FEATURE ARTICLE

Wednesday, November 8, 2023
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Lagos, Nigeria
RECONNECTING TO THE GLOBAL RADAR

or a nation to achieve concrete foreign policy objectives, two key actors are required, an active President and an active foreign Minister. Of course a buoyant economy will also be required. We had all these in the past. Suddenly, we got lost on the global radar. All these, could be traced to our internal problems or maybe our poor economy. We have to think now whether to become part of the world and make our presence felt or we withdraw from the world and let the world move on without us.

Sadly in the past few years, we have not been lucky in terms of leadership.

We have had outstanding foreign Ministers in the past that helped us achieve concrete foreign objectives and they made us proud. With the likes of Dr. Jaja Wachukwu (1961-1965), Nuhu Bamali( 1965-1966), Dr. Okoi Arikpo(1967-1975), Major General Joe Nanven Garba(1975-1978), Major General Henry Adefowope(1978-1979), Professor Ishaya Audu( 1979-1983), Chief Emeka Anyaoku(1983), Professor Ibrahim Gambari(1984-1985), Professor Bolaji Akinyemi(1985-1987), Major General Ike Nwachukwu(1987-1989),Babagana Kingibe(1993-1995), Professor Joy Ogwu(2006-2007), Sule Lamido(1999-2003), Ignatius Olisemeka(1998-1999), Ambassador Olugbenga Asiru alias Asa(2011-2013) and others, we could be proud of our foreign policy objectives.

We also took part in global peace efforts. From 1960 till 2000, Nigeria took part in United Nations Operations in the Congo (ONUG), 1960-1964, United Nations Transition Assistance Group in Namibia (UNTAG), 1989-1990, United Nations Angola Verification Mission II (UNAVEM II) 1991-1995, United Nations Angola Verification Mission III (UNAVEM III) 1995-1997), United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA), 1997, United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), 1991- and United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II) 1993-1995.

Others are the United Nations Operations in Mozambique (ONUMOZ), 1992-194, United Nations Assistance Mission of Rwanda (UNAMIR), 1993-1996, United Nations Aouzou Strip Observer Group (UNASOG), 1994, United Nations India-Pakistan Observer Mission (UNIPOM), 1965-1966, United Nations Security Force in West New Guinea(UNSF), 1962-1963, United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTA), 1992-1993, United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), 1994-, United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFR), 1992-195, United Nations Confidence Restoration Operation in Croatia (UNCRO), 1995-1996 and the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force in Macedonia (UNPREDEP), 1995.

The lists included the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), 1995-, United Nations Transitional Administration or Easter Slovenia, Baraja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES), 1996-1998, United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP), 1996-, United Nations Civilian Police Support Group, 1998-1991, United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UN IKOM), 1991-, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), 1978 and the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Sierra Leone, 1999.

There was a desk office in the then CABINET office, Lagos manned by Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar from Kaduna state, Permanent Secretary, CABINET office, Dr. Niyi Adedeji from Ilesha, Osun state, Ambassador Timothy Ayodele Olu Otunla also from Ilesha, Mr. Bisi Ogunniyi from Iree in Osun state and others, established purposely by Generals Murtala Muhammed and Olusegun Obasanjo, for the sole purpose of assisting African states in their liberation struggles.

With the approval of the then Supreme Military Council then, Brigadier Ibrahim Ahmed Bako(N/548) (5 March 1943-31 December,1983), from Kaduna state trained freedom fighters in Libya and Somalia.

Brigadier Ibrahim Bako led the Nigerian Army contingent that facilitated the transfer of about 100 former guerrillas from the Zimbabwean bushes (after the liberation struggle) for selection and training at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna in 1980. Those 100 former guerrillas formed the pioneer corp of the post-independence Zimbabwe National Army, leading Nigeria's assistance to other Southern African countries like Angola and South Africa in their fight against apartheid and colonialism.

There was the South African relief fund, an offshoot of the Federal Government, established by General Olusegun Obasanjo, first headed by Dr. Aina from Kwara state and later by Evelyn Omawunmi Urhobo, which provided assistance to freedom fighters of South Africa. At that time every Federal Civil Servant was obliged to donate to the fund. Nigeria donated four rooms at the National Theatre Iganmu, Lagos to serve as operations centres for the liberation struggle in South Africa. Both the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) and the African National Congress (ANC) shared the offices then.

