Tribute to Senator Rafiu Ibrahim

By Adebayo Abubakar

It was on Saturday, 25 February 2023, the day of the presidential and NASS elections, and he was a candidate, flying the flag of the opposition, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Kwara South senatorial district. Our station was to interview him in a live broadcast. I have never met him before. Somebody, popularly known as Abdul Abdul, from Ilorin was the go-between who facilitated the interview. He’d informed him of my imminent arrival on the election day, at his country home, in Ojoku in Oyun LGA of kwara state.

That was my first time of being to that community, which is about 25 minutes drive from Offa. So, I had a little challenge locating his house, but with the help of the people in the community, I found my way to his residence.

After some usual interrogations, search and other security precautions
(checks) by his security guards, a mobile police man or two (I think), an NSCDC operative, and a gate man, he was notified of my presence in the compound, and he asked them to usher me into his expansive living room. The brand visibility offered by our branded vehicle also helped in softening the ground with the security guys. I still felt it was necessary to show them my ID Card, to ease whatever discomfort they might be feeling.

After I’d waited for barely 15 or 20 minutes in the living room, while voting was in progress, he emerged from his bedroom, clad in white Guinea brocade styled in “Sooro and Buba” with a cap to match. I was the only one seated in the living room all these while, except for one domestic servant – a chef I guessed, who came around, a couple of times to get, maybe his breakfast ready.

Immediately he stepped out of his room into the living room where I was seated, I caught the whiff of who was before me, without any introduction. As I stood up to greet him, he asked, “Are you the journalist from “Sobi FM” Ilorin?”, I greeted, then answered in the affirmative. He followed it up with a profuse apology for “keeping me waiting”. Keeping me waiting for how long? 15 to 20 minute. I said, “oh it’s nothing Sir.”
Without minding me, he continued with his apology, sprinkled with a healthy dose of explanation. He said, he was on his way to the bathroom to take his shower so that he could go and cast his vote, when his phone rang, and he was told that a visitor (journalist) from Ilorin was there to see him. He explained with a visible sign of genuine sense of remorse – something I felt was not necessary because I have had to wait for more than 2 hours to see a politician who invited me personally to his press briefing. He did not even feel he should say something as little as “sorry for keeping you waiting”). But in all of that, I saw, through his demeanour, a simple, honest, and down to earth man, yet classy in his tastes, as evident in the ambience of the living room. A very rare specie among our contemporary politicians in Nigeria, especially those of his calibre. He was a one-time senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who was re-contesting in the last year’s race. He unfortunately did not win the election. Senator Ibrahim lost to Senator Lola Ashiru, who ousted him as a sitting Senator, four years earlier.

As the interview, a live broadcast, commenced, his honesty, and his entire personality oozed out of the way and manner of his articulation, while he answered the questions thrown at him. He neither exaggerated, nor tried to twist, the reports he got from his supporters who were out there on the field, sending in situation report. Some, to create an impression that they are doing a tedious job, protecting his votes, while the situation was not half as tensed as they painted it. He gave deserved credits to different stakeholders, from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the security agencies. He did not leave out the community leaders, his political opponents, as well as the electorates, most of whom had left their respective homes for their respective polling units to perform their civic responsibilities. He was an antithesis of a desperate politician, especially on an election day.

In his responses to the questions, there was no (incendiary) comment capable of truncating the whole process. There was no gaslighting any of the stakeholders, as one would expect of an average Nigerian politician, especially when they’re not sure of a landslide victory – the kind recorded when Professor Maurice Iwu was the chief of electoral umpire in Nigeria.

That was my first and only encounter with Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, whose transition to immortality was announced early in the morning yesterday, the 17th day of April 2024, by members of his immediate family. Losing such a man at this critical juncture, when Nigeria needs all “the beautiful ones” (apologies to Ayi Kwei Armah) to navigate our way out of the current socio-economic quagmire, is no doubt, a colossal loss to his immediate family, circle of friends, community, constituency, political allies and party, Kwara State, and Nigeria as a whole.

I, therefore, join millions of sympathisers to pray for the repose of his soul, and that the Almighty Allah console his family and friends, as well as the good people of Kwara South and the state at large, over the irreparable loss.

Journey well Senator Rafiu Ibrahim!

Abubakar writes from Ilorin, Kwara state. He can be reached via 08051388285 or marxbayour@gmail.com

Editor

Ibrahim Sheriff is the Editor of Fresh Insight and former Special Assistant on Media to the Speaker, Kwara state House of Assembly. Although a management science researcher by training, he has over five years experience of practice in Journalism, Public Relations and Communication Strategy. Sheriff holds a Masters Degree in Finance and Bachelors Degree in Banking and Finance from Kwara state University, Malete. He has Certificates in Digital Journalism, Enterprise Creation and Skill Acquisition (ECSA) and Basic Econometrics Data Analysis, as well as Bank of Industry (BoI) Certificate in Business Management. He is also a holder of Diploma in Cooperative Studies from Kwara state Polytechnic, Ilorin.

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