Pharm. Asuku: Three Years as Chief of Staff to Gov. Yahaya Bello

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By Onoja Integrity Johnson

It happened on a bright day on October 14, 2019. In a statement that partially reads: “Consequent upon the nomination of the chief of staff, Chief Edward Onoja, as running mate to Kogi State Governor and his subsequent resignation, His Excellency, Yahaya Bello has approved the appointment of Pharmacist Jamiu Abdulkareem Asuku as Chief of Staff,” Mohammed Onogwu announced the appointment of the youngest Chief of Staff to a governor in Nigeria.

Three years have passed, and if my memory is accurate in addition to the records I have kept, Pharmacist Asuku is one of the best things that have ever happened to governor Bello’s administration. 

Any governor’s effectiveness is highly influenced by those who play significant roles around him, particularly the one who plays the role of access control and supervision of other staff.

To begin with, the appointment of Asuku as the Chief of Staff was one of the significant factors cited in a story headlined “Factors that will affect Governor Bello’s second term in office” that appeared in The Guardian newspaper on January 30, 2020, at 4:25 a.m. The paper said, “The recent move by the governor’s Chief of Staff, Mr. Jamiu Asuku, aimed at wooing key stakeholders in the state to the fold of the governor, is seen by many as another positive step that would give Bello’s second term a smooth takeoff. Asuku told journalists recently that no government could succeed without meeting the yearnings and aspirations of its people, assuring that Bello’s second term would be all inclusive to enable it move the state to the next level of development.” It was truly there the young pharmacist set the ball smoothly rolling for his boss.

As it was written by the paper, governor Bello’s second term took off smoothly and is without a doubt, fantastic thus far, with excellent infrastructure, a strict crackdown on crime, and numerous appointments of young people and women. All of these are connected to the role played by the chief of staff because he serves as the administrative center of the government and is responsible for overseeing the work of the entire staff.

Asuku hasn’t simply done a good job in his job; his way of life has also enabled young people in government to work as effectively as possible because everyone now has the flexibility to realize their full potential, helping the government to become a workaholic organization by his humility and simplicity. He fostered an atmosphere that allowed everyone to freely explore their potentials.

The young doctor never ceases working individually to improve lives with his empowerment and humanitarian foundation in addition to his responsibilities as head of staff. That, however, is a story for another day. For the time being, I do not believe it is incorrect to say that Asuku is one of the impetus behind Bello’s government and one of the major contributors to the huge achievements made by the governor.

Governor Yahaya Bello is without a doubt one of Nigeria’s top-performing governors right now. Given that the chief of staff’s office acts as the governor’s operating room, I believe the governor must have accomplished many of these numerous things with help of his chief of staff and other team members. The infrastructural projects that have been finished over the past three years and the governor’s numerous awards are evidence of this. That Asuku has contributed significantly can be seen and heard by both the blind and the deaf.  Several awards, including Torch Bearer of Security, Sun Governor of the Year (Daily Sun), Gender Equality Award (National Council of Women Societies), NUJ Role Model Award (Nigerian Union of Journalists), Icon of Security Award (Association of People in Diaspora), Security Personality of the Year (The Institute of Security and Strategic Studies), and Security Person of the Year (The Institute of Security and Strategic Studies), were given to the governor in the second term as a result of his performance.

With Asuku serving as Chief of Staff, the Bello government has successfully reformatted the budgeting, procurement, debt management, revenue generation, annual audited financial statement, and public financial management (PFM) systems. This is evidenced by the state’s performance ranking first among Nigerian states in the last four years for Financial Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS).

Because he is grounded, pharmacist Asuku is a young leader to watch out for. With his unique access criteria, he allowed for the appointments of the youngest members of the government. Today, every one of us has, at least, a friend or family member in the government.

Amazingly, praise singing is not Asuku’s favorite thing. He is one of those men who work harder and speaks less, as well as not craving to be noticed.

Onoja Integrity Johnson

Reporter/Developmental Researcher

Network Against Corruption Initiative, Abuja


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