In this edition which opens our series with the title: ‘ACTS OF THE APOSTLES’, we focus on a great Nigerian nationalist, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello Knight of the British Empire, who was a Nigerian politician; the first and only premier of the Northern Nigeria. Ahmadu Bello was the Sardauna of Sokoto, and played major roles in negotiations about the region’s place in an independent Nigeria. He was leader of the Northern People’s Congress, that ruled Nigeria until the termination of the First Republic politics in 1966. This topic: ‘Acts of the Apostles ’is coined and used for political purpose only; as Nigerian politicians still largely regard themselves as followers or disciples of Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, and Aminu Kano.
People easily identify with these great Nigerians and their contributions to societal development, without necessarily allowing their political philosophies on these great political figures to reflect in their own deeds. If you are in doubt, call a few notable Nigerian politicians today and ask them for the philosophies and ideologies of those great Nigerians who they are claiming to have influenced their lives. You would most likely record an ‘’over the bar’’. Therefore, in moving Nigeria forward, we must necessarily take a look at our past, how those Nigerians successfully ruled Nigeria, the present and the way forward. TERRIFIC HEADLINES runs the first edition of our piece titled: ‘Acts of the Apostles’ with an understanding of the fact that a disciple is a follower. We invite the attention of political followers to the acts of patriotism contained in this publication. If you consider yourself as a disciple of these great Nigerians named above, and you fail to conduct yourself the way they conducted themselves as wonderful patriots, then you are obviously a fake apostle ot follower; and, therefore, a huge political failure.
This piece contains extracts from ‘Going Back to Basics: The Past as Prologue’ a lecture delivered by: Mallam Adamu Fika, CFR; Wazirin Fika; a retired bureaucrat. Adamu Fika, was one of the officers trained by the first generation of top career public officers who took up the mantle of leadership from the colonialists when they exited in 1960. It contains thought provoking issues and opinions.
PILGRIMAGE TO SAUDI ARABIA: ”On a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, the Premier used to pay all expenses for himself and those he sponsored from his own resources. He also paid customs duties on any goods he brought on which were subject to customs duties. On one occasion, the customs officer charged him (Premier) customs duty of £26.10s which he promptly paid by his Bank of the North personal cheque. However, in a subsequent correspondence, the Customs Office refunded the cheque with an apology because the Sardauna’s goods had been over assessed by £1. A new demand of £25.10s was made on him and replacing cheque of £25.10s was issued. ”The best type of leadership is one that is exercised by example; and, in general, there is little doubt that politicians of the First Republic led this nation by the power of their example. Their conduct in government and even out of it made it ever so clear that they were not in politics for what they could get out of it: theirs was a commitment to making life better for the people.” — Mallam Adamu Fika. TERRIFIC HEADLINES’ Comments: Ahmadu Bello never attempted to abuse his office; and the public servants never attempted to encourage the premier to do so. Where are the courageous public servants of today? Could any political officer holder have attempted to intimidate Simeon Adebo, Kashim Imam or Jerome Udoji?
SIR AHMADU BELLO .. PREMIER, NORTHERN NIGERIA STOOD UP FOR A SELFLESS PUBLIC SERVICE: A part time member of the Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria (BCNN) applied for a car advance and requested for an increase of sitting allowance. Since the requests were not covered by existing policy, the matter had to be referred to the Premier; Ahmadu Bello who decided to reply the member directly: “I appoint you and other people to serve on various Regional Boards with the firm belief that you will render useful service to your compatriots. ‘’In other words, it is a sort of National Service: ‘’The idea is by all means not for you to regard the opportunity as a money making privilege! In this connection, I would like to inform you that I was made to understand that in the last meeting you insisted, quite adamantly, on the question of elevating members’ allowances. ”This attitude will certainly not be of any credit to you, or us, in the eyes of the general public… ‘’If your intention is to make money rather than helping your fellow countrymen, then the best course for you to take is to resort to trading. or some sort of business which can quench your inordinate monetary thirst.” TERRIFIC HEADLINES comments: Today, several part time members of boards of parastatals and government departments go to their offices daily; where some intimidate top employees, demanding for privileges to which they are not entitled. Again, who bells the cat in the face of poor understanding of rules and regulations, resulting into lack of confidence in themselves by civil servants, and their political bosses? Are top civil servants able to resist undue pressure that may be designed to circumvent regulations? Nigeria will become better only when we have public servants who will not tolerate: ‘’My Minister said’ or ‘’My Commissioner says’’ or ‘’Oga wants this irregular process’’ People must be able to look their political bosses in the face and tell them NO, wherever and whenever the need arises, without threats of removal from office, or transfer to other government departments. This is the prerogative of the Heads of Service who must defend their officers at all times when they treat the right path.
