mr. Egbuna, then DG, FRCN to employ a certain lady without undergoing an interview but Mr.Egbuna refused and even when the minister insulted and threatened to sack him he stood his ground.

That was vintage Ben Egbuna. He would not bend, nor bow. His then Special Assistant, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze and yours sincerely, his then Personal Assistant, gave him a nick name that just three of us – including his Secretary, Mrs. Gloria Nneke knew – straight rod!

Ben Egbuna was indeed a straight iron rod. No cutting corners, no bending and I was not too comfortable over that because he kept himself in harm’s way. He risked a good job. Being DG was and never bean moi moi. It was and still is a position of affluence and influence, with a lot of gbalamu
( according to Julius Ogunro )

One day during the tenure of Mr. Kevin Ejiofor , he received a package from then Governor Goodluck Jonathan of Bayelsa state, after Alamieyeseigha’s removal. When Mr Ejiofor opened the briefcase he suddenly shouted and exclaimed ‘no wonder people don’t want to leave this seat!’

But Ben Egbuna walked away based on principles. Indeed he was not a true Nigerian. The true Nigerian would lie, cringe, beg, roll on the floor, creep like serpent just to keep his post for filthy lucre.
Today Chief Executives serve out their tenure, even clock retirement age and stay put, to scheme tenure extension. Ben was not a true Nigerian!

All he was interested in was the job. As his PA I never saw him eat and he hardly laughed. Even his speech pattern was straight and sharp – to the point and no oiling of words or speaking from both sides of his mouth.

He was too frank and straight to allow you even begin gossips to gain some promotion or favours from him.

I said, I could not bring myself to embrace his unbending attitude because he hurt himself and some of us who worked with him. For instance, clearly, Mr Egbuna would have stayed longer in office if he was a true Nigerian. We believe in bootlicking and yes sir, yes sir style of leadership and followership. Mr. Egbuna refused to compromise, he questioned and resisted award of contracts to his supervisory minister of information, late Mr. John Odey without due process. Mr Odey saw this as an affront and began to frustrate all Ben Egbuna’s efforts to reposition FRCN. Indeed Mr Egbuna was not a true Nigerian. Which true Nigerian DG would risk his job like this?

Things became so bad that Mr. Odey would sit on all files from FRCN and refuse to approve them because he hated the guts of the DG. We suffered. We could not even buy papers and ink in the newsrooms and the DGs office. Mr. Odey sustained this wicked onslaught until he frustrated Egbuna out of office.

Please dont misunderstand me.
Who am I to hold grudges against Mr. John Odey and his Minister of State. Mr Odey later became my good friend long after he left office as Minister as we had to run things together when I became Chair of the press corp of his party, the PDP. You can’t take away the fact that Mr. Odey was a great party man. Even when things went roughly he remained in his party and worked hard to salvage things. Now that Egbuna has joined him in the great beyond, I hope they would talk things over.

Mr Egbuna was removed from office but not from the world. He left public office with his honour intact. He left with his integrity intact and his head high. But he was not a true Nigerian because true Nigerians are not concerned about integrity. If you mention it they would sarcastically retort – ‘intewhat?’

Egbuna ensured that all attempts from the Ministry, under Mr John Odey, to shortchange the system were rebuffed. He refused to give and refused to collect. ‘Which kind man be that sef’ He paid dearly for it. He was not a true Nigerian. He could have enjoyed the pecks of office for a longer time and made much worldly wealth. But he chose to do what was right. He was not a true Nigerian. True Nigerians don’t behave like that, we find ways of compromising and retain our post only to have sad memories of lost opportunities to better the nation after we leave office. The many tales of such compromises that litter our public life is the reason why Nigeria is today in a sorry state at the intensive care unit of the global hospital gasping for breath with no oxygen mask even in sight.

The few honest men who remained are highly hated and scorned by their friends and family members ‘you get opportunity you no fit run racket, olodo, odeh’

I made this point very loudly during Mr. Egbuna’s send off party which had in attendance, the CEOs of information paratastals such as Prof Tony Iredia (NTA) , Remi Oyo (NAN) and top directors. Even the then new successor of Mr. Egbuna, Alhaji Nuhu Yusuf was in attendance. I must have stepped on toes by spilling the beans, a common PA was not supposed to speak in such a forum of Big men, ‘talkless’ of disparaging Very Big men such as Ministers. I was not a true Nigerian. Perhaps I should not have spoken or even raise dust at that auspicious occasion. I spoke the avoidable word. Many of the DGs and Directors were experiencing what I talked about but could not talk and were even afraid to betray any expression, nod, smile or clap as I hit ‘a whole Minister of the Federal Republic and his Minister of state’ . They were true Nigerians. They must have thought ,’ this small boy does not understand how the public service works’ I was not a true Nigerian. And I lost the job not long after!