Dr. Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (81), who later became the President of South Africa from 16 June 1999 to 24 September 2008, used one of those offices at Iganmu. He was then the head of the African National Congress (ANC) in Nigeria. At that time Lagos was like the capital of freedom fighters in Africa. It is no exaggeration that we carried Africa's burden.

In fact, a commercial street in Freetown, Sierra Leone, is today named after the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha GCFR (20 September 1943 - 8 June 1998)

Listing the assistance that Nigeria has given to some African countries from independence to date, is like counting the planes that land daily at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia, USA-too numerous.

My late cousin, Dr. Ayo Akinbobola(11th December 1942-19th April, 2008) JIMEKENLA from Idanre in Ondo state, attempted it in his book titled, REGIONALISM AND REGIONAL INFLUENTIALS-The Post Cold-War Role of Nigeria in African Affairs. Dr. Akinbobola was a Ford Foundation Fellow at Howard University, Washington D.C., U.S.A.; a research fellow at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, Lagos; a visiting scholar to the University of Oxford, 1979 and to the University of Michigan.

In 1972, Nigeria and Benin Republic embarked on a N7m cement project. The Nigerian Government provided a N2 million 35 years interest free loan with 30% equity. Both countries also have a joint sugar project. The Nigerian government has 45% equity shares in the project while Benin Republic holds 49% with expatriate companies' enjoying 5% of the shares. Both projects are based in the Benin Republic.

The Nigeria government also invested in uranium mining in Niger and petrochemical concerns in Senegal.

In September 1972, Nigeria signed an agreement with Guinea to invest $350,000 (5% of the shares) in the Mifergui Nimba and Simandou Company of Guinea, which is charged with the exploitation and sales of the country's iron ore resources. Under the agreement, Nigeria was guaranteed one million tons of quality ore yearly for its steel production at Ajaokuta.

Nigeria provided electricity to Niger from Kainji Dam. She also granted Dahomey (Benin) $2 million to pay for imports from country. Nigeria entered into agreement with other African states to contruct a 6,530 kilometre trans-Africa highway running from and Kenyan port of Mombassa to the Nigerian port city of Lagos and passing through Uganda, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), Central African Republic and Cameroon.

In 1972, Nigeria granted an interest free N1 million loan to Dahomey to rehabilitate the Idiroko- Porto Novo road. By the time the road was opened in 1973, the Federal Government had spent a total of N2.7 million on it. The Federal Government also undertook the construction of the 92-kilometre Sokoto-Illela and Birnin Konni (both in Niger Republic) roads at the cost of N2.2 million.

On February 24, 1975, at the ministerial meeting of the Economic Commission for Africa in Nairobi, Nigeria announced that it would make crude petroleum available to any African country that required it, at concessionary rates. The leader of the Nigerian government delegation, Mr. Victor Adeyeye Adegoroye from Akure in Ondo state who made the announcement spelt out two conditions for this: such countries must have their own refineries; and the crude oil sold to them must not be re-exported to third world countries.

Nigeria also played an active role in the funding of African Development Bank (ADB). The Renowned economist, Dr. Pius Nwabufo Charles Okigbo (February 6, 1924 - September 13, 2000) from Ojoto in Idemili South local government of Anambra state, was the head of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) team that carried out the feasibility study on it in 1961. On November 4, 1964, the Nigerian Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa (December 1912 - 15 January 1966) presided over its inaugural board of governors' meeting in Lagos. Nigeria's major on-going multilateral assistance involved the bank. It has the highest block of shares in the bank. This comes to 159,751 shares, about 15.6% of the total shares and some 10.5% of the weighted voting power.

Nigeria contributes 32.5% annually to the ECOWAS budget (multilateral assistance). In June 1980, it settled the outstanding rent of the Community's secretariat amounting to N80million.

In 1970-1971, Nigeria increased its contributions to the OAU budget to N150,000, 47% over the 1968-1969 contributions, making it the third largest contributor to the organisation's annual budget. In 1978, the Federal Government gave Mozambique N5million to cope with problems associated with the closure of its borders with Sothern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe. Nigeria played a major role in the establishment of River Niger Basin Commission and the Chad Basin Commission. Both of which have potentials as investment. In 1979, Nigerian contributed N30, 000,000 million to the Lake Chad Basin Development Fund.

