My letter to Gov Ahmed @ 54

Congratulations, your Excellency. Again, it’s your birthday! You deserve the celebrations. You’re worth countless encomia. Let the drums role out; let the partying continue. Groove to your desire songs, it’s your day, the birthday ‘boy’. Let’s dance it, boss, like no one’s watching. Another 360 eventful days isn’t a joke. Come on, let’s give thanks to the Almighty Allah for His mercy and benevolence. Many never survived it.
How do I start to celebrate a worthy boss, a faithful and loyal governor as he celebrates his 54th birthday. A man who lives a simple life devoid of extravagance. I know this man of integrity would ordinarily not give in to any outlandish celebration, but I thought it is worth the while to let the world into a little of my discoveries about Dr Ahmed, the faithful governor.  After all, a birthday is an opportunity from the Almighty God for every man to examine himself and find practical solutions to observe challenges in his journey of life.
And, even more, Communication specialists, using the framework of the Johari Window, tells us that every man has four sides to his existence: the first side represents what everyone knows about us and which we also know; the second represents those sides of our lives that are known to only the outsiders; we don’t know such things, while the third side contains those things about ourselves that are ‘trade secrets’; known only to us and not known to anyone else. The last part stands for those aspects of our lives that are not known either by us or even outsiders. Today, having worked at close quarters with Dr Ahmed, having shared some strategic session with pragmatic Ahmed, there are those sides of his life that are obvious to his associates which are worth sharing; the second portion of the Johari Window.
Dr Ahmed is loyal, resourceful, humble, cerebral, detribalised, tolerant and God fearing. In these times, which according to Eric Felten, do seem to be a particularly inhospitable for loyalty, where we come and go so relentlessly such that our friendships can’t but come and go, too, you stuck so amazingly to a relationship, a friendship that spans over two decades, without being servitude.
I recall how at the height of the internal crisis that eventually consumed the PDP in the last general elections; you became the beautiful bride sought after, especially by wooers from the former president Jonathan’s villa. Though you receive many high-heeled emissaries and calls with tempting offers, you glued to friendship and remained loyal. Your Excellency remained resolute and unwavering in your conscientious commitment to humanity, knowing full well that “loyalty is essential to the most basic things that make life livable. And, indeed, without loyalty, there can be no love. Without loyalty, there can be no family; and, without loyalty, there can be no friendship. Without loyalty there can be no commitment to community or country. And, without those things, there can be no society”.
I remembered the lesson you took me through in Saudi Arabia, 2012, when I expressed concerns about your perceived relationship with the current Senate President, Dr Saraki. “Look, CPS, what’s your worry? If I was to contest primary election in Kwara South without the support of the then Governor Saraki, I wouldn’t have won the third position among the nine aspirants. Kwara Central with its overwhelming majority delegates and just three aspirants would have defeated any other aspirant. But Dr Saraki stood against all odds, sacrificed his all for me. Apart from this, he’s my boss both as a commissioner and a banker. So, where should my struggle with him come from?  CPS, more important, he’s never burdened me”, you told me. Only a God-fearing person thinks this way in this “Facebook age when friendship is a costless transaction; a business of flip reciprocity”. You were emphatic that your relationship with Saraki was assured and insured from intrigues and backbiting. “It’s good to go”, you said.
As I recall these great moments of exemplary commitment to shared values, I come face to face with your resourcefulness in the financial engineering of the state.  Yes, the first two to three years of this administration were seemingly economically rosy and easy as federal allocation was relatively enough, or so it seemed; and, even when the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) was low, we didn’t feel the pinch and the pain.
But these last two years of national economic depression when federal allocation is barely enough to meet basic challenges of governance, have brought out the best in you as a confirmed financial and human resource guru. Those on your economic think tank know how deeply passionate you are when it comes to discourses on financial and human management.
Today, Kwara without doubt, is enjoying the benefits of this skill; starting from the review of the internal revenue generating system that has moved the state’s IGR from a meagre N600 million monthly to a minimum of N1.3 billion. The creation of Infrastructure financing system for the state, ensured that every three months, contractors can access funds for the various capital projects ongoing across the state. It is this process that has also enabled and given life to capital projects such as the multi-billion naira Diamond Split Underpass, the new phase of the state secretariat, KWASU Campus at Osi, rural roads construction and rehabilitation, among others. These have continued despite a drop in federal allocation and, as you have assured Kwarans, very possible to be completed on due date.
Many become wealthy and politically successful and lose their characters and their childhood friends. They become alienated from the people, especially their old and long time friends. Not your Excellency. Your humility transcends the precinct of human imagination.  Countless times, the press crew has had to archive some pictures because you stoop to greet elders. As a governor, you never felt too big to the point of looking down on any one, not even those of us, your subordinates.  Really, I often marvel each time I see you listening to us at strategic sessions with rapt attention as if the success of government depended on such discussions and rested solely on our shoulders. This comes on the heels of your proven experience and exposure, which provide you with necessary compass and direction on any matter. Really, decency and modesty couldn’t be any better.
While being intelligent is a gift from the Almighty, who graciously has given it to you in abundance, you carry yourself with such infectious humility that makes every one of us important, while you are also at home with any subject under the sun. Interestingly, like the smoothness of knife on butter, you’re able to switch from financial and political management to science, history, religion and globalisation like one with wiktionary on his palm.
Your Excellency is such a public speaker par excellence and interviewers delight fielding questions on any matter and issue, no-holds-barred. You’re such a reporter’s delight that I often wonder why we bother preparing scripts for your speeches.
Born to Yoruba parents, but raised in the northern part of Nigeria, you represent a perfect example of what an average Nigerian should be; distanced from tribal affiliations, which today, impact negatively on people’s perceptions of things and choices. Even, in private life, you demonstrate to us that you’re not bound by any boundary other than love for all. And, as a committed Muslim, married to a virtuous Christian, you exemplify novel openness as the crop of you “first and best” friends are mostly Christians, and by so doing, spikes use of religion as basis for needless segregation.
Perhaps, more than anything else, your Excellency calmly takes criticisms revolving round governance and welcomes alternative opinions in the interest of good governance and delivering the dividends of democracy. We’re glad that this mindset has activated positive critical inputs into governance, which translated to some of the outstanding landmarks in the state.
As I look back to how and when it all started, I am happy that you have matched actions with words. Indeed, as you rightly said, you have “worked for all” though “you do not know it all.” I, therefore, join the host of Kwarans, family and friends, far and near, who acknowledge your resourcefulness, to celebrate this rare milestone in your eventful sojourn on earth by wishing you a fruitful new year of your life. May your star continue to shine.
Happy birthday, boss! Oba can be reached via e-mail: abdulwahaboba@gmail.com

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