Lateef Raheem: My extraordinary aide
A good and decent man has gone. My Chief Security Officer, Alhaji Lateef Raheem, has passed and his death cuts severely. Lateef reported for work on Monday. Feeling a bit under the weather, he went home to rest. We spoke on Wednesday by phone. He was in fine spirits and was looking forward to resuming work. I felt nothing but profound shock, and then the emptiness of deep loss when I was awakened early Friday that my most trusted security aide had died and that I would never see him again. I did not know the Wednesday conversation would be our last. The pain of his loss is acute.
Lateef passed away during the early morning of Friday, April 24. He was buried later that day in accordance with Muslim rites. He was 51. His unexpected death apparently was due to complications from diabetes and high blood pressure. Lateef was a person of strong and resilient character. He never sought special treatment or favor despite his years of loyal and excellent service to me. He never took his work or his valued position as my aide for granted. He knew I relied on him and trusted him explicitly.
But Lateef never tried to take selfish advantage of his important position. He was forthright and honest to a fault. This man was one who completely focused on his job and doing it to the best of his ability. He did everything with care and devotion. Lateef made sure everything worked well. He was smart, active and always on alert. He was indeed a rarity as a professional and more so as a person. He never complained or even let it be known that he had these medical conditions. It just was not in his character. He was committed to giving his all to his work.
Lateef was not a boisterous or extravagant personality. He was understated but so very kind and considerate to others. He spoke quietly and was not a man of many words. Yet, undergirding that gentle mien was a tough, firm and solid personality. Lateef was a topnotch police officer.
I met Lateef in early 1999 when he was seconded to me by the police during the campaign for the governorship election in Lagos. He stood faithfully beside me during the rigours of the primaries and campaign. He helped me weather the storm. I quickly understood that he was an exceptional person and officer whom I wanted to be with him throughout the rest of my political journey. We remained together during my two-terms as governor of Lagos. We have been together since then. Wherever I was, you could be sure Lateef was nearby making certain of my security and that all was working properly and efficiently.
As head of my security, Lateef had a permanent seat in my vehicle. Whenever I saw him there, I felt assured and relaxed. Now, I will look to his seat but not see him. I will miss him because that was truly his seat. Over the years, Lateef became more than my chief security officer. He became a partner, a trustworthy friend. In the car, we talked and exchanged views and ideas. His counsel was sound and valuable. We shared so much. Notwithstanding his unflinching professionalism, he was such a pleasant person to be with. He was a devout Muslim who often reminded me it was time for us to observe Salat.
When he joined me, Lateef was a Corporal with school certificate. Because of his thirst for knowledge and personal improvement, he subsequently acquired a university degree. He did not stop there. He kept growing. When he passed, Lateef had risen to the level of Assistant Superintendent of Police. To say I will miss Lateef is to understate my feeling for him and what our relationship had matured into. Someone may have to fill his position but they can never truly take his place for Lateef was one-of-a-kind.
Lateef dedicated his life to a cause, our progressive cause. He believed Nigeria could become better and that government had a vital role to play in enhancing security and prosperity so that the lives of the people might improve. He was a true patriot. We must continue to push to make the progressive dream we shared become our reality.
My deepest condolences are with his wives and children. With his passing, they have lost a caring husband and father. May Almighty Allah comfort them, indeed, comfort all of us at this moment. May Almighty Allah give us strength and guidance that we may live lives of dedication to the public good and compassion for our fellow man. May He grant the soul of Lateef eternal rest and admit him into Aljanna Firdaus.
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