Boss Mustapha at 65: Putting Nigeria first

By Frank Meke.

Boss Gida Mustapha is Nigeria’s Secretary to the Government of the Federation since 2017.
He was also the Chairman of the Presidential Task force on COVID-19, and currently of its Steering Committee, national assignments he executed with an unparalleled commitment, transparency and zeal.
I shall return to this later.

Prior to his appointment as SGF in November 2017, Boss Mustapha held sway at the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and gave that once moribund brown water regulatory agency its first public brush of reformation and resurgence. That also may sound like an answer to a national quiz on tracking his drive and presence in the hall of Fame, for dedicated and passionate Nigerians in the turn of this century, anonymously putting Nigeria first.

Celebrating this uncommon Nigerian may appear to many people like a political discourse, but in reality, Boss Mustapha is an enigma, a servant leader of a different hue. Unassuming, graceful and discerning, Boss Mustapha can be trusted with Nigeria and her people.

Highly engaging and evangelical in his quest to bring a refreshing devotion and love to a new Nigeria, certainly in search of the best dedicated men for the unthankful job of steering black Africa’s biggest population and economy out of the woods, Boss Mustapha treads where angels may desire to request a change of direction.

A lawyer and field marshal on grassroots mobilization of the rural poor and the elites to governance and service to mankind, Boss Mustapha has no respect for purveyors of poverty of ideas.

During his time at NIWA as Managing Director and where I was privileged to see him at work, his passion and commitment brought about a new thinking and work ethics hardly seen and deployed by government appointees to reinvent abandoned government agencies, largely regarded as “dead cargoes”.

With unbelievable grit and vision, Boss Mustapha brought NIWA to national economic presence, launched a national brown water transportation master plan showcasing an enduring water-based highway never seen before.

Boss Gida Mustapha is a slave driver to duty and ideas and in this quest, readily makes himself the examplary “scapegoat”, irredeemably willing to die for a genuine cause and ready to give all with messianic relish.

Indeed, Boss Mustapha’s leadership mantra is so infectious that the staff of NIWA under his watch weaned off lethargy and ineptitude and embraced his style of commitment to national service. Boss brought to NIWA a cylinder of oxygenated life.

Boss Gida Mustapha is also stingy with gregarious patronage and combative to crass laziness and corruption. He is a certified mentor of men of exemplary conduct and grit.

At NIWA, he left behind in less than a year, a new army of Nigerian Administrators and Patriots. He encouraged new media understanding of the brown water economy and was at the verge of defining templates for rural economic growth and integration through the Nigerian waterways when the call for a higher national office beckoned.

It was like yesterday! Yes, I recall the pleasant news on national television station on his appointment as SGF as we stepped into his hotel room at Eko hotel, Lagos venue of that year’s World Maritime Day. Who are we? Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, Richard Ntan and myself.

Sambo was then Boss Mustapha’s Lagos “field marshal”, a dye-in-the-wool administrator in the mould of Mustapha and General Manager in charge of the Lagos Zone of NIWA and my man Friday, who interprets the vision of reinventing NIWA and Richard Ntan, rabid intercessor and lover of the brown water economy.

Boss Mustapha’s national call on that day marked a new dawn for his divine promotion and walk through the Jordan river of life. We knew he would make a difference and at the same time, anxious that the Nigerian factor, the faceless demon and destroyer of good men won’t have him for dinner.

We prayed!. Ntan led the christian prayers, Sambo did the Muslim way, and Boss Mustapha and I chorused the Amen and Amin!

Nothing, as we know is given to a man except that it comes from heaven, and indeed, the heavens have provided Boss Mustapha manifold blessings, particularly at the heat of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, a period that brought out his most administrative acumen and spiritual awakening to provide leadership and institute the most ambitious and profound response to COVID-19 impact on Nigerians.

Boss Gida Mustapha led as a tested general, inteprid, putting his life and family on the line, generated a national buy- in and faith in the best of Nigerian medical response, character and dedication, and confronted the dreaded infectious disease headlong. Today, Nigeria hitherto without a map of infectious disease test clinics, prides with a national presence under Mustapha.

His Presidential Task force on COVID-19, became the” burst and break” arresters of the pandemic. The world and Nigerians watched in admiration and applauded this uncommon Nigerian, who is alive today to celebrate a birthday, a born day certainly with a touch of divinity for a reason only a few can appreciate and understand.

A mentor to many and a verified servant leader at sixty five years, we are proud of you every where we go and for the examplary attributes of passion, commitment, compassion and integrity that you bring to bear in public service and the many lives you touch positively, we pray for long life and the best of good health.

No doubt, the maritime sector, particularly the organised boat operators won’t forget this very indefatigable icon of our time and the leadership he provided while at NIWA Though his higher office seems to have robbed some of us of his very inspiring and encouraging moments,I recall with nostalgia those wee hours of the day, when he would call me and others to put us on notice of his thought lines and ideas to recreate a visible and viable brown water economy. Interestingly, Boss Mustapha has processed and refocused the strategic office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation,
turning it into the peoples hallowed chamber.

In less than four years, he has brought greater strides and insight to governance and management of Nigeria’s diversity and cohesion.

The Lord’s General, an administrator and buster of COVID-19 spread and impact, Boss Mustapha deserves our prayers, appreciation and gratitude for standing up in gap with his life and family at risk, putting Nigeria and Nigerians first. Congratulations and happy birthday Sir!

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