“There is a time to be born and a time to die. In between is a privilege to live, to live to the glory of your Creator and to the glory of humanity” – James Haruna Danladi Audu
It was exactly 9:46am Saturday, March 17, 2018 that I received the call that informed me about the passing of Distinguished Senator Malam Ali Wakili, mni.
It was unbelievable at first; then I was confused! I rushed to Viewpoint Hospital, Gwarimpa, Abuja, where he died. But before reaching the hospital, the caller, Engr Ibrahim Yawale, called me again and said that they have taken his remains to his house, which is not far from the hospital, so, I should come straight there. On reaching the house, I set my eyes on the corpse of this extraordinary gentleman, lying inside his Land Cruiser jeep. I was heartbroken when I beheld his corpse! I held his hands and lifted him up, with the assistance of some people in the house, and we deposited him inside a room that’s being used by his son, Ameer and his friends, Huzaifa and Ibrahim, whom were like his own children.
There I was in the room, with the lifeless body of the very person who was with me fortnight ago in Kano. I couldn’t control my tears! I had to be consoled by Huzaifa and Ibrahim, who were equally in deep pains and tears. It was one of the most heartbreaking moments in my life.
I was particularly very close to the Fagacin Bauchi. Whenever he came to Kano, he would call me to find out if I was also in Kano; to come and meet him. And it was always a perfect environment to discuss a lot of things – personal, political and state matters. That day, like any other, I met him with his wife, Hajiya Hadiza at Tahir Guest Palace. He told me that the crisis rocking the APC in Bauchi State was worrying him. He also told me that a new committee has been set up by the president to look into it. I gave him my observations, and possible solutions to the faceoff between political leaders of the same political party in our dear state, and generally in the country. He told me that he was going to see the governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru that night, to discuss the issue and, he asked me to join him but I declined. Until his death yesterday, I did not get the opportunity to ask him how it went between him and governor Badaru.
Late Malam Ali Wakili loves Bauchi State; he held the people of his Bauchi South Senatorial constituency, and Bauchi state at large, in the highest of esteems. He has fought many battles both within the four walls of the Senate Red Chamber and outside of it, in defence of his ideals, and in defence of the people he represented. He was the one man that can be likened to a battalion, if not a complete regiment, whenever any matter to do with his ideals and principles came up. He fought his battles with utmost decorum, brilliance and sagacity.
Late Malam Ali Wakili was a promoter of peaceful coexistence. I have seen and heard him issuing resounding warnings to his supporters, to never denigrate anybody in his name. He once reprimanded a supporter of his, and barred him from coming to his house for writing something negative about the governor of Bauchi state Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, his former arch-rival. I had to intervene for him to forgive that person. He considered mudslinging as despicable and mean. There was a time again, that he asked me to warn one of his supporters, whom I believed he valued very much, that under no circumstances should he write anything bad about the governor. Ali Wakili wanted peace with himself; with his rivals and opponents; with everyone around him and; everyone he came across.
He was a person that was always smiling and, cracking jokes with anyone he meets. There always was a one joke or the other he cracked, with almost all manner of people he dealt with. He was always in a pensive mood, such that you may think he never had a problem over which to waste time pondering.
Malam Ali Wakili was Pan-Nigerian, and a statesman per excellence! Sometimes last year, during the heat of the restructuring debate, I and Hajiya Madina Dauda of the VOA Hausa service met him in his office at the National Assembly. He spoke about the North at length. And at the end, he asked the question: “Which North?” “The North where a Plateau man prefers to join Biafra, or the North where a Tiv man from Benue state sees himself as different from a Fulani man from Adamawa?”, he inquired with visible frustration on his face. He lamented bitterly about what he called the “slide in pan-Nigerianism, and the renewed escalation of ethnic and regional chauvinism.” Such was Ali Wakili, a distinguished Pan-Nigerian senator. I hope he will be remembered as the bridge builder that he was.
Although a dissident himself, Malam Ali Wakili respected other people’s point of views, listened with open heart and argued conscientiously.
Ali Wakili has done great many favours to me. The greatest among them was when he gave me seven slots, one for each local government in my Senatorial Zone of Katagum, to participate in the forthcoming verification exercise organised by the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, NHGSFP, the Muhammadu Buhari led government school feeding programme. I gave him the seven names with their qualifications as he had requested. All of them have had training in Bauchi, waiting for the main exercise to commence.
They say heroes are not usually recognized in their immediate societies, but our hero gone, Malam Ali Wakili was an exception! The entire nation was thrown into mourning as news of passing broke yesterday. He has lived his life to the glory of his Creator and, to the glory of humanity.
Only those of us who knew him closely, know what Nigeria lost with his demise!
Adieu, Sanatan Arewa!
May you rest perfectly in peace, Malam!
March 18, 2018