For a man who was an aggressive critic of the government but was rushed to a government hospital for treatment when he was ill, any unprofessional handling of his treatment would be seen as a deliberate attempt to have him “secretly” killed. That’s the story that surrounded the death of the outspoken Obadiah Mailafia who died on September 19, 2021, at a National Hospital, Abuja.
The hospital officials were accused of “neglect” why some others alleged that he was given shabby treatment because of his stance on government policies. Specifically, on September 11, 2020, Mailafia said:
“Please, pray for me. I have reasons to believe that my life is in danger and that some powerful political forces want to silence me forever for speaking the truth.
For speaking on behalf of the holy martyrs of thousands of innocent children, women, elderly and youths that have been killed in our beloved country.
It is only in our benighted country that a man who speaks from his conscience can be hounded like a common criminal.”
Why ruling government fear Mailafia
What makes the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) shivered when Obadiah Mailafia spoke was the fact that he is a Fulani man as President Muhammadu Buhari, although a Northern Christian as against Buhari, who is a Muslim.
Not only that, when he spoke, he spoke with facts and figures that are not in the public domain. He was a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as such, his stats were always right.
He had his boys in the apex bank. He countered the government with his facts and economic figures that marvelled the Nigerians and the rest of the world.
At a time, the secret police (DSS) invited him for questioning when he spoke on the issue of security which shook Nigerians on national TV. It was another fact the government couldn’t deny, but to get him arrested to withdraw the statement because of “national security”
Who is Obadiah Mailafia?
Mailafia was born on December 24, 1956, at a village called Randa in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
He was born into a Christian home in the Southern Kaduna by an Evangelist father Baba Mailafia Gambo Galadima at the Evangelical Reformed Church of Central Nigeria (ERCC).
From Kaduna, the missionary work culminated into the transfer of his parents to Murya, a villa in Lafia, the present-day Nasarawa state.
Intimidating Education Profile
His first taste of formal education was at Musha Sudan United Mission School where he was from 1964 to 1969 and then proceeded to Mada Hills Secondary School, Akwanga from 1970 to 1974.
His brilliance was exceptional such that he won the Commissioner of Education’s Award in 1974 as the best graduating student.
The determined Mailafia would not stop there. He journeyed to the School of Basic Studies for his ‘A’ Levels, where he also performed excellently well.
And bagged a BSc Honours in Politics, Economics, and Sociology at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1978.
He proceeded for the one-year mandatory NYSC (1978-1979) at Akoko Anglican Grammar School, Arigidi-Ikare in Ondo State. Thereafter, he enrolled for his Masters immediately after his National Youth Service Corps in ABU.
As a scholar and polyglot
Mailafia spoke was a polyglot majorly because of his educational journey around the world. He was among a few Nigerians that won a French Government Scholarship to France where he would later earn an equivalent of M.Phil. in International Economics at the Institut International d’Administration Public (IIAP) in 1986.
His “doctorate” isn’t an honourary one, he earned it. In fact as a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Scholar at Oriel College, where he bagged a DPhil from the University of Oxford in 1995.
As a Teacher and Researcher
After his NYSC year in Ondo State, Mailafia returned to ABU as a Graduate Assistant from 1980 to 1982, where he also served as a Research Assistant to Professor Ibrahim Gambari, who was later appointed by the military regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari. Gambari is the incumbent Chief of Staff to Muhammadu Buhari.
Another academic post he held included:
- Fellow and Acting Research Director of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) from 1982 to 1989.
- Member, Local Government Reforms from 1982 to 1983.
- Member, a committee that advised the Federal Military Government on a peaceful approach to the Nigeria-Cameroon Bakassi Peninsula Dispute.
- Resident tutor and lecturer in the economics and politics of developing areas at Plater College Oxford, University of Oxford from 1990 to 1995
- Assistant professor, New England College, Arundel, the foreign academic programme of New England College from 1995 to 1996.
- Lecturer, Richmond Business School, the American International University in London from 1997 to 1998.
- Chief Economist, Strategic Planning and Budgeting Department of the African Development Bank Group from 2001 to 2005.
- He was also the brain behind the the establishment of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
- Member, AfDB and the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA) Joint Committee
As an academic, he has more than a dozen publications to his credit.
As A CBN Deputy Governor
After his immense contributions to the world economy and Africa, it was time to bring back home his wealth of experience, the government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as a Deputy Governor at Nigeria’s apex bank.
Between 2005 to 2007, he was responsible for managing monetary policy, economic policy, research and statistics and liaison with regional and global economic bodies.
Together with Professor Charles Soludo (the CBN governor at the time), Mailafia’s team worked on the successful banking consolidation exercise between 2005 to 2006, which now made financial institutions stronger.
Life After CBN
After leaving the CBN, Obadiah Mailafia was in various economic positions around the world and served as an economic consultant to various global bodies and organisations.
One of such positions is being the Chief of Staff to the 79-member nation African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States based in Brussels, Belgium from 2010 to 2015. Others include European Investment Bank (EIB)
On Sunday, October 7, 2018, the National Working Committee of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) announced Dr Obadiah Mailafia as its Presidential Candidate for the 2019 elections. He polled 2,860 votes against Mrs Saidat Odofin, who had 1,310.
Out of the 73 candidates that contested for the No. 1 position, Mailafia and his running mate Nasiru Tanimowo Nurain Bolanle came fourth with 97,874 votes with 0.36% of the vote cast.
Call for Economy Reform
Even after losing the election, Mailafia would not stop speaking the truth most especially through his column in The Punch and other national dailies.
At a time, he said he was being hounded after granting an interview that a Norther governor was a leader of Boko Haram.
He would later say he was ready to lay down his life for his country like Nelson Mandela when the threat on his life was imminent.
Mailafia left Akure, the Ondo State capital and arrived in Abuja on Sunday, September 12, 2021, where he was received by his wife. He fell ill and was admitted at a hospital in the FCT.
He was transferred from the CBN Hospital on Friday, September 17, 2021, to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital where he later died on September 19, 2021, of COVID-19.
But the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) accused the hospital management of shabby treatment and preventing the foreign medical doctor from attending to him.
The Chief Medical Director of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Prof. Bishop Ekele, denied the allegation.
To date, some of the admirers of Obadiah Mailafia believed that there was foul play in his death because how would the management of a hospital deny foreign doctor endorsed by family members access to him? But the hospital maintained that it tried all it could to save him. The hospital claimed that he died of COVID-19.
His last words, “I have reasons to believe that my life is in danger and that some powerful political forces want to silence me forever for speaking the truth”, continues to ring a bell in the heads of his followers.
Whether there was collusion in his death or not, all creatures will one day return to their creator. Mailafia was 64-year-old.
- Mailafia, Obadiah (August 24, 2020). “The Order of Things”. Punchng.com. Retrieved December 27, 2021
- TheCable (August 12, 2020). “I’m ready to lay down my life like Mandela, says Mailafia after release from DSS custody”. thecable.ng. Retrieved on December 27, 2021
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