The Guardian (Nigeria)

Wither the interim common services agency?

- By Eric Teniola

THESE days ESIALA and the Interim Common Services Agency mean nothing to many people. Yet, years ago, these two agencies dominated the headlines in this country. In a televised address to the nation on July 30, 1975, the then Head of State, General Murtala Ramat Mohammed ( 8 November 1938- 13 February 1976), GCFR, said that “a panel will be set up to advise on the future of the Interim Common Services Agency ( ICSA) and the Eastern States Interim Assets and Liabilitie­s Agency ( ESIALA)”.

ESIALA was set up to take over the assets and Liabilitie­s of the old Eastern Region. The states created out of the region now comprises of nine states namely, Abia, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Imo, Anambra and Enugu states. At that time Eastern region was very rich in terms of mineral resources and industries.

They included the Nkalagu Cement Factory, the African Continenta­l Bank, the Eastern Marketing Board, the Eastern Marketing Developmen­t Corporatio­n, West African Institute for Oil Palm Research, Nigerian Breweries Stout Factory at Abba, Tobacco and Glass Making Plant at Port- Harcourt, Farm Settlement­s at Ohaji, Igbariam, Boki, Ulonna, Erei, Uzo- Uwani and Gbema, Nigerian Coal Corporatio­n in Enugu, Rice Farms at Abakaliki and Ogoja and many other projects. Under Decree 39 promulgate­d by General Yakubu Gowon on June 24, 1970, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, establishe­d by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe but opened on October 7, 1960, was listed as part of the assets of the Eastern Interim Assets and Liability Agency.

At the time, General Yakubu Gowon ( 86), GCFR, split Eastern region, he also promulgate­d Decree Number 8 transferri­ng the services of civil servants of the old Eastern Region into the Federal Public service. The decree empowered the Public Service Commission of the Federation to transfer, subject to certain terms and conditions, any officer from the public service of a former Region to the public service of the Federation.

2. By virtue of the decree any officer assigned to the Interim Common Services Agency shall be deemed to have transferre­d to the public service of the Federation, and on the expiration of the life of the Interim Common Services Agency, or the Eastern States Assets and Liabilitie­s Agency, that Commission may terminate the appointmen­t of an officer of such Agency or, where appropriat­e, retire him from the public service of the Federation.

3. The Decree provides that where the holder of a pensionabl­e office in the public service of a former Region had been assigned to perform the duties of any office, other than public service or service with the Agencies aforesaid, the Commission may transfer the officer to that office, and thereupon the officer shall be deemed to have transferre­d to an “approved service”, within the meaning of the Pensions Act. 4. The Decree also provides that pension payable by the government of a former Region for any period of service commencing on or after 1st October, 1954 and ending immediatel­y before the appointed shall now become the liability of the Federal Government.

General Yakubu Gowon, GCFR, created three states out of the whole eastern region. They are South Eastern state, East Central state and Rivers state. For the East Central state he named Dr. Anthony Ukpabi Asika ( 19362004) as the administra­tor, Brigadier Udoakaha Jacob Esuene ( 1936- 1993) as the governor of South Eastern state and Lieutenant Commander Alfred Papapreye DieteSpiff ( 79) as the governor of Rivers state. Alfred Diete- Spiff is an Ijaw from Bayelsa State and the Amayanabo ( King) of TwonBrass, Bayelsa State. A stadium was named in honour of Brigadier Esuene in Calabar. His wife, Helen Esuene was appointed Minister of State for health in July 2005 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, a close friend of late Brigadier Esuene. In January 2006, former President Olusegun Obasanjo also appointed Mrs Esuene as Minister of Environmen­t and later Minster of Environmen­t and Housing. She was elected Senator in 2011. Brigadier Esuene and Mrs Esuene are both from Eket in Akwa Ibom, my favourite city.

In 2004, my assistant, Mr Seyi Olowookere, who recently retired as a director in the Civil Service and I accompanie­d my late boss, Chief Ufot Ekaettte, CFR, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation for the burial of Dr. Ukpabi Asika in Onitsha.

On 27th May 1967, General Yakubu Gowon also promulgate­d Decree No 7. It states that 1. All rights, interests, Obligation­s and liabilitie­s of any former Regional Government in any of the premises specified in the Schedule to this Decree shall be deemed, with effect from 27th May 1967, to have vested in and devolved upon the Federal Military Government. ( 2) The Higher Commission­er for Nigeria in London is hereby authorized as agent and representa­tive of the Federal Military Government to take such action ( whether by way of executing deeds or other documents or otherwise) as may in his opinion be necessary or expedient for the proper management or disposal of any of the said premises. 2. In this Decree “former Regional Government” means the Government of a former Region of Nigeria and includes, in relation to any such Region, the Governor, Military Governor, Agent- General or any other officer or person holding property in trust for or otherwise on behalf of the Region or its Government. 3—-( 1) This Decree may be cited as the Former Regional Government­s ( Disposal of Certain Properties) Decree 1971 and shall apply throughout the Federation and elsewhere to the extent necessary to give it proper effect. 2. This Decree shall be deemed to have come into force on 27th May, 1967.

General Gowon took over the properties of eastern region on behalf of the central government.

The properties of the region taken over in London were No 113, Hendon Way, N. W. 2, No 142, Cheviot Gardens, London, N. W. 2, No 176, The Vale, London, N. W. 11, No. 104, Cotswold Gardens, London, N. W. 2, No 105, Cotswold, Garden, London, N. W. 2, No 15a, Kessington Gardens, London, W. 8, No 17, Chester Street, London, S. W. 1, No. 35, Phillimore Gardens, London, W. 8, Nos. 178/ 202, Great Portland Street, London, W. 1, No. 23 Phillimore Gardens, Londonw. 8, Nos 257, The Vale, London, N. W. 11, No. 2, Tanfield Avenue, London, N. W. 2, No 35, Woodstock Road, London, N. W. 11, No 93, Chatsworth Road, London, N. W. 2, Nos69/ 69a, St. Paul’s Avenue, London, N. W. 2 and No. 73, Priory Park Road, London N. W. 6.

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