Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed how the late former Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Ahmed Joda, and other Super Permanent Secretaries then, saved the unity of Nigeria shortly after the country’s upheaval in 1966.
Joda, the former chancellor of the Bells University Otta and friend of the former president for about 60 years died on Friday, aged 91.
Obasanjo, while reacting to the 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 heart-breaking news, that my friend for well over 60 years has passed to the great beyond. If every Nigerian had attributes of Joda, Nigeria would have been better than what it is now.
“Ahmed Joda did not need to tell you he is a Fulani man, but in everything I know he did, he lived not just as a Fulani man; he lived, worked and laboured as a true Nigerian.
“There are not many like him, and that was what strengthened our relationship since 1959,” Obasanjo was quoted as having said.
He said he and the deceased met when he was a Second Lieutenant 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 (Joda) efforts and those of his other Super Permanent Secretaries as they were fondly called in the then civil service, saved Nigeria in 1966.
He said: “I know that if not for people like Joda and other Senior Permanent Secretaries, as they were called 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 to become the Chancellor of Bells University. We love you, but God loves you best. Rest permanently in the bosom of Allah.”