Isa Ali Pantami

Governance is a trust, and it requires delegation of power and division of labour amongst aides, subjects, entourages and lieutenants of the principal and executive officers in the corridors of power in all tiers of government. This is primarily done based on merit, integrity, portfolio and professionalism in developed and/or responsible countries in the world. Unfortunately the reverse is the case in all tiers of government – local, state and federal government of our darling modern Nigeria.

Frank Herbert opined that, “good governance never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders”. In line with this,  ministers, commissioners, advisers, secretaries, directors, assistants and security aides are an integral part of those who govern as nicely argued by Frank Herbert.

All leaders in their government and cabinet as well, have naturally two sets of aides – sincere aides and evil aides. In a responsible government, sincere aides who always speak the truth are always honoured and cherished, while evil aides are avoided and held responsible as the case may be, for misleading government in their advice. Paradoxically, in our motherland, evil aides are always the most honourable subjects to their principals. As a result of that, officially-appointed and self-appointed advisory aides are the real supporters of creating holes on the floor of our sinking Nigeria as divinely vindicated by the infallible prophetic framework of our discussion.

Interestingly, the prophetic model of selecting advisers has been adopted for x-raying the anatomy of aides in all tiers of government in our contemporary Nigeria. Our infallible Prophet (Pbuh) says: “(Our) Lord neither raised up any Prophet nor did He authorise any person with ruling power but for whom there were two types of Aides: One enjoins upon him to do good and incites him to carry it out, and the Other enjoins evil and encourages him to perpetrate it: and the one who protected himself from the evil aides is the one whom Allah divinely protects” (Bukhaari RH reported it).

A leader has been divinely advised here that integrity, honesty, knowledge, experience and professionalism are the prerequisites in choosing anybody as aides, friends and associates. Prior to nomination and subsequent appointment, he should deeply check up the reputation of his aides. This precautionary measure will serve as a safeguard against the spread of corruption and injustice in society and serve the cause of goodness. Secondly, a leader should obey this advice, because this disciples or adviser will not only keep him safe from making faulty judgments or taking disastrous decisions but will also serve as shield against the machinations of wicked people and their lieutenants as well.

However, this prophetic advice has been ironically toggled by most of our executives in power, because in modern Nigeria, ministers, directors, commissioners, special advisers, special assistants and security aides are mostly selected for their expertise in sycophancy, hypocrisy, conspiracy and dogmatic followership. In very few instances people are selected based on merit, and they are indeed insignificant in bringing any remarkable change. As a result of that, they mostly end up resigning, compromising their integrity, at least physically or remain irrelevant in government.

In the Nigerian context, aides are divided into two – officially-appointed aides and self-appointed or oga-adopted aides. In both cases, sycophancy is mostly the automatic ticket for relevancy and long-term tenure, while integrity is mostly the automatic ticket for irrelevancy and short-term tenure. Undoubtedly, sycophants always follow His Excellency blindly and dogmatically. They always tell him what he wants to hear. They show him that he is always right, no matter what illegal decision he takes. To them “Might” is “Right”. The main source of their allegiance is money. They say what they don’t believe in, and they believe in what is impossible. If their master loves you, they always pretend to love you, and if he hates you, they always hate you too as much as possible. Their credential is ignorance, their working experience is conspiracy and their area of specialisation is hypocrisy. And perhaps, they get their promotion based on these shameful and sinful attitudes. They always follow their master wherever he goes; they never allow him to have time for official activities, his family and himself. They never tell him if other responsible people commend him even once in a while, they only tell him about people’s criticisms of him without being just in their narration. This madness of sycophancy is more glaring, if you look at how “educated” sycophants recently tried to justify the unjustifiable removal of the so-called fuel subsidy by government.

In another version of the prophetic model, our beloved Prophet (SAW) says: “When (our) Lord desires well for a Leader, He assists him in appointing a Sincere Adviser who will remind him if he forgets and helps him if he remembers. When (our) Lord wishes for him contrary, He will leave him to appoint a Bad Adviser who will not remind him if he forgets, nor will he help him if he remembers” (Bukhaari RH reported him).

Divine blessings lie in the recruitment of good, sincere and scrupulous aides.  Such aides will guide him in making sound judgment, reaching right conclusions and guarding him against leaning towards evil projects. However, if these aides are self-seekers, flatterers and corrupt, they will undoubtedly influence his decision-making in a bad way. And one can believe that the end of the leader will be far from being desirable because history also supports this assertion. As for the Hereafter, he will be hardly safe from the infernal torment.

I wish executive officers could listen to this divine prophetic advice and heed its reminder accordingly. They should appoint sincere and incorruptible people with proven integrity who will tell them the truth, no matter how bitter it may be, not evil and corrupt people who only dance to their tune- the good, the bad, the ugly and the evil. Undoubtedly, this is a fundamental component of their success in leadership.

