The meaning of Lt Col Mohammed Abu Ali
In the end it’s not the years in your life that count the life in your years— Abraham Lincoln
How do you begin a tribute to one who in a few years of his life achieved what few could have ever achieved in a lifetime.I never spoke or met with Lt Col Mohammed Abu Ali yet I grieved him as though he was a part of me and someone I had always known, indeed his death took a part of me. I have never grieved this much for someone I never knew. It is said that the best ones are always the ones who go early and yet what he had achieved in his life is what retired Generals could boost of.
Every once in a while God sends down special people to this world to make their mark and leave in a short space of time. Martin Luther died age 39 , General, Murtala Mohammed died age 38, Alexander the Great died aged 32, Malcolm X died aged 39, many others while all their sacrifices are solid, what makes Lt Col Abu’s (died age 38) sacrifice unique is that he fought against all odds. At a time when resources are scarce, equipment is manageable and with an enemy that has defied the country for years. In the end he was literally singlehandedly on the war front shouldering the defeat of the Boko Haram insurgency because by virtue of having captured all the previously occupied towns, he was the only hope of the military.
Lt Col Abu’s sacrifice is yet again exceptional because it was premised on a rare kind of unconditional and blind faith in the country which few of us can admit to have and a passionate loyalty to the army, which few soldiers can sustain. Against the odds he was facing, with the realities and imminent present and clear dangers he surrendered himself emotionally to his fate, long before he was killed, which explains why his last words were a confirmed farewell “let me go and deal with the boys take care of my children.” He knew somehow it was coming and he was expecting it, a privilege only granted to a few by the Creator.
To this end, in his last pictures in the months before he was killed his eyes exhibited a distance, such as one who is gazing far ahead into the horizon for something beyond what is the reality. His eyes revealed everything, the stress, the tension, they portrayed all that he had been through and the great burden of responsibility he was bearing. Certainly those pictures are what broke me and will haunt me forever.
Unlike the Biafran war or the Second World War where the troops were highly equipped, had an emotional cushion of knowing that the entire country was at war and all its resources were being offered to them, the war Lt Col Abu and his troops fought was largely based on hope, prayer and luck, with most of the country going about their business while they fought for us on the battle front.
Those in the inner circles of the Army nonetheless knew of his sacrifice but for the rest of us it’s a realisation that” these are who heroes are,” and it’s until they are gone, do we realise their quiet heroic struggles, their ruthless resolve, their strength, their might, their worth and what they went through to save us.
The widespread sadness all over the social media and otherwise is as a result of nothing but the realisation that, there are people who actually believe deeply in Nigeria, and who have held the country’s pledge true to their conviction.
How many of us truly pledge to Nigeria to be faithful, loyal and honest to serve Nigeria with all our strength to defend her unity and uphold her honour and glory, Ali lived that pledge and did just that, and this is something very few of us in present day Nigeria will agree to do. Indeed there have been others who have done it but the difficult circumstances in which Ali fought and the calibre of enemies he faced makes his feat incomparable to any other solider in our history. It is said heroes are born not made and he went well beyond the call of duty and stuck it out to his last.
Lt Col Mohammed Abu Ali was a war hero, a hero the likes of top world heroes such as Dirk. J Vlug, Charles Carpenter and Aubrey Cosens. In my mind, Ali is another Warren G. H Crecy, a gallant tank commander in the United States army nicknamed “the baddest man in the 761 regiment,” like Lt Col Ali, his most heroic act happened in November when he single handedly fought off the Germans from enemy lines.
After his tank got hit, he came out and used a car loaded with machine guns and not only wasted the soldiers who blow his tank but killed over 100 Germans thus allowing the United States army to continue its advance. And like Lt Col Ali, Sergeant Crecy was described as mild manned, a really well liked guy, very unassuming and polite but when he got out on the battle field he became an unstoppable killing machine. Crecy like Ali kept being sent back to fight at the enemy lines again and again once his gallantry was discovered.
Our consolation lies in the fact that all soldiers know death can happen anytime, and it’s something they have in their hearts. No one stays for a second later than the time ordained for him by the Almighty Creator whom we will all return to. Ali may Allah furnish your grave with the scent coolness beauty and joy of Paradise Jannah and may he for all the lives you saved reward you with the ultimate Jannah Tul Firdaus. Rest in peace. You are safe now from this wicked world.