By Eric Teniola

OBA Erediauwa took on the title and  duties as traditional head of state and rightful heir of the Benin Empire when he was crowned, succeeding his father, Oba Akenzua II, in a ceremony held in Benin City, Nigeria, on  March 23, 1979.  He was a super permanent secretary. He was the most senior Federal civil servant that attended a meeting of the Supreme Military Council of Nigeria held in Aburi, Ghana between January 4 and January 5, 1967. 

He was then Permanent Secretary of the Federal Cabinet Office, Lagos. Other top civil servants that attended the Aburi meeting were Mr. P.T. Odumosu (Secretary to the Military Government, West), Mr. N.U. Akpan (Secretary to the Military Government, East), Mr. D.P. Lawani (Under-Secretary, Military Governor’s Office, Mid-West) and Alhaji Ali Akilu (Secretary to the Military Government, North). The role played by Prince Akenzua after arrival in Lagos from Abuja is already part of history. 

Mention must be made of Chief Gray Adetokunbo Eromosele Longe(1932-2007). He married Olufemi Olufunke. He had his education at the Government School, Warri (1940-1944); Warri College, Warri (1945-1950); University College, Ibadan (1951-1955); assistant district officer, Ibadan Province; assistant students officer, administrative officer, Office of the Agent General, Western Nigeria; acting senior assistant secretary in several ministries, seconded to Federal Government (1961); senior assistant secretary, deputy permanent secretary, later permanent secretary various ministries; head of the Civil Service of the federation (1979-1983); reappointed secretary to the Federal Military Government and head of the Civil Service (1984-1986), retired in 1986. I was present at his funeral at Sabongida-Ora in Edo State. 

There was also Alhaji Musa Daggash, born in Maiduguri in 1918. He had his education at the Higher College, Katsina (1934-1938); University of Oxford, England (1950-1951); University of Manchester, England (1960-1961); joined Department of Forestry, 193-1959; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Mines and Power; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Defence; later Chairman, Defence Industries Corporation; General Manager, Chad Basin Development Authority; member, Constituent Assembly (1977-1978); and Commissioner, Local Government Service Board, Borno State, 1978.

Mention must be made of Alhaji Ibrahim Maina Damcida (1933-2012). He had his education at the Westminster College, London, United Kingdom (1954-1956); North-Western Polytechnic, London, United Kingdom (1956-1958); Economic Development Institute of the World Bank, Washington DC, USA (1965); trainee manager, John Holt (1951-1953); accountant, Ministry of Trade and Industries; former Northern Region (1959-1961); deputy permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Lagos (1962-1965); Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Trade (1966-1971) and Ministry of Defence (1971-1975). 

I need to mention Prince Festus Ibidapo Adesanoye (1930-2006). He was a mentor to so many in the Civil Service. He served as permanent secretary in the Ministries of Defence, Petroleum and Health. He later became the Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom in Ondo State and held the title of Osungbedelola II. He married Olori Anike, who is from the famous Bademosi family in Ondo city. My friend, Mr. Tunde Kamilu Kasali, a lawyer, who retired recently as Executive Secretary of Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (worked directly with) Prince Adesanoye during his tenure as permanent secretary, Ministry of Defence.

Mention must be equally made of Chief Olatunde Lawson. He was born on March 20, 1919. He attended Wesley College, Ibadan; University of London, England; University of Oxford, England; primary schools teacher, Wesley College, Ibadan; teacher, Hussey College, Warri; worked at Federal Department of Statistics (1947-1957); Senior Assistant Secretary, Council of Ministers (1958); Imperial Defence College, London (1959); Principal Private Secretary to Prime Minister (1960); Secretary, last Constitutional Conference before Nigeria’ Independence; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health (1961-1965); Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications (1965-1970); Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport (1971-1972); Secretary to the Federal Military Government (1972-1975). 

There is also Chief Stanley Olabode Wey. He joined the Civil Service in 1943 as assistant secretary, Nigerian Secretariat, 1946-1956; Department of Defence, 1956; Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister (1958-1959); Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence (1960-1961); secretary to the Prime Minister and the council of Ministers (1965); retired from the Civil Service in 1973.

At the meeting of the Secretaries to the Military Governments and other top officials held in Benin between February 17 and February 18, 1967, Chief H. A. Ejueyitchie was the acting Secretary to the Federal Military Government. He was a brilliant civil servant and an Itsekiri from the present day Delta State. Another civil servant worth mentioning is Abdul Aziz Attah(1920-1972), who later became Secretary to the Federal Military Government an Head of Civil Service. Attah died on June 12, 1972 at the Royal Free Hospital, London.

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