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TERRIFIC HEADLINES came across this piece on knowing about the past from Nassir el-Rufai’s records and the title derives from ‘GOING BACK TO BASICS – THE PAST AS PROLOGUE’ a lecture delivered by one-time Secretary to the Federal Military Government & Head of the Federal Civil Service, Mallam Adamu Fika, CFR, the Wazirin Fika. Mallam Fika was the Chairman of the Transition Committee put in place to formally midwife policy documents of commencement of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2015. That enticing lecture delivered 8 years ago is still very relevant to warrant a suggestion that it be mass-produced for top public officers at the federal and state levels. I have gone through the treatise at least six times and it still remains a brilliant piece that anybody who picks it up will surely want to read through before withdrawing. Apart from the writings of Chief Obafemi Awolowo that are packed full of wisdom and political prudence, other compilations that could be recommended as being at par include lectures delivered by Prof. Akin Mabogunje and Prof. Adebayo Adedeji.  Terrific Headlines believes that if we read about how these eminent Nigerians conducted themselves and their approach to government business and service delivery, it could guide the evolution of rational decisions and a new polity that we are strenuously trying to build.

IGNORANCE ON THE PART OF PUBLIC OFFICERS: Mallam Adamu Fika commenced by inviting attention to the assertion of a great Nigerian civil servant, international civil servant, lawyer and diplomat, Chief Simeon Olaosebikan Adebo,  who apparently was a source of inspiration to him. You only quote writings that could inspire to support an argument and make conclusions. Adamu Fika said: ‘’The theme of my speech today is based on an observation made by Chief S.O. Adebo on the value of learning from our past and respecting our past leaders. He observed that:  “From my experience of public affairs and my recent dealings with government officials, there is a high level of ignorance of seemingly educated men about past events in this country.  ‘’On any major issue many public officers behave as if there had never been a past and that we must copy new fangled ideas and procedures which are then labeled as progressive reforms.  This applies to virtually every aspect or facet of our national life and activity. Needless to say that anything that is new becomes old in the course of time, and if we get into this tendentious habit of disowning not only our past but also our past leadership, we would end nowhere.  Let us learn from them, without forgetting what they did for this country”.

IGNORANCE OF THE PAST AS MAJOR PROBLEM CONFRONTING  NIGERIA: Adamu Fika then made his own assertion: ‘’A large part of the problem confronting Nigeria in general and the public service in particular today is the result of an unpardonable ignorance of the past and an unjustified and unwarranted aversion to all the lessons and benefits the past has to offer. We often live and work under the illusion that only what is new is good, forgetting that it is in the nature of whatever is new to itself ultimately run out of fashion one day.  What is new today becomes old in the course of time; and as Oscar Wilde once said, “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to change it every six months”. It is indeed distressing to see supposedly educated and experienced public officers behave and conduct themselves as if matters have no precedent; and they go on to regard and treat the past with so much condescending levity.  They conduct public business as if there has never been a past; and they borrow, and copy, and graft and latch onto every latest fad and new craze with absolute capriciousness, in the end effectively making the public service rootless. ‘’But if we are to progress as a nation we must learn to pay due respect to the past and learn from it and treasure the legacy bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers and their immediate worthy successors—the pioneer public officers in both mufti and khaki—who toiled to make Nigeria what it is today This unfortunate disrespect for the past and what it represented and the disdain for the memory of the great personalities who led our country were the result of a series of disastrous events, beginning with the dumping of the people’s Constitution in 1979’’. DETAILS ON THE BLOG.


PARLIAMENTARY VS PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEMS: This piece led us to examine the past concerning the cabinet of the federal government  from 1957, when Nigeria operated the parliamentary system of government. The Hon. Ministers were Members of both the parliament and the Executive. Under the parliamentary system of government, which Nigeria operated from the colonial period up to the 15th January 1966, when the prime minister was from the elected government of Nigeria, the prime minister and the regional premiers, together with their ministers were, with a few exceptions, elected members of their respective legislatures. They were directly answerable to the public thought their elected representatives in parliament on the activities of the government. The prime minister’s Question time in parliament was particularly productive in terms of the right of the constituents to know what the government was doing by way of questions raised through their representatives. Under the presidential system of government introduced in 1979, there is separation of powers; though not total.  In the presidential system, the president is directly elected by voters, with the whole country acting as single constituency. Under military rule, the executive and legislative functions were located in the same body.

