Ha­jiya Bilk­isu Yusuf - A heart of gold

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By S.L.S. Sal­ifu

It was 24th Septem­ber 2015. The time was about 8pm and I was in the bath­room when I re­ceived a phone-call from one of my sons. His voice was dis­tressed as he tried to ex­plain to me that there was an un­pleas­ant news mak­ing the round! What was it, I queried. “It had to do with Ha­jiya Bilk­isu--it is be­ing re­ported that she was an un­for­tu­nate vic­tim of the stam­pede that oc­curred at Mecca that led to the death of many Pil­grims!” I did not want to be­lieve it! I asked him to con­firm and call me back later. 9:20pm and he called back to nail the news into my be­wil­dered heart that it was TRUE! Tears welled up in my heart-bro­ken and sob­bing, I took the un­for­tu­nate in­for­ma­tion to my Wife. “What is it, she asked anx­iously. “It is Bilk­isu-oo! Bilk­isu Yusuf, the dar­ling friend of the fam­ily! She is gone”! Gone to where?” My Wife fired her ques­tion at me as she ad­justed her­self on our fam­ily bed. “Bilk­isu died along with oth­ers at the stam­pede that took place at Mina in Mecca”! The shock! The si­lence! The empti­ness! The sob­bings! The far-away looks on our faces spoke vol­umes!

Why Bilk­isu of all peo­ple? Our Love for her mul­ti­plied it­self a thou­sand fold! Ear­lier that day at 10:32am, we had sent Sal­lah Greet­ings to her through my G.S.M. It read, “This is wish­ing you and the en­tire fam­ily a good Barka Da Sal­lah. Con­tinue to be a good and ex­em­plary Lady. Love from 1st Lady and In­jinika!... But I hon­estly don’t want you miss­ing in Heaven. Con­grat­u­la­tions.”!!! By the time I sent that text mes­sage she was prob­a­bly gone! Sad! Sad! Sad! And very Sad!

It had not oc­curred to us that Bilk­isu had made such a DEEP IM­PACT in our fam­ily’s life! She was fond of call­ing my Wife “1st Lady” and me she jok­ingly called “In­jinika” for “engi­neer”

Bilk­isu’s path and mine crossed in the early 90’s, dur­ing the SDP days, when I was one of the band of con­tes­tants for the Pres­i­dency of Nige­ria dur­ing Ba­bangida’s Po­lit­i­cal ex­per­i­men­ta­tions! She came to my of­fice to in­ter­view me con­cern­ing my as­pi­ra­tions. By the time she was done, she gave me her hon­est VER­DICT. “You will never be­come the Pres­i­dent of this coun­try”! she slammed! “And why not”- I queried! Her an­swer. “This coun­try will not be ready for your type un­til at least another hun­dred (100) years! You are too BLUNT, too TRUE and too UN­COM­PRO­MIS­ING to your val­ues! Nige­ri­ans will never give you a chance. So my brother, go and rest!” She took her folder and was de­part­ing. I mar­veled at her can­dour, her bold­ness, her courage and sur­pris­ingly I fell in Love with her BLUNT­NESS, TRUTH and COM­MIT­MENT to her judg­ment as a jour­nal­ist. That was the be­gin­ning of a gen­uine, clean and PHILIO Love for al­most 25years! Be­fore we both knew, Bilk­isu was my SIS­TER and I be­came her BROTHER, our re­li­gious dif­fer­ences not with­stand­ing! Of course my wife no­ticed it and be­fore long, she too fell in Love with her when she ob­served her golden qual­i­ties!

Bilk­isu was hu­manly good. She was kind, she was Truth­ful. Her com­mit­ment to her con­vic­tions and DU­TIES were un­ques­tion­able. She in­vari­ably at­tended the wed­ding of all my chil­dren (six of them for now) and where and when she was not avail­able, she sent a rep­re­sen­ta­tive. She knew all she could about the fam­ily, my fam­ily-the names of al­most all of my chil­dren. I was not that much en­dowed. It was af­ter her death that I knew her two chil­dren Mos­hood and Fa­tima and her sec­ond hus­band. And pleas­antly, her chil­dren and hus­band knew so much about me from what she would have told them! She ac­tu­ally had noth­ing to hide.

