By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed how the late former Permanent Secretary, Ahmed Joda along with others saved Nigeria from breaking up shortly after the country’s upheaval in 1966.
Joda, who was the Chancellor of the Bells University Otta and had over 60-year-old friendship with former President Obasanjo, died on Friday, aged 91.
Obasanjo while reacting to his death through his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, described Joda as not just a Nigerian, but, a true and great Nigerian, committed to unity, development and progress of the country.
“Oh! What heartbreaking news, that my friend for well over 60-year has passed to the great beyond. If every Nigerian has attributes of Joda, Nigeria will have been more better than what it is now.
“Ahmed Joda by his feature did not need to tell you is a Fulani man, but, in everything I know he did, he lived not just as a Fulani man, he lived, he worked and he laboured as a true Nigerian. They are not many like him, and that was what strengthens our relationship since 1959,” Obasanjo was quoted to have said.
He said that they met when he was a Second Lieutuant in the Nigeria Army and Joda was a Deputy Chief Information Officer in the federal civil service.
Obasanjo, who rolled out the drums to celebrate Joda’s 90th birthday last year in Abeokuta, recalled that the effort of him and his other Super Permanent Secretaries as they were fondly called in the then civil service saved Nigeria in 1966.
“I know that if not for people like Joda and other senior permanent secretaries as they were called super permanent secretary as at that time, after the second upheaval of 1966, after the first upheaval we would have had Nigeria broken into pieces. Because Araba was bent on having Nigeria divided.
“But, it was Ahmed Joda and other super permanent secretaries (senior civil servants) like Philip Asiodu, Liman Ciroma, Alison Ayida who prevailed not to have Nigeria broken up.
“Well, Dear Ahmed, you have served your family, your community. You have served your country and indeed humanity, you have done your best, including working for the transition between the Buhari administration and Jonathan administration.
“You have done your best working with me on the progress and programme of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library. You have done your best on becoming the Chancellor of Bells University. We love you, but God love you best. Rest permanently in the bossom of Allah,” Obasanjo said.