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The humanity in Ngillari

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It was Tuesday morning, December 20, 2018 I was in for a bit of surprise. My father Malam Babagana Saleh of blessed memory (died on December 18, 2020) had asked me to take him to his boss’s resident in Yola from Numan. In keeping with his policy of ‘wanting to surprise’, my father refused to disclose the identity of the said boss. My father was a farmer, but his interest and participation in politics exposed him to political big wigs around Numan federation in particular, and Adamawa State as a whole. So we drove to a residential address in Dougirei area, just by the Government House in Yola.

My father insisted “katsayakugaisa da Maigidana” (I should meet his boss). It was the former Governor, His Excellency Bala James Ngillari. He briefly exchanged pleasantries with some guests and hurriedly moved into the office within the resident. My father was first on call of visitors. “Meet my son he is a lecturer with the Yobe State University Damaturu”, said my father. The former number one citizen in the State could not hide his excitement as he stood up to embrace my father. “I am very proud of you, despite your financial status you have trained your son up to university level and even more so a lecturer now” said Ngillari. That was my first meeting with the former leader. We had brief discussion about my station (the university, my Department, and general experience in the academics).

In March 2019, he invited me to meet him personally again in Yola. It was time to bid farewell, Ngillari had arranged that I joined him in his car so we go together. But I told him I was with my car. “Okay let me join you then”, he offered.  No! You cannot join me, I protested. I am only a school teacher and you a former State Governor, besides, the car isn’t air conditioned, I continued. He wouldn’t accept that: “Yes Comrade, I might be a former Governor, but what is there in someone being Governor? Anyone can be a Governor. So what is most important is the fact that we are all humans…there can be no lecturer where there are no students, and same is applicable to political leadership. Humanity is the key thing.”That was how a school teacher drove in with a former Governor in a car that was not air conditioned.

Ngillari later spent quality time with members of my family in Numan, and since then, the ties between Ngillari and my family keep strengthening. I received a phone call from him on the 8th of January 2021. Ngillari informed me that he was already on his way to Numan, in particular to my house to condole with the family. Ngillari is extremely humble and modest toward his achievements. He is kind, honest, wholehearted, courageous, and above all, empathetic. 
• Babagana wrote from Department of Physics, Yobe State University Damaturu

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