THE CABINET OF TAFAWA BALEWA: Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, nicknamed: ‘’The Golden Voice’’ because of his sonorous accent headed the cabinet of the federal government of Nigeria  as Chief Minister and  Prime Minister designate. He later became the Prime Minister. Balewa previously served as Minister of Works in 1952, and later served as Minister of Transport d He was appointed Prime Minister by the colonial administration. The second cabinet that evolved in December 1959, just before independence, in a coalition government of the Northern Progressive Union and the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon led by Nnamdi Azikiwe. Balewa again formed his third Cabinet in December, 1964, following the disputed federal elections. In fact, it was the Action Group political crises that erupted like a volcano on the Floor of the Western Region House of Assembly in 1962, and the conduct of the 1964 federal elections that combined to hasten the demise of democracy in Nigeria in January, 1966.  Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was named the first Governor-General of Nigeria in 1960 and later Ceremonial President of the Federal Republic in 1963. Credits to the lists published go to: (Okocha, 2014; Abegunrin,2003; Okafor, 2013 & Jame Ojiako, 1981)

.NNAMDI AZIKIWE SAW TOMORROW: On the occasion of emerging the Ceremonial President, Azikiwe, who was filled with contentment   stated that: ‘’My stiffest earthly assignment is ended and my major life’s work is done. My country is now free and I have been honoured to be its first indigenous head of state. What more could one desire in life?’’ Azikiwe was also a cerebral activist in pre-independence Nigeria. He read the mood of the nation correctly at different periods. In his address to the nation in December, 1964, he states as follows: “I have one advice to give to our politicians. If they have decided to destroy our national unity, then they should summon a round-table conference to decide how our national assets should be divided before they seal their doom by satisfying their lust for office. I make this suggestion because it is better for us and many admirers abroad that we should disintegrate in peace and not in pieces. Should the politicians fail to heed this warning, then I will venture the prediction that the experience of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be a child’s play if ever it comes to our turn to play such a tragic role.” — Nnamdi Azikiwe, in a December 1964 dawn address to the nation as reported in Kirk Greene’s book: Crises and Conflicts in Nigeria.

THE 1957 CABINET:  Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa emerged Prime Minister. He announced a broad-based national government.

  • Prime Minister – Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
  • Transportation – Raymond Njoku
  • Education –  Aja Nwachukwu Replaced  by Matthew Mbu
  • Commerce –  Kingsley Mbadiwe
  • Communications – Samuel Akintola
  • Finance – Festus Okotie-Eboh
  • Internal Affairs – M. Johnson  replaced Adegoke Adelabu
  • Information — Kola Balogun
  • Health – Ayo Rosiji
  • Mines — Muhammadu Ribadu
  • Works — Zanna Bukar Dipcharima   Replaced by Inua Wada


Office Name Notes
Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa
Foreign Affairs Jaja Wachuku From 1961
Attorney Gen/Justice Taslim Olawale Elias
Lands & Lagos Affairs Muhammadu Ribadu
Finance Festus Okotie-Eboh
Transport and Aviation Raymond Njoku
Commerce &industries Zanna Bukar Dipcharima
Works & Surveys Inua Wada
Labour & Welfare J. M. Johnson Also responsible for Sports.
Education Aja Nwachukwu
Mines & Power Maitama Sule
Economic Development & Natural Resources Shehu Shagari
Communications Olu Akinfosile
Internal Affairs Usman Sarki
Information T. O. S. Benson
Health Waziri Ibrahim
Pensions, Establishment & Nigerianization Yisa Yara’Dua

