Akume: Now That A Consummate Politician and Scholar Is Now SGF!



 With the formal inauguration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Monday, 29th May, as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the ball has been set rolling on the course of democratic good governance in the next four years. The expectations are expectedly high given the leadership credentials and governance antecedents of the president in and out of office as the former Governor of Lagos State. These expectations have been further boosted by the philosophical flamboyance of his policy statements.

In specific terms, majority of Nigerians are in expectation of a new era of national security; economic growth and development; good federal practices; urban renewal; improved quality of education with accent on science and technology; youth and infrastructure development among many other critical interventions in all aspects of our national life would be given massive consideration and attention. In short, Nigeria and Nigerians would return to the good old days.

These and many other development strides are achievable in a governance ecosystem populated and managed by skillful, knowledgeable, effective and efficient personnel and officials. In the specific instance, this point bears on ministers, ambassadors, bureaucratic officials, aides and assistants, and so on. The engine room that is charged with the statutory responsibility for the co-ordination of this complex tapestry of the governance architecture in Nigeria is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).

The SGF is a very important office. The occupant of the office works directly under the President and is saddled with the coordination of the formulation and implementation of public policies and programmes and administrative oversight on federal ministries, departments and agencies. The occupant of the office of SGF must therefore be someone with the requisite theoretical and intellectual capacity, administrative sophistication, political imagination, professional competence and leadership capital.

The SGF job is not an all-comers job. The success or failure of the federal government hinges on the effective running and management of this politico-administrative engine room. Given the enormity of expectations from Nigerians of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Federal Government, the choice of who is saddled with the critical responsibilities of SGF should be someone who is tested and trusted; who is at home with complex administrative tasks and a political horse imbued with titanic energy, courage, focus and saliency of spirit.

The choice of Distinguished Senator George Akume by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as announced today Friday, 2nd June, represents a bold choice in getting the most competent hand for this important office. I make bold to say that Senator Akume is the political leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in North-Central Nigeria is a humble, amiable and warm personality. Since the advent of democracy in the Fourth Republic, he has built a political network whose foundations and fortresses are so strong that no storm of the opposition can withstand any democratic tussle.

A cousin of the late J. S. Tarka, Senator Akume, by dint of hard work, perseverance and political sagacity, has effortlessly emerged as the political leader of the Tiv people. As Governor of Benue State from 1999 to 2007, his policy blueprint, Benue Advance Plan, has remained the one fundamental and foundational policy document that successive administrations in Benue State have built their development projects upon. Since leaving office in 2007, no one has become the Governor of Benue State without his endorsement. In all this, he has remained self-effacing and focused on building a generation of new leaders in Benue State.

The factors that strongly recommend Senator Akume for the job of the SGF, in view of the above itemised qualities, are so numerous to count. For reasons of space constraint, I will elaborate on five items. Firstly, theoretical and intellectual capacity. Senator Akume was trained at Nigeria’s premier university, University of Ibadan, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels where he bagged the Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Sociology, and, Industrial Relations and Industrial Relations, respectively.

He honed his theoretical skills and social sciences sophistication in a scholarly environment that resonated with the best intellectual traditions and values. It is a measure of this training that whenever he writes or speaks, he does so from a point of profundity of perspectives. A deep thinker, he dissects issues with uncommon insight and analytical clarity that leads to effective and efficient actionable solutions.

Secondly, is his administrative sophistication. On completion of his academic training at Ibadan, and upon return from national service, he joined the Benue State Civil Service as an administrator officer and rose through the ranks to the pinnacle of his career as a Permanent Secretary. Within this period, he had a very engaging and rewarding career serving as head of various government committees and Chairman of Local Governments. The Senator once served as the Sole Administrator (Chairman) of Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State and Idah Local Government Area in present day Kogi State. This background imbibed in him the virtues of patience, methodical organisation of work, respect for constituted authority, and operation in a complex and multicultural work environment.

Thirdly, his political imagination is fresh and fertile. He is very discerning, foresighted and farsighted. He was the Governor of Benue State for eight years and served as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for 12 years, including serving as the Minister for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs in the Muhammadu Buhari administration in the last four years. In all these assignments, this peerless politician and scholar rolled in one brought his intellect and ingenuity to bear on his duties and responsibilities. Not for once, was he found wanting, and on account of this, he is always loved and admired by his people and peers.

Senator George Akume, it was, who brought the Action Congress (ACN) and later the All Progressive Congress (APC) to northern Nigeria. He deployed the vast network of his contacts, friendship and political engineering and working in close collaboration with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to build into the formidable political party that APC is today. All the way, he has remained a true party man and loyal to its policy directions and organisational principles.

Fourthly, Senator Akume is a bastion of leadership capital. In the last 24 years, he has steadily built a new generation of leaders within Benue State and across the country. By virtue of his personal example, he has developed a leadership model that is based on trust, humility, service, dedication, loyalty and respect to elders and constituted authority. These virtues and values have stood his political family in good stead and largely accounts for its pre-eminent position in the politics and democratic governance of Benue State.

It is envisaged that these virtues and values would lubricate the wheel of intergenerational leadership succession and contribute significantly in building a new Nigeria of our collective dreams. In point of fact, these leadership values are at the core of the present administration’s values of inaugurating change, good governance and development.

Fifthly, Senator Akume is a professionally certified management guru. He is adept in the management of personnel and resources entrusted into his care. He is also a good mobiliser of materials and logistics towards the achievement of set goals. Those who have worked with him as Governor, Senator and Minister are full of testimonies of his professionalism and administrative ingenuity in the discharge of his duties.

Now that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has appointed Distinguished Senator George Akume as the new SGF, who belongs to the class of the 1999-2007 set of Governors, Mr. President can be rest assured that this new SGF, a consummate politician and scholar, is no doubt a round peg in a round hole. The Tinubu presidency will find in Senator Akume a reliable and committed public servant unswervingly dedicated for the general good.

Dr. Pine is the Head, Department of Political Science, Benue State University, Makurdi. He can be reached via: atahpine@gmail.com  

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