Where could these eminent Nigerians be long after their stewardships in the government circles ELEOJO IDACHABA asks in this piece?
General David Jemibewon (retd.) is not a stranger in Nigeria, but not many people, especially of the younger generation, would be able to put a face to that name even though he is one of those who made modest contributions to the development of Nigeria. This Kogi state-born ex-military General had served as military governors in states of the defunct Western Nigeria during the military regime between 1966 and 1979, before he retired from service and went into a private life. However, in 1999 after the return to democratic rule, he wanted to enter the Senate to represent Kogi-west senatorial district, but he could not make it as he lost to another equally retired army officer, Gen. Tunde Ogbeha.
He was a member of then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and as a result of the leadership role he played as one of the founding fathers of the party, he was appointed into the cabinet by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as minister of police affairs. He was barely a year in that office when his convoy was involved in a motor accident along the Lokoja/Abuja road in 2000 while returning to Abuja from his home town one Sunday afternoon.
Although he escaped death, he was badly injured in the leg and also lost his driver and one security aide. Due to the impact of injury he sustained, Jemibewon was flown out of the country for medical treatment abroad. Not too long thereafter, he was replaced in a minor cabinet reshuffle. Since then, he has not been in any public position except for a few occasions when he issued statements.
For example, responding to a reporter’s question in 2016, about the state of the nation while he was in the US, he said, “All that we are praying for is that the country should do better. At the moment, things are very difficult. I think those who are in control politically need to cooperate among themselves and provide an atmosphere where the country can progress. I sympathise with President Buhari because he doesn’t know the people he is working with.”
Presently, he remains one of the prominent leaders of Okun nation in Kogi state where he is spending his retirement age.
Former lawmaker Leo Maeba was elected into the Senate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to represent the people of Rivers South-east senatorial district in 2003 for the first tenure and got re-elected in 2007 until he lost the seat to Senator Magnus Abe in 2011. He was a vocal senator while in the upper chamber; he was an active member of Pan African Parliament. On leaving the Senate, Maeba was noted for a foundation called Senator Lee Maeba Diabetes Care Centre which is dedicated to vital care, education, nurture and treatment of diabetes. The centre reinterprets global best practices in diabetes care in local languages within the region.
He said, “We have a vision to build a specialist and research medical centre, procure a fleet of mobile health clinics and boats that would reach the underserved communities and a comprehensive electronic library of global best practices accessible by individual and public officials.
“I want to kindly express sincere appreciation to all our partners at home and abroad particularly University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital for offering us a site for our Global Clinical and Research Centre on their campus, Map International, Medshare, WHO, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Defence.” It is, however, not certain how far the centre has fared in recent times and where he could be presently.
Hon Justice Alloma Mukhtar is the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria. She was elevated to that position under the leadership of former president Goodluck Jonathan in 2012 until her tenure expired and she left in 2014. However, what is remarkable about her is that she opened the vista to what is today the fight against the rot in the judiciary. For example, in a keynote address she presented at a workshop for judges at the National Judicial Institute NJI in 2012, she said, “Let me quickly add that the fight against corruption in the judiciary is not only targeted at judicial officers but also against members and staff of the judiciary who find luxury or convenience in engaging in corrupt practice or in any unwholesome conduct. It is a notorious fact that this category of workers have in the past caused leakages of judgement written by judges who were yet to be delivered,” she said.
In an interview she granted months after she left office, she said about the rot in the bench, “After my assumption of office as Chief Justice, 198 fresh cases were filed, of this number, 150 were found to be frivolous, 15 were awaiting responses from judges and 20 were slated for consideration.” To prove her determination to stamp out corruption in the system, two judges were sacked. They were Justice Charles Archibong of the Federal High Court in Lagos and Justice T D Naron of the High Court of Plateau state. Acting in consonance with the National Judicial Council (NJC), she also set up a fact-finding committee on the allegations of corruption against Justice Abubakar Talba of the FCT who was eventually given one year suspension. Justice Alloma is one Nigerian worth celebrating, but who has been away from the public square in recent times and it’s also not certain where she could be at the moment.