I have had to call into a radio program (radio kwara) in 2010 to correct an impression made by a political analyst who was a guest on the program that the first civilian governor of old Kwara state, Alhaji Adamu Atta, who later died in May 2014, was already late at the time.
No doubt, 1979 was a high point in the history of Anebira political participation. Against all odds and despite being one of the minority ethnic tribes in the then kwara state, an Ebira man became the first democratically elected governor in the second republic.
A gentleman to the core, Alhaji Adamu Atta who in his first attempt into paritsan politics in 1977 defeated his closest political rival Alhaji Usman Obatemi for a seat in the Constituent Assembly left no one in doubt of his resolve to play politics without bitterness, acrimony, animosity, and character assassination giving respect and honour to whom it was due i.e. the electorates and being unmindful of the fact that his victory and assention into the exhalted executive seat wouldn’t have been madeG possible without the sacrifice, political prowess and charisma of the strongman of kwara politics, Late Olushola Abubakar Saraki whose political wisdom stood him out among his peers in the Nigerian political arena.
Alhaji Atta’s desire to always abide by the wishes of his benefactor and political godfather was total and unflinching giving that he was relatively new in the political game. Politics and democracy everywhere is a game of numbers so one clearly understood the reason why a governor of Ebira origin, clearly in the minority needed to remain loyal to a political icon like “Oloye” as Dr. Saraki was fondly called by his teaming supporters and admirers. At least his majority (yoruba) ethnic tribe puts him in a vantage position of political dominance, especially that Alhaji Atta was interested in seeking a second term of office and hence would needed all the support and influence he could get. But for the influence and activities of Anebira professional praise “singers” and sycophants which destroyed the good relationship between the duo, Alhaji Atta would have continued to remain loyal and enjoy a lasting bond with Dr. Saraki despite the excesses of the latter, giving the gentle nature and peaceful disposition of the former.
Sycophants and praise “singers” eventually got the better of Alhaji Atta who rather than continue to give the “devil” his dues engaged his godfather in a battle for political supremacy. Insulted, abused and humiliated in his home. Sycophants deceived Alhaji Atta into believing that he was bigger and more influential than his political benefactor, he was told he has got all it takes to secure a second tenure of office without the support of “Oloye”. But for the establishment of more schools (secondary and college of nursing) the administration of Adamu Atta would have had nothing to show in Ebiraland except that he allowed himself to be misled and pushed by praise “singers” and sycophants into using state resource to fight dirty with his godfather.
While in power as executive governor his GRA, Ilorin quarters and Kuroko, Okene residence was a Mecca of a sort and bee hive of events and activities before he was finally betrayed by the very people who set him against Dr. Saraki. Many who sang his praises later abandoned him only to support Alhaji Usman Obatemi who stood as running mate to Mr. Cornelius Adebayo who later won the 1983 gubernatorial election with Saraki’s support and political ingeniuty. Alhaji Atta who later became blind, was used and forgotten, he didn’t only spend the rest of his life in isolation and desertion by the people who “worshipped” and sang his praises while in office, he constantly visited Dr. Saraki in his Ilorin residence for financial upkeep and goodwill after being abandoned by Anebira political class and elites who benefited immensely from his government.
Contrary to some opinion that the ouster of Prince Abubakar Audu from office in 2003 was due to the intervention of Abuja based politicians, backed by the then PDP controlled federal government, the 2003 gubernatarial election only offered an avenue an opportunity for an angry and hungry civil servants to mobilize enmass to vote out a government that was anything but workers friendly. The welfare and interest of Kogi workers was virtually removed from the priority list of government. Any worker or trade union that dared spoke out or embarked on industrial action was threatened with retrenchment or sacked. Activities of sycophants led to the downfall of the administration of Prince Audu’s government which placed more emphasis and committed much resource to infrastrucural development at the expense of human development. Praise singing and sycophancy was the order of the day in the days of the ANPP controlled government in Kogi state.
Dear governor Yahaya Bello, your administration is already treading the path and direction similar to Adamu Atta and Prince Audu by allowing sycophants and praise “singers” reign freely. These praise sycophants who are obviously content from the droppings from the table of your government are on the social media and the streets and attacking and harrassing peace loving and law abiding citizens of the state with good intentions of advising your government and constructively criticizing some of your policies and programs when the need arises. “The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him” –Niccole Machiavelli. Your Excellency, when one looks critically at the men around you all there is are empty brains, sycophants and praise “singers” who has got nothing to add to your government but are only clinging to you for person gains and financial enrichment.
Like late Prince Audu, your administration has not been able to earn the respect, trust and love of the civil servants in the state, from the marathon screening exercise which was though a right step, but for the crude and unprofessional matter it was done, to the failure of your government to redeem its pledge of paying all arrears of outstanding salaries owed genuine civil servants, the tale of kogi workers has been that of pain, anguish and extreme hunger. Kogi state is a civil service state with over over 80 percent of its workforce being government workers, so the only ways to reduce economic tension in the state is to always pay workers’ salaries as at when due.
Your Excellency, if you don’t wish to end up like the late Alhaji Adamu Atta and Prince Abubakar Audu then stop giving listening ears to unwarranted and undeserved praises from sycophants. You don’t need to surround yourself with people who would always give your unnecessary accolade and hails every of your policies and programs, good or bad. You don’t need people to be calling you all sorts of ridiculous name like “white lion” or “ digital governor” because the same people will mock, laugh at you and dessert you when you leave office tomorrow, as was done to Adama Atta. A word is enough for the wise.
Hussain Obaro writes from Ilorin