Late Mallam Yahaya Hamza: Tribute To a Father, Protector and Teacher – by Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai
Remarks made by The Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai during the Launch of Malam Yahaya Hamza’s Biography; “An Educational Icon” – held at Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Hall, Kaduna
I was eight years old when I lost my biological father. Losing my father at such a tender age could have steered the course of my life in the wrong direction, but this was not so in my case.
I come from a close-knit extended family so, I wasn’t allowed to feel the void of losing a protector and provider as I was immediately placed in the loving home of my uncle Alhaji Hamza Gidado; Mallam Yahaya Hamza’s own father.
After living with Mallam Yahaya’s father for a few years, I eventually moved in with Mallam Yahaya as I developed a strong bond with his son.
According to biology, we are cousins because our fathers were brothers. However, those of you that witnessed the close relationship between me and the Late Yahaya Hamza, will testify that it was more of a father and son relationship.
Growing up with my new family, outsiders could never tell who the biological children were and who were not. We were all given the gift of education both western and Islamic. My journey to self –discovery and self-determination was not smooth, but armed with a sound education and the good moral upbringing I got from my extended family, I was able to cross any obstacle thrown at me.
As a young boy trying to find my way in a complex society, Mallam Yahaya Hamza with love and discipline was able to guide me on the right path. He took what I consider one of the best decisions in my life; sending my youngheadstrong self to Barewa College.
I say to you today, that I will not be who I am without the solid foundation I received at Barewa College. Till this very hour, I remain eternally grateful to my father Mallam Yahaya Hamza.
Baba, made sure we lacked nothing and at the same time reminded us to be thankful of how blessed we were. He was my protector, friend, counselorand most importantly my teacher.
From Baba, we learnt to work hard and serve with integrity and purpose. He taught us the true meaning of love , till this day I consider all of his biological children my own dear siblings.
With these virtues instilled in me throughout my childhood, I grew to become a focused young man. I carried on what I had learnt , to my years of serving the nation as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
When I became the Minister,I was determined to change the status-quo and modus operandi of our public service institutions. Of course, my vision for revolutionizing the way public service was run, was met with stiff opposition from corrupt influences.
I remember clearly like it was yesterday, one of the most trying and testing periods of my life. During this time,friends turned their backs on me, people that I thought meant well for me disappeared. But, through all of this one man stood by me and in the little way he could; defended me and protected my honour.
During my ordeal with the Senate in 2003, Mallam Yahaya Hamza, my dear father was one of the few people who defended me privately and in public. He granted an interview to Punch Newspapers saying “…I am ready to swear by the Holy Qur’an that Nasir, my son, did not lie. I can tell you that Nasir does not lie and so he can not wake up to cook such a lie about two senators without it being true.”
This goes to show the kind of father he was, always ready to protect us , even if we were already grown and could do that on our own.
In my years in active service as a public servant , I was regularly faced with challenges and temptations, I always said to myself “ Nasir, what will Baba do in this situation?”, “ Will my father approve of this?”.
As a husband and a father, with the help of Almighty God , I am instilling the same virtues I learned from Baba to my own children. The virtues of patience, humility, hard work, and integrity.
As we have all gathered here today in loving memory of our brother, father,and grandfather, my prayer for you all is that the lessons in this book will inspire you to become the best version of yourself.
At this moment all we can do is pray for the soul of Mallam Yahaya Hamza and pray that his legacy lives on.
I will like to use this opportunity to express my immense gratitude to you all who have honored our invitation from all over the world. It is my prayer that Almighty God leads you back to your various destinations,safely.
Thank you for listening.
Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai