By Ameh Comrade Godwin and Ekre Christian
From the first republic in 1950s to the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Idoma community has paraded citizens who have served and is serving as federal minister(s).
Today, IDOMA VOICE brings you the roll call of all federal ministers produced by Idoma community, both past and present.
Abutu Obekpa hailed from Otukpa, in Ogbadibo LGA of Benue State.
He was a member of the Northern House of assembly and later became a regional Minister of Kaduna Affairs during the Nigerian first republic under Alhaji Tafawa Balewa.
Obekpa was born on May 20, 1922. He attended Methodist central school in Otukpo and was a Forest guard and supervisor before going into partisan politics.
In 1954, he was elected to represent Idoma West in the regional assembly and later became the divisional president of the Northern People's Congress.
It is a known fact that the late Obekpa singe-handedly sponsored the current Och’Idoma, HRM, Agabaidu Chief Elias Obekpa, who is his half brother in school.
Obekpa is also said to be the person who influenced former Minister of Establishment, Jacob Obande, Audu Ogbe, Ameh Ebute into politics.
Chief Obekpa during his time as a minister made sure all Idoma citizens in school were on scholarship. He continued to most of the social amenities being enjoyed in Idoma land today.
Though a traditional worshiper, Chief Obekpa also contributed to the growth of Christianity in Idoma land.
Jacob C Obande
Jacob Obande was a minister of state in charge of the Nigerian Army and Establishments during the Nigerian First Republic and was also a Minister of Mines and Power.
In 1958, he was the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa.
Obande was born in Elelazi, Igumale, Benue State, to the family of Obande Ochogbo, the district head of Igunmale. He was educated at the Methodist School in Igunmale and later attended the Teachers Training College, Uzuakoli. After completing his teacher’s training program, he began work as a teacher before subsequently working as an hotelier, clerical officer and contractor with the Nigerian Railways.
In 1951, he was an honourable representative from Idomaland in the Northern house of Assembly and later in 1954, he became a member of the Idoma/Otukpo Local Authority.
During the second republic, Obande served as a state chairman for the defunct National Party of Nigeria
Throughout his life, Obande served as member of various boards, including, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigeria Airways, Nigeria Hotels, Benue-Plateau Marketing Company and Nigeria reinsurance.
In 1959 Obande defeated other contenders to win the Idoma South East parliamentary elections.
The result of the election is as follows:
J.C. Obande NPC - 12,766
J.E. Aboganye AG - 9,932
J.O. Idikwu NCNC - 4,917
Audu Innocent Ogbe
Audu Innocent Ogbe is the first and only Idoma man to serve as a minister in two republics.
He was the Minister of Communication under Shehu Shagari and now the current Minster of Agriculture under President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, there is a bit of irony to his current political resurgent.
The man who truncated Audu Ogbe’s ministerial term in 1982 was the one who appointed him – President Buhari who in December 1983 came into power via a military coup. Ogbe was screened by the National Assembly, by Bukola Saraki and his colleagues, was 33 years ago screened by senators that included Saraki’s father.
Chief Ogbe, a native of Efugo in Otukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area, is not a novice to political appointments. If anything, he was returned to a familiar terrain where he had acquitted himself creditably well time and again.
Ogbe who wears many togas - academic, legislator, farmer – his sanctuary after resigning his position as the party chairman of PDP in 2005 - returned as a minister for the second time last year.
His first ministerial appointment was in the truncated Second Republic NPN government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, where by in 1982 he was Federal Minister of Communications, and later Minister of Steel Development.
The “Lion of Ogbadigbo” is recognised as one of the elder statesmen from the middle Belt area of the country.
When he first became a minister in 1982 he was 35 years of age. Now he is 69, a man of a wealth experience. In a list of the current ministers that is a mixture of both young and old, Ogbe, described as man of honesty and integrity by Abubakar Tsav, former Commissioner of Police of Lagos State, is one of those that can be counted upon to bring to bear wisdom and commitment that can catalyse the change the Buhari government is seeking.
Ogbeh was born on July 28, 1947, in Otukpo, Benue State, of Idoma background. He attended King's College, Lagos (1967 - 1968), then studied at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1969 - 1972) and the University of Toulouse, France (1973 - 1974). He lectured at the Institute of Education, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1972 - 1976) and headed the Department of Humanities, Murtala College of Arts, Science and Technology (1977 – 1979).
Senator David Mark
David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark, GCON was born April 1948.
He is a retired Nigerian Army Brigadier General and politician who was President of the Senate of Nigeria from 2007 to 2015.
Mark headed the Communications Ministry and its two major arms: NITEL and NIPOST as a Colonel in the Nigerian Army.
As Minister of Communications Mark was sometimes known for his straightforward talk; during a two-day walking tour of facilities in Akure in 1989, some union workers complained that some of its members had not been promoted since 1978, Mark's response was that those who have not been promoted may have to be retired.
