In this annual with Hindi Livinus, Ahmed Joda, a retired federal abiding secretary and chairman, alteration board ushering in Buhari’s administering in 2015, talked about his acquaintance as a announcer and noncombatant servant
How was growing up?
I was built-in in Girei, the address of the afresh Girei district, Adamawa Accompaniment in 1930. I was built-in of Fulani Muslim parents. My ancestor was community in both Koranic and western education, so additionally was my mother. My ancestor formed as a commune scribe, conceivably what nowadays is the agnate of secretary of a bounded government. At some point in his career, my ancestor was a primary academy teacher.
How is it that you had ability of your bearing date aback abounding of your aeon built-in in the North did not apperceive with authoritativeness the dates and time of their birth?
Well, I grew up animate my age from the Arabic calendar. I knew I was built-in on a Friday; that Friday was in the average of the abnegation period. But aback I was entering primary school, it became all-important for me to acknowledge my age and my ancestor had to acknowledge 13th February 1930 as my official birthday. It afterwards angry out to be one day abroad from what today is acclaimed as
Valentine’s Day. By the time I became acquainted of Valentine, I was too old to be absorbed in accepting in adulation with any babe or woman, so I acquire no Valentine experience.
How was ancestry afresh as a adolescent man?
In the complete area, I was apparently the alone boy who entered into a school; that was in 1939. So it tells you how abounding bodies in the complete Yola who went to academy aback then. In the complete Yola, there was alone one
primary school. The complete acceptance for that year was alone 30. The academy was additionally actual small. We were accomplished by citizenry of Yola who had been accomplished as primary academy teachers. Best of my aeon with whom I went to primary academy are no best alive. Aback I was about demography my arch accessory academy examinations aboriginal December 1948, I had no abstraction what I capital to do for a living. But the arch came to our chic to acquisition out from us what we capital to do for a living, so that he could advice us. It aback occurred to me that I had never anticipation of accepting employed. I wasn’t accessible mentally; about I noticed the arch capital to animate everybody to go for abecedary training. It aback occurred to me that I could not be a teacher. Aback it got to my turn, the arch asked me what I capital to do, I told him I didn’t apperceive and I asked instead for his guidance, so continued I won’t be a teacher. He kept quiet for a while, but aback he batten again, he told me that the antecedent night, he had banquet with the arch of the Academy of Agronomics at Moore Plantation, Ibadan. He said the arch complained that he didn’t acquire Arctic boys and that he capital to recruit any. He told our arch that he would be animated if he could advice him acquisition a few acceptance of his.
The arch afterwards asked me if I would be absorbed in activity to Ibadan and I bound jumped at the idea. I admired the abstraction because our ancestors endemic beasts and sheep. I was animated that I could apprentice added about livestock, so I admired the idea. Immediately afterwards I accomplished from our school, our arch alleged me and the others into his arrangement and gave me a letter to the hospital to appraise if I was medically fit for an employment. I went, they advised me and said I was fit. I was accustomed a letter of application as an agent of the administering of agronomics at Ibadan. The bacon was so abundant but I would abide training for three years, post-secondary.
Two of us from my academy absolutely went to academy of agronomics in Ibadan. I admired the years I spent in Ibadan, I got to apperceive a lot about Yoruba and their culture. Of course, I was a bit inquisitive, I aing apprentice backroom and every weekend, we would go to comedy in the University College.
How did you get into journalism afterwards allotment agriculture?
When I accomplished my course, I was acquaint to assignment at the agronomical analysis base actuality in Yola, as a analysis assistant. But a crisis occurred which becoming me a query, so I aloof resigned. I afterwards larboard for Kaduna, to accommodated a European who acclimated to appear to our academy in Ibadan. This European had absorption in Boys Scouts and I was one of the acceptable scouts in the academy and I became actual aing to him. I told him I had appear to accessory for a job. He inquired to apperceive why I larboard Moor Plantation in Ibadan, I told him and the afterward day, he took me to the white man who was in allegation of the Nigerian Aborigine Newspaper, which afterwards became New Nigeria newspaper. I don’t apperceive what they discussed afore I came in. By the time I met the administrator of the bi-weekly publishing corporation, he interviewed me and active me as a anchorman sub-editor in training. At the time, there were few bodies who could allege English and there was no actuality with academy affidavit walking the artery afterwards a job in Nigeria. Everybody who could apprehend and address could get a job. The European, who was the General Administrator took me to the beat room. There were four bodies there-one was Bisi Onabanjo, who was to afterwards become the aboriginal noncombatant governor of Ogun State. There was somebody alleged James Dominic, James Chindo and Alabi. Alabi was our cuttings librarian; his job was to accomplish cuttings of all the annual belief which he afterwards filed and put into a book. That’s how I got the job and became a journalist.
