It is often difficult to write a tribute to those to who one was close. This is especially so because one may not know where to begin for the mere fact that they are not only in grief but also in the dilemma as to whether or not the event was true.
For instance, it has taken me a whole year to pen down a tribute to my childhood friend and brother, the late Barrister Mukhtar Hadi Modibbo not only because of the grief or the circumstances that led to his sudden death but also because I still have the hope to meet him again.
Even though I know that my hope is mirage-like, I still hold on to it. It was certainly unbelievable though acceptable that Mukhtar is no more. It was unbelievable because he died just when it was before noon for us all. It was acceptable because as Muslims, we know Mukhtar’s demise at that point in time was the will of God. And we all are only waiting for our appointed times. When it comes, before the blink of an eye, it will whisk away the so destined.
Growing up in Kano in the mid-1990s was memorable. It was even more so with Mukhtar amidst us. In late 1996, as staff of the National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria (NAFCON) Limited, Onne, my father was posted from Port-Harcourt to Kano as Plant Manager. Because the federal government then subsidized fertilizer, it controlled its allocation and distribution to states. He, therefore, worked at the fertilizer plant of Kano Agricultural Supply Company (KASCO) and one other plant at Madobi belonging to the Dantata.
Thus, our relocation to Kano availed my elder brother Salihu and me the opportunity to meet Mustapha and Mukhtar. They lived at Sultan road while we lived at CBN Quarters along Hadejia road just before Yankaba Market. The late Barrister Aminu Tahir Modibbo who died in December 2012 was their father. He was my father’s childhood friend. So naturally, we were family friends.
Within no time, we familiarized ourselves with each other and even became best of friends. We visited each other for weekends. We mingled around, played football and rode bicycles. And with Goggo Altine at Sultan road, we were covered. She made sure everything went well. She is a very patient mother. She is a mother in the truest meaning of the word.
Once when I was in JSS I at Hassan Ibrahim Gwarzo Secondary School, Kano, I fell sick to the extent that I got an exit to go home at a time my parents were out of town. So I was taken to her. She didn’t treat me any differently. It was as if I was at home. And within no time, I fully recovered to a good state of health. Goggo Altine is a kind mother.
Under her care, Mustapha, Mukhtar, Nasiru, Naziru, Mujahid and the rest of us got nurtured and trained very well. Today, we have grown to become men. Mukhtar went to the University of Maiduguri to study Law. And after attending Law School in Kano, he joined the State Security Service. He became an outstanding detective who was committed to his job.
Mukhtar was posted to Plateau state. And usual of him, within no time, he recorded many achievements. Sadly, however, on the 24th of September 2020, in an operation at Kalong village of Shendam Local Government, the detective was elevated to the status of a national hero. He died in active service. When the news of his demise filtered in the following day, my mother broke it to me and it was all devastating.
We talked a week earlier and agreed to meet in Bauchi when he entered the town. As fate would have it, he came but didn’t call on me. We were not meant to meet again as that was it between us.
In Mukhtar, I lost a brother and friend we all will forever remember and mourn. In him, Nigeria lost one of its best detectives.
Heartfelt condolences to Goggo Altine, his wife and son, Mustapha, Nasiru, Naziru, Mujahid and the rest of us. Condolences to Nigeria, a nation that does not know it has lost one of its best.
- Jarmajo is a public affairs commentator