Until that sad night of May 24, 2009, when my father, Alhaji Hamid Denja Abdullahi, crossed to the land of our silent fathers at the age of 70 at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, after about a month bout with illness, I had grown to know him as a man of great kindness to his family and to all those around him, without any form of discrimination.
We his children grew up without having to look elsewhere for anything. We got all we wanted at home: rest, care, fun and entertainment and all the works that ensured a happy childhood. Our home was not that with a father wielding a cane to force the children to study, behave or conform. Our abode was one with a father showing examples that attracted imitation from the children.
Our father implicitly trusted the judgment of his children from their very young ages to the time they came of age and he was not in his lifetime disappointed in them for any reason. He was a father who gave his children enough freedom to be themselves and he was never judgmental in his dealings with them or with any other person for that matter.
I cannot now remember seeing my father in an angry mood, even if there had been any, it had been very few, in spite of the provocations that abound in the home and the society. He was a study in stoic patience, never given to unguarded outbursts or vainly asserting himself over people as many do in our society.
He did good without being preachy about it, paid evil done to him with good and never had the heart to cause anyone pain. Looking back, I believe those qualities of his served him quite well for he lived a contented life, of modest means but very self-sufficient, had well- adjusted children and a home that was an epitome of Allah’s guidance and protection.
Everywhere any of us his children went, we saw and still see the fruits of his actions in the uncommon help we do receive, sometimes from strangers. At work, first as a regular police man dating from the Native Authority Era and later as a member of the Special Branch of the Police Force which further transformed into Nigerian Security Organisation (NSO) and later into State Security Service (SSS), my dad was a diligent, dedicated, honest and God-fearing officer, never given to exploiting his positions for personal gains.
He rose through the ranks from 1961 when he enlisted in the Police Force to become an Assistant Director Operation and Intelligence in the State Security Service and retired in 1994 after 35 years of meritorious service with an unblemished record. His service years took him round towns like Lokoja, Idah, Offa, Omu-Aran, Ilorin, Lagos, Bauchi, Yola and Birnin Kebbi where he finally retired.
Looking back at his service life, I saw in him a very meticulous person, uncomfortable at home in the morning when it was time to go to work, never complaining about his work, respectful of constituted authority, not given to scheming to upstage colleagues as usual in his line of duty and never failing to return to his family after a hard day’s job. We have heard several of his colleagues and subordinates at work say to us his children during his lifetime at chanced meetings: “Your father is a good man, he was good to me”. Such statement reassures us to follow his footsteps even till now.
My father was also a self-made man as he made efforts to develop himself after acquiring his First School Leaving Certificate at N. A School Agbaja and secondary school certificate at St John’s Anglican School, Akaba, by proceeding to bag an Advance Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies at the Kwara Polytechnic, Ilorin in 1991 and a professional certificate in Executive Management Development from the Security Institute of America in 1992.
Retirement after serving the nation at various posts across the country was a well- deserved rest for Alh. Hamid Abdullahi. He retired to where he had taken as home for a long time, Ilorin. He went into farming, something he had been into all along whenever he was stable enough at any particular post during his service years. Many of us his children, though weaned in the cities, were veterans of farm work in our growing years. Alongside farming, he entered into grassroots politics, availing his party with his training in tactics and strategies.
His reason for entering into politics was not to seek political offices nor corner the spoils of being part of such endeavour. His interest in politics was in negotiating ways of attracting development to the immediate local community. Therefore, when the fact of his being not indigenous to the locale of where he played his politics became an issue always after he had helped midwife some successes in the party, he decided to quit politics, after all, he had never expected any personal gain from it nor was he a believer in politics without principle. Alhaji Hamid Abdullahi continued his service to his immediate community in Gaa-Akanbi in Ilorin, Kwara State, by being part of every laudable community initiative while dispensing quiet generosity to everyone around him, to those who asked and those who did not.
He was also not found wanting in the area of religiosity, encouraging religious ventures without making a show of it. For this, he was acknowledged with the religious title of Baba Adinni of GaaAkanbi Central Mosque in Ilorin. His life of service did not stop there for when the Association of Retired Officers of the Department of State Services of Nigeria(ARODSSON) was formed, he was the founding scribe of the Kwara State Chapter and even in his frail sick period, you could see him performing the duties of the quintessential scribe, overseeing to the welfare of others.
The Yorubas have a saying which goes thus: Let us close our eyes pretending we are dead to see how well we are loved by people. At the time of my dad’s ailment, which eventually led to his death, we the children were far away, with only my mum and family friends, well -wishers and all sorts of acquaintances left in the heroic battle to keep him alive. Many of such people did things you only expect of blood relations which foreground the fact that if you had been there for people, they too will always be there for you in your time of need.
At a point, I hurried home to his sick bed and met him apparently getting better. On the eve of his discharge from the hospital, I had to bid bye to him to make it to my base, and after my words of solicitation about future care for him away from Ilorin, his reply was: “it is what is good that God will do”. I left without knowing I was seeing him alive for the last time. After a few weeks, he was returned to the hospital and he died a few days later on the night of May 24, 2009. The next day, his remains had to be conveyed home for burial at Agbaja in Lokoja Local Government Area of Kogi State where we hailed from. Again, people, both Muslims and Christians struggled to be part of the team and were there when he was interred according to Islamic injunctions.
Looking back on the life of my father ten years after his demise, I can say he achieved a lot in the areas of developing himself and the human capital of several people who came in contact with him. He gave and gave generously, mostly quietly and many of the beneficiaries of his generosity came out to openly recount his good deeds after his demise. He left us his children, among whom Alhamdulillah could be found today, two federal directors (one of State Security Service and another in a government cultural agency), a senior Federal Road Safety commander, a senior public servant, a business woman and a banker.
We his children (who all got quality education to tertiary levels courtesy of his striving) are all doing well in our various careers, continuing his legacies of humility, unqualified kindness, honesty, generosity, trustworthiness, service above self, self-dependency, self-respect, quiet dignity, courage in the face of adversity and undue persecution, and ability to decipher the things that really matter in all situations.
As we remember him ten years after, with our still standing, valiant mother, Hajiya Aminat Abdullahi, we pray to Allah to continue to light his grave and reward him with Aljanar Firdausi, Amin. Denja Abdullahi, a director with the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and President, Association of Nigerian Authors, sent in this piece from Abuja.