An alliance of the NCNC, AG, NEPU and United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) was forged to contest the December 1964 federal elections. There also emerged the NNA alliance between the NPC and Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP). There was problem of credibility. Azikiwe initially refused to request Balewa to form a cabinet as required by the parliamentary system. Both later agreed on a broad-based cabinet. They also reached a consensus on Government of national unity. 54 Hon. Ministers and Ministers of State emerged from that arrangement broken down as follows: NPC (22), NNDP (14), NCNC (15) as well as three independents.  This included 21 Cabinet Ministers, 11 Ministers of Cabinet Rank without Portfolio and 22 Ministers without Cabinet Rank. Ministers with Portfolios were: (James O. Ojiako)

Office Name Notes
Prime Minister & External Affairs Tafawa Balewa
Defense Muhammadu Ribadu Inua Ribadu
Attorney Gen/Justice Taslim Olawale Elias
Finance Festus Okotie-Eboh
Transport Zanna Bukar Dipcharima
Aviation Jaja Wachuku
Trade K. O. Mbadiwe
Industries Augustus Akinloye
Works Inua Wada
Housing & Surveys Adeniran Ogunsanya
Labor Adeleke Adedoyin
Education Richard Akinjide
Mines & Power Maitama Sule Dominic Mapeo Minister of State
Economic Development Waziri Ibrahim
Natural Resources & Research Alade Lamuye
Communications Raymond Njoku
Internal Affairs Shehu Shagari
Information Ayo Rosiji
Health Moses Majekodunmi
Establishment Jacob Obande


In the course of compiling this account, Terrific Headlines came in contact with the name of one of the most colourful politicians ever produced in the federal republic. Dr. Kngsley Ozumba Mbadiwe was outstanding in his public speeches and his delivery was electrifying. He will  for long be remembered for his bombastic words in the course of his contributing to debates. Mbadiwe featured in the Cabinets put in place from 1954-1958. He functioned from 1954 to 1958, in three successive cabinet positions within the federal government of Nigeria. Mbadiwe was Minister of Lands, Surveys and Natural Resources in 1954. He was one of 12 African ministers in the Council of Ministers, four each from the three major parties of NCNC, NPC and the Action Group.  He was Minister of Communications in 1955 and later Minister of Communications and Aviation. He was one of ten African ministers, of which six were National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) members. In 1957, his name came up for appointment as Minister of Commerce and Industry in the first all-Nigerian Federal Executive Council, headed by Tafawa Balewa.

K.O. Mbadiwe as he was fondly addressed, carried his charisma into Second Republic politics and won accolades for his political shrewdness. Mbadiwe, who was a political adviser to President Shehu Shagari in the Second Republic made the terrain very interesting and coined words like: “Man of Timber and Calibre” the Caterpillar, and the Juggernaut.  He was the Agadagbachiriuzo of Arondizuogu, the Ononenyi of Orlu, and the Maye of Lagos. He spoke forcefully and with passion. He featured on Saturday Special,  a popular programme on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State, in an interview conducted by Femi Ayeni (we recorded him in his house in Ikoyi/Victoria Island, shortly before his death in 1990) He demonstrated his great knowledge of the vocation of politics that he entered in 1951,  when he became a Member of the Eastern Region House of Assembly.

In the television interview under reference, Mbadiwe spoke eloquently and stylishly, with his baritone voice, and pleaded passionately with the military to vacate office, in his words, ‘’LIKE OLIVER CROMWELL’’ and allow the Third Republic to commence. Checks later revealed that Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader. He served as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland; from 1653 until his death, acting simultaneously as head of state and head of government of the new republic.

MALLAM ADAMU FIKA’S LECTURE: By way of recapitulation, we now link you up with the source of the lecture delivered by this great Nigerian retired public servant in 2011. The link opens with these words:  Mallam Adamu Fika, former SGF and Head of Civil Service presented this paper at the Barewa Old Boys’ Association annual lecture in October 2011….it is both thought-provoking and frank….please read it and share widely….Nasir

October 22, 2011

Going Back to Basics: The Past as Prologue; By M. Adamu Fika, CFR Wazirin Fika

Please click on this link: https://www.facebook.com/nasirelrufai/posts/mallam-adamu-fika-former-sgf-and-head-of-civil-service-presented-this-paper-at-t/10152171902225128/



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