Nigeria's military assistance to other countries has generally taken the form of contributions to troops and equipment to peacekeeping missions in countries having internal conflicts. The country was yet to become independent when it became involved in the UN Congo mission. Its generally effective and widely acclaimed participation in that peacekeeping mission laid a foundation for later involvements in several other peacekeeping missions since then, including those in Lebanon and the former Yugoslavia. Apart from the Congo mission, Nigeria has been the player in the Liberian peacekeeping operations. Nigerian troops served in Sierra Leone as part of the peace agreement to end that country's civil war. They also served in Tanzania to restore order following army mutiny of January 20, 1964. Military officers of a number of African countries undergo training in some Nigerian military schools and colleges.

Shortly after Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (December 1912 - 15 January 1966) the then Prime Minister proposed that a fact finding mission be sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo where open rebellion had broken out, the UN on November 5, 1960, set up the Congo Conciliation Commission made up of 15 Afro-Asian states. Nigeria's foreign Minister, Mr. Jaja Nwachukwu was elected chairman of the commission. Before independence, Nigeria had put the Kano airport at the disposal of the UN for the transport of troops and materials to the Congo. Two platoons of the fifth Battalion of the Royal Nigerian Army were detailed to work with UN troops during their stopover in Kano.

Later, at the request of the UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjord, Nigeria agreed one month to its independence to contribute troops to the UN force in the Congo and immediately dispatched the general officer commanding the RNA to conduct a reconnaissance mission in the troubled republic. The full Nigerian contingent itself left for the Congo between November 18 and 22, 1960. It involved five battalions deployed in four of the country's six provinces, namely Kassai, Kivu, North Katanga and Leopoldville. The contingent was assigned the primary duty of assisting the Congolese authorities in maintaining law and order and preventing minor clashes and large-scale war among the various factions. Among other things, the Nigerians contingent helped to reduce inter-ethnic and inter-factional clashes; protected Congolese and foreign administrators as well as public utilities workers: and performed guard duties at installations such as power stations, airstrips, mines, factories, waterworks, railway stations and public buildings.

Nigeria troops helped with the distribution of food and medicine to schools, refugee centres and hospitals. They participated effectively in the UN operation that led to the complete liquidation of Katanga rebels and the termination of the secession of the province. The Nigerian contingent was also instrumental in the completion of the UN military disengagement from the Congo.

Nigeria troops were part of the 3,000 UN troops that remained in the country until June 1964. Brigadier Babafemi Olatunde Ogundipe(8 September, 1924-November 20 1979) from Ago Iwoye in Ogun state was the Chief of Staff of the remaining UN forces that stayed until December 31, 1963. Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi GCFR (3 March 1924 - 29 July 1966) from Umuahia in Abia state then took over as the commander of the Congo. Among his accomplishments was persuading 3,500 Kassai natives to return to their homes abandoned as a result of terrorists activities. The Nigerian Police Force was itself part of the Congo peacekeeping operations. Its involvement followed an urgent request from the UN Secretary General to the Nigerian government for 300 policemen to assist the UN force to maintain law and order. December 21, 1960, a contingent of 400 officers and men left Nigeria under the command of Mr. Louis O. Edet(1914-1979) from the famous Edet Essien and Gerald Orok family in Calabar then a Deputy Commissioner and later became the first indigenous Inspector General of Police, to replace a detachment of the Ghanaian police which had withdrawn after a six-month service. The Nigerian contingent was stationed in Leopoldville, Luluabourg, Stanleyville, Bukavu and Kindu. Apart from regular patrol duties, the contingent carried out the administrative re-organisation of the Congolese police force, and organized a refresher course for Congolese's police officers and a long-term comprehensive training programme for recruits at the police college in Leopoldville. It spent a total of five years in the Congo.

