By Harry Thomas-Odey
Sorry, I forgot that for the first time in over 40 years you did not respond as you typically would to me, with “M-a-l-l-a-a-m” or “How na?” even if you were half asleep, since the events of that late evening of Friday 11th December 2020 when you ‘chanced’ us with that very dramatic exit.
Christmas 2020 came and went and you were nowhere to be seen. Then something happened and we went to Gudu cemetery on December 28, 2020, not sure what we went there to do. But we were at Gudu with long faces and tears that could not express our helplessness and surrender.
Then January 2021 came and you still were absent. Would you believe that some of us still thought that you went to Hawaii, your favorite destressing spot and just decided that you would wait till Jan 20th 2021 to witness the inauguration of your ‘friend,’ Joe?
Then 6th of January 2021 happened and we waited for your creative headlines about the storming of the Capitol and still no news ‘sai shiru kawai!’
We thought again that ‘kai’ it looks like you lost that your favorite pen without which you usually would struggle to write in that your authoritative long hand and be tossing squeezed papers as if they were groundnut shells. Then came 1 May, 2021, your 59th birthday, and you still did not ‘show face’.
Then we rallied on December 11, 2021 and when we still did not see you, we began to think that “kai maybe this guy is not planning to come back fa!” But we said, “Haba, Sam can’t ‘japa’ and leave all his immediate most treasured Troupe of Six together with his immediate larger family not to mention his Leadership family and friends…ba zai iya ba, him no fit.”
Our “conspiracy” theories continued until 11th December 2021 when some people managed to start talking about you in the past tense and then it began to sink in that “e be like say Sam don go fa?”
Alhaji, let me tell you, we have been poking fun at you at different times when issues come up trying to second guess what your opinion would be and how you would say it. This is one of the ways we have been trying to cope with your absence.
Some gratifying news. Your most treasured Troupe of Six – Zainab, Josh, Mary, Fatima, David and Esther – are coping as best as they can in the circumstance. But they all miss your “noise and harassment.”
Your immediate larger family is holding up, only that Mama could not bear your sudden and unexpected departure and she left us a little over a year ago to join the saints triumphant too. I don’t know the protocol of things out there in the Heavens but I am sure you are keeping your ears to the ground.
You know another great news, Alhaji? Your LEADERSHIP is holding up superbly! I am sure you would be surprised and very proud at how everybody at LEADERSHIP upped their game and how the paper has maintained its position as “Nigeria’s most influential newspaper,” through authoritative news and opinions.
More importantly when ‘we no hear’ your voice with all the politicking and the interesting and exciting things that started last year 2022 till now in our party we knew that yes indeed, ‘Alhaji don go true, true’.
Alhaji, believe me when I tell you that sometimes I feel “sorry” for God because I know that you would not let Him and the angels rest as you would regale them with stories of our national political developments since 1999 and your pivotal role in bringing about change.
I am sure that right now you are also disturbing their ears with, “Didn’t I tell you that Asiwaju was going to win hands down having won the primaries? This is our government and we are still in charge!”
“Ehen,” Alhaji, I always forgot to ask you where you got all that gumption, ebullience and zest from. For a guy who never smoked or drank alcohol all his life, you had so much energy! You were always in ‘motion’ either physically or mentally as something was always running around your brain!
I am envisioning in my mind your Troupe of Six led by Zainab on some stage whether public or private collecting this posthumous national award in your name presently, maybe as a last act in office of your ‘Oga’? What joy that will give us and what a recompense that will be for all that advocacy and evangelism!
Again, I am sure it is no surprise Alhaji, that we are still struggling with understanding the difference between politics and governance as a people.
And the states are getting away with ‘murder’ because of their lack of appreciation that their continued emasculation of local government areas directly impacts negatively on the economy of their states, limits the opportunities of their citizens and is the major fuel for insecurity, restlessness and despondency that is gradually becoming second nature for us.
For reasons that I still struggle to understand everybody is looking to one man in the person of the President to sort out our challenges. They conveniently forget that we have 36 state governors and 774 Local government area chairmen.
Imagine if each of these was focused on creating an enabling environment for their citizens to thrive. Can you imagine what the IGRs can become and the possibilities of the economy individually and collectively? We remain work in progress and continue to wish ourselves the very best!
Las, las, Alhaji you must apologise for that very dramatic departure. “Na so dem dey do am? Haba!” And we are not embarrassed to say we all miss you very much on this side of the divide. Almost two and a half years after and it’s still not easy to accept that indeed you have ‘japaed’ to the other side for good.
Happy birthday my dear friend, Sam Nda Isaiah! You live in our hearts and as such no matter how hard you try, you cannot die!!!!
Harry Thomas-Odey is a member of the Advisory Board of LEADERSHIP.