Can you allotment with us highlights of your career in journalism?
It was accessible for me to get into journalism. I was advertisement cloister cases, badge cases, bent and motor accidents and diplomacy about Arctic Nigeria. I spent alone one year in the Nigerian Citizen, Gaskiya Corporation. Looking back, all I can say by my ability of journalism is that the estimation accustomed to the abandon of the columnist is not absolutely the picture. Because everybody who sets up a bi-weekly or a radio abode has article he wants to convey, so if you are active as a agents to assignment there, it is that bulletin you are accustomed to convey. You cannot assignment for a antipathetic bi-weekly and say you are acknowledging the annual of the conservatives affair in parliament. Nor can you be alive in a backer newspaper, the London Times, Circadian Telegragh, Circadian Mail or Black Standards and be breeding antipathetic annual or annual that do not fit with the English way of life.
The addiction of the Nigerian columnist has been to be anti-government, alike afore independence. So we could say anything, whether it was fair, or not, and bodies accustomed it because we were aggravating to get the whites out. We capital our freedom. But sectionalism additionally has consistently been present in the Nigerian press. Alike afore ability and alike during the attack for independence.
Why did you say sectionalism has consistently been present in the Nigerian press?
About 1953, there was a motion in the Abode of Representatives allurement for freedom for Nigeria in 1956. The North said no, they were not ready. Of course, the North were so educationally backward. They had no lawyers, they had no engineers, they had no doctors and they had nothing. All together, all the bodies in Arctic Nigeria, who had university degrees were not added than three or four. We had alone one doctor who had been accomplished by the missionaries, Dr. Dikko. The North acquainted that if we were so astern and we got independence, afterwards our bodies in the army, the police, the immigration, the community and in the noncombatant service, that we would alone change British colonialism for southern Nigeria domination. So they (Northerners) said look, let’s alter this motion, so that independence, instead of 1956, it should be fabricated to apprehend ‘as anon as possible’. So there was a crisis. There was about a breakdown of Nigeria. But go aback and abstraction the newspapers from 1949, systematically, you’ll see how the newspapers acquire handled the Nigerian political and amusing situation. You will amount out why we acquire become brackish as a nation. Why we are accepting the crisis we are having. We acquire banned to acquire the complete issues and we still don’t acquire these issues. Aback I accessory at the political bearings today, the turmoil, the uncertainty, it looks as if as far as the Nigerian columnist is concerned, annihilation has afflicted and annihilation is acceptable to change.
How did you afresh get into the noncombatant service, ascent to the aiguille as a cool abiding secretary?
Without animate it, afterwards anything, I got an action of application from the University of Ibadan to become the Arctic Bounded Secretary of the Extra-mural administering of the university in Arctic Nigeria. This was a actual huge job. I was a adequately inferior actuality at the time alive with Gaskiya Corporation. I anticipate I was accepting a job which was captivated by Europeans and actual arch Nigerians which advantaged me to a car and assertive privileges which I wouldn’t acquire got. So I accommodated and went to assignment for the University of Ibadan. But I had activated for a scholarship to alternation as a announcer in the United commonwealth while I was alive in Gaskiya Corporation. While I was in Ibadan, they accustomed my scholarship, so at the end of one year, I had to leave the University of Ibadan. I went to England to abstraction journalism. I spent two and bisected years there in the bi-weekly industry. In Pittman College, I had my abstract training while my activated training was in the Circadian Accurate which fabricated me assignment in London, Glasgow and Maner. Aback I finished, my old administering in Gaskiya Association offered me a job to appear aback and assignment there. But afore that offer, I had activated to the Nigerian Broadcasting Association and they arrive me for interview. So aloft my return, I went beeline to Lagos. I was interviewed and accustomed a job as an editor. Afterwards three months, they fabricated me bounded annual editor for Arctic Nigeria. I backward there until October 1960, aback I was offered a alteration to the Arctic bounded government in the authoritative cadre.
As the abiding secretary in the advice admiral that prosecuted the Nigerian noncombatant war, how did you go about the advertising that bodies did not see the war as Muslim adjoin Christian war?
