Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun wa kullu nafsi zaikatul maut.
On Friday, 22nd Oct 2021, my friend Alh Mohammed Tumba Ibrahim, a former Executive Director Finance of Nigeria Ports Authority, answered the inevitable call. He died in Lagos, where he lived, after a very brief illness. He was 66yrs, and was diabetic too.
His death was particularly shocking because he was in my house in Kaduna about 3weeks earlier, having requested me to arrange for him to take his first Covid jab. He needed the jab because he was about to travel to London, where his families live, and didn‘t want any possible issues of violating any Covid travel protocols. He was mostly in Kaduna lately, because he had acquired new properties which he intended to be his new homes in his decision to relocate to Kaduna from his Lagos base. He was thus often at the site personally seeing to the fixing of the place. When the furnitures started to arrive he had called to inform me, and wanted me to go meet him and see the progress, which i unfortunately couldn‘t, rather sadly now.
The next time i heard about him was the sad news of his death in Lagos, and where he was subsequently buried. His wife later told me that few days to his death he had complained to her, during a fone discussion, that he wasn‘t feeling particularly well. Sensing how serious he sounded, she had insisted on him to go back to Lagos for proper medical attention by his regular doctors, which he did, but which eventually turned out to be a rather sad terminal date with his destiny. Allahu akbar. May Allahu gafoorur raheem have mercy on him. Ibrahim was a quiet, calm and simple gentleman with a peaceful disposition, who often operated silently.
I first met MT Ibrahim sometimes around 1987/1988 in London. He was working at the Nigeria Airways London office, while i was at the Nigeria High Commission. With time we became friends, and got to know each other more. I got to know that he was a qualified chartered accountant, from Adamawa, later Taraba State, but working at the Nigeria Airways as a local staff. I found that odd, and i never failed to bring it up whenever we were discussing generally on such issues. I often told him that a chartered accountant from the North and from Adamawa, later Taraba state, potentially had a comparative advantage in getting a commensurate job back home. And the job could even be in Nigeria Airways HQ back home, from where the possibility existed that he could eventually be posted back to London to head the branch itself. The proposition excited him quite well, but he often showed some constraint in his body language and shy endorsement, devoid of the necessary will and courage.
I probably got it wrong, because with time Ibrahim seemed to have developed a strong will, the courage and determination, to return home from his long Diasporan sojourn in England.
One weekend he called to ask if he could come see me at home because he wanted us to discuss the plan, which was already in the implementation stage. He said he was all set, and he had applied to some agencies of Govt and the response from NPA was promising. He probably was also being similarly advised elsewhere, it seemed. And when he offered to sell off his BMW car, i advised him against it because he would need a car in Lagos, and he readily saw reason. Few days later Ibrahim called from Heathrow airport to bid me farewell, and off he went back home to begin a new chapter in his life.
We never heard from ourselves again, until my own return back home too in 1992 and then deployed to Lagos. One day i was out to Ikoyi Hotel, only to run into my friend Ibrahim. Our loud excitement drew the attention of those around. We were only catching up loudly. He was now a senior staff of NPA…
Again we just didn‘t bother much to contact ourselves, even when we pledged to ourselves to doing so, and even exchanged phone numbers. Then in 1995 or thereabout, my boss was appointed Minister of Transport, and i joined him as his Military Assistant. Few days into the new post Alh Tafida Mafindi of NPA came to see me. He was in NPA London too, during our time in London with Ibrahim. Being in NPA, i asked him about Ibrahim, and incidentally they worked together. I then asked him to please ask Ibrahim to come see me in the ministry, which Ibrahim promptly did.
As we discussed things generally, we touched on the possibility of him being posted to London Office as the NPA London Representative, as we imagined it back then. We were both excited at the possibility of this proposition and its prospects, much so because his families lived in London, and even moreso because it would be a fulfillment of the prospective dream we talked about few yours ago in London, of the possibility of this day; to be posted to head Nigeria Airways London, but here he was in the real possibility unfolding into the reality of him being posted to London, but instead it was to NPA. And when the vacancy came about, Ibrahim was nominated unopposed, in fulfillment of our ‚dream prophecy‘, and the supreme will of Allah (SWT).
After his tour of duty in London, Ibrahim returned to the NPA HQ where he rose to the position of ED Finance, until he was abruptly retired in 2003. He stayed on in Lagos, possibly to reorganise himself and work out the post-retirement new life, thus virtually becoming an ‚òmo èko‘. He liked Lagos and its ‚glittering‘ character.
It was from Lagos that Ibrahim answered the call of his people of Taraba to dabble into the state‘s gubernatorial politics as an aspirant, almost perennially, albeit unsuccessfully, after massive investment in that regard.
With time he began to show some serious interest in relocating to the North, especially Kaduna. And we began house-hunting until he eventually got the suitable ones, etc. It was these properties that he was preparing when he left for Lagos, from where he most possibly would have proceeded to London, but that wasn‘t to be, because he neither proceeded to London nor returned to Kaduna. Allahu akbar.
I have truly lost a very good friend and brother in Ibrahim, and i will be missing him. Our kind of relationship was that of deep mutual respect. He was a cosmopolitan gentleman, with a rather lonely and soft spoken quiet disposition and piety. He hardly spoke much in a group, and he came across as a reserve simple man of peace. He was indeed a liberal with an attitude of live and let live. But he was also a man of strong and rather stubborn internal convictions and strength of character. He was also a quiet operator, who was often more visible behind the scenes than otherwise. He was shy of publicity. Perhaps these attributes made him vulnerable to the serial schemes of those he trusted but failed him, because he was quite open and easily trusting indeed.
Like the cosmopolitan character that he was, Ibrahim was abreast with the fashion trends in vogue. Whether it was clothes or cars, Ibrahim was a tasteful fashionista in both, but moreso in the latter. He was an indulgent freak of the branded cars.
Nonetheless, Ibrahim was quietly pious, and increasingly so as he aged towards his last days. He was known to contribute to good causes, especially islamic causes, both in his native Zing and in Lagos, and elsewhere too. He often went for the congregational prayers at the Ruxton Road mosque in Ikoyi, which was nearest to his Glover Road residence. He had quietly contributed substantially to the expansion project of the mosque. And when they heard of his death, and the decision to bury him in Lagos, they requested to take up the responsibility of conducting the necessary preparations of wash and enshroud, and the jana‘iza prayers in the mosque, and subsequently burial at the Agege muslim cemetery.
May Allahu gafoorur raheem have mercy on Ibrahim, by forgiving his sins and abundantly rewarding his good deeds with aljanna firdausi.
He left two wives and many children.
And to his immediate and extended families, may Allah strengthen them in their grief. And to all of us he left behind, may our respective exits be blessed with Allah‘s Rahama, ameen..
By: (Abdullahi D. Dan‘Asabe)