When she approached us with her tale, we burst into laughter but as the woman’s demeanor dropped we became more empathetic. Aminu took the lead in calming and reassuring her that ‘it is ok’. As the lady strode out to implement the tips we had given her, we descended into the savoriness of the African Pear the Igbos call Ube. This time around, Mabel took the lead. Just kidding, yours truly, did!
You see after a week of eating only Apples, the Panel members asked the quaint lady who catered to add Pear to the fruits she provided as desert. She wasn’t acquainted with the variety of English Pear they had in mind & good a thing for us it was the season for Ube & that was what she loaded for the Panel member. They formed ‘Oyibos’, rejected the pear & that was how the lady met us at the secretariat, tearful, perhaps thinking she had lost the contract.
It was some years later that I fully realized that Aminu had done a major de-escalation by the unique way he talked to the lady. He reassured her that she had done nothing wrong; took her mind off the rebuke she must have got from the panel members & by the time he asked her what she was going to serve the following day I remember she had relaxed. When she left us she was smiling again; Aminu naturally spread joy.
This morning as I looked at the Hearse bearing Aminu’s corpse, with tears flowing all around, memories of this good man just flooded my mind. The many assignments we went on together including the Ube one in Enugu. His dedication and wealth of knowledge – quite outstanding! If we were on a deadline, Aminu was ready to delay lunch and prayers to get us to a ‘safe point’ before any luxuries or essentials. The meticulousness was superb and uncanny. If not done well, then we had to exert ourselves to get it done again, but that never really happened, as long as he was there, we got it right the 1st time.
Once out of nowhere, it became a challenge and Aminu could give us the number of several accounts for different vote heads, that was a feat for me considering that the only string of numbers above 4 digits that I know are my phone numbers & my wife’s. Facing any hardship and in need of a small or large amount to fix the problem? Aminu was the man to talk to. He also had plenty reservoir of knowledge for practically any situation, I guess being able to lift oneself from obscurity had its benefits. He sure did well in self-development, rising through the ranks at work and being so humble you’d hardly know his status in any gathering.
Aminu was not wavering in his response to things. He’s a typical example of the saying that no matter how and when you squeeze an orange it will always bring forth orange juice. Under pressure, in pain, embarrassed, calm or otherwise Aminu only gave forth smiles, comfort, and some deep-rooted niceness issuing from a fountain as it were. When you met him in the morning or at other times, Aminu would give that reassuring bearhug as if to say, ‘I am here bro. nothing we no fit face together!’ At the worst situations he’d tell me ‘Weliman’, as he fondly called me, ‘I go call you later, make I tidy this thing’. Even his dismissal was urbane and cultured.
His view and attitude to work was at optimum levels. His views about politics and political happenings stood him out as detribalized. He was a religious extremist – that’s because his religion was love, he just loved everybody! Yeah, I got you there. He sought only the good for everyone. He made sure that where there were benefits to be had, he spread the joy. He was a great family man who cared about his family and their welfare was a top priority for him. He told me he found the publications of the Witnesses, especially the Awake Magazine helpful and that he always gave his children to read & afterward, he’d question them to be sure they understood it. No matter the differences in beliefs he was keen to digest the valuable when he saw it. Then there was that incident with a teacher that involved his son at our children’s school which I brought to his attention. The Principal was greatly impressed with the expertise that he called me to heap praises on Aminu, he told me ‘instead the man go vex, he resolved the issues and come dash us plenty cash. We need parents like that!’ Indeed we need people like Aminu, all round.
The most memorable of all my encounters with Aminu was the week we spent with Banjo in an Apartment at Lotus Apartment in Dubai. Na there everybody display him skills for cooking or utter lack of it. Some days we would begin the shopping and sightseeing right after the classes jumping into the Mazes of the Dubai Mall. Other days we would get to the Apartment 1st, refresh and go out. I can not forget the journeys we made to the Outlet Mall at the outskirts of the City, the tour of Dubai as we hopped from one fun place to another. The sights as we walked the old quarter of Dubai, the ‘wows’ as we discussed the transformation of the city, especially as we toured the City Museum and how such profound development could be replicated back home. I remember our wandering around the Mall of the Emirates as we looked for accommodations for our Colleagues who were due for a course the week after ours. Before we knew it we had walked for over 3 hours & reluctantly giving up we got back to the hotel fatigued and laughed at our folly of believing the people who told us the hotel we were looking for was just around the corner whereas it wasn’t & how we went round and round, lost.
Naked we came, naked we will leave (Job 1:21), what matters is how we lived and the impact we had on the world and on people. Aminu, in the decade I knew him made a great impression on me regarding what a man should be on many fronts and the general report is that he was a good man.
Death seems to be hitting harder as the day goes by but this demise ranks among the hardest. Aminu has gone into the list of special people I wish to see again when God’s promise of a new earth found in Revelation Chapter 21: 3 – 5 is fulfilled. So on I’d wait until the day Jesus calls & Aminu will rise (John 5:28). May Jehovah grant my prayers.