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Two prominent Second Republic politicians–former Deputy Senate President, John Wash Pam and former governor of old Kwara State, Alhaji Adamu Attah, died Thursday.
Pam, 73, was said to have died of complications arising from prostrate cancer at the National Hospital, Abuja at about 1.30 pm. Attah, who was 84, also died at the same hospital.
Pam, who was deputy to Senator Joseph Wayas from 1979 to 1983, hailed from Foron district of Barakin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, is survived by two wives and 18 children.
His death was confirmed by one of his sons, Mr. Ganan Wash Pam and his Special Assistant, Mr. Williams Chieshe (Jnr).
“Baba died about one-and-a-half hours ago. He had been battling prostrate cancer for a while now,” Chieshe said in a telephone interview.
Paying tribute to the late parliamentarian, Senate President David Mark described Pam as a democrat par excellence.
Mark, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh, also described him as one of the pillars of today’s democracy.
According to him, Nigeria has lost one of its unrepentant democrats whom he said was at the forefront of the struggle to return Nigeria to civil rule.
“He was a great parliamentarian who contributed positively to the political evolution of Nigeria. We shall miss him,” he said.
Attah, on the other hand, was governor of the old Kwara State on the platform of the now defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) between 1979 and 1983.
The late former governor who hailed from Kogi State, which was excised from the old Kwara State, was a son of a warrant chief, Ibrahima Atta, whom the British colonialists granted powers under the Native Authority system. He became the civilian governor of the old Kwara State, despite coming from a minority ethnic group largely due to the influence of Second Republic Senate Leader, the late Dr. Olusola Saraki, who was an influential politician in the state in his days.
Attah, in January 1967, was Permanent Secretary for the Federal Ministry of Finance and was in the discussions with the Soviet Union over possible development loans. He was also a member of the 1976 Constituent Assembly.
His remains, which arrived in Okene, Kogi State, were received by Governor Idris Wada and the Ohinoyi of Ebira land, Alhaji Ado Ibrahim. Thousands of sympathisers also turned up to pay their last respects to the former governor.
He was buried yesterday in his country home according to Muslim rites.
Reacting to the news of his death, Wada described the late Attah as a respected elder statesman whose wise counsel would be greatly missed by both Kwara and Kogi States. Wada said Attah would be remembered for his uprightness and selflessness.
He therefore urged Nigerians to imbibe the legacy of unity the late elder statesman preached and personified.
He consoled the family of the late elder statesman, saying his good deeds and the legacy he left behind are consolations for them.
Wada’s Kwara State counterpart, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, also described the death of Attah as painful and tragic.
Ahmed in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji Abdulwahab Oba, noted that Nigeria has lost the wisdom of an elder statesman with the death of the former governor. “I also commiserate with the government and people of Kogi State over the loss of this illustrious son who contributed immensely to building a strong nation where equity and justice will reign”, the governor said.
His predecessor, Senator Bukola Saraki, expressed sadness at the death of Attah, saying it is a great loss to the state and the nation at large.
Saraki in a statement said the late former governor was a stakeholder in the Nigerian project and that “his records and antecedent are clear in the history of Kwara and Nigerian politics.”
According to the statement, “Though gone, the impact of Alhaji Adamu Attah cannot be under estimated in Kwara politics and apparently, his role and contributions in the administration of Kwara State.”
In his own condolence message yesterday, the Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly, Hon. Razak Atunwa, commiserated with the people of the state and those of Kogi State over the death of Attah, whom he described as a political strategist.
Also mourning Attah, a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani -Kayode remarked that the former governor “was not just a close friend and political associate of my late father during the days of the NPN, but he was also the father of my first wife, Saratu and the grandfather of my first child, Folake.”
“I loved and admired Uncle Adamu deeply and I shall miss him enormously. He was indeed one of those that inspired and encouraged me to get into politics in 1989. His tenure as governor of the old Kwara State between 1979 and 1983 during the Second Republic was second to none and he was undoubtedly one of the all-time greats in the political arena of our country. On behalf of the Fani-Kayode family, I hereby express my profound condolences to the Attah royal family of Okene and to the good people of Kogi State,” he added.
Chairman of the Kogi State chapter of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria,(ALGON), Aloysius Okino, described the death of Attah as a great loss to the state and Nigeria as a whole.
According to him, the administration of the late Attah as the governor of old Kwara State touched the lives of the people positively, particularly the rural dwellers who benefited from the policies of his administration.
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State, Mr. Muhammed Dele Belgore (SAN) in mourning Attah, said: “The late Alhaji Atta departed at a time our country is in dire need of such core professionals and genuine statesmen to offer their wealth of experience.”