On the whole, the initial cost to Nigeria arising from the operations in the Congo, between 1960 and 1961, amounted to $1.800,000. In addition to this, Nigeria also paid salaries and allowances of all Nigerian troops and policemen during their three and half years of service. This cost a total of $12,300,000. The cost of maintaining the 400-man police contingent that served for five years was $29,580,000. In June 1964, Nigeria contributed $626,000 to the UN Congo special fund. The total estimated cost to Nigeria of the Congo operations is $44,366,000. This does not include its $1,000,000 subscription to the UN bond issue inaugurated in 1962 to alleviate UN financial burdens in the peacekeeping operations.

On January 20, 1964, Tanganyika soldiers mutinied and took over Dar es Salaam in protest against poor pay and the continued presence of British officers in the army. The mutiny spread to other towns. Six hundred British royal marines, flown in at the request of the government, disarmed the mutineers. The entire army was also disbanded. At the OAU Council of Ministers meeting in Dar es Salaam, it was agreed that troops be reconstituted. In March 1964, following an agreement between Nigeria and Tanganyika, Nigerian troops replaced the British troops, assisting the Tanganyika government in maintaining internal security. They served for six months.

In 1983, Nigeria spent N50million to finance its participation in an OAU sponsored peacekeeping mission in Chad, following a rebel invasion from Libya to overthrow the government of Hisene Hibre.

Nigeria's most elaborate peacekeeping effort has been in Liberia. On Christmas Eve, 1989, following years of violent and chaotic rule by the government of Sergeant Samuel Doe, rebel forces led by Charles Taylor, Doe's former Director of General Services, invaded the country, entering the Nimba County through Cote d'Ivoire. The Taylor forces made rapid progress. However, their onslaught and the counter reaction to it from the Doe government and other insurgent groups led to a bloodbath, carnage and a refugee crisis unprecedented in the history of the sub-region. By August 1990, Doe's government had lost control of the country. Meanwhile, the refugee problem worsened as relief ships refused to enter Liberian territorial waters because the Lloyds of London refused to issue them insurance.

The initial response of sub-regional leaders came in April. At the urging of President Ibrahim Babangida, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia established a Standing Mediation Committee (SMC) to resolve the conflict peacefully. After failing to secure co-operation for the peace efforts, especially from Taylor whose forces were on the verge of taking over Monrovia when the SMC was formed, the SMC on August 7 created the Economic Community of West African States Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). ECOMOG's mandate combined peacekeeping and peace enforcement, namely: to conduct military operations for the purpose of monitoring ceasefire, to restore law and order to create the necessary conditions for free and fair elections; and to aid the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of war.

On the whole, Nigeria has supplied about 70% of ECOMOG's men and material during the first five years of its operations. This includes 15-armed helicopters. Since the removal of the force's Ghanaian Commander, General Arnold Quainoo, it has been led by Nigerian Commander. SMC also set up a special emergency fund for the war-torn country to deal with refugee problems, among others.

Shortly after Federal Government accorded it recognition in November 1975, the MPLA government in Angola sent a delegation to Lagos to request for military and financial assistance. In December, the government gave the Angolan government an outright grant of $20million and set up a military committee headed by the Minister of Defence, Major General Illiya Bisalla to determine how best Nigeria could meet the needs of the Angolans.

The committee was able, by January 1976, to assembly uniforms, combat boots, steel helmet and some weapons which Nigeria Air Force planes used to fly to Angola. Still significant was the role of General Murtala Mohammed (8 November 1938- 13 February 1976) who almost single-handedly swayed the OAU into according to MPLA recognition as the sole government of Angola. Many African commentators considered Murtala's action as psychological boost for African liberation movement because of its impact on the US position on African decolonization.

Nigeria played an active role in the struggle against apartheid and white minority rule in South Africa; remaining throughout that struggle, Africa's leading opponent of the South Africa apartheid regime. For many years, Major General Joe Nanven Garba(17 July 1943- 1 June 2002) served to galvanise international opinion against apartheid.

In 1976, the Mozambican Liberation Movement, (FRELIMO), received N150million from the Federal Government. Nigeria Air Force planes moved to Dar es Salaam from where they carried supplies to the Patriotic Alliance forces based in Mozambique and Zambia to accelerate the independence struggle in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). In addition, Zimbabwean liberation group received N150million in 1976 and N640million in 1979 from the Nigerian government.

Nigeria provided the South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO), the main liberation, substantial amount of money to move its main base in Southern Zambia to Southern Angola in order to gain a firmer foothold in the liberation struggle.

