A new chairman of the Subsidy Re- investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) may be named any time from now as Dr. Christopher Kolade is set to step down from the position this week, THISDAY can reveal today.
The newspaper learnt that already Kolade has communicated his decision to resign to President Goodluck Jonathan, who is said to be hunting for another credible Nigerian to lead the intervention committee.
A source told THISDAY that the challenge before the presidency at present is getting an immediate successor for Kolade, given the fact that his former deputy, Major- General Mammam Kontagora (rtd), who could have naturally stepped into his shoes, had died in May this year, a development which was said to have delayed the retirement of the committee chairman till this month.
According to the source, the presidency was still shopping for a replacement for Kontagora when Dr. Kolade moved to formalise his resignation in a letter.
In the letter (a copy of which was obtained by THISDAY), Kolade informed the President of his wish to step down as chairman of SURE-P latest by the end of November before his 81st birthday, which comes up in December.
The letter dated September 25 and entitled “Withdrawal from Chairmanship of the SURE-P Committee” reads: “I wish to inform you, respectfully, of my decision to resign from the position of Chairman of the SURE-P Committee.
“My desire is that the resignation should take effect as soon as Mr. President names a new chairman, but not later than the end of November, 2013.
“Mr. President, it has been a worthwhile experience for me to serve as chairman since the inauguration of the committee in February 2012. However, as I approach my 81st birthday, I wish to retire from the more time and energy consuming parts of my responsibilities and activities, one of which is the SURE-P Committee chairmanship.
“Mr. President, please accept my sincere thanks and appreciation for the opportunity to serve in the position of chairman, as well as my prayers for good progress and success for Nigeria in the years ahead.”
Kolade confirmed his resignation in an exclusive interview with THISDAY.
He stated that it was his desire to step aside before his 81st birthday, saying although he is still mentally and physically fit, time has come for him to attend to his private life and his family.
Although, the outgoing chairman cited old age and the attendant rigours of his schedule as reasons for stepping aside, a source said he may have been frustrated by the spate of rumours trailing his tenure as chairman of SURE-P despite his efforts to educate Nigerians on the true position of things.
According to a source, Kolade, who is a former chairman of Cadbury and former Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, feels he has been ‘messed up’ and should take his leave.
He was said to have wept profusely last week at a review meeting of the committee and at one stage left the meeting before he was persuaded back.
Speaking on his resignation, he told THISDAY: “As at the time I was asked to come and take charge of the SURE-P, on the day that the President spoke to me, I was a few days away from my 79th birthday. So at the end of last year, I was 80 years old. I thank God that I’m strong, and in good health and my simple mind is still ticking over simply, but there comes a time when you are at my age that you ask yourself, is this what you should be doing now? Should you be spending your time at this moment fighting rumours and try to explain the same information many times?
“So, middle of this year, I went to the President and said to him, I want to leave but if you remember my deputy chairman then, Mamman Kontagora had just died. So the President now agreed that he would appoint another deputy chairman and that I would work with this deputy chairman for a while so that the place is not suddenly empty. The deputy chairman dies, the chairman goes but that is what we have been working on and I have actually written a letter to the President to let him know that latest at the end of this month, I’m out of SURE-P. So, he has that letter.”
Kolade explained he decided to make his planned exit public in order to prevent another round of rumour.
“We feed on rumours and both in my family and in my religion they don’t like rumours. The letter was dated September 25, 2013. So if you hear or if rumour begins to indicate that I’m leaving, I want you to know that members of my committee already know that I’m going. So, it’s not a secret,” he stated.
When asked if his resignation was subject to the approval of the President, he explained that there is no going back on his decision to quit at the end of this month.