A word is enough for the wise. May Allah save our sinking Nigeria from drowning, and from the machinations of sycophants.

Mr. Pantami (, an Islamic cleric, is a lecturer at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, and Ph.D Candidate (Computing & IT) in the United Kingdom



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  • Peter

    Thank you, and God bless you.

  • Chris Peter

    May God take you to the Heavens. Evil aides are everywhere in Naija. I wish our executives will read this article. You are a great blessing and salvation for our country. I always feel loving you in Jesus name. Chris Peter

  • Musa

    My Sheikh. Your write=ups are a great contribution towards eradicating bad governance. May Allah give you long life with full dose of faith.

  • Kabir

    May Allah reward you abundantly

  • Musa1

    May Allah continue to guide and protect our Sheikh for the benefit of this nation.

  • Jameel Ringim

    Assalamu alaikum, I thank you for the weekly sermon, away from the pulpit, may ALLAH increase you in wisdom, knowledge and piety, amin.
    My comment this week is concerning the our attitude (we the subjects or followers) In most cases you can see clearly that people were so blinded that they tend to be mocking those that choose to be decent or honest in thier dealings and begin to call them names for example a custom officer (A very senior officer) once called the attention of his colleagues by gesture and said ” Wonders shall never end, Please come and see Mr. clean from Tax office” Infact number of the people out there are corrupt and they only respect money and anyone who has money irrespective of the source of that money, you can see that among the Ulama’a/clergymen, traditional rulers,even the peasants, therefore, I would like Mallam to please tailored another writeup to focus on the general public, the youth and the proffesionals /Academia …………and so on, in your subsquent editions. Jazakumullah Khairan

  • Bala ibn NaAllah

    Allah yayi maka Albaka ya kuma saka maka da Alheri. daga Bala ibn NaAllah

  • ibrahim Babangida

    Alhamdulullah! you have passed the message.

  • Mainoma

    Assalamu alaykum , it is not only the selection that is based on the defined attributes but the few that are destined to join that do not share those qualities are frustrated and made in effective . It is either they are told that they do not belong or that is not how it is done . They meet behind others and plan how to ensure that it is only their voices that are heard . The way governments are run , all you need is the knowledge of counting money

  • Isapantami

    Nice talk, but again have considered have many Students you have unjustly failed, because you are not of the same faith, is that good leadership? How do you address those you not in the same faith, do you respects their views?

  • Sunday Lewis

    That’s a true saying, i hope is rooted from your inner mind. May God strengthen you and keep you and your Family fit

  • Sani Jabo

    Really, this piece is a mirror for leaders and followers as well. How i wish our leader could adopt this, it will go along way alleviating most of the current predicaments we are in. Allahulmustaan

  • Kabirunzaria

    Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatahu.Thank u very much 4 d untiring effort. In as much as i agree wit u on d Selection process of our leaders, i believe dat’s not d starting point. I tink d whole system has 2 b overhauled – from d selection of contestants 2 d election of d leaders; from defining where we come from, where we are, & where we’re going. According 2 Salihu Moh. Lukman, in his piece on ”Re-inventing the Radical Politics of the North: A Tribute to Mallam Aminu Kano”, we now have political parties without meaning, politicians without value, and Governments without programmes. Dis reduced d political parties 2 assemblies of rowdy & un-godly politicians and a Government reduced 2 Limited Liability Companies owned by so-called Chief Executives.”
    Secondly, how can u distinguish a CPC Governor in Nassarawa wit a PDP Governor in Plateau? Performance-wise.There’s no clear-cut difference there. Wat of Kaduna (PDP) & Yobe (ANPP) or Zamfara (ANPP) & Taraba(PDP)
    As regards 2 aides, y shul any right thinking person decides 2 take d position of ‘Adviser’ without being heard as postulated by Obasanjo? Y shul a Professor of repute leave an exalted seat of Deputy VC 4 a peanut Chairman of State Board of Internal Revenue?
    In so far as d mind-set is materially zeroed; so long as we adore ill-gotten wealth & in fact honor d beneficiaries wit Chieftaincy titles, Honorary degrees, & Appointments; so long as we continue 2 glorify d so-called big men dat sucks d blood of d common men; so long we don’t know where we’re coming from & where we’re going, our nation ‘ll b a failed state. Bissalam. Mohammed Kabiru Shehu

  • Gaaji

    A word is truly enough for the wise..

  • Hayatu Lawal Makarfi

    Surely, this is a master piece that flows and penetrates the heart which is willing to accept truth. All truth. Only if it would get to our lost leaders and comprehensible to them. May Allaah continuously bless our esteemed scholar and cleric who is an epitome of knowledge and true vision. The accuracy with which the article is constructed and the precision upon which it is intended. Barakallahu fikum. Wallahul musta’an!