I felt their spirit in the hall as I spoke, I had touched where I should not touch. True Nigerians don’t rock the boat, they don’t talk while eating. Me, common PA spoke, Even SA Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, who was my immediate boss did not say ‘pim’. He is a wise man. He knows that Nigerians don’t like truth. Like Egbuna, I was not a true Nigerian. And I guess that was why shortly after Yusuf Nuhu settled down as DG, he sent me packing to the newsroom where I was able to fulfill my then burning desire of becoming NUJ Chairman in FRCN. He never knew he was helping me to fulfill my destiny. I had been troubling Mr. Gbenga Onayiga, our natural NUJ FRCN leader that I wanted to run for the chairmanship of NUJ to reposition the body as it had gone comatose under Mr. Godwin Odemijie(Chairman) and Suleman Musa ( Secretary).No blame them, the duo had served out their tenure and became tired as members were lethargic about union activities. Mr. Onayiga kept telling me ‘we can’t make you NUJ chairman when you are DG’s PA’ And i waited patiently until Nuhu fired me. My removal by Nuhu became a blessing as it gave me the opportunity to work and shine!

Today CEOs of government agencies only surround themselves and fix those from their ethnic groups or those who can bootlick or be their spies. But not so with Ben Egbuna. He inherited me from Mr. Kevin Ejiofor and had the choice of bringing his ‘loyalist’ or tribesman to replace me, but Ben did not. When President Jonathan was coming on board after the demise of Yar’ Adu and many felt that there was to be a change of batton regarding FRCN’s reporter covering the state house, I felt I should give it a shot and after muting the idea with Ikechukwu Eze, I went to see Mr Egbuna. His response was just as he was: “No, I won’t post you to the State House, you are from South South, and the incoming President, Jonathan is also from the same zone. There won’t be balance…” I don’t know if I should commend or condemn him for that but that was Ben Egbuna!
Today, those in public office discard national character and equity and surround themselves with their kinsmen. But that’s how to be a good Nigerian. Ben Egbuna was not!

He once told a Minister “Honourable Minister sir, Radio Nigeria needs to have credibility so that you can use it for projection of the Government’s image, please allow me cover activities of all Nigerians wether in Government or opposition”.

He insisted on standards. Made sure that everyone who must be employed must go through interviews and thorough screening.
The Director, Radio Nigeria investment Ltd, Mr. Mike Yawe, told the story of how he was employed into the corporation in the days of Ben Egbuna:

“In 2006 Radio Nigeria advertised the position of Deputy Director Marketing (Enterprise) in the national dailies and as the Regional Sales Manager North of Honeywell Oil and Gas Ltd, I applied having met all the conditionalities. The interview started with eighteen candidates down to the last three and eventually yours sincerely was appointed. The DG Ben Egbuna went through a lot of pressure from powerful men in Government who had candidates along the line but Ben Egbuna stood his ground and insisted he was going for the best to be recommended by the interview panel. He stepped on VERY powerful toes as a result.
I got the job of a Deputy Director with a FG agency without knowing anybody courtesy of the DG’s sincerity of purpose. I had never met him before the interview and on resumption I discovered his sterling qualities and insistence that the right thing must be done at all times”

As the brutally frank Mike Yawe said, Egbuna stepped on powerful toes and suffered for it. Perhaps his successors ‘learnt’ from his ‘mistake’ and they accepted even goats as staff of the corporation just to survive the ‘mumu’ directives from ministers and legislators in the name of oversight. What was the outcome? These DGs stayed and enjoyed the filthy lucre of office unlike Mr. Egbuna but they destroyed the system.( I no call anybody name ooo) So we now have dunces and untrainable folks manning sensitive positions in organisations like FRCN, NTA,VON and NAN. Because ignorant and selfish politicians dictate how we should run our professional News organisations.

Egbuna’s life and works is a clear testimony that one small man doing the right thing in his small corner somewhere can inspire generations to come, even if the man himself does not reap the direct benefit, nation builders would stand on his shoulders to chart a new course for their nation.

Nigeria will only get better when we decide not to be true Nigerians like Ben Egbuna. The choice is ours!

Mr Egbuna would never miss sending me birthday wishes or calling to make observations on FRCN Network news an insignia of his undying passion for robust journalism.

Sometime ago the creative writer in Mr Egbuna penned these words on his facebook page:
“I woke up this morning humming unconsciously that song by Sony Oti (I believe) – “Achuo aja masi afuro udene, ife melu be mmuo”, meaning, if a sacrifice is offered to the gods and vultures are not seen, then something must have happened in the land of the spirits. That got me thinking: have I ever seen a vulture in Lagos? I have lived in Lagos almost all my life but I can’t recall seeing one of that bird in this city. Are there no vultures in Lagos?'” Something has indeed happened in the land of the spirits. Ben Egbuna has joined them!

Adieu boss for life!

Victorson Agbenson, Egbuna’s former Personal Assistant wrote from Abuja.

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