By Hassan Alhaji Hassan
The Yobe climate seems to dry for us in the wake of an ominous cloud of leadership looming over the young, whose growth is not as fast as we envisaged more than a decade now. But that does not blindfold us from the fact that we have men, men silenced by their humility and dwarfed by the fallacy of those acting on our behalf without genuine commitment on the roots of our purposes. In our search for such men, the light casts its rays on one who sits on values we missed for so long. And it is only fair to portray him in a way that we appreciate him in the openness of limelight but also to subject him and the values he holds to public discourse. This is a pursuit in the conduct of public good and taste, where judgement is informed by the service of men to the community and humanity. In a rational society that we presume our state to be, we need this to choices if we have to choose when we should.
At present ,he is the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja. But, Alhaji Ibrahim Talba is not a catapult who shoots himself into places. In fact, it is the reason one finds it difficult to use Alhaji in order to address him. He earns the title, and in all sense of purpose, he merits it. But his humility as a person and stewardship as a public official do not need the clichéd flamboyance that we attach to the title. His name carries the exact measure of his person and the ideologue behind his public service. So it doesn’t need a precedent to rest on in being addressed as Alhaji.
Talba’s indelible foot prints are visible in the civil service. For all these and more, the seasoned public-servant-turned-international-diplomat received four recommendations. One of them was a letter commending him for being a devout member of the National Nelson Mandela Reception Committee and a Special Assistant to Dr. Mandela during his visit to Nigeria in 1990 after his release. Throughout his life in public service, Talba touched and still touches the lives of many. It is difficult to get the number of persons he brought into public service. There is no way one can know. But his kindness and generosity radiates in many who have established themselves, those he had taught how to catch fish.
Since 2000, the renowned public servant was Director or Secretary or Permanent Secretary in key federal positions. He worked in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as Director of Personnel Management in 1999 and appointed Permanent Secretary in the office of the Vice President in 2001. This put Talba’s expertise to test under democracy. His career seared through the sandstorm of military bureaucratization to the politicization of bureaucracy under democracy. He gave the office of the Vice President the prominence it deserves and pulled it out of the democracy of its redundancy to the prevalence of its relevance in the business of our presidential system. Again, he called home. We had the touch of a seminar he organized for local Education Secretaries at the FCE (T). Potiskum .In all, our sons and daughters benefited as resource persons, participants and beneficiaries. In that office he also ensured the rehabilitation of 20 primary schools in the Potiskum zone worth the sum of Seven Million. In Nangere, not only was a primary school rehabilitated, but a new office block for the Education Secretary was built.
He also influenced, while at the education ministry, the building of a (N12m) Twelve Million Naira clinic at Degubi, in Nangere local government area. Again, at the peak of FCE, Potiskum’s internal crisis recently, Talba delved in and calmed frayed nerves which brought about the sanity the college now enjoys. It is learnt, he is working hard, even if out of the Education Ministry, to uplift the FCE to the status of a university college. Such is Talba’s story. Even as at yesterday, this narration was lurking in the confines of the dark miseries of our society’s agony. But now we can see that even in the island of unable men, few men remain tall and outstanding in our midst. At the end, history will judge our people by both their inaction to turn to the other side of good men. It took us time and energy to research the stuff in the few men that we have who can give example not advice. For Ibrahim Talba this would not have been possible if he had followed the path of conservatives. Instead, he walked his own in that he had to fight those on the other side of the divide.
Hassan Alhaji Hassan is a lecturer, Mass Communication Dept., University of Maiduguri