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Exit of a gentleman and epitome of generosity – Late Alh Dr Sani Bagiwa Idris (Dada)

On Thursday evening, 3rd December 2020 around 5:29, I received with great shock, the news of the demise of my generous and great mentor, father,…

On Thursday evening, 3rd December 2020 around 5:29, I received with great shock, the news of the demise of my generous and great mentor, father, uncle, friend and principal. The news has really touched my heart; I was standing but I had to just find myself seated uttering ‘innalillah wa inna ilaihi raji’oon’. “Verily we belong to Allah, and verily to Him we shall return.”

I was just thinking, this is the person I have spoken to just a few days ago but Allah in His infinite mercy has taken him away. We love him but Allah loves him more. I could not sleep through the night leading to his funeral, which was scheduled at 10:00am in the morning of Friday. I have received so many calls and texts from family and friends knowing very well my relationship and closeness to him. The messages and words coming from people were that they had never seen a kind-hearted person like him and wished him peace and happiness in his new home. He has really touched many lives not only of family members but also of other people that came his way.

Local people from Dukke (Funtua) where he owned a farmhouse were saying ‘the alkhair and generosity we have seen from Bagiwa are enormous’. Words full of praises are what were coming from people in Katsina through social media and face-to-face interaction. I met someone in the cemetery who told me he was attending the funeral not because he knew anyone related to the deceased but because of the deceased himself. He said as kids while growing up, he had supported them in so many ways even though he did not know them personally. With such kind of information, I felt at rest knowing fully that wherever my uncle is, he is really finding peace and Allah’s mercies insha Allah. May Aljannatul fiddausi be his final abode.

He was a self-sacrificing and selfless man and very authentic in all of his dealings with others. He was an organised person and he loves keeping records in very clear terms. I think that has to do with his background as an academic and diplomat (Nigerian Education Attaché to the United Kingdom). He was a very good listener and would ask me my thoughts about a particular national or local event. I would always carefully think well before giving my opinion and he would keenly listen. ‘Yes, Samir you are right but how about this and that’. He respects people’s opinion and I think his background in Analytical Chemistry has really contributed to his in-depth analysis of many conditions. He was a very good reader. More importantly, late Alh Dr Sani Bagiwa was a humanist with sense and milk of human kindness. Whenever I called him, he would ask in his usual way, ‘Ya kake?’ Ina ‘yan yara? (Meaning where the little children).

The last time he spoke to them, I think was two months ago. The moment he asks his usual question, ina yan yara? I told him one was on my neck, another on my tummy and the other on my leg! He laughed. The children quickly… said ‘we want to speak to grandpa’ as they fondly called him. He patiently listened and spoke to them all, asking them questions and laughing …

Since my childhood, I always admired him not knowing that I would later work closely with him as my principal, when he was Special Adviser on Special Duties to the late President, Alh Umaru Musa Yar’adua of blessed memory (his close friend and confidant) and later to President Dr Ebele Jonathan. His humility was quite great; I often drove him around to visit some places with people not knowing who he was.

I have learnt a lot from him. There was a time, when I came to Nigeria from the UK for a purpose, and on my way back from Abuja, I visited him at his farmhouse where he was resting but not feeling so well! We spent some time talking; we talked and laughed a lot. Before leaving, he called my attention, ‘dan Allah Samir ka sake dawo wa kafin ka koma’ (please Samir, find time to visit me again before you travel back). I was touched reflecting on his words. After leaving him, and before I reached my destination, he spoke with my aunt (Aunty Murja) and he told her how he really enjoyed every bit of his discussion with me. She reminded me saying, ‘please visit Dada again before you travel back’. I know he has always enjoyed and appreciated my company. In fact, I will sorely miss him.

He is my personal person! Whoever knew me, will have had many good stories about our Dada from me. Many people were longing to meet him. Not too long ago (before the lockdown), I took a couple of friends to his Abuja residence. We had a lovely and fruitful discussion. Every one of us enjoyed every bit of the discussion. After bidding him good-bye and my friends were already down stairs to have dinner, we opened another chapter of discussion and he reflected on his life and informed me, he recently ‘bagged’ 70 years. He thanked Allah for living a good life of service to humanity.

I had to be reminded it was getting late! I made it a point of duty to call him every Friday not knowing that I called him the last. Adieu Dada, Rest in Jannatul Fiddaus.  Your death is a great loss to not only your immediate family, or the people of Katsina, or the North but also to the people of Nigeria at large. You are indeed a non-tribalistic leader. You always believed in the Nigerian project,  peace and unity of Nigeria are some of your marked words.

Alh Dr Sani Bagiwa Idris was an academic per-excellence, a diplomat, politician, humanitarian and elder statesman. He was one time a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1975); an administrator at Federal College of Education, Katsina (early 1980s), and Special Adviser to two Ministers of Education (Prof Jibrin Aminu and Prof Aliyu Babantunde Fafunwa). He was also an Education Attaché to the UK and later the Chairman of National Primary Education Commission (NPEC) now UBEC. He was Special Adviser Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Special Adviser Higher Education and Special Adviser Special Duties in Katsina State. He was Chairman, Nigerian Agricultural and Cooperative Bank and the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. He held many other positions including Special Adviser on Special Duties to President Yar’adua and later to President Jonathan. He was Chairman, Project Monitoring. Above all, he is a community man and humanitarian. You are a true role model and mentor! As a young boy growing up, I can never forget how you touched our lives. May Allah (SWT) have mercy on your gentle soul and admit you into Aljannatul fiddausi.

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