Dr. Aishatu Maigari, Gombe State Commissioner for Science, Technology and Innovation spoke about the deaths of her three siblings.
The commissioner tells CHIMA AZUBUIKE how her family has been dealing with the deaths of three of her loved ones who died in a car accident on October 31, 2020.
Is Your period must be really difficult for you. How do you manage?
Alhamdulillah. I’m doing my best and with God on my side, I know I can get through it.
How did you find out about the death of your three relatives?
We tried to reach them by phone, but to no avail until we were able to connect to one of their phones and they told us they had had an accident. My dad called me to inform me that we lost them all.
As a step?
No one told us because none of them survived. And by the time we got to the scene, there was no one to tell the story.
What was your first reaction and where were you?
The reaction was to leave everything in the hands of Allah. I just said Innalilahi wa inna illaihir rajiuuun (to Allah we came from him and to him we would return), and that is what any good Muslim is supposed to do in times of calamity. So, we leave everything in the hands of the Almighty. He is the one who blessed us with these guys and is the one who has taken them in the moment he felt it was the right time for them to leave.
As Acting Commissioner, how have you managed to stay focused?
When you leave everything in the hands of the Almighty, he finds a way for you beyond your own strength. People have been very supportive of our immediate family, every single person you can think of, across the country and in Gombe State. The people, the government and everyone who found out about that incident were very understanding. Even people who never knew us have been very understanding and then many testimonies from their friends and neighbors show that they (deceased brothers) have lived a very good life, especially in these difficult times when young people are exhausting and cannot find jobs. But these guys had good jobs and the one who was unemployed was alone and was making it. So many people prayed with us, they were with us and gave us the strength to carry on.
When was the last time you saw them alive?
It was a day before they had the accident.
Do you remember the last conversations you had with them?
We had a very good conversation that Friday (October 30, 2020) after the Jumaat prayer. We discussed a lot of things, but there was no sign that it was supposed to be our last conversation. But, as usual, they were very good and very obedient. They came to see me off as their older sister in Gombe and asked if I had any messages to take home. I said I had nothing, but I just prayed that they had a good and safe transit back home. I essentially prayed for her safety at home. My brother and my cousin worked in Kano while the other went on vacation. So, it was a regular goodbye and a safe journey and prayers for them.
It was said that they were holders of a master’s degree. Can you talk about that?
They all had their master’s degrees in different fields. Usman was a chemist. We had thought of a scholarship from the Nigerian Chemical Society; We had talked about his incorporation into society and into the Institute of Collegiate Chemists. We had talked about going to Abuja for my scholarship at the end of the month. He promised that he would be there by the grace of God. And then for Abdulkadir, he was going home on vacation, so I told him I had some messages that I would be back with them when their vacation was over in two or three weeks. So you see, it was a bright future ahead of all of them. Usman was 30 years old and Abdulkadiri 28.
Where in Nigeria were they heading?
They were going to Kano.
What kind of people were they individually?
They were very good people. As a journalist, I am sure you must have heard testimonies about these young people. They were very obedient brothers, very hard-working, very resourceful, very insightful, and very good. I don’t even know how to express it now, but they were good guys. And at this time and in the age when young men are wandering, these guys were really on their way. No one can say that they ever fought with any of them or quarreled or disobeyed them or asked them to do them a favor and they declined and told you that they (the deceased) will not. They were the best anyone could ask for like siblings or kids or sons or whatever.
Yes, I had a lot of commitments for that week (when the accident happened). As I said, when you depend on Allah, Allah paves the way for you, finds a way to make you strong and He did it by blessing us with many people who have supported us. You can see the state governor, the lieutenant governor, the president and the members of the House of Assembly, the commissioners, everyone who supports us. So people stood by us and gave us the strength to carry on. So we depended on Allah and Allah gave us people to support us.
What memories of them come to mind each time you remember them?
Each of them smiled and said goodbye to me, who would be going home the next day, eager to see their parents with enthusiasm.
They were married?
No. My two brothers were not married, but my cousin was married and had a two-month-old baby. But I haven’t seen him for two weeks. His wife is a girl, I think just a sophomore. Then you will see that coping with the situation will be very difficult and the marriage was only 10 months old. You can imagine the kind of devastation the girl was going through, but it has been very strong. His in-laws have been very strong and supportive; many people have been supporting us.
Would you describe the tragedy as the worst experience for you?
For now, this is the worst experience, honestly. Because it’s the first time I’ve lost my brothers. This is the first time I’ve lost adult siblings, so to speak. They were very close and I was looking forward to getting married, starting a family, and having success in life.
Can you recall any experiences or good memories of them when you were younger?
We called Usman ‘Usee the chemist, and then to Abdulkadir, he was an agricultural engineer. We used to call him ‘PP Engineer’ or Food Engineer as he was an agricultural engineer. So many memories have been left behind. I would like to thank everyone. I would like to thank Allah for blessing us with those guys and letting us see their lives from beginning to end, even though it was a tragic ending. But it was a testament to how well my parents had raised them. And how is it that in this life, we do not know anything as human beings, we are simply nothing. We have to depend on Allah for everything. I would also like to thank the people and government of Gombe State and all of our friends and family who have supported us through this difficult time.
What would you say to someone going through a similar challenge?
The first thing is that they must depend on their lord, whether they are Muslim or Christian. Depending on your lord makes things much easier, then you should make a network of friends. Whenever we are passing through life, we must strive to generate a positive impact so that when we leave this world, we leave only good memories and not bad memories. So, at the very least, we should leave good legacies in each and every moment of our lives because this incident has shown us that you can die at any moment, sick or not, young or old, whether you have succeeded or it has not succeeded.
Source: The PUNCH