Tribute: Ambassador Wase was a good man, by Andrew Agbese

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I used to joke that gari is the only detribalised Nigerian. This is because the staple has come to be accepted in all parts of Nigeria that one will be forgiven to think it is indigenous to all the ethnic groups in the country.
I was emboldened to draw my conclusions based on the fact that most of the people that claim to be detribalized are closet tribalists if you get close enough to them.
But Ambassador Bawa Abdullahi Wase, Nigeria’s ambassador to Qatar who passed away a few days ago is different.
He truly fits the description of a man whose relationship with others is not coloured by ethnic or religious sentiments.
I can say without fear of contradiction that he was one whose mind is trained on seeing only the good in others.
I have known Dr. Wase for over 10 years, and I’ve related closely with him over the years but I’m not sure he even knew where I came from.
From his disposition you get the clear message that such things don’t matter to him, so while relating with him, people see no reason to bring up such issues.
A friend told me how when he visited the late ambassador and there were too many people in the sitting room, he dragged him to his bedroom to discuss the matter that brought him. This friend is a Christian.
At the height of the crisis in Plateau between 2008 and 2011, when all the sides were talking tough, he maintained a calm mien that was remarkable and a friendly disposition that was infectious.
Probably due to that, he got invited to present papers by both sides in the conflict and he honoured both doing justice to the cause of peace and justice.
His humility is to such a level that even if you had missed him in a crowd and fail to greet him, he will come for you with his usual smile, stretching out his hand in a show of friendship.
The tendency is for people to underrate him until he decides to intervene in what seems a complicated matter.
When people are looking for jobs or appointments with highly placed public officials, they don’t remember to go to him because he didn’t look like someone who could help.
He is usually simply dressed, down to earth and with no airs about him.
He has shocked many when such matters get to his attention and he without demanding anything stepped in and solved the problem.
He surprised me one day when I was about to travel out of the country and the officials at the immigration office were giving me the impression that it was impossible for me to get my international passport within the time I needed it.
I was leaving the office thinking about what to do when I stumbled on him.
After the greetings, he asked me what I was doing at the federal secretariat in Jos and I told him.
He asked if I had done all that was required and I affirmed.
Without even discussing the matter with the immigration officials, he asked me to come back to the office by 2:00 pm of that day to collect my passport.
I came back at exactly the time and my passport was handed over to me. I couldn’t believe it.
Many were surprised when they saw his name as one of the ambassador-designates of the current administration when the list came out.
I wasn’t because I knew the stuff he was made of. I had come to realize, based on my interactions with him, that he had the contacts to get a better deal for himself if he had wanted to.
I know that if he’s the kind of person that takes advantage of the contacts he had in government, he probably would have been in a bigger posting long before that.
The last time I spoke with him was early in the year when I called to say hi and he asked where I was.
When I told him I was in Kaduna, he promised to stop over to see me on his way back to Abuja from Kano. Imagine!
Though he did not make it, the sincerity with which he spoke made me understand that his inability to do so may be borne out of genuine reasons.
Dr. Wase was such a good man. May God grant his soul eternal rest.

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