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Pam Dauda Reng: An Elder in Life and in Death

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Pam Dauda Reng: An Elder in Life and in Death

By: Dr. James BWALA

I saw the post on the Borno NUJ WhatsApp platform at 4:09 p.m. It was posted by the NUJ Chairman, comrade Dauda Iliya. It was not expected, as always, but it is the reality of life. stage for one at a time. This time, our elder, as we all called him, answered the call to be with his Creator. For us, it was as sad and shocking as it was for his family, friends, and associates. I immediately called on Sir Raymond Gukas, who, seeing my calls, knew it was about Elder Pam. His demise was not without shocking waves for every journalist, especially those of us who worked with him.

I recalled the first time we met. But I have heard his name. My brother, Hon. Inuwa BWALA, always called this name long before I joined their profession. I also recalled when I first went out on an assignment with him. We took a taxi from Shehu’s palace to the post office then, and as often with journalism professionals, we debated issues and happenings from our own point of view and journalistic findings. Only at that time was he having the debate with another respected elder, whom we called Gomna Mshelizza.

They were by far my seniors in age and experience, so I could not join in the debate but listen and learn from their wealth of experience. As the driver moved and pulled over to pick and drop passengers, I was listening to these two genres, expressing myself with a smile and supporting both factions when they demanded my nodding. I was a green horn but a novelty one, and these two brought me as close as possible because I was fast at learning the ropes.

At the Maiduguri Government House, we filed our stories by fax machine afterwards. We call it a day and to meet in the morning for another dutiful day. Elder Gomna Mshelizza left, and I and Elder Pam marched to the gate to catch a taxi to the post office, where we would split and move to our destinations. In between the distances we were trekking, we discovered a friendship. He was an elder and my senior brother’s friend who became my friend. He was a good man.

As journalists, sometimes we prove to be stubborn in putting superior argumentation over issues with our jobs. However, we hold Elder Pam’s decisions most superior and cases close. He became the rallying point for easing tension among colleagues. He was also an adviser and bridge builder. When I had issues with my friend and colleague, the late Isa Gusau, the Borno governor’s spokesman, Elder Pam was readily available to help me cross the obstacles placed in my way when every other person seemed to have distanced themselves, even as a chapel. He was there to advise and encourage until the issues were resolved.

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Although that move became a blessing to me, I see him as one of those who never stopped calling me while I was in the wilderness after I was declared persona non grata to the seat of government, and the “Qua or Kwa” was fully denied me when the government released such a relief cup for practicing journalists in Borno State. I survived through the woods with his advice and encouragement until the end of that struggle.

When everything was settled and friendships were rebuilt, I had already found my foot on other grounds where I was building on my career and future in the journalism profession. Elder Pam was, however, always there to check on how I was doing and keep faith. He always told me that was life, and I believe him. On February 21, 2024, we were chatting on WhatsApp, discussing issues in the country. His last text reads, “Be thankful always.”.

I had thought of him last week and also yesterday, but I could not call. I had thought I would be around Jos sometimes in April and hoped that I could have a time to visit him and shook hands since he was said to have been leading a community as a traditional leader in his community, but death doesn’t give time. All I have to say is that, Elder, we all appreciate you and hope to meet at the foot of the master when the roll call is made for us to leave this sinful world, as those on the pulpit would always remind us on a Sunday….And he would always say…”To God Be The Glory.”

James BWALA, PhD, writes from Abuja.

Pam Dauda Reng: An Elder in Life and in Death

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Tributes: Dr. Madu Garga Mailafiya, 1942–2024

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Tributes: Dr. Madu Garga Mailafiya, 1942–2024

By: Balami Lazarus 

I was with him in his residence in Maiduguri three weeks before he passed away, on February 18, 2024. Dr. Madu Garga Mailafiya was looking fine and in good, healthy condition. There was no sign of a final good-bye this time around in my mind. 

Dr. Madu and I had a long discussion on the state of the nation and some contemporary issues and ended with Zaria/Samaru nostalgia as a lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria in the 1970s, where Mailafiya taught mass media. Unknowingly to us both, death was lurking around.     

On March 29th, 2024, I was again at No. 30 Bukar Dapcharima Road, Old GRA Maiduguri, his residence, for the 40th day of prayers, where prayers were offered for the repose of his gentle soul. 

Dr. Madu Garga Mailafiya was born on October 12, 1942, in Gwaski, Sakwa district of Hawul Local Government Area of Borno State. Having schooled both at home and abroad, he became an ace journalist and broadcaster who had worked in various capacities in the electronic media sector and ended his career in retirement as Executive Director of News with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in Abuja. 

Testimonies and tributes said of him portray him as a good man with a large heart who has contributed to the human and capital development of his community. He was 81 and survived by his children and grandchildren. 

Balami, a publisher and columnist.

Tributes: Dr. Madu Garga Mailafiya, 1942–2024

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Death: Whose Next?By: Abdur-Rahman Balogun (ARAB)

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Death: Whose Next?
By: Abdur-Rahman Balogun (ARAB)

A tribute in memory of Prof. Aminat Olabisi Bello-Adelekan, (1967-2024)
Head Girl, Adeola Odutola College (1983-1984).