From 1968, when it became known that South Africa, Rhodesia and Portugal were secretly supporting secessionist Biafra, the Nigerian government began pressing for increased contributions to the special fund of the OAU liberation committee to which Nigeria contributed N150million in 1973.

In February 1969, the Nigerian government spokesman at that year's OAU Council of Ministers meeting announced that Nigeria was ready to grant "additional funds to the liberation committee apart from its regular allotted contribution." In 1970-1971, Nigeria held the chairmanship of the OAU defence commission. General Yakubu Gowon (89) in June 1971 asked African leaders to work to ensure the liberation of at least one colonial state in the continent. He promised that the OAU should assign specific African countries responsibility for liberating particular colonial territories.

Also in June 1971 Nigeria's external affairs commissioner, Dr. Okoi Arikpo (20 September 1916- 26 October 1995) severely criticized the budget of about $1million approved for the liberation movements with bilateral assistance, military hardware, trucks, and medical supplies since 1968. Thanks to these efforts, the Rabat (Morocco) OAU Heads of State and Government Summit increased member state's contributions to liberation committee by 50%. Also in 1971, Nigeria succeeded in persuading the OAU Council of Ministers to open a sub-regional headquarters for the Particido Africano da Independencia da Guinea Capo Verde (PAIIGC) in Conakry, capital of Guinea. Nigeria's regular contribution of $84,000 per year was raised by the government to $126,000 in 1981.

In April 1980, I was part of the Federal Government advance team to Salibury now Harare that witnessed the independence of Southern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe. At that time selected journalists were usually made to be part of the Federal Government delegation. My room at Mekles hotel Harare was next to that of Dr Chuba Wilberforce Okadigbo(17 December 1941-25 September 2003), the then special adviser to President Shehu Usman Shagari(25 February 1925 - 28 December 2018) . The advance team visited Masvingo, Victoria falls, before we finally settled down in Harare. Bob Marley and other musicians played on the eve of Zimbabwe's independence. It was during that time that Samora Machael of Mozambique described the new country as the "jewel of Africa which must not be tarnished".

The Federal Government gave us specific instruction to dress in Agbada or buba and soro. The then Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe became emotional when President Shehu Shagari (25 February 1925 - 28 December 2018) GCFR donated 10 million dollars to the new country. During our stay, we were treated like superstars. That was then.

As stated earlier, an active President and an active Foreign Minister will be required to design and implement outstanding foreign policy objectives. I don't know what President Bola Tinubu GCFR, hope to achieve in foreign affairs. Most people believe he will be pro-west because of his background, notwithstanding that his Vice President, Kashim Shettima(57) and his foreign Minister, Alhaji Tugger are both Muslims.

In the early 70s while we were in Ibadan with the likes of Oladunnin Ayandepo, Joe Abiola alias atuma, Tayo Kehinde, Soji Alakuro, Folu Olamiti, Toye Akiyode alias agusko, Sanya Ogunlana alias SOSOELE and others, he never embraced socialist policies or be allowed to be called Comrade or aluta continua which were popular clichés during that period. In Ibadan then he was just a GOOD FELLOW struggling to survive like everyone.

President Bola Tinubu GCFR left Ibadan for Chicago, United States of America to study. Among his classmates at that time in Chicago was Chief Kunle Adedayo(75) alias BABA YUNGBAYUNGBA, from Ila Orangun in Osun state, now the Chairman of Tastee Fried Chicken in Lagos.

President Bola Tinubu and Chief Kunle Adedayo were both living in the same apartment at 7959 South Phillips,Chicago,USA.

When Chief Adedayo got married in Chicago in 1976 to his alluring Ijebu Ode lady, Yinka Pamela, Bola Tinubu was one of his groomsmen at the marriage event. When their son, Bunmi, was born in 1977, President Bola Tinubu was the godfather.

When President Tinubu returned to Nigeria, he was employed at Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc, Bookshop House, 50/52, Broad Street, Lagos. His co-workers at that time were Chief Pius Olu Akinyelure, Barry Fadase, Segun Fatusi (MY MAIN MAN), Dayo Jolaoso, Sola Ogunsola, Mr. Sijuade, Akin Doherty, Adekunle Ali, Akin Fatunke, Olu Onakoya, Akin Leigh, Emmanuel Adesoye, John Nnadi, Nwachukwu Okonkwo, Moses Olabode, Adenike Williams, Sunday Essien, Olumide Ajomale, Olusegun Ojo, Oloye Femi Olugbende, Bath Mou, Kola Fajuyigbe and others.

