By Dirisu Yakubu
President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday, eulogized elder statesmen and former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, saying not much credit has been given him particularly against the backdrop of the role he playing in securing debt relief for Nigeria a few years ago.
President Buhari stated this at the public presentation of book titled, “Legacies of a Legend,” in honour of Tukur as part of events marking his 86th birthday.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, President Buhari described the celebrant as a man who dedicated his whole life in shaping public policies and championing public/private partnerships on the platform of the African Business Roundtable.
He said: “I recalled Bamanga Tukur’s activities with Tony Blair led Commission for Africa in 2004/2005 and how that led to the 2005 G8 Summit landmark decision on debt cancellation for 32 African countries. Prior to that, many poor African countries were using large portion of their little resources to service debt obligations.
“The benefits of debt cancellation were that many African countries were then able to free up resources which they previously channeled into debt servicing and deployed them into socio-economic and infrastructural projects. That explained the fact that shortly after, the fastest growing economy was from Africa which perfectly fuelled Africa’s rising narrative. To my mind, much credit has not yet been given to the role played by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur in the process. We must recognize that now.
“Unfortunately, these debts that were incurred in the past, cancellation advocacy were not channeled into appropriate economic goods and services that directly lay the foundation upon which the economic growth will be experienced.”
Also speaking, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha described Alhaji Tukur as “an epitome of what Nigeria ought to be.” Recalling how the former NPA boss redefined the idea of the Nigerianess in him, Mustapha said the celebrant shocked the then Gongola state when he brought a Southerner, Chief Raymond Dokpesi to head his governorship campaign organization, adding that the development revealed the broad-mindedness that has stuck with the elder statesman ever since.
“He made Dokpesi his campaign director and later as Chief of Staff in Gongola state. That demonstrated that whatever part of the country you come from is not important. What matters is that once you have the capacity to deliver, you can find accommodation anywhere in Nigeria,” Mustapha said.
Federal Capital Territory, FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello left the capacity-filled Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton in ecstasy when he went memory lane to recall the closeness he shared with Tukur in 1981/1982 in the course of his National Youth Service Corps, NYSC scheme.
“In 1981, I was doing my NYSC in Lagos and I had no car. My father met with Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and they discussed how to get me a car to aid my movement. The brand Honda Accord car (1982 model) was going for N9,000. They agreed that the cost of the car would be shared among us. My father brought N4,000, Alhaji Bamanga brought N4,000 while I was asked to bring N1,000 for registration and insurance. That was what happened but Alhaji Bamanga even paid for the insurance for me,” he recalled.
Meanwhile, Director General of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brig.Gen. Buba Marwa (retd) has advocated drug test for all intending couples as a means of checkmating the prevalence of drug abuse across the country.
In his goodwill message at the event, Marwa said: “How many of you will like your daughters to marry drug addicts? Raise up your hand! Before wedding, we always do HIV test. We do genotype test. I appeal to you, please, let also have a drug test before wedding.”
The book presentation was attended by prominent personalities including Liyel Imoke, Usman Bugaje, Niyi Adebayo, Hajia Bola Shagaya among others.