President Muhammadu Buhari recently appointed a seasoned technocrat, lawyer and politician, Boss Gida Mustapha, as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). He replaced Babachir Lawal, who was sacked last month for awarding a N200 million contract to a company in which he had interest, contrary to extant regulations.
Mustapha’s appointment as SGF is good news to Nigerians. It came at a time the country is sorely in need of a credible personality to properly coordinate and ensure timely execution of government policies and programmes. It has also filled the yawning gap occasioned by the suspension of Lawal since April 19, and the delegation of his duties to Dr. Habibat Lawal, in acting capacity.
With Mustapha’s swearing in on November 1, there is widespread relief that a substantive SGF can now properly discharge the critical functions of that office. The emergence of this highly respected management consultant, businessman and astute manager of human and material resources is expected to bring a breath of fresh air to the SGF office, which had been embroiled in crisis throughout much of the tenure of Babachir Lawal. The many controversies in which the former SGF was embroiled significantly detracted attention from his important responsibility of coordinating the policies of the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government to ensure the smooth execution of government programmes.
We, therefore, enjoin the new SGF to fully concentrate on his assigned duties and eschew undue controversies that are unhelpful to the effective discharge of his responsibilities. His work as Secretary to the Council of State, the Federal Executive Council and other councils chaired by the president, as well as the supervision of the work of special commissions and panels, and the handling of the president’s mail and directives, should be discharged with utmost sense of responsibility.
We congratulate Mustapha on his appointment and wish him success in the office. He, already, has his job well cut out for him, and we expect that his many years of experience in the service of the people will serve him in good stead as he settles down to the tasks of his office. He has a responsibility to quickly get on with the coordination of the activities of the government and ensure the fulfillment of the numerous campaign promises of the president and the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
As SGF, he should be the major custodian of the manifesto of the party and ensure that the MDAs remain on track in discharging their responsibilities to the people. With the fractious relationship among the different arms of the government, he should be a consummate bridge builder. He must work assiduously to unite the executive and the legislative arms of the government to make the execution of government policies the central plank of their exertions. He should strengthen the bureaucracy and effectively play his role as a linkman between the presidency and the MDAs to ensure the effective execution of government policies. Let him rally the contending forces that are undermining the government’s efforts to deliver on its promise of change to the people. He must also deftly navigate the banana peels-strewn labyrinthine pathways that frequently seize the footing of many political office holders, and avoid any similitude of abuse of his office, to avoid the fate that befell his predecessor in office.
It is good that the new SGF is fully aware of, and able, to discharge the functions of this office. He has pledged his commitment to ensuring the success of the government through a proper coordination of its policies and ensuring the implementation of its programmes. He is also eminently qualified for the job as his antecedents point him out as a good manager of persons.
Born in Adamawa State, Mustapha had his secondary school education at Hong Secondary School in Hong, Adamawa State, and North East College of Arts and Sciences, Maiduguri, Borno State. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1979 and was called to the bar in 1980. He has had valuable legal experience. He began his legal career as a youth corps member at the Directorate of Legal Service, Army Headquarters. He worked with an Italian consultancy firm, Sotesa Nigeria Ltd., as an Executive Director of Administration. He also later gained valuable legal experience at the law firm, Messrs Onagoruwa and Co. He was later appointed a Principal Counsel in the firm of Messrs Mustapha & Co. He was a member of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the defunct Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF), where he served between 2000 and 2007. He was a Social Secretary of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) as well as Chairman of its Yola branch.
The other leadership roles he has played include his service as a member of the Constituent Assembly (1988 – 1989), Chairman, Peoples Solidarity Party (PSP), Gongola State (1989 – 1990), and State Chairman of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Gongola State (1990 – 1991). He was the Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), 2010 – 2013; Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Organisation/Mobilisation (2015); member of APC Transition Committee (2015) and member of the party’s Board of Trustees.
He is also a member of many professional bodies including the African Bar Association (ABA); Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA); International Bar Association (IBA) and the Human Rights Institute.He is said to have expertise in privatisation, commercialisation and liberalisation of government parastatals.
Nigerians expect the new SGF to use his wealth of experience in law, politics and people management, as well as his widely acknowledged passion for people empowerment, to deliver on the mandates of his office. The much-vexed issue of the inability of the different levels of government to pay workers’ salaries should be addressed. Salaries and pensions of workers should be paid as due. He should also institute good corporate governance that will make cases such as the fraudulent reabsorption of Abdulrasheed Maina into the civil service impossible. We wish him a peaceful and fruitful tenure and advise him to fulfill the expectations of the people.