I acquaint you one adventure in May 1967, the noncombatant war hadn’t burst out afresh but it seemed like the country would anon go into war. I was abiding secretary, Information. The man who was my guardian told me he was actual afflicted aural himself about the bearings of Nigeria. He said, ‘I apperceive you absorb a actual acute position and you may not be chargeless to allocution about what is activity on. But I am not activity to ask you to say annihilation that you shouldn’t say.’ He about told me that alike admitting he may not be accomplished the way I was, with his little Arabic knowledge, one affair he would like to acquaint me is if one was built-in in any country and as a aborigine of that country, one’s complete and complete adherence charge consistently be to one’s country of birth. And if there’s any blackmail to the ascendancy of that country, one should not alternate and should not be begin to be acknowledging any attack to abate that country by alike a atom of an inch. ‘You can accord your activity for that. That is all I appetite to acquaint you, acceptable night.’ He told me that from his own ascertainment and what he heard, we could not abstain a noncombatant war. He said noncombatant war was evil. But if you acquire to action it, action it; don’t acquiesce it to be too continued because if it is too long, abounding bodies would suffer, accustomed bodies who acquire annihilation to do with the war. Two of us-permanent secretaries accustomed a appeal from Beasts Breeders Association to accommodated with them in Mambila. They said to us, ‘We’ve appear to accurate our annual for you people. You are young, you acquire your careers and your leaders acquire been dead (Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sardauna Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello and added arctic top bureaucrats) and you acquire the accountability of albatross and you are accomplishing actual well; amuse backpack on.’ They gave a continued accent but they said they alone had one request. ‘War cannot be avoided. But what we appetite you to acquire is if you are angry this war, we’ll abutment you alone on one condition; that you action this war in such a way that aback it is finished, we can booty our beasts to markets in Umuahia, in Awka, in Port Harcourt, in Lagos, that’s what we want.’ They about acicular out to us that bristles kilometres from the area of our affair is the aals with Cameroun republic. They said if they were to booty their beasts there, they would acquire to go through community and immigrations with identifications which additionally appear with a lot of harassment. They additionally fatigued that at the end of this war, they would not appetite Nigeria to be such that they had to backpack passports and visas to go and advertise their cattle. They said that was all they capital to acquaint us.
As it happened, the war bankrupt out in July 1967 and I was transferred to Lagos as abiding secretary, Information. That was aback I went to accommodated General Yakubu Gowon, as Arch of State. He afresh what these beasts traders told us. He said as abiding Secretary, the bulletin we charge transmit, as continued as the war lasted, it was not a war adjoin enemies but war amid brothers. He fatigued that on no annual should we anytime use the chat adversary in our communication, radio and whatever we said. That was how we managed the war.
How did you adverse the advertising advancing out from the added ancillary aback your bulletin was a bit conciliatory?
Two things were the weapons of Biafra, media advertising about starvation and Hausa-Fulani ablution aggression adjoin Christians. This was finer used. They had a baby abode in Geneva, a baby aggregation formed by one or two bodies alleged Mark Press, area they were arising columnist releases which advance these lies. Europe of advance is Christian. If you booty countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal, abundantly catholic, they artlessly articular with Igbo aspirations because Igbo are mainly all-embracing Christians. Gowon’s disposition had consistently been pacifist. His access was that our botheration in Nigeria was already big and not yet religious. He said if we accustomed the botheration to become religious, we would be in added trouble. We had to do some complete acclimation act there (over the war) and assertive things we had to suppress.
At what point did you assignment with the arctic Nigeria premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello?
I aboriginal physically met Sir Ahmadu Bello in Ibadan, aback I was in Moor Plantation. He was accessory a political arrangement to accommodate Independence. I heard that there were Arctic leaders in Ibadan blockage in a baby hotel, so I went in chase of the auberge and begin it. I went admiral to their rooms. I begin the three of them bistro lunch, the Sardauna, Kashim Ibrahim, who became governor of Arctic Nigeria and Mahmud Ribadu, who afterwards became Nigeria’s aboriginal noncombatant abbot of defence. Aback I entered, the Sardauna larboard his abode and asked me to appear in and eat. They accustomed me. I told them what I was accomplishing in Ibadan and we interacted. In the end, I told them we had a arrangement of northerners in Ibadan who would like to accommodated with them. The aing day, I abiding for a affair with them. My added arrangement with the Sardauna afresh was during the arrangement for the old boys of Barewa Academy ( aforetime Kaduna College). I was the secretary of the old boys and Sarduana was an old boy and he was already in Kaduna. As one of the ministers, I was one of the two assembly with the backward Sultan of Sokoto Ibrahim Dasuki who went to Kaduna to allure him to appear the conference. He accepted, we got to apperceive anniversary added and whenever I was in boondocks (because at the time I was in England) I would go to accost him. Aback I became bounded editor of the broadcasting house, I acclimated to go and see him. Also, it became like I was a acquaintance except that he was so far actual arch to me. As it would happen, I was transferred to the Arctic noncombatant annual as the arch Advice administrator and afterwards abiding secretary, Information, which fabricated it accessible for us to see on a circadian basis.
As a top noncombatant assistant that went annular assorted ministries, how flush did you become then?
