By Adebayo Obajemu
The statement by Greek historian Polybius once that “your good legacy as an administrator will reverberate down the ages, and will continue to earn you good name,”rings true in the case of Buba Marwa who recently turned 68.
Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd) is in a class of his own when it comes to public service, and the persona he created in three years he was governor of Lagos State from 1996 to 1999 has remained ever green in the minds and hearts of Lagosians who were attracted to him on account of revolution he wrought in the state, through good governance and people-oriented policies that had direct impact on the lives of the people.
Similarly, he has demonstrated since assuming office as the helmsman of the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, about a year ago that his reputation in Lagos s one of the best governors was not a fluke. He has in a short period in office turned the agency in the most vibrant and result oriented government department with his administrative activism.
Marwa is not a run of the mill public administrator, he is one with a mission anchored on sound understanding of public office as a call to service. This zeal and ardour to make a difference which he had cultivated as a young military officer down to the time he was administrator of Bornu and later Lagos have not diminished but rather has received fresh fire which can be seen in the turnaround we have seen in the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), where he is chairman and chief executive officer.
Marwa was appointed by President MuhammaduBuhari to his NDLEA job early in the year. He took over from Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah, rtd, who completed his tenure in office.
During his administration as military administrator of Lagos State between 1996 and 1999, he implemented programmes such as Operation 250 Roads which greatly improved motoring conditions in the state. He revamped public health institutions, and ensured that free malaria treatment was available to all.
His administration upgraded infrastructure in the poor neighborhoods in Lagos state. He proclaimed an edict to regulate rents, stopping the Jankara method of eviction of tenants and ensuring that due process was followed.
Marwa became well respected in Lagos because of Operation Sweep, a joint police and military venture that helped reduce Lagos state notorious crime rate.
In February 1998, BubaMarwa said on Nigerian state radio and television that unknown persons were again trying to assassinate him, and that he and his entourage had been the target of several bomb attacks starting in 1996. But he said that he would not be intimidated.
In May 1998, Mohammed BubaMarwa imposed fuel rationing in Lagos State in an attempt to tackle petrol shortages and reduce chronic queuing at petrol stations. In July 1998, Marwa opened a new asphalt plant in Lagos, the largest of its kind in Nigeria.
After retiring from the Nigerian army at the end of his term as Lagos State governor, Brigadier General Marwa founded the Albarka Airlines and the BubaMarwa Endowment. In September, 2003, BubaMarwa gave up his position of Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Albarka Airlines.
In May 2007, the government of Nigeria withdrew the operating licenses of Albarka Airlines in controversial circumstance, where some says it was for political reasons.
In December 2006, Marwa announced that he would be running in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries to become the partys candidate for Presidential election. His bid was unsuccessful, then he gave his support to Umaru Musa YarAdua, who succeeded to become the president.
In 2007 he was appointed Nigerias High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa. Marwa then in 2011 became the gubernatorial candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in his Adamawa home state against the then incumbent governor, MurtalaNyako.
Marwa defected from APC due to complaints of unfair treatment of his followers after his party CPC merged with ANPP and the ACN, following the decamping of Governor Nyako to the same party.
In June 2015, Marwa returned to the APC with his followers following the swearing in of President MuhammaduBuhari on May 29, 2015.
The new NDLEA boss had worked as Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) between 2018 and December, 2020, along with others to develop a blueprint on how to end drug abuse in Nigeria.
Marwa was once military attaché, Nigerian Embassy, Washington DC, USA, and defence attaché, United Nations, New York, as well as former ambassador to South Africa and the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
Upon appointment as drug boss, he has changed the face of campaign against illicit drug, and through his style of administration, more drug barons and couriers have been arrested, making it risky to embark on the illicit trade. He has brought dynamism and determination to the fight against drug in the country, and within a short space of time he has made a huge difference.
He was born in Kaduna on September 9, 1953, scion of a military family; his father, Buba Marwa, and grandfather, BubaYola, had served in the Nigeria Army, and Marwa did not deviate from that path.
He had his primary school education across Nigeria in Enugu, Zaria, Abeokuta and Lagos (1960-65) and went on to attend the Nigerian Military School (NMS), Zaria (1966-70). Subsequently, he completed a regular combatant course at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and was commissioned into Nigeria Army Recce Corps (NARC) in June 1973.
He was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant in the Nigerian Army Reconnaissance Corps before moving to the Armoured Corp. He held various posts in the Army, including Brigade Major (23 Armoured Brigade), Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General TheophilusDanjuma, academic registrar of the Nigerian Defence Academy and deputy defence adviser in the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC.
In 1990, he was appointed Governor of Borno State. In 1992, he became the defence adviser to the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations. He attended several trainings in Nigeria and abroad, such as: Communication Instructors course, School of Armour Nowshera, Pakistan,Regimental Signal Officers (RSO) course, Nigerian Army Signals School, Apapa,RSO (All Arms), Military College of Telecommunication Engineering, Mhow, India,Armour Officer Basic Course, Fort Knox, Kentucky, USA,Advanced Armour Officers Course in the Armoured Corps Centre and School, Ahmadnagar, India andunior and Senior Staff College courses at Command and Staff College (CSC), Jaji.
General Marwa has two postgraduate degrees, namely Master of Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh (1983-85) and Master of Public Administration from Harvard (1985-86).His other qualifications include certificates in International Security Studies, Leadership and Organisational Innovation and Project Planning and Evaluation (PPE).
Appointed Military Governor of old Borno State (present Borno and Yobe states) from June 1990 to 1992, his administration had a far-reaching impact on the populace in diverse ways including in health care delivery, education and agriculture.
Marwa created the first Ministry of Water Resources and by direct labour, the state undertook the construction of roads and completed the Maiduguri International Hotel.
The appointment of Gen. Marwa as the administrator of Borno State coincided with the time Idriss Deby, erstwhile rebel, seized power from President HissenHabre, thereby dislodging members of the Chadian Army, some of who went rogue and carried out raids across the border into Borno State. The marauders’ pillaging of towns, villages and communities, was not unlike Boko Harams.
In 1992, Marwa was posted as Registrar of the Nigerian Defence Academy. And in 1993, he returned to foreign service, as DefenceAttache at the Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations in New York.
In August 1996, he was appointed Military Administrator of Lagos State. His three-year tenure in the state was accompanied by strategic programmes. The feats were achieved on a strict budget of N14billion.
Marwa, who did not borrow from any bank throughout his tenure, handed over a cash amount of N2billion – the highest amount handed over from one state administration to another.
His exemplary leadership earned him Nigerias Man of the Year 1997 by Newswatch, Nigeria oldest and influential weekly magazine.
He has received numerous honorary awards from different institutions who recognized his exemplary leadership, among these are:
Doctor of Science (HonorisCausa), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi;
Doctor of Public Administration (HonorisCausa), University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN); Doctor of Management Technology (HonorisCausa) Federal University of Technology, Owerri; 2003 Outstanding Leadership Award by the Centre For Multicultural Leadership University of Kansas, Lawrence. First African honoured by theInstitute in its ten years of inaugurating the award.
Reciprocating, Marwa endowed an annual Marwa Africana Lecture Series in the Department of African and Afro- American Studies.The late Prof Ali Mazrui presented the inaugural lecture.
A recipient of Gold Merit Award from the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Marwa is Grand Patron of the Nigerian Youth Association and also Nigeria Maltese Business Council.
His leadership acumen has been recognised with various awards such as the Zik Award for Political Leadership, Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award (Ghana), and Outstanding Leadership Award by the Joint Youth Association of Nigeria.