From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
State House Deputy Director, Information, Sir Attah Stephen, has been described as “an unassuming and noiseless performer”, as he disengaged from the civil service after serving six heads of state and presidents at the presidential villa, Abuja.
In a statement by Abiodun Oladunjoye, Deputy Director (Information) State House, Attah’s virtues of diligence, dedication and selfless service were celebrated on Saturday, February 27th, by State House management, who hosted a special reception and send-off in his honour, as he retires after attaining the 60-year statutory age of retirement from the Federal Civil Service.
Stephen, a Knight of John Wesley (KJW) in the Methodist Church Nigeria, in a momentous career that spanned 25 years in the Presidential Villa, served nine Chief Press Secretaries, Special Assistants, Senior Special Assistants and Special Advisers on Media and Publicity to six Heads of State and Presidents.
Attah, who formally disengages from the Civil Service on Monday, March 1, 2021, was described by the Permanent Secretary, Tijjani Umar, Attah as “an unassuming and noiseless performer, who is very efficient in everything he does.”
Umar noted that for the 25 years, Stephen worked in the Presidential Villa he was very formidable, helping the Media Department to make appreciable progress and transformation under several administrations.
“Mr Attah started his civil service career here in the State House and is also ending it here after spending almost a quarter of a century. He was an extremely good officer and a team player,” he said.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, narrated Attah’s transition and fit perfectly into the job after the sudden demise of the former Director of Information, Justin Abuah in 2016.
“When I was appointed SA Media to the President, I reached out to former occupants of the office, including Segun Adeniyi.
“He told me if Mr Abuah is still there, you will not have any problem and he (Abuah) turned out to be very efficient.
“But sadly somewhere along the line we lost Mr Abuah and the next person to assume that position was Sir Attah. If Abuah was very efficient, Sir Attah was no less efficient. He fitted perfectly into that position,” he said.
Turning to the family of Attah, Adesina thanked Mrs Kate Esa and children “for giving Sir Attah peace and support at home to be efficient in the office.”
Adesina added: “Well, I’ll like to say that we will miss his services because he is somebody that is very dependable. He is very very dependable. In fact, I depend on him for a lot of things. As he goes into retirement, I can just wish him the best that even though he is retiring, he will still be active in so many other ways. He will find fulfilment for himself and for his family.”
On his part, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, described Attah as an “excellent editor and a very reliable person.”
On Attah’s style on the job, Shehu added that “usually editors should have an orderly mind and a cool head. Most editors have one and they don’t have the other. Mr Attah has both and I congratulate him.”
Speaking on behalf of the State House Press Corps, Mr Sunday Odeh of Peoples Daily Newspaper, commended Attah’s personal qualities of humility and kindness.
“He had utmost respect for the press corps and will always attend to your complaints. The press corps will always celebrate him and we thank God that he is retiring in good health,” he said.
More commendations also came from outside the media department with the State Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure saying that Attah deserves praise for ensuring a seamless working relationship between the protocol and media departments as well as the battery of journalists covering the Presidential Villa.
“I congratulate you on meritoriously serving your country and I wish you all the best in retirement,” he said.
A retired Director of Information, State House, Mr Musa Aduwak, who worked with Attah for 16 years, offered some useful advice to his colleague on navigating life after retirement.
“Don’t slow down immediately, slow down gradually. You will think you have plenty of time and you will take all kinds of load. If you do that, you will be overwhelmed. Also ensure you keep busy, keep your brain working and also keep social interactions active,” he said.
The leadership of the Methodist Church Nigeria, ably represented at the event by a delegation led by the Bishop of Nyanya Diocese, the Rt. Rev Kehinde Adeyemi, praised the retiree for bringing honour to the Church through his dedicated and meritorious service to the nation.
The cleric described Attah as a very committed member of the Church who was elected some years ago as the Lay President of the Diocese of Nyanya.
“One of his works as a lay president is to be an adviser to the bishop and this role he played meritoriously, leading to his election as arch-diocesan lay president of the arch-diocese of Abuja,” he said.
Responding, Attah thanked God Almighty for the honour of being recognised specially by the State House management as a retiree.
“I want to specially thank the Permanent Secretary for this special honour and privilege.
“I want to thank the first Director of Information, Mr Aduwak and his wife for honouring the invitation. You laid a very good foundation in the department and we thank God we are keeping the flag flying.
“It is unfortunate and sad that your successor Mr OJ Abuah is not alive and I pray that God will grant him peace in eternity.
“I want to appreciate my colleagues in the office and staff of the State House.
“I want to also specially appreciate my wife and family for bearing with me. Let me say that in almost the 25 years I served here, this is the first time my wife is stepping into the State House.
“My daughter was very little when she came here during the tenure of President Obasanjo when the First Lady hosted a Christmas Day party for children at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa.
“I thank my family for recognising and understanding that in our work, we don’t always have time for ourselves as we can be called upon anytime to respond to national emergencies and issues.
“Thank God that they understand that it’s the nature of the work. In close to 25 years here, I had not gone on leave for maybe, more than two weeks. So, you are always at work anywhere you are especially with the internet there’s no spare time, in the church they could call you, wake you up in the night. They just knew that that’s what I signed for and I just want to thank them for the support they’ve given me over these years.
“I also appreciate the Methodist Church Nigeria for upholding me in prayers and for understanding that my absence from some church events was as a result of the exigencies of work and office.
“I want to thank you all for your prayers because it is one thing to join the service and another to retire in good health, and I want to thank God for his mercies upon my life,” he said.