Death is inevitable, it is a debt everyone of us must pay and such, we should not fear death but always expect it. Allah says in both Quran 3 verse 185 that : “Every soul shall taste death, and you will only be given your full compensation on the day of Resurrection…”
Same message is repeated in Qur’an 29 verse 57. So, with the divine pronouncements by our Creator, no mortal should be scared or afraid of death but be prepared for it like Boy’s Scout motto.

So, on Friday March 15, 2024, two deaths came knocking, first was the demise of His Royal Majesty, Oba (Dr) Sen. Mohood Lekan Balogun, the Olubadan of Ibadan land who joined his ancestors at the age of 81 having reigned for only two years and Prof. Aminat Olabisi Bello-Adelekan, a classmate and my head girl at the prestigious Adeola Odutola College, Ijebu Ode, Ogun state, 1983-1984. The two deaths came as a rude shock to me as it was least expected.

Again, Allah reminded me in Quran 31 verse 34 that ” Indeed, Allah alone has knowledge of the hour…..” and in Quran 4 verse 78 says “Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, ……” while
Quran 63 verse 11 says ” But never will Allah delay a soul when its time has come….”

I consoled myself with the above divine guidance but the graphic details of how the news was broken on our alumni platform got me more worried and taunted me as if I was dreaming.

A classmate, Wale George at exactly 1.54 a.m on Saturday morning wrote:” what happened to Amina? Another mate, Tutu Aderibigbe replied him at 1.59 am “what did you see or hear about her? I also joined the fray by 2am when i asked “what happened to her? George replied at 2.02am that “we should call her”, Tutu Aderibigbe snapped immediately at 2.03am ” By this time of the day?
I couldn’t sleep and i became restless, not knowing who to call at that time of the day and kept praying until 4.10am when i started preparing for Sahur (early morning meal) for my Ramadan fasting.
Alas! The shocking news came through Wale George again by 7.48am on Saturday with the following line: “We lost Amina Adelekan yesterday evening. She will be laid to rest at her Abeokuta residence by 4pm”. This confirmation jolted me as condolences started pouring in for our beloved classmate.

Surprisingly, Aminat had not be active on our Alumni platform except last year. Since then, she was so active that the whole house unanimously appointed her to be the Chairperson for our forthcoming 40 years anniversary that we left school and she demonstrated her leadership skills as she, alongside her committee members quickly rolled out programme of activities ahead of our June celebration and she was the first to pay her levy as well as her 2024 annual dues.

Aminat alongside her friends, Anota Shittu, Funmilayo Kadiri, Ganiat Gafari and others, i couldn’t recollect their names now, were very active in Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) then in which i was the President and also the Chief Imam of the Muslim Community.

Since 40 years ago that we both left the school, we have not had cause to meet except sometimes in 2014 when i sighted her at a distance during the inaugural lecture of my wonderful brother and friend, Prof. Lateef Sanni at FUNAAB where late Aminat was also a staff and I was hoping for a lively reunion with her this coming June at our 40th anniversary. Alas! Aminat has gone to meet her Creator.

Shockingly, I learnt while writing this tribute that the late Aminat lost her 35- year old first child in Sept. 2023. May Allah be pleased with her too.

Aminat was unique in many ways, she was very intelligent, beautiful, knowledgeable and easy going . All these earned her the post of our head girl in 1983. I stand to be corrected, she was the only mate thus far, who got to her academic pinnacle of a Professor at FUNAAB. She is and was the only Professor in our set. When i shared her shocking demise with three of her senior colleagues in FUNAAB, Prof. Taofiq Azeez, Prof. Lateef Sanni and Prof. AbdulRasaq Adebowale, they all expressed shock at her sudden death, describing her as a very peaceful, easy going and highly resourceful person.

Again, something must kill a person once the time comes, irrespective of what we do or not. Aminat was reportedly returned from overseas trip about two weeks ago where she was given a clean bill of health ahead of 30 days Ramadan fast but Allah has His own plans. My consolation is that Professor Aminat Bello-Adelekan died in the blessed month of Ramadan wherein Allah promises that whoever dies in this month will be automatically admitted into al-janah firdaus. This is my consolation for the painful loss of Aminat and our revered King Lekan Balogun as well as those who died during this period and those who will still pass on. May the souls of all the departed rest in perfect peace. May Allah console the husband, daughter and other members of Amina family in the best form as well as all of us who were her classmates. I equally remember all our mates who had passed on ahead of us and pray for those of us remaining from (Adeola Odutola College Ijebu-Ode 1979-1984 set) a long beneficial life to humanity. Aamin. The Yoruba has a saying “iku to ba n pa ojugba eni, owe nla lo n pa fun wa”, Death that is killing our mates, is a signal for us to be prepared.

E-signed.
Abdur-Rahman Balogun is the Director of Media, Public Relations and Protocols, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abuja.
March 18, 2024.