At lunch time, he was always at MUMMMY'S PLACE (Mrs Adebanjo) on 12, Lewis street, Lagos Island, which was also attended by Dayo Shobowale, Joke Sanyaolu, Yinka Guedon, Tola Animashaun, Remi Agbaosi, Dele Adeola, Biyi Badejo, Prince Bola Ojora, Tunde Duale, Prince Makinwa Ademiluyi(MAKAAY), Akin Sanwo-Olu, Winnie Ojei, Ranti Aborowa, Tunde Adebanjo, Remi Odukoya, Supo Ali Balogun, Egbon Ladi Rasaki, Tunde Babayale, Gori Thomas, Roy Abiodun, Femi Akiyode, Dr. Okubanjo, C.K. Roberto, Lamidi Albert, Eddy Obaseki and others.

At that time his close associates included Afolabi Salami, Kasali Abayomi alias Baba Sandra and they usually go to Abe Igi joint in Surulere.

During his NADECO years in exile, he was in London, seeing almost on daily basis, that polished urban gentleman, Dapo Durosinmi Etti OMO EKO PATAKI.

He is not radical. He is not fanatical. He is not revolutionary. Even if he wants to be now, age is not on his side. He is not likely to be anti-WEST like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela (28 July 1954- 5 March 2013) or Colonel Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (7 June 1942 - 20 October 2011) of Libya or Salvador Allende (26 June 1908- 11 September 1973) of Chile.

Since he became President on May 29 this year, we have seen his hand in Niger Republic following the coup in that country on 26 July as the Chairman of ECOWAS, which is a rotational position. We are yet to see more of him in foreign affairs. As for his foreign Minister, Yusuf Maitama Tuggar(56), we read his timely statement at the beginning of the Israeli-Hamas war, calling for the de-escalation of the war. In August 2017, he was appointed Nigerian Ambassador to Germany by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR.

Yusuf Tuggar represented Gamawa from Bauchi State in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. He served as the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Procurement, regulating government spending in the oil and gas industry, education, health and water resources, the committee worked on separating the president's cabinet from affairs of awarding contracts.

He also oversaw the creation of the National Council on Public Procurement, and was the member of the house committee that worked on Local content bill with a focus in oil and gas. He was also as a member of the house committees on foreign affairs and was the deputy chairman of the house on Public Petitions.

During his ambassadorship in Germany, Tuggar played a key role during the 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He also facilitated the state visit of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Nigeria in August 2018.

In March 2020, Tuggar attended a meeting held with Siemens in Germany over projects in the Nigerian power sector, the chief of staff to the president Abba Kyari who tested positive for COVID-19. Tuggar ordered the closure of the embassy in Berlin, and himself was tested negative. Kyari later died on 17 April 2020.

As Ambassador, Tuggar initiated the repatriation of lost Benin artefacts from the German government leading to the return of 22 Benin Bronze looted artefacts valued at over 100 million pounds

I knew his father, Alhaji Abubakar Tuggar very well.

Alhaji Abubakar Tuggar was the publicity secretary of the Northern Peoples Congress between 1956 and 1966 during the first republic when Alhaji Ahmadu Bello (12 June 1910- 15 January 1966) was the President General of the party and the then Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa from Jere ethnic group- a branch of the Hausas, was first Vice President of the party, Alhaji Tuggar was the spokesman of the party.

Other principal officers of the party then were Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu(1910-1965),from Balala in Adamawa state second vice president, Abba Mohammadu Habib(General Secretary), Alhaji Aliyu Makama Bida(General Treasurer), Alhaji Isa Kaita(General Financial Secretary), Mallam Ibrahim Musa Gashash(North Regional President), Mr Michael Audu Buba(North Regional Secretary), Mallam Habib Raji Abdallah and Mallam Mohammadu (Principal Organising Secretary) and Mallam Garba Abuja(Administrtaive Secretary).

