Tribute to Lieutenant Abdulhamid Shu’aibu Maidawa

7

By Mahdi Garba

Have you ever wondered why good people die early and bad ones live longer? Anytime death strikes, I feel the same.

The news of Lieutenant Abdulhamid Shu’aibu Maidawa’s tragic death in an ambush by insurgents on Buratai-Damaturu road in war-stricken northeastern Nigeria on Friday, 5th April, 2024 got me thinking about it again.

As a Muslim just like the follower of every Abrahamic religion, I believe every living soul will taste the pangs of death. But, this promising gentleman was not one of the persons one would want to put his name in the same line with death too soon.

When he got admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna in 2016 after his sixth or even seventh attempt, I felt happy for him, not for the reason he joined the elite army but for fact his dream had materialised.

Weeks before Ramadan fasting commenced, he took an exit that availed him the opportunity to come home. He called it home. He came to sit for WAEC examination in Jos that year and suddenly he felt home.

He became a family member as though my family had known him for many years. He became an adopted child in the house, even though our hometowns are kilometres away from that of his family.

We had a long conversation where we talked about family, courtship, marriage, insurgency and whatnot. He mentioned how he had been promoted from a lieutenant to a captain, only that he awaits it to be made official.

Abdulhamid was a hardworking who was ready to do any job that would provide him a legitimate source of income. That trait had took him to many places, into many jobs, including being a motorcyclist in Maraba, Karu LGA, miles away Abuja.

He would say as an orphan who had neither have a father nor mother, that was the only option he had.

I could remember when he was at his lowest. The motorcycle which he acquired for commercial purposes otherwise known as okada was seized by FCTA authorities. He had to come back to Jos, jobless and dejected.

Shortly after the moment we got admitted into the university alongside Alkazim my younger brother, Ammar and the late Abdulhamid he got admitted into the NDA. There, he quit his Political Science degree he was pursuing at Federal University Gashua, Yobe State.

The resilience he had always demonstrated about life and his dreams made him to sought for admission into NDA. That was the year he left us at the university and moved to the military academy.

He graduated in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science & Defence Studies. Due to the restrictions by the military training school, only a few were able to attend his passing out parade. Late Abdulhamid and a colleague painstakingly organised a walimah to celebrate the feat when he returned to Jos, days after the POP.

He was first posted to 177 Guard Battalion, Shittu Alao Barracks. He would always tell me how he felt imposter syndrome when he saw the number of soldiers he led. He would often say, there’s nothing beyond God’s power.

Later on, he was transferred to Biu in Borno State in the North East to join the country’s fight against Boko Haram insurgents.

It was a turnaround moment for him. I would say since he was posted there, there’s no conversation that would pass without him soliciting for prayers. His number was not always reachable. You get to speak with him only if he called.

Also, every Friday, there’s a Friday sms he sends to his contacts. He also talked about death frequently. The contents of his posts on WhatsApp were mostly about death. It was either about the fluidity of life or colleagues who had died while in the military.

It’s safe to assume he planned for it after one looks at his life. Luckily, he died on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan after he led other gallant men in Tahajjud and even Subh prayers the previous night.

There was a family of his late brother whom he took all their responsibilities. Nobody knew about how he had catered for the family until his demise. Even days before Eid al-Fitr, he had already sent new clothes for the entire of his late brother whom he had promised to never let the children know what it feels like to be orphans.

More than a month after his death, while I was planning to travel to Jos for Eid al-Adha celebrations, my dad called me that he had received a call from Abdulhamid’s brother, Ahmed in which he notified him about his late brother’s will. He said he left two rams; one for Ahmed and the other for my dad. And, it was sent down from Borno State, where he kept them before his death.

It was the second consecutive year he sent my dad a Sallah ram.

Both the previous Eids were a moment of sober reflection for our family. While others celebrated Eid al-Fitr we were mourning the tragic death of a beloved brother, friend and pious soldier. During the just-concluded Eid too, we had a reason to reflect about the life of this gentleman who was good even at death.

Some of his colleagues even told us about other philanthropic activities he had done in the northeastern community they live. He even dug wells and planted trees in the area.

May Allah forgive his shortcomings and grant him Jannatul Firdaus. Amin!

Mahdi is from Nasarawa State