Lets now yield the space to Mallam Adamu Fika:
ATTITUDE: The attitude of our leaders in the last two decades or so but particularly since the return to civilian rule in 1999, no doubt, contrasts sharply with those of the past leaders. The President then used to earn £7,150, which he inherited from the colonial era and fixed since April 1953 and remained the same until January 1966; the Prime Minister was on £5,000 fixed since the office was created in 1957, but in 1962 his salary was reduced to £4500 and remained on that salary until he was murdered in January 1966. A Minister at the Federal or Regional Level was on a salary of £3000, fixed since 1954; but this as reduced to £2,700 and remained as such until January 1966. A regional Premier earned £4000 fixed in 1954, when the office was created but was reduced to £3600 in 1962. The Senate President and Speaker of the House each earned £3000 before 1962, but was reduced to £2700 in 1962. Salary of a Senator or Member was £1000 before 1962, but was reduced to £900. The salary of the Clerk of Parliament remained at £2,940. Those were the good old days in the past.” Mallam Adamu Fika
MERIT BASED SYSTEM: The question of control of appointment, promotion and discipline of public service arose during the August 1953 session of the Constitutional Conference when one of the NCNC delegate wanted such to be controlled by the politicians. To this, the presiding British Minister, himself a politician strongly advised the Nigerian leaders to adopt the British system of merit based public service. He pointed out that “the principles of the British system, which has stood the best of time, are that the Civil Service is recruited by a body completely independent of Ministers, and that it has its own machinery for promotions, which except at the highest level, are not even submitted to Ministers for formal approval. Even when that approval is sought, Ministers are, by tradition, guided by the advice of the senior members of the service. There is no question of the dismissal of holders of offices in the civil service, at any level, in consequence of the change of government.
THE BRITISH TRADITION: The British tradition is the appointment and dismissal, and, with exception, the promotion of the civil servants, is outside the competence of Government. History has shown that no other system works satisfactorily. It will be disastrous to have a civil service under the control of the Executive and for appointments to change according to the turn of the political wheel will lead to instability”. Our leaders accepted the advice and reaffirmed their acceptance in January 1954, when the leaders – Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Mallam Aminu Kano and Professor Eyo Ita issued the following statement committing their respective parties: “We fully support the principle that all Public Service questions, including appointments, promotions, transfers, postings, dismissals and other disciplinary matters should be kept completely free and independent of political control. We hope that the traditional principle of promotion according to qualification, experience, merit without regard to race will be maintained”.
SALARIES & ALLOWANCES OF POLITICAL OFFICER HOLDERS: In the 1960 Constitution the remuneration of the holders of such offices was provided for in Section 127, as follows: i) There shall be paid to the holders of the offices to which this Section applies such salary and allowances may be prescribed by Parliament
- ii) The salary and allowances payable to the holders of any office to which this section applies shall be a charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation
iii) The salary payable to the holder of any office to which this Section applies, and his term of office, other than allowances shall not be altered to his disadvantage after his appointment.
4) This Section applies to the Offices of Governor-General, Chief Justice of the Federation, Federal Justices, Chief Justices and other Judges of the High Court of Lagos, members of the Electoral Commission of the Federation, members of the Public Service Commission of the Federation, members of the Police Service Commission of the Federation and Auditor-General for the Federation.
ROLE OF THE REVENUE MOBILIZATION ALLOCATION & FISCAL COMMISSION: The response from the various groups of the beneficiaries collated and published by RMAFC and reproduced below:
(a) Federal Level — Source: RMAFC Field Survey, 2006 (b) State and Local Government Levels. Source: RMAFC Field Survey, 2006. In the second stage, RMAFC asked same beneficiaries if they supported an increase of 100%, 200% or 300% to their basic salaries. The responses collated and published by RMAFC and reproduced below:
(c) Federal Level; Source: RMAFC Field Survey, 2006, (d) State and Local Government Levels; Source: RMAFC Field Survey, 2006. Eventually RMAFC awarded the beneficiaries a little less than 200% in basic salaries.