Death: Whose Next?
By: Abdur-Rahman Balogun (ARAB)

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Professor Emeritus Umaru Shehu: As UMTH mourns the community medicine man

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Professor Emeritus Umaru Shehu: As UMTH mourns the community medicine man

By: James Bwala

It was indeed a glorious exit for the Borno elder, statesman, teacher, father, and grandfather, the late Professor Emeritus Umaru Shehu. Born in 1930, he lived a life worthy of emulation in the service of the state and the nation. He bows out at 93, a rare age target for today’s world. For us at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, it was a sad exit but a glorious one for a library of knowledge. He was simply the community medicine man, and we would all miss his smile and simplicity of life. However, he left behind lessons for us to learn from and take a step forward to change our views about life.

The management and staff of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) led by Professor Ahmed Ahidjo, the CMD, paid an official condolence visit to the family residence of Prof. Umaru Shehu, who passed away on the 2nd day of October 2023 in Maiduguri. Few to mention who joined the train with the CMD are Chairman Medical Advisory Committee C-MAC Prof. Ibrahim Sanusi, Mr. Idriss Omar, Director of Administration, and others. The CMD, Prof. Ahmed Ahidjo, sympathized with the family, prayed for the repose of the soul of Prof. Umaru Shehu, and further wished him Aljannah Fidausii.

The Northern Governors Forum also expressed their sorrow over the passing of Emeritus Professor Umaru Shehu, the first Professor of Community Medicine in Northern Nigeria, together with the UMTH over this significant loss. In a message of condolence, Gombe State Governor and Forum Chairman Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya praised the late Umaru Shehu as a true luminary and erudite scholar whose passing left a significant gap in Nigeria’s knowledge and leadership.

In the words of Governor Yahaya, “The loss of Professor Emeritus Umaru Shehu has created a profound void, not only for his family, Borno State, and the University of Maiduguri, but indeed, the entire northern region, Nigeria, and the global academic community.” He observed that Shehu was more than simply a name; he was also a font of information, a lighthouse of wisdom, and a personification of devotion to his people and country.

Professor Umaru Shehu, he continued, “has left an indelible mark on society through his illustrious career in several universities, including the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, and the University of Maiduguri, as well as his role as a co-founder of the Borno Elders Forum and the Kanem Borno Historical and Cultural Foundation.

“Professor Shehu’s efforts as the President of the Nigerian Academy of Science and his illustrious role as Professor Emeritus of Community Health at the University of Maiduguri have in fact enriched the country’s intellectual heritage. His international renown as the British Medical Journal’s Editor-in-Chief was evidence of his extraordinary qualities. He said

Muhammadu Buhari, a former president of Nigeria, joins the UMTH, the University of Maiduguri, and the country in expressing their condolences for the loss of the illustrious physician who served as chairman of the board of the Nigerian Institute of Virology up until his passing.

Muhammadu Buhari offered a rich homage to the late Professor in a message of sorrow to the family of the deceased, the administration and people of Borno State, and the entire country, noting that he embodied the best spirit of people.

“Through his many years of medical practice, he saved the lives of so many people. He played a pivotal role in shaping many of the progressive policies in the health sector of the country. May Allah bless his soul,” the former president said.

Emeritus Professor Umaru Shehu, CFR, a leading figure in Nigerian education and one of the first medical pioneers from Northern Nigeria, passed away. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has also expressed astonishment and great sorrow over this. Emeritus Professor Shehu’s passing was reportedly a major blow to the nation, according to a statement by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity). Tinubu said that Shehu’s passing marked the end of an illustrious career dedicated to serving Nigeria, Nigerians, and humanity in general.

READ ALSO: https://newsng.ng/the-plight-of-farida/

“Emeritus Professor Shehu was a giant among that illustrious age of indigenous pioneers in our nation, and the biography of his life is replete with pioneering achievements in the fields of medicine, education, and humanitarian aid.

“The eminent Professor of Medicine has consistently rendered meritorious service to Nigeria and given all Nigerians a sense of pride via his immeasurable contributions and cutting-edge methods for managing global health and medical education.” The President expressed gratitude for having him as a patriotic son and a deserving international representative in his fields of endeavor.

The VP, Sen. Kashim Shettima, along with the Deputy Governor of Borno State, H.E. Hon.Umar Usman Kadafur, and Shehu of Borno, were among the thousands of sympathizers that attended the funeral rite of the late Prof. of Community Medicine, Emeritus Umaru Shehu. The VP says words cannot describe the personality of Professor Umaru Shehu.

“We have lost an icon in the field of medicine. We have lost a father, not only to Borno State but to Nigeria as a whole. He was a man of many mountains and an epitome of courage. We shall miss him in so many ways, but death is also a way of life, and we must all answer the call when it calls. Professor Umaru Shehu has lived a fulfilled life. We pray to Allah to forgive his shortcomings and grant him firdaus.” The vice president said

Lending his voice to the crowd of voices wishing to say a word, the CMD of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Professor Ahmed Ahidjo, said a big tree in the world of medical sciences has fallen. According to him, the late Professor Emeritus Umaru Shehu was not just a name but a root that so many trees feed on as far as medical sciences are concerned. “He was my father, my teacher, and my courage. To the UMTH family, we have lost the father of community medicine.”

Professor Emeritus Umaru Shehu: As UMTH mourns the community medicine man

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