By Obahopo Boluwaji
Acknowledgment of any leaders’ mettle depends to a greater extend on people’s acceptance of their input at various developmental strata that have meaningful bearing with humanity.
Equally, historical knowledge about some leaders also forms the basis of assessing their valour and how to rate them for honour and rewards either posthumously or while still alive.
Towards this end, in every giving society, leaders are being appreciated while alive, thus becoming aware that even when they are no more, the society will continue to revere them in remembrance of their service to humanity.
In line with the foregoing, it will not be out of place to say that one of such rare personalities that have gained eminence while still alive because of his total commitment and contribution to societal development and growth is Senator Smart Adeyemi; a prince from Iyara, headquarters of Ijumu council area of Kogi State.
Before I continue on while he merited this tribute, may I digress to my choice of calling him Egbon – Yoruba way of addressing a senior brother.
In all angles, Senator Adeyemi and I have no basis for comparison…not even on the level of senior -to -younger -brother. I first ‘met’ him through my late father, Chief Idris Aledare Obahopo, whom in his usual characteristic asked us at morning devotions to pray for our leaders using Adeyemi (then NUJ President) as a point of contact. In May 2011, we lost our father, prompting me to put a call to Senator Adeyemi who was bittered about his death, and latter played a significant role in our father’s burial.
I, for long, had secretly envied Senator Adeyemi. Joining the pen profession, I desired to be mentored by him. But my hope of getting close to him through the death of my father yielded no positive result.
Surprisingly in 2014, Senator Adeyemi reached out to me on his own will, and we have remained a bit closer since then; giving me a buoyant six years plus relationship with him.
I initially thought of him as a father, but he technically refused me addressing him so. I opted for ‘oga’, he also declined through his body language. But each time he spoke with or to me, he constantly referred to me as ‘my brother’ – which scared me because, I know I am in no way, or by any standard be regarded as a brother. He will either starts with the phrase “my brother”, punctuates it throughout the discussion or end with the phrase; a development I sensed was his way of driving home his decision of how he viewed me. So in my subconsciousness, I reluctantly regard myself so. And since the age difference between me and him is not debatable, I hereby called him for the first time MY EGBON.
Having settled the choice of what to address him with, let’s return to the subject matter – Tribute to a living legend.
At his age, Senator Smart Adeyemi pedigree made him an ideal leader in the political frontier and champion in all human endeavours. He is seen from different perspective and this made him to stand tall in the comity of Okun menfolk, and of course Kogi state in general.
Overwhelmingly, he is regarded by his folks as a pillar of strength. Fact, even his bitterest opponents appreciates him for his qualitative disposition to issues that have bearing with human development.
Undisputedly, Senator Adeyemi, (CON) former National President of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has become part of those Nigerians that have towered to the height of national recognition and identity.
Though this attainment may not be anything peculiar but there is another side of the ebullient Prince that made him different from others of his class. His disposition in the direction of enduring better life for Okun people and Kogi West that he represents are well pronounced. Apart from monetary contributions, most communities in his senatorial district has projects to his name.
While one cannot quantified the exact amount he had one way or the other committed towards community self help programs and education of some students, it will not be an exaggeration to say that Senator Adeyemi inputs for people welfare in Kogi state can be discussed in billion naira figures. This giant stride though solemn and unsung is unprecedented even amongst political office holder. He is an unsung philanthropist…perhaps, he want it so.
Adeyemi’s service to the people no doubt transcends his immediate locality and this has served as part of his relevance withing the scheme of things. His antecedent as an astute community development Czar and philanthropist of no means. It is an open truth that his forage into partisan politics and becoming a senator was borne out of genuine desire to rescuing Kogi West from ineptitude.
Consciously, Adeyemi, since becoming a senator brought to fore neatly packaged program of actions setting out priority areas needing urgent attention for the transformation of his constituency, Kogi west Senatorial district. What readily come to mind is the over 100 cabs he distributed for youths to become self reliance, the ambulances shared to hospitals even beyond his constituency amidst other health interventions, the numerous women empowerment schemes, students scholarships, vehicles for traditional and political leaders and so many community projects.
Considering the steps so far initiated and marrying same with his philanthropist nature, it will not be out of place to say the facelift witnessed in the past in the constituency bear a trademark of Adeyemi’s leadership.
Invariably, he has for long drummed for collaboration with the electorates so that there can be concerned effort at turning around the zone in all frontiers of socio-economic development. His preparedness to give Kogi west purposeful leadership and representation has gone beyond imagination to reality.
Apart from the outstanding manner he handled all matters affecting his constituency so far, his oversight view of other ethnic groups in the state is applaudable. The way he carried the last governorship election, rallying supports for the Governor, an Anebira man was tremendous. His disposition was that whatever affect Ebira or Igala has an overlapping effects on Kogi west. His mantra has being – Ebiras are our neighbours, Igalas are our brothers.
With many outings of Senator Adeyemi since his first inauguration in 2007 as a senator, nobody following the trends of events need any testimony to be able to know that he has put to practice his vows of turning around the lives of Kogi West people as their representatives. He has never wavered in his representative assignments when defending and demanding for what is for Kogi State.
Senator Adeyemi has blended very well at the NASS despite arriving late for his third term. He has secured the confidence and support of many other legislators, and his opinions on issues are well respected. He has brought to the fore burner the conversion of Agric college, Kabba to a full fledge degree awarding institution. He has again brought the attention of Federal Government to the plights of his people in term of roads and other needed infrastructures.
Be it as it may, my tribute is designed not only to praise where praises are due but to show cause for sympathy to one who is wrongly accused or schemes for hatred (mostly by the elites) because of rendering valuable services and living to expectation of the mandate of his people.
With his contributions towards the development of his fatherland, Iyara, Okunland, Kogi West in particular, Kogi State in general, Senator Smart Adeyemi has certainly laid indelible marks on the sand of time such that he will continue to be adored and revered.
The temerity of his contribution were such that even his bitterest detractors will not deny knowledge of his warmth, humanness, erudition and the fact that he is a builder of men, leader of the people and committed philanthropist of unequalled height.
Consciously, Adeyemi personal, professional and political years on earth has in ways touched many people in all facets of life, constructed roads, drilled boreholes, constructed markets, touched live of traditional rulers, empowers many people. It is on record he has provided employment to numerous numbers of people and has appointment of Heads of federal agencies and parastatals. He has not defaulted on his campaign promises. He has assisted many people to pay for their medical bills both at home and overseas. He has demonstrated uncommon commitment to the cause of the people of his senatorial zone and the nation in general. Senator Smart Adeyemi has earned the toga of a living legend.
My prayer is that the freight of cars carrying your heart across the sand of time, will transport you for longer time for more people to still benefits from your human gestures. May the old and new you be beneficiary to mankind. May you walk and never be weary. Fly with the wings of eagle. Though I know, you will not want to make noise about your birthday, but it’s worth celebrating. Continue to bask in the euphoria of your new age.
August 18 is for you. Hope your new age does not look scary to you?!
HAPPY BORN DAY MY SECRET MENTOR, BON ANNIVERSARY MY EGBON!
Boluwaji writes from Lokoja.