AHMADU Ali, has been many things â€“ former Chairman of the PDP, former Director General, South South Health Delivery Services, former Senator, former Director General of the National Youth Service Corps, former Commissioner for Education, a retired Colonel of the Nigerian Army, and a medical doctor trained at the University of Ibadan.
One thing he has never beenÂ is a government critic. He has been in too many governments in the past 37 years to say anything against government. Of course, he was critical of the tepid (now forgotten) government attempt to privatise federal government colleges. The criticisms came after he had been pushed off the revolving PDP chairmanship.
It can then be taken that the criticisms came from a hurt man, who was on the fringes of government at the time. He raised his voice again when parts of his sprawling Abuja house were demolished for contravening city planning laws.
Col Ali made a major contribution to political discourse in January 2007 when he said that politics in Ibadan was garrisoned. Anyone who wanted to be part of it had to line up behind the Chief Lamidi Aribiyi Adedibu, a political gadfly who held the city to ransom at will. At the time of this profound expose, Adedibu was determined to sack the elected Governor in the State â€“ he succeeded.
If there had not been any spanners in the works, Col Ali would have been Nigeriaâ€™s envoy to one of Nigeriaâ€™s major foreign partners. The details of how he lost that bid remain murky.
Nigerians of his generation have cornered enough opportunities for themselves that they never run out of things to do. Ali is the Chairman of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, the agency that regulates prices of petroleum products. For Ali, this could just be another appointment to lengthen his profile.
Many would have been surprised listening to his caustic criticism of the Federal Government during a tour of fuel storage facilities in Lagos.
â€œThe refineries are a problem and government cannot run this business, â€œ Ali said. â€œGovernment has failed. Let us call a spade a spade, government has failed. And that is why this problem has continued. It is time for all these companies started investing in the refining business in Nigeria because the country must refine its entire domestic products before it can get out of the problems of incessant scarcity of petroleum products.â€
Why would he consider government, which his party, PDP, controlled in the past 11 years, a failure? What part did he play as party chairman in the failure? Was there no fuel scarcity then? Did the refineries work? When did he discover this failure?
Last November when his appointment was announced, PPPRA staff protested, locked Ali out. Ali and his appointers are deeply involved in the failure he discussed with candour.