Phillip Chukwuedo Asiodu

By Eric Teniola

FOLLOWING the demise of Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Joda (1930-2021), Chief Phillip Chukwuedo Asiodu (87) remains the last of the titans in the list of those termed as Super Permanent Secretaries who served under General Yakubu Gowon between 1966 and 1975. We owe them a debt of gratitude. We remain ever grateful for their services.

We miss them. We missed their competence and counselling. We missed their discipline and adherence to rules and regulations. We are in dilemma today because their likes are not around. It is not too late to celebrate Chief Asiodu before he returns to his maker. Chief Asiodu, who is the Ogbuefi Akuna Ka of Asaba in Delta State, was born on February 26, 1934. In 1964, he married Eugenia Olajumoke Pereira.

He started his education at Sacred Heart School, Calabar, 1939-1942; Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, 1943-1944; St. Paul Catholic School, Ebute Metta, Lagos, 1944-1945; King’s College, Lagos, 1946-1952; Queen’s College, University of Oxford, England, 1953-1956.

He was head of Chancery, Nigerian Permanent Mission to the UN, 1960-1962; member, Organisation of African Unity Provisional Secretariat, Addis Ababa, 1963-1964; Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Lagos, 1963-1964; Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Lagos, 1964-1965; acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, 1965-1966; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industries, 1966-1971; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Power, 1971-1975.

He was also chairman, National Electric Power Authority, 1971-1975; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Lagos, 1975. At present, Chief Asiodu is the Patron of the Council of Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries, of which Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation is the Vice-Chairman, while my friend, Dr. Goke Adegoroye, is the Publicity Secretary.

A lot has been written on Alhaji Ahmed Joda since his passing, and a lot will still be written on him. In my encounters with him, I discovered that his humility was his greatest strength. He was a humble man. He carried his dignity to his grave. No doubt, Alhaji Joda was a rare breed. Alhaji Joda was born in Yola in Adamawa State.

He had his education at the Yola Elementary School, Yola Middle School, Kaduna College, 1945-1948; Pittman’s College, London,1954-1956. He joined the Nigerian Broadcasting Service, 1956-1960; was Senior Assistant Secretary, later Permanent Secretary, Northern Nigerian Public Service; Permanent Secretary, Federal Government, 1967-1978 and retired in March 1978.

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Let us take a look at some of those described as Super Permanent Secretaries. There was Chief Ime James Ebong. He was Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport. It was during his time that the Murtala Muhammed Airport was conceptualised and built. He later became Permanent Secretary, Economic Development and Planning. Chief Ebong was the first Executive Secretary and Chief Executive of the Federal Capital Development Authority.

He was brilliant and articulate. He took the likes of Wole Okunfulire to Abuja as the first Professional Urban Planners in Abuja. President Joe Biden of the United States of America recently appointed his daughter, Enoh Titilayo Ebong as the acting Director of the United States Development Agency. He died on August 7, 1989.

There is Chief Allison Akene Ayida (Jun 6, 1930- October 11, 2018) who had his education at the King’s College, Lagos in 1952; Queen’s College, University of Oxford, England, 1956; London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, England, 1957; assistant secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Lagos, 1957-1963; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development, 1963-1971; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance; Chairman, UN Commission for Africa; Secretary to the Federal Military Government and head of service, 1975-1977.

We also have Alhaji Liman Ciroma who was born on September 30, 1930 in Potiskum, Yobe State. He had his education at the Government College, Zaria, 1949; Institute of Archaeology, London, 1953-1954; South-West Essex Technology College and School of Arts, England, 1954-1956; University of Birmingham, England, 1956-1959; technical assistant, Department of Antiquities, Colonial Administration, 1949-1953; archaeologist, Ile-Ife, Benin and Igbo Ukwu, 1959; curator, National Museum, Lagos; later acting deputy director of Antiquities, Jos,1960.

He joined Northern Nigerian Civil Service in 1961, was assistant secretary, Prime Minister’s Office, Kaduna; later Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government, Kaduna; Provincial Secretary, Minna; acting deputy secretary to the Prime Minister, Northern Nigeria; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and Community Development, 1965-1967.

He transferred to North-Western State Public Service, 1967; was Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, North-Eastern State, 1968-1971; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industries, 1971-1975; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of  Education, 1975-1977; Secretary to the Federal Military Government and Head of Civil Service, 1977-1979.

 We equally have Erediauwa (22 June 1923-April 2016), the 39th Oba of Benin, traditional ruler of the Edo people in Benin City, Edo State. Formerly known as Prince Solomon Akenzua, Oba Erediauwa’s full title was His Royal Majesty Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I. He was succeeded by Ewuare II.

Continues next week

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