What is actuality flush (laughter). I don’t apperceive what is accident today. I acquire that what you are apropos to is corruption; aerial akin of corruption. Well, I did not realise what anatomy bribery takes, I had a chic acquaintance and happily, he died some years back. His name was Aliyu. We grew up together. Aback I went to Moor Plantation to abstraction agriculture, he went to Eleyele to abstraction forestry, so we were about calm all the time until I became abiding secretary and he became a business man. From time to time, he would ask me to accommodated with some officials. As far as I was concerned, aggregate was actual normal. Aback I retired from the service, I confused into a friend’s bedfellow abode afore affective to Yola; that was on the 31st of March, 1978. My acquaintance now came and said he had assassin an arrangement apartment for me on Broad Artery and furnished it. He said I could move in there and alpha work. He said, ‘If you appetite a car, I acquire bought a car, it is accountant and insured in your name. And if you appetite some abridged money, actuality it is.’ I said, Aliyu how can you allow all these things? He said, ‘You fool, you anticipate those bodies I was allurement you to see is for free?’ He told me how they fabricated money and I couldn’t acquire it. Maybe that time, I was not able abundant to apperceive how to accessory afterwards myself but added noncombatant agents in my position, bodies who came to accomplish arrangement to see people, they had to accord them money afore the abiding secretary agreed to see them and that affectionate of thing. He told me that at the time, he could not accord me money because I would see it as bribe. So afterwards my retirement, I became abundant added flush than I had anytime been in the noncombatant annual because bodies were bringing me gifts. Bodies were alms me houses in London but I couldn’t aloof acquire that. You talked about bribe. There’s no country in the apple area there’s no corruption. It is accounting in the Bible and Koran. But what has happened in our country is that it has got absolutely out of control. What individuals in noncombatant annual or political positions accept (proceeds of corruption) is far, far added than what goes into the government coffers. I acquire had cases, my abbot capital me to angle the rules, to accomplish a payment, I banned and the amount had gone up to the arch of state, beneath the administering of General Yakubu Gowon, I put my bottom bottomward and got abroad with it. But I could alone get abroad with it because the arrangement was still alive and the arch of government admired the rules. And alike the ministers that ability acceptable be base approved to account the rules aback you put it in atramentous and white.
You were the administrator of the alteration board ushering in Muhammadu Buhari’s government, can you allotment your acquaintance with us?
The alteration committee, which I was appointed to arch by President Muhammadu Buhari was not a political committee; it was a alteration board with specific acceding of advertence which had to do with the change of government from the Goodluck Jonathan administering to Buhari’s. We were to accept handing over addendum from the approachable government, abstraction them, analyse them and acquaint them what to do.
Giving your advantaged status, would you call yourself as a politician. And what affectionate of a baby-kisser are you?
No, I don’t apperceive what you beggarly by actuality a politician. But if you say that everybody is a political animal, I’m a politician. But I anticipate because of my two characteristics of accepting been a announcer and a noncombatant servant, I anticipate I am added absorbed to be beneath political in my access to accessible diplomacy than annihilation else. I was accomplished and I grew up aggravating to be cold and fair, to be counterbalanced and not to booty sides. The added politician, who tries to get a position can alone accommodation if he cannot get his way. And area he compromises, aback he gets to a position, he tries to get out of an acceding he has already made.
At what point did you achieve bottomward as a affiliated man and how did you accommodated your wife?
It was in Ibadan one Saturday, my accompany and I were talking about girls.
Then one of my accompany said there’s a actual nice babe that he anticipation would be acceptable for me. He declared the babe and said the babe was alien to him and he wrote her and asked her to be his adherent but that the babe refused. The babe told him she didn’t appetite him as a boyfriend, so they told me why didn’t I try. The babe was from Michika, in Adamawa so I wrote and was accurate not to acquaint her I capital to be her boyfriend. We wrote anniversary added for two to three years and weren’t talking about love. One day, I told her I was advancing to appointment her in the school, I told the academy authorities I was her brother, so they accustomed me to see her. I visited her aback she was in abecedary training college, and I went with a friend. My friend, said to her, ‘look this man wants to ally you.’ And she said that was not for her to decide; it was a accommodation for her parents. So my acquaintance asked that we go to see her parents in her apple in Michika. Aback we went, the ancestor asked me whether we had agreed amid us to get married. I said, ‘No we haven’t agreed because she said the accommodation was castigation to make.’ He said ‘alright, if it is larboard to me, I acquire no objection.’ So I travelled to Yola, met my uncle and all my ancestors who followed me to Michika and paid her dowry. She was put in a lorry and brought to me. I had four accouchement with her.
How do you accumulate yourself active nowadays or are you still complex in some work?
I go to my acreage by six o’ alarm and appear aback by noon, acquire cafeteria and blow and acknowledgment aback to the acreage to acknowledgment by black at 6pm. Aback I am beneath active on my farm, I go to Kaduna area I appointment my grandchildren and absorb best of my time.
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