As the first Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of C.A.N and also as a Co-mem­ber of NIREC (Nige­rian In­ter-re­li­gious Coun­cil) an in­ter­faith body that came to­gether un­der the aus­pices of C.A.N and SCIA to ad­vise Gov­ern­ment on all and sundry is­sues, Bilk­isu’s ad­vises were out­stand­ing, ma­ture, thor­ough, bal­anced and with­out prej­u­dice. When I ex­ited from C.A.N in 2011, Ha­jiya Bilk­isu shocked me when she wanted to know what else I was plan­ning to do to sup­port my large fam­ily. I replied that I was go­ing to take some time to rest and prob­a­bly get in­volved in do­ing some busi­ness. Char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, she bluntly said, “you can­not do busi­ness in the present en­vi­ron­ment. They are cor­rupt and you will be badly frus­trated. Your val­ues mean noth­ing to the present day Gov­ern­ment (that was 2011).” I re­fused to lis­ten and where I tried my hands within the realms of about three Fed­eral Min­istries where I thought I had peo­ple who will treat me with re­spect, based on my ear­lier in­ter­ac­tion with them, Bilk­isu was again proved right. I then de­cided to dis­cuss with her again. She came up with a sug­ges­tion - she was ex­pect­ing some good money from the con­sul­tancy ser­vices she had ren­dered. She wanted me to look for a suit­able SITE where I can be dis­tribut­ing Dan­gote Ce­ment Prod­ucts. She was will­ing to plough in N10mil­lion…..” so that In­jinika can have a clean source of clean money to take good care of your good fam­ily” - she mused pleas­antly. I told her “My sis­ter, your In­jinika does not be­long to money bags……oo.” She said, “Don’t worry - it is for free”! What ran through my mind in­stantly was that this girl, (Bilk­isu) left my Moth­ers womb to the womb of another woman, who even­tu­ally be­came her Mother!” but she was first and fore­most my SIS­TER! The pro­ject did not take off be­cause these “bad” Nige­ri­ans did it again! Her money did not ar­rive - it was trun­cated! I could not un­der­stand how a Woman who had no DEF­I­NITE rea­son to show kind­ness and un­der­stand­ing to some­body else across the so-called DI­VIDE, would even CON­TEM­PLATE on such a step!! But that was Ha­jiya Bilk­isu Yusuf for youPlain, gen­uine, kind, gen­er­ous, self­less, prin­ci­pled! She lived above the val­ues of or­di­nary peo­ple and cer­tainly be­yond the Nige­rian val­ues.

As PMB be­came the Pres­i­dent of Nige­ria - the last dis­cus­sion I had with her was to en­cour­age her to find us­age in this Gov­ern­ment as I per­son­ally per­ceived Buhari to be gen­uine, hon­est and cor­rup­tion-re­sis­tant! She again de­clared she would rather be an ad­viser or con­sul­tant through any of her NGO’s!

But Bilk­isu is gone! My Sis­ter is gone! I am pained, I am in­jured. The Mus­lim Umma has lost a ge­nius. Nige­ria has lost one of her finest. I ap­peal to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment (in con­sid­er­a­tion of her many Na­tional and In­ter­na­tional achieve­ments and the pos­i­tive im­age she carved for Nige­ria through her nu­mer­ous ac­tiv­i­ties, home and abroad…..) to please name a street in Abuja af­ter this Woman of In­es­timable value! Good bye my sis­ter and gen­uine friend.

Engr Sal­ifu is for­mer Gen­eral Sec­re­tary, Chris­tian As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (C.A.N.)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.