“It was the longest night I’ve ever had. I was so terrified and couldn’t reply the calls I missed. Life will never be the same again.” On that fateful Saturday night of September 8, 2018, I was already asleep recuperating from ailment. I suddenly woke up around 10:30 pm and grabbed my phone, I missed several calls and my instinct started telling me something terrible might have happened. I overheard my brother speaking on phone, “Malam Halilu had an accident along Katsina…we are not sure whether he is still alive…” Oh my God, I was shocked! I logged onto Facebook and the first thing I saw was a post from my brother, Habib, which confirmed my fears that Malam had indeed passed away. That was the time I understood the reason for the missed calls – they all wanted to confirm whether the rumour going round town was true. To Him, we came and to Him we shall return. It was the longest night I’ve ever had. I was so terrified and couldn’t reply the calls I missed. Life will never be the same again. Whenever I closed my eyes I saw Malam with that adorable smile on his face. This forced me to go out around midnight and Zawiyyah was already filled with people, shedding tears – mourning the sudden death of such a great man. My father ordered us to go back home, the funeral was going to hold the next day after zuhr prayer. Malam died enroute Katsina from Abuja after attending the wedding ceremony of Shema’s daughter. He was supposed to stay for another day but excused himself to leave for Katsina.
He was so eager to go back home not knowing he was going to meet his end. He stopped at Zaria to fix a tyre that was faulty. He called Nasiru who together with my brother Habib, were in Zaria to represent Malam at another wedding. He asked Nasiru to bring his PVC and PDP membership card which he left at Bakori – he was due to attend a screening at the PDP office in Katsina. They advised him to use spare tyre to reach Katsina but Malam would not agree, he had no trust in spare tyres and therefore asked them to buy him a new tyre at a nearby shop. As they bade farewell, Malam asked them three times whether they had any problem (as was his habit), they replied no. They never knew it was their last meeting. His car collided with a Dangote truck at Dabaibayawa, a village a few miles to Katsina city. The trio of Malam, his wife Aisha and his driver Mannir died in the accident. As we waited for his corpse and that of his wife (his driver was buried in Katsina) to arrive Bakori, Zawiyyah was already filled with people coming for the funeral prayer.
“Throughout my life, this is by far the largest funeral I’ve ever witnessed,” said a 70-year-old man. When the bodies of Malam and that of his wife arrived Bakori for the funeral, someone said in tears, “My mother is due to have an operation and Malam was the one to pay the bills and now he is no more. I am afraid she’s going to die”.
As the body of Malam was about to be taken to the graveyard, one Christian woman screamed, “Oh God! Why do you take away good people and leave us with bad ones!”
This shows how he was loved by even non- Muslims. Another man said Malam promised to take him to hospital on Monday. Malam epitomized the life of a true servant of God. His compassion, humility and selfleassness are rare. He made it a duty to help those in need. He once advised me: ‘’Malam Dogo,’’ as he often called me, “I can’t fathom seeing the needy without helping them. If a man comes to you with a genuine request, be it food or health related issues, endeavor to help him. If he requests for N10,000 and you don’t have such amount, give him at least N1000 and pray for him. He will be happy and Allah will be pleased with you. Never send away the needy, for he may die because of your refusal to help him”.
Only god knows the number of people Malam paid their medical bills. He hardly discriminated on religious or sectional differences despite being the son of a Sufi scholar. As a council chairman, he upgraded the local secretariat mosque. The Tijjaniyyah applied to be conducting Friday prayers there. Although, they followed all the due process, Malam, to be fair to the other sects, politely rejected the offer. Malam invested heavily in religion. In Qur’anic recitation competition, he was at the forefront. There was a time he camped competitors that would represent Bakori in his house and employed the services of experts to teach them various techniques on how to win the competition.
He donated to various Islamic schools and built an Islamic school for married women which is run by his wife, Hajiya Laure. This, in addition to the tacit support he gave to various associations such as Da’awah Committee, Matan Tijjaniyya and numerous others. As chairman of Bakori LGA, Malam gave attention to healthcare by upgrading the status of Bakori Primary Health Care to a comprehensive healthcare centre with a view to making it a General Hospital. He expanded the hospital and ensured that it had enough manpower by employing additional staff with five medical doctors attending to patents.
When his daughter fell sick, she was admitted there. He too was once admitted in the hospital. This gave confidence to people to the extent that people from faraway Matazu now patronize the hospital. Malam literally made the hospital his second office and visited it at any time, day or night. This increased punctuality among staff. The son of Sheikh Yahaya ibn Jibril, he was knowledgeable in Islamic and western sense and was a school teacher. Malam served as a councillor under the PRP. He was once the state Organizing Secretary of the PDP, he held the position of local council chairman, state acting chairman of the PDP and later, S.A on Special Duties to Governor Shema. Malam had a deep rooted and fiercely loyal political structure across Bakori. He was a brilliant strategist and public orator. Malam died just four days after he purchased nomination and expression of interest forms to contest as the member, House Representatives for Bakori/Danja federal constituency. He died when preparations for primary election were on top gear. The PDP and good people of Katsina will surely miss him. The kind of life he lived made his death such a monumental loss and was felt by almost everybody. We lost a great pillar. Oh Allah, have mercy on your servant. May Aljannah be his final abode. Amin. Adieu Baba Halilu.