From the foregoing, the attitude of our leaders in the last two decades or so; but particularly since the return to civilian rule in 1999, no doubt, contrasts sharply with those of the past leaders. The President then used to earn £7,150, which he inherited from the colonial era and fixed since April 1953 and remained the same until January 1966; the Prime Minister was on £5,000 fixed since the office was created in 1957, but in 1962 his salary was reduced to £4500 and remained on that salary until he was murdered in January 1966. A Minister at the Federal or Regional Level was on a salary of £3000, fixed since 1954; but this as reduced to £2,700 and remained as such until January 1966. A regional Premier earned £4000 fixed in 1954, when the office was created but was reduced to £3600 in 1962. The Senate President and Speaker of the House each earned £3000 before 1962, but was reduced to £2700 in 1962. Salary of a Senator or Member was £1000 before 1962, but was reduced to £900. The salary of the Clerk of Parliament remained at £2,940. Those were the good old days in the past.
LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE …. HOW THEY LED INCLUSIVE GOVERNMENTS & PARTISANSHIP ENDED WITH ELECTIONS: When authentic Statesmen led the nation at the Centre, and the regions, and rules and regulations were respected and proper procedure was strictly adhered to in the conduct of Government business, the country witnessed the best specimen of leadership by example. First Republic politicians were leaders who sincerely believed in, and faithfully practiced the best tenets of democracy; and were always guided in all they did by the public interest. They played their politics with a passion, formulated their policies for the public good and believed they had a sacred mission to lead their societies on to the path of growth and political, social and economic development. And to achieve this they were ready to go to any length, perform any task, offer any sacrifice in order to ensure a higher standard of living for their people.
While they were partisan politicians, they still led governments that were inclusive, and blind to people’s politics and they tolerated and worked amicably well with the opposition. For them partisanship ended with the elections, and governments formed were for all the people. While the majority had its way, the minority had its say—and it was always listened to. In their control and management of public resources, the leaders were accountable to the last penny; because, with the system that they had put in place and jealously guarded, they perhaps couldn’t have been otherwise. The best type of leadership is one that is exercised by example; and, in general, there is little doubt that politicians of the First Republic led this nation by the power of their example. Their conduct in government and even out of it made it ever so clear that they were not in politics for what they could get out of it: theirs was a commitment to making life better for the people.
COMMITMENT TO PUBLIC GOOD: A very good sign of their commitment to the public good, their public spiritedness and readiness for self sacrifice was the comparatively low level of pay they fixed for themselves, which they didn’t hesitate to further reduce when the situation demanded. For instance, throughout the duration of the First Republic, the Secretary to the Prime Minister earned £3,540, a salary that was more than that of any Minister; and in general, a Minister marginally earned £60 per annum more than a Permanent Secretary. And there were at least three heads of professional departments and a Permanent Secretary (Finance) who earned £3,180, that is, £180 more than any Minister. This was the situation before 1962. In 1962, the salary of each political office holder was reduced by 10% thus the salary of the Minister was reduced by 10% to £2700 but the salary of the Permanent Secretary remained unchanged at £2940 per annum. And nowhere was the readiness of the political leaders to sacrifice more in evidence than in 1962, when the First National Development Plan (1962-1968) was launched. Almost immediately after launching, it became clear that the plan could not be implemented fully if government revenues were not increased and recurrent expenditure drastically cut.
ACT OF PATRIOTISM: INTRODUCTION OF AUSTERITY MEASURES: Accordingly, the government introduced austerity measures, and, in addition to that, decided to cut the salaries of all politicians in government by 10% across the board, from the prime Minister down to those officers earning as low as £400 per annum, and abolished their allowances. But, pointedly, these measures didn’t affect civil servants, because, according to the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello: “with regard to the civil servants, their salaries and some of the allowances are part of their conditions of service, and although the Regional Government has the power to cut arbitrarily the salaries and allowances of its employees,… as a model employer; it would be wrong for the government to cut arbitrarily, without consultation with them, through the normal channels”.
Mallam Adamu Fika CFR, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Head of Civil Service presented this paper at the Barewa Old Boys’ Association annual lecture in October 2011.