Behold the Kuru Declaration
IT was with the best of intentions that President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered the fourth retreat for Ministers and Permanent Secretaries at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos between February 23 and 25, 2001. The retreat was co-ordinated by my former boss, Chief Ufot Ekaette (CFR) who was then Secretary to the Government of the Federation. The following Ministers were present: Chief Bola Ige (SAN), Alhaji Musa Elayo Abdullahi, Alhaji Adamu Bello, Chief Chris Agbobu, Dr. (Mrs.) Kema Chikwe, Mustapha Bello, Alhaji Muhammad Arzika, Alhaji L. Ade Haruna-Elewi, Ms. Boma Bromillow Jack, Mallam L. Tukur Batagarawa, Mrs. Modupe Adelaja, Dan Chuke, Prof. A.B. Borishade, Alhaji Bello Usman, Alhaji Muhammad Kabir Said, Dr. Imeh T. Okopido, Engr. Mohammed Abba-Gana, Mr. Solomon S.A. Ewuga, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye, Chief Dubem Onyia, Prof. A.B.C. Nwosu, Dr.(Mrs.) Aminat Ndalolo.
The rest were Chief Kolawole B. Jamodu, Chief Lawrence Nwuruku, Prof. Jerry Gana, Chief S.M. Afolabi,(JP), Dr. Mohammed Shata, Alhaji Musa Gwadabe, Mr. Steven Ibn Akiga, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, Alhaji Danjuma Goje, Prof. Turner T. Isoun, Mrs. Pauline K-Tallen, Mr. Kanu G. Agabi (SAN), Mr. Ishaya Mark Aku, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Mr. Isa Yuguda, Col. Mohammed B. Kaliel (rtd), Chief Precious Ngelale (JP), Hajia Aishatu M.S. Ismail, Chief Tony Anenih, Mr. Garba Madaki Ali, Chief Bimbola Ogunkelu, Mr. Edu, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, Alhaji Ibrahim Umar Kida and Chief Phillip C. Asiodu.
The then Head of Service, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed (CFR) led the team of Permanent Secretaries to the retreat. They include Alhaji Guda A. Abdullahi, Alhaji Umar M. Abubakar, Mr. O.O.O. Ogunkua, Engr. D.B. Usman, Mr. G.O. Enukora, Dr. K. Nkumah, Dr. Aboki Zhawa, Mr. M.O. Onoja, Mr. Garba Buwaijmni, Dr. R.O. Mowoe, Amb.T.D. Hart, Dr. M. Babangida Aliyu, Mr. A. E. Ogbuehi, Dr. B.K. Kaigama, Alhaji H.Z. Akwanga, Dr. O.M. Ojo, Rev. P.O. Okunromade, Mr. John P. Hirse, Dr. C.J.G. Orjioke, Alhaji Bello U. Maitambari and Mr. T.D. Oyelade.
Other Permanent Secretaries present were Dr. S.I. Muhammad, Ammuna Lawrence-Ali, Alhaji N.B. Dambatta, Alhaji Ibrahim Talba, Mr. O.O. Oyelakin, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Mr. L.N. Asugha, David O. Oyegun, Amb. G.B. Preware, Mr. A.O. Okafor, Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, Mrs. A.M. Rufai, Ms. T.O. Akerele, Mrs. G.I. Archibong, Ms. A.I. Pepple, Dr. R.O. Adewoye, Alhaji Tukur Mani, Dr. B.A. Akinola, James Kayode Naiyeju and P.N. Akubueze.
Other top government officials at the retreat include the then Governor of Plateau state, Chief Joshua Dariye, Amb. Remi Esan, Amb. E.A Azikiwe, Bisi Ogunniyi, Major-Gen J.N. Garba (rtd.), Dr. Stanley Macebuh, Tunji Oseni, Mr. Ad’obe, Dr. Goke Adegoroye, Mrs. T.O. Iroche, Mrs. S.A. Adeyeye, Dr. J.N. Obiegbu, Mr. F.O. Osobukola, Alhaji Ibrahim Jega, Dr. G.A. Gundu, Mr. O.S. Ogedengbe, Mr. Wuese Al, Mr. F.F. Ogunshaki, Mr. J. Okpo, Mr. K.J. Wudil, Mr. E.I. Onuoha,Mr. A. Mohammed and Mr O.I. Adisa.
