Abu Gidado: an Incorruptible Minister
Tribute is usually paid in memory of heroes after their demise in recognition of their ingenuity, sacrifice, patriotism etc. However it may not be out of place to also celebrate the exemplary leadership qualities of the living, if not to encourage our subject, at least as a lesson to the young generation and others to emulate. In any case, why need we wait for the hero to go when we do not know whether we will be the first!
Amongst the living are those who have distinguished themselves through dint of hardwork, commitment to good causes, selfless service to humanity, fear of God, humility, simplicity and high level of morality. The above attributes, without exaggeration capture the personality of Alh. Abu Muawiya Gidado, former Minister of State in the Federal Ministry of Finance during late Gen. Abacha’s administration who is 66 years old on April 2, 2006. It may seem a mere fable, a kind of tale to convince children to live a good life for an individual to be said to possess these sterling qualities. Yet Gidado’s life is a clear testimony to the existence of incorruptible Nigerians who do not worship money or idolize godfathers to reach the peak and earn the public’s respect.
This writer, who, by chance happened to be close to him as a personal aide in the Federal Ministry of Finance, like many others who come across his path, could not but marvel at the personality of this gentleman who works and lives in Nigeria. How can one describe a man, who as a minister responsible for the monthly Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) and extra-ministerial departments, for about four years, left office without amassing wealth – not even a SINGLE property in the Federal Capital territory? As the Chairman of the monthly FAAC meetings, which was then rotated amongst the states of the federation in alphabetical order, he stood for justice and fairness in the disbursement of allocation to the tiers of government.
As the Minister of State in a sensitive ministry which was as powerful as the legislative chamber in the present dispensation, responsible for appropriation of funds, budgetary allocation, approvals of foreign exchange transaction, tax exemption, import waivers, settlement of contractors and special grants, he could have become a multimillionaire, if he so wished. But he routinely refused monetary inducements from stakeholders and always insisted his aides should return suspicious gifts with acknowledgment to the senders. I could recall vividly an occasion when his official intervention rescued some financial institutions and business enterprises from the sledgehammer. But to the dismay of the beneficiary of his official magnanimity, he refused their thank-you-compensation in the form of allotment of shares and special services. Some of those institutions and individuals are still doing well today.
He was also in the habit of refunding unutilized funds like estacode on foreign trips. He was so stubborn in his principle that he withheld endorsements to expenditure and projects that were not tidy even with directives from sensitive quarters.
Before monetisation when it was the practice for top public officers to have official Guest Houses with all services and amenities provided by government, in addition to official residence, he declined that traditional perquisite, even though he is polygamous. That action of his minimized wastage of public fund and guarded against utilization of such facilities for immoral and extravagant social pastime
He never allowed nepotism to becloud his sense of judgment as he refused to allow members of his family to benefit from projects and contract awards within the ambit of the ministry. As a man of God who thinks about death as if he will die the next day, he used to keep a special diary in which he records money he borrowed from individuals, sometimes as meager as five hundred Naira for the simple reason that his family have the obligation to settle those indebtedness after his demise.
When Abu Gidado was first relieved of his appointment in 1997 by Gen Sani Abacha, before he was returned, he requested the presence of the Director Finance and Supply, who was a lady with her relevant staff to take inventory of the items in the official residence. To the astonishment of the Madam and the staff, small cutlery like spoons, and even broken plates were accounted for. Immediately after the inventory, instead of using official vehicles attached to him, he used his personal car to convey himself and family to Katsina his hometown.
As a strong believer in the will of God, he doesn’t play dirty to get recognition and acceptability. His career in the private sector was meritorious and appreciated as he rose rapidly to the position of Retail Manager (North) Shell Nigeria limited; General Manager, Arewa Textiles Limited and later was Deputy Managing Director, Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN). His patience after a frustrated attempt to get employed as a civil Servant in the former Kaduna State was rewarded with his appointment as a Commissioner in the State where he subsequently became Deputy Chairman, State Executive Council that handed over to Civilian Administration in 1979.
Alhaji Gidado’s past schedules include, Member, Board of Directors, Peugeot Automobiles; Member, Board of Directors, Arewa Textiles; Member, Board of Governors, Kaduna Polytechnic; Member, Board of Directors, DPMS/IBM; Chairman, Katsina State Water Board, commissioner of finance in the former Kaduna and Katsina States. He served in TCPC Sub-Committee for Privatization and Commercialization in the Automotive Industry; Director of some multinational conglomerates and represented Nigeria ‘s interest at ADB, and Afreximbank amongst others. He has won several awards locally and internationally. Since 1999 he has been a Federal Commissioner at the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission where only people of unquestionable integrity are appointed into its board.
In an environment where anything goes, where corruption is the order of the day, you may be pardoned to think this incorruptible public officer must feel like a fish out of the water. How wrong you are. Gidado’s lifestyle of simplicity, humility and spirituality give him the confidence and self-contentment that eludes many powerful and wealthy individuals in our society.
This article by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in Leadership March 25, Sunday Tribune March 26, Weekly Trust April 22, New Nigerian April 27, 2006