The news of the sudden demise of the former Central Bank of Nigeria’s Deputy Governor, Obadiah Mailafia came as a rude shock not only to his political and business associates but many of his readers of his column and listeners to his commentaries.
Mailafia, often described as an international polymath due to his wealth of knowledge, had many critics and admirers.
Below are some important facts about him:
Son of an Evangelist
Born 24 December 1956 in the village of Randa in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna, Obadiah was the son of Baba Mailafia Gambo Galadima, an evangelist with the Evangelical Reformed Church of Central Nigeria (ERCC). He was raised as a missionary child in a multiracial environment.
Early Life and Education
He started his elementary education at Musha Sudan United Mission School from 1964 to 1969 and proceeded to Mada Hills Secondary School, Akwanga, Nasarawa State, from 1970 to 1974.
Obadiah also attended the School of Basic Studies (SBS) at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, between 1974 and 1975. He later proceeded and graduated top of his class at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1978 with a B.Sc. Honours Social Sciences degree (Politics, Economics and Sociology). He also bagged an M.Sc. from the same institution.
He subsequently won a French Government Scholarship to France, where he earned a Certificate in French Language and Civilization from the University of Clermont-Ferrand in 1985.
Mailafia began his career teaching Government and Economics at Akoko Anglican Grammar School, Arigidi-Ikare in Ondo State, Nigeria between 1978 and 1979 as part of his primary assignment during his obligatory National Youth Service Corps year. After national service he returned to his old alma mater, Ahmadu Bello University, as a Graduate Assistant in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences from 1980 to 1982. During this period he lectured undergraduates and was also Research Assistant to Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the present Chief-of-Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
From 1982 to 1989, Mailafia was a Fellow and sometime Acting Research Director of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). He was on the team that prepared a special report on Local Government Reforms during 1982–1983. He also co-authored a report on the Maitatsine Religious Riots that formed the bedrock of the government’s response to the crisis (1984).
From 1990 to 1995, Mailafia was resident tutor and lecturer in the economics and politics of developing areas at Plater College Oxford at the time an associate college of the University of Oxford. During 1995–1996 he was an assistant professor at New England College, Arundel, the foreign academic programme of New England College. He was subsequently a lecturer in international finance at Richmond Business School, the American International University in London (1997–1998). He was then headhunted as the pioneer head of the International Business Department of Regents Business School London (1998–2000).
From 2005 to 2007, served as deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). In this capacity he served a member of the board of directors of the bank and was principally responsible for managing monetary policy, economic policy, research and statistics and liaison with regional and international bodies, including the IMF and the World Bank. He was a principal actor in the banking consolidation exercise of 2005–2006 that led to the reform of the Nigerian banking sector.
From 2010 to 2015, Mailafia was the chief of staff (Chef de Cabinet) to the 79-member nation African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States based in Brussels, Belgium. In this capacity he was the most senior adviser to the secretary-general, overseeing the strategic management function; liaising with external partners such as the European Commission, European Parliament, European Investment Bank (EIB), UN agencies and the IMF and World Bank. He was involved in managing a portfolio of €22 billion of EU funding for ACP countries under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and €31.5 billion for the 11th European Development Fund covering the years 2015–2020.
Mailafia was the Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the 2019 presidential election.
In September 2020, Obadiah was the subject of attention after he was invited by the DSS over his comment on radio that one of the Governors in the North-West was sponsoring the activities of the bandits in the region.
His invitation by the Secret Police generated mixed-reactions but he would later tell the DSS that he still does not have evidence of the involvement of the government in the killing of Nigerians.
He also backtracked saying he had no evidence to prove that an unnamed Nigerian governor was a sponsor of bandits killing Nigerians.