I was present at the retreat.
Those who presented papers at the retreat include Professor Akin Mabogunje, Justice M.Akanbi, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Major General Joseph Garba (rtd.), Mr. Howard Whitton and N. Linton both of Transparency International.
At the end of the retreat, a 12-point declaration was adopted.
Those present declared among other things that: “(1) We subscribe to the New National Ideology, which is, to build a truly great African democratic country, politically united, integrated and stable, economically prosperous, socially organised, with equal opportunity for all, and responsibility from all, to become the catalyst of Black Renaissance, and making adequate all-embracing contributions, sub-regionally, regionally, and globally. (2) We adopt the New Orientation as an agenda for: dealing with immediate and future issues of governance of Nigeria; Removing impediments to efficiency and effective implementation and execution of programmes initiated by the Federal Government; and Expeditious actualisation of Government objectives and vision of national renewal and re-construction. (3) We rededicate ourselves and those who serve under us to the values of patriotism, honesty, hardwork and diligence, merit and excellence, trustworthiness, personal discipline, tolerance and mutual respect, justice and fairness, love, care and compassion. (4) We pledge to eschew corruption, slothfulness, nepotism, indiscipline, bitterness, prejudice and other manifestoes of ant-social behaviour. (5) We shall undertake a critical review of practices and procedures in every Department of Government, so as to rapidly increase their productivity and service delivery to the public;(6) We shall foster a culture of efficiency in the management of funds and other resources; maintaining high standards of resource management; and reducing waste at all times. (7) We shall efficiently supervise all Government Departments and Agencies, ensuring timely returns and reports, and undertaking regular spot-checks;(8) We shall abide by the terms of the Code of Conduct which we all have signed, as expression of our commitment to the crusade against corruption, and working closely with all relevant agencies such as the Independent Corruption Practices and other Related Offences Commission, the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Public Complaints Commission; (9) We undertake to strengthen the partnership in working with the private sector, since this partnership translates to a better appreciation of the wealth-creating capacity of this sector, and the need for Government, through its various ministries and legislative processes, to create an enabling environment for the sector to function efficiently as the major driver of the economy. (10) We shall strive to strengthen and inculcate the culture of working closely and in consultation with the leadership of labour and civil society organisations. (11) We shall mobilise, involve and promote the interest of all stakeholders, namely, the society in general; since, in the ultimate, all decisions and actions of government are aimed at the promotion of public welfare, there is also the need for a new attitude that has that welfare permanently in focus, as the only goal, and the economic well-being of all citizens, under unfettered freedom, is of cardinal importance; and we shall design strategies and techniques of implementation for the New Orientation so as to ensure that the values being inculcated permeate all levels of management and staff”.
I am told that the think-tank currently advising President Muhammadu Buhari is recommending among other things for a similar retreat for the incoming ministers, special advisers, special assistants and other incoming government officials, on the ethics of good governance.
All that should be done now, is to marry the Kuru declaration with the objectives of the War Against Indiscipline which was in vogue during the era of Major General Muhammadu Buhari between 1984 and 1985. Such marriage if adopted, will push the country forward.
The British magazine, The Economist, in its recent edition on Nigeria is worried on Nigeria’s chance on “how Africa’s most important country can live up to its potential”. In a 10-page survey, the magazine concluded that “Nigeria matters because it is the biggest country in the continent that has huge potential for catch-up growth. If it fails, it could bring down half a dozen neighbouring states with it. If Mr. Buhari turns it around, it could be both the engine room of Africa and an inspiration for people everywhere who are tired of predatory government and long to clip its claws”.
The Onus is on us and we dare not fail.
• Eric Teniola, a former director at the presidency, stays in Lagos.