He also espoused the opinion of death penalty for telecom cable thieves and a policy of dismantling under-utilized telecom facilities citing political considerations for giving allocations to towns with limited use of phone networks.
During his reign as a minister, he facilitated the birth of NITEL in his country home, Otukpo.
As a minister, Mark is always remembered for his popular and controversial statement, “telephone is not for the poor.”
Grace Ooja Ogwuche
Grace Ooja Ogwuche was a minister under former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Outspoken Mrs. Ogwuche, a native of Akpa, in Otukpo served in various ministries such as Inter-Governmental Affairs, Youth Development and Special Duties, Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources as well as education.
During her reign as the minister of the federal republic, Mrs. Ogwuche was said to have facilitated the employment of many Idoma natives into civil service.
Following her exit from office, she has been maintaining a private life as nothing has been heard from her lately.
|Prof Jerry Agada|
Prof Jerry Agada
Professor Jerry Agada served as a minister of state for education under the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
He was a Permanent Secretary to four Ministries in Benue State.
He obtained the National Diploma in Commerce from Kaduna Polytechnic in 1973 as well as the Technical Teachers Certificate in Commerce of the Technical Teachers College, Yaba, Lagos in 1974.
He proceeded to the University of Exeter, UK, where he obtained a Bachelor of Education Degree in 1981. Prof. Agada also holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing from University of Strathclyde, Scotland, and a certificate in Managing, Contracting and Partnership for Service Delivery from the University of Birmingham (School of Public Policy), UK, earned in October, 2003.
Having commenced his career in teaching, he served as Principal of Government College, Makurdi, between 1988-92 and Principal (Special Grade) at Government College, Utonkon between 1993-96. Following this he was appointed Executive Secretary of Benue State Examination Board (1996-99) and in 1999 was appointed to the first of his four positions in the Benue State Civil Service as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Information, Youth, Sports and Culture (1999-2000); the Ministry of Education (2000-01); the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs (2001-06) and the Bureau of Political Affairs (Feb-Sept. 2006).
He took voluntary retirement from the Civil Service to contest the gubernatorial primaries for the PDP in December 2006, but was not successful. Between 2007-08, he served as national Minister of State for Education.
He is past Chairman of the Benue State Petroleum Monitoring Committee and a member of the Benue State Reform Team. He is former Board Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Commission for Colleges of Education, Abuja.
For a long time, Professor Agada has been active as a multiple award-winning author, and served in various offices in the Association of Nigerian Authors before becoming its National President. His books include poetry and short stories, many of which are used as approved texts in colleges and tertiary institutions across Nigeria. Titles to his credit include “The Magic Year”, “The Soothsayer” and “The Secret Deal”. His work “Rage and Tears” has been adopted for use by the Black Studies Centre of Ohio State University, USA. He has established his own Foundation in order to promote literacy among Nigerians.
Professor Agada has also made his mark on Nollywood – Nigeria’s emergent film industry – with two films, “Honourable Chairman” and “House Hold”.
Professor Agada, who is a devout Catholic with a large family, was named one of fifty Nigerians of Integrity by Guardian Newspapers in February 2010.
Interestingly, Prof Agada, from the famous family of Agada Ogbobu in Orokam, Ogbadibo also facilitated the employment and promotions of many Idoma citizens while serving as minister.
He also sponsored countless Idoma youth in school.
Patrick Abba Moro
Patrick Abba Moro was born on July 3 1956.
He is an educational administrator, politician and former honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Interior under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Moro had his primary education at LGEA special Primary School, Odessassa between 1963 and 1969.
He later attended Emmanuel Secondary School at Ugbokolo from 1969 to 1974 before he proceeded to Federal Government College, Kano where he obtained a Higher School Certificate (HSC) in 1975.
He proceeded to the University of Lagos where he obtained a Bachelor of science (B. sc) degree in political science and Master of science (M. sc) degree in Public administration in 1980 and 1983 respectively.
Moro helped in giving federal appointments to many Idoma natives, especially the young generation while serving as a minister.
He is currently the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi.
Popular comedian, Enenche Enenche once christened him as the ‘Okpuklo La’Idoma 1.
AVM Mohammed Yahaya
Born to Yahaya Okwudo's family of Ipole, Adoka extract (a descendant of Ijah, a popular women leader and rich trader in the pre-colonial era).
Rose to the rank of an Air Vice Marshall and Minister of transport during IBB's regime.
He participated in the Arizona Technical Instructors’ course in the United States Air Force, 1967-1968; Upper Iowa State University, USA; Royal Air Force, 1972; National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, Kuru, 1979-1980. He was commissioned as pilot and officer in 1967; officer commanding, Radar, Nigeria Air Force, Kano, 1969; staff officer engineer, NAF Headquarters, Lagos, 1970; defence adviser, Nigerian Embassy, Moscow, USSR, 1976-1978; Air officer commanding, Tactical Command, NAF, Makurdi, 1984-1988.
Yahaya was appointed sole administrator, Federal Government Mass Transit Programme, 1988-1989; minister of industries, 1989.
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