By Edwin Uhara
Today, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha will be adding one to his glorious years on earth.But one thing about this year’s anniversary is the fact that it came at a time the SGF is busy fighting to defeat one of the deadliest diseases in a century; a disease that have brought pains, sorrows and traumas to many homes and families as well as disrupted global economy and changed the lifestyle the world have known for decades to new ways of life which is now known as the ‘new normal.’No doubt, the SGF is leading the war against Covid-19 from all fronts with great risk to his health, life and family. Hence, against the believe of many Nigerians, Boss Mustapha is not only fighting to defeat Coronavirus in the country, but he is also fighting to reposition our hitherto dysfunctional healthcare system and decrepit infrastructures so as to enable the nation to contain future outbreak of infestious disease on our soil.Before his appointment as Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 by President Muhammadu Buhari in March this year, the nation only had two Molecular Testing Laboratories serving over 200 million people in a nation that once defeated Ebola Virus, Avian Influenza and other infectious diseases in the past.The question is what magic wand did we use to achieve such victory without extending such successes to our poor healthcare system and infrastrutures?The fact remains that we focused our attention on defeating the said diseases and taking glories without bordering to build resilient healthcare systems that will enable the nation to contain outbreak of infestious diseases in the future. That was what gave rise to early fears that enveloped the entire nation when an Italian imported the virus to the country in February this year.But because of the extra-ordinary leadership provided by the SGF at the Presidential Taskforce as well as his unequal use of ‘soft-power’ in addressing issues, he was able to mobilize all the neccesary stakeholders that matters in the country in to supporting the fight and struggles to flatten the Covid-19 curve in Nigeria.Accordingly, between March and September 3rd this year, the number of molecular laboratories in the country increased from just two to 68 and with the extention of the lifespan of the PTF to December by President Muhammadu Buhari, it is expected that more local government areas of the country, if not all the 774 LGA’s will have molecular testing laboratories and other healthcare infrastructures.The nation’s testing capacity have also grown from just 500 to 15, 000 within a space of about six months. The challenge is no longer about testing capacity but about the attitude of Nigerians towards sample collection. That is why we have 15, 000 testing capacity daily, but approximately, over 6000 tests are conducted nationwide.Most Nigerians are not showing up for sample collection. Probably, its because of the fake news and disinformation about Covid-19 out there.The third battle the SGF is facing as Chairman of the Taskforce is the unpatriotic activities of fake news manufacturers and publishers.There is delibrate and consistent efforts by some Nigerians to scandalize, blackmail, denigrate and discredit the efforts and sacrifices of the leadership and members of the PTF. Though, I had known that public sacrifice is a thankless one in some quarters, but the dimension it took against the taskforce was so ferocious that only a leader who has the interest of the nation at heart could bear it.The disinformation and multimedia attacks came from all directions even from the least expected quarters, but kudos to the resilient spirit, strong leadership and strength of character exhibited by the SGF so far.With the recent launch of Covid-19 Incidence and Response Tracker and the Resource Mobilisation Tracker Dashboards by the SGF, all information about the PTF, it’s finances, donations, expenditure among others that gave rise to fake news and disinformation against the taskforce is now in public domain for anyone to asses.Nontheless, the fight against Covid-19 should not be seen as one-man or one-group’s fight, but it should rather be seen as a collective fight where every citizen is a combatant until the Covid-19 curve is collectively flattened.Born on September 4,1956 in Adamawa State, Boss Mustapha attended Hong Secondary School in the state as well as the North East College of Arts and Sciences in Maiduguri Borno state which led to acquisition of his SSCE certificate in 1976.He bagged his Bachelor of Law (LL.B) from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1979 and was called to the Nigerian bar in 1980.Between 1980 and 1981, he did his compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the Directorate of Legal Services at the Army Headquarters and was responsible for the reviewing of Court Marshall Proceedings.After his National Youth Service, he joined Sotesa Nigeria Limited, an Italian consultancy firm as an Executive Director in charge of Administration before leaving to join the prestigious law firm, Messrs Onagoruwa & Co in 1983.His legal interests ranges from privatisation, commercialization and Liberalization of Public Companies/Corporate and Government Parastatals. He was also involved in the preparation of varied and miscellaneous banking documents such as Debentures, Guarantees, Mortgages, Bonds and Loan Syndications.Between year 2000 and 2007, He was appointed member of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF).He also played key leadership roles at the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) serving as Social Secretary and Chairman of the Yola branch after which he was appointed Principal Partner of a law firm known as Adroit Lex.He was made member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s Constituent Assembly from 1988-1989. He was also the Chairman of the defunct People’s Solidarity Party in the old Gongola State comprising present day Adamawa and Taraba States from 1989-1990 as well as the State’s Chairman of another defunct party, the Social Democratic Party from1990-1991 which he was later nominated as it’s gubernatorial candidate in the new Adamawa State after it was created by General Ibrahim Babangida on August 27, 1991.Similarly, he was appointed the Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), from 2010 to 2013. He again played another critical role in the party which led to his appointment as the Deputy Director-General of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council.His services remained in high demand after the defunct ACN joined forces with other progressive political parties in the country to birth a new political party called, the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2013 and was later appointed Secretary of the APC Presidential Campaign Council in the 2015 Presidential Election as well as member of the APC Transition Committee. He is also a member of the ruling party’s Board of Trustees.Before his appointment as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in 2017 by President Muhammadu Buhari, he was the Managing Director, Nigerian Inland Water Ways Authority.Besides his appointment as Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, he is also the Chairman of Ajaokuta Presidential Projects Implementation Team as well as the Co-chairman of the Nigeria Digital Identity for Development Ecosystem Project among others.In addition to his membership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), he is also member to various professional bodies which include; African Bar Association (ABA), Commonwealth Lawyers Association, International Bar Association (IBA) and the Human Rights Institute (HRI).Apart from the Bar and politics, his accomplishments are also noticeable in the private sector where he is highly respected as boardroom guru, haven been appointed into boards of several companies in the manufacturing, financial services as well as the oil and gas sectors. He is also the National Vice President, Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, Nigeria.The SGF is happily married and blessed with children. In his leisure time, he enjoys playing golf, lawn tennis, travelling, watching documentary films, engaging in charity works and meeting people.On the occasion of his 64th birthday anniversary, I’m wishing the Boss of all bosses, a very warmed and memorable birthday anniversary.
Happy Birthday Sir!
Comrade Edwin Uhara is A UN-trained Negotiator and Member, APC Presidential Campaign Council in the last Presidential Election