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A tribute to professor Ali Muhammad Garba

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By Badamasi Aliyu Abdullahi

Life isn’t a beginning but it could be. Life isn’t a hello but it could be. Life isn’t a waste of time but it could be. Life isn’t only the presence of breath but it could be. Death isn’t an end but it could be. Death isn’t a goodbye but it could be. Death isn’t cruel but it could be. Death isn’t only the absence of breath but it could be. Life and death aren’t two sides of the same coin but they could be.

Yesterday was a day many of us here on this space will not forget soon as we wake up with news of the death of one of the most beautiful souls in our midst. Having known Professor Ali Muhammad Garba for the past 13 years, first from friends who were his students and second as a friend and mentor on Facebook and third by sitting down to be taught by him at Flounders’ Initiative workshop.

It was last month on 16th that Maryam Gatawa and I paid him a visit to discuss with him about her business and to check on him having heard that he has been sick a few weeks before. It never occurred to the two of us that we were seeing the last of him as he was talking and we were taking notes with pens and papers on our hand.

Death is a painful and ongoing part of life, a junction that one must pass in the journey of life. Ali Muhammad Garba has just passed through it. One thing that made his departure from this world so unique was the way a critical mass of youths testified to his being there for them when he was alive. We are at a time and in a place where there’s a serious lack of successful people who’re willing and ready to support young people with their time, expertise, resources and connections. Ali Muhammad Garba exemplifies all these to me and to many I know and multitudes I don’t know.

Knowing how so passionate, resourceful, effervescent, supportive, spirited and knowledgeable he is made it doubly difficult for me to really come to terms with his precipitous passing. His glowing countenance, joyful demeanor and funny tête-à-tête was something too difficult to fake. In fact, in my calculations, if there’s one lesson that we all should learn from the death of this don is that humility is among the greatest habit that can uplift the status of a man. His humility is angelic, so to say.

We discussed a lot in our last meeting. We laughed a lot as he narrated to us how he grilled and drilled his students whom hate him during studies but mostly come back later in life to confess to him that had he not treated them the way he did, moulded and prepared them to face the real world, they wouldn’t have successfully waltzed through the labyrinth of corporate and business world. He told us how one day after a strategy exam, he came out of his office and overheard students abusing him. He busted out into laughter and shouted, “Hello good students! May God bless you all!” They all broke into a run as he smiled and walked to his car.

Yesterday, I chatted Yakub Aliyu, another mentor whom I know as a result of a post by the late Professor which he tagged him. I condoled him and he was telling me that Professor Ali Muhammad Garba has just finished writing a book entitled Ecotecture: Crafting and Implementing Development Strategy. He said after things have settled, we will see how a collaboration would see the publication of this book which could be the bona-fide inherentance of the bereaved family.

Coincidentally, later when Dr. Murtala Muhammad called me to condole me, he talked to me about the book saying that he heard professor Habu Muhammad who’s the Director of Bayero University Press mentioned it. He also said collaboration should be sought with like minds to publish the manuscript of the late professor.

His port of call was corporate and business strategy. His life was well spent on teaching, helping, guiding, mentoring, and researching implementable strategies for life, business and governance. Before, I used to say I don’t know anybody who knows strategy like Ali Muhammad Garba in the whole North. Now I want to know if anyone can show me one man who eats, breathes and lives strategy like him in Nigeria. Yabon gwani ya zama dole.

He’s no more but we’re not denying his death. We’re not angry that he died. We’re not bargaining for his return. We’re not depressed for we hope that he’ll In Shaa Allah dwell in Jannah. We’re only grieving his death which create a huge vacuum that will be difficult to replace. We’ve accepted his death in faith and we trust Allah will ease the pain of separation that’s fresh in our grieving hearts.

I pray for Allah to give his family, friends, neighbours colleagues, students and mentees the courage to come out intact through bereavement.

I extend my condolence to Maryam Gatawa, She Kara, Tijjani Ahmad, Nasir Miqdad, Murtala Kazaure, Baba Bala Katsina, Sani Ammani and all the members of Tsangaya Family.

As he used to pray for those who died, May it please Allah to admit Professor Ali Muhammad Garba into his mercy and Jannatul Firdaus.

Badamasi is Award Winning Entrepreneur, Brand Strategist and Poet.

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