In 1977, Alhaji Abubakar Tuggar was elected to represent Jama'are/Shira in the Constituent Assembly. The other members who represented Bauchi state in that Assembly then were Alhaji Uba Ahmed(Tangale Waja), Alhaji Tatari Ali (Katagum/Gamawa), Alhaji A. Bununu (Dass/Tafawa Balewa), Alhaji A. Kari (Darazo), Dr. Suleiman Kumo(Ako), Alhaji Magaji Mu'Azu(Gombe/Dukku), Alhaji A. Rufai(Misau), Dr. I. Tahir(Bauchi/Alkaleri) and Mr. Maikano Tilde(Ningi/Toro).

At the Constituent Assembly, Alhaji Abubakar Tuggar was the spokesman for the Northern caucus which championed the Sharia cause.

In 1979, Alhaji Tuggar was elected to serve Gamawa Constituency in the House of Representatives. He was one of the major sponsors of Chief Edwin Ume Ezeoke (8 September 1935 - 1 August 2011) from Nnewi to become Speaker of the House of Representatives, following the NPP/NPN accord. He voted along with 245 members to defeat Mr. Hamza Ngadiwa, who had 201 votes to emerge as the Speaker. He conceded to make Mr Yunusa Kaltungo(Tangale-Waja South) to be the leader of the House of Representatives. He was later made chairman of the House committee on creation of states by Chief Ezeoke. Other members of the committee were O.O. Oreh, Honourables E. Ojogu, B. Kantoma,Y. Paiko, B.M. Mabrama Jen, Mrs Abiola Babatope, Tunji Abolade, S.M.C. Ihekweazu, M.A. Agbamuche, Sule Abubakar and Hamza Ngajiwa.

The Senate had the following members for the committee on the creation of states. They are Senators D.O. Dafinone, A. Muazu, I. Dimis, Hassan Zuru, F.O.M. Atake, D.O. Oke, Adeyiga Ajayi, Onyeabo Obi, E.P. Echeruo, Umaru Lawan Bama and Barkin Zuwo.

On June 22, 1983, a joint conference was held at the National Assembly premises Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos to pick the chairman of the National Assembly committee on the creation of states. The conference commenced at 11.30a.m. with an open address by the President of the Senate, Dr. Joseph Wayas (21 May 1941 - 30 November 2021) accompanied by the Speaker of House of Representatives, Chief Edwin Ume Ezeoke.

Dr. Wayas reminded the Conference of the need to harmonise the conflicting resolution of both Houses and determine which of the requests for creation of New States should go for Referenda. After enjoining members of the Conference to deliberate on the issue at hand calmly and wishing them fruitful deliberations, the President of the Senate withdrew.

Soon after the withdrawal of the President of the Senate from the Conference, Senator Dafinone moved for the nomination and election of a Chairman for the Conference. Senator Ibrahim Dimis nominated Honourable Abubakar Tuggar, Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Creation of States. This was seconded by Senator Bama. Another motion nominating Senator Jalo Waziri (17 December, 1926-12 November, 1984) the Waziri of Gombe, Senator Bauchi East,was moved by Senator Oke and seconded Senator F. Atake. A third motion nominating Senator Dafinone was proposed by Senator Ajayi.

Senator Dafinone however, declined. At this juncture, Senator Barkin Zuwo raised a point of order that the Conference Committee had not mandated Senator Dafinone to conduct the election of a Chairman for the Conference. He called on the Senate President to preside over the election of the Conference Chairman.

The point of order was unanimously adopted by a majority of the members present. Thereafter, the Senate President presided over the election of the Committee's Chairman. A fresh nomination was called for by the Senate President whereby Honourable Abubakar Tuggar and Senator Jalo Waziri were again nominated. Voting on the two candidates took place and returns were declared as follows-Honourable Abubakar Tuggar-13votes and Senator Jalo Waziri-9 votes. The Senate President accordingly declared Honourable Tuggar elected as the Chairman.

Honourable Abubakar Tuggar took the chair and then called on Senator Waziri to say the opening prayer.

In October, he was elected Senator from Bauchi state.

Now his son and President Tinubu are taking us on a foreign adventure and we are not sure where the voyage will lead us to.

Eric Teniola, a former director at the Presidency, wrote from Lagos.

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