By Salamatu Hussaini
You were a sister in a million. You were the best friend anybody could ever have. You gave of yourself unstintingly, unreservedly and selflessly to everyone around you.
You stood for excellence and hard work. You lived it, you preached it, you encouraged it. You touched the lives of everyone you came across.
You have gone over 10 days now, but it is still difficult to believe. It is just like a dream that one will wake up from.
But we thank God for your life. It was a life well spent and full of impact. You have left so many lessons behind. You were sincere and straightforward in everything you did. Everyone knew exactly where they stood with you.
You were passionate about doing things right. You rose to the peak of your career in (NITEL) as General Manager, Personnel, Training and Manpower Development. In that position, you grew and mentored so many.
You reached out to all and sundry and created relationships and bonds of unity among colleagues and subordinates that have lived long after (NITEL).
Your dogged efforts in initiating and fighting for the (NITEL) Staff Pension led to taking hundreds of thousands of people out of despair, giving most of them and their loved ones succour in their old ages.
You never rested on your oars or gave up in life. Even after forced retirement, you remained focused and initiated various businesses both in the telecoms and other sectors that created employment and supported national development. You met challenges head-on, tackled them and overcame.
You steadfastly set up Akklaim Telecoms to provide value-added services in the Nigeria Telecommunications sector, being the very first woman to be bold enough to do so.
When competition from GSM services providers later wiped out all small players from the field, you moved on with determination and held your own, in real estate, consultancy, and other businesses, while still offering yourself to serve at the highest governance levels of the Telecommunications sector as Chairman, Nigeria Mobile Telecommunications Ltd., Board Member, Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd. (twice), Director Interconnect Clearing House Nigeria Ltd., and several others.
You were a champion of pension reforms and served as a member of the Pension Steering Committee, set up by the National Council on Privatization, and helped to move the country from the problematic underfunded pension system to the current world-class Pension Administration System.
In fact, the history of Pension in Nigeria cannot be written without your name in gold, right from your days at (NITEL) to the dedicated selfless and keen engagement with (PTAD), which assisted in settling outstanding pension matters affecting not only (NITEL) Staff but other entities that grappled with similar problems.
You always sought to make things better and were never afraid of failing. Whenever you saw a void, you rose to fill it.
Your venture into the area of media was motivated by the desire to help provide an outlet for northern issues, voices, and problems.
Thus, you were among the core group that set up Daily Trust and was the initiator and driving force behind the setting up of Peoples Media two outfits that stand tall today as credible news media houses in Nigeria.
You achieved so much in your life. You were recognized and given higher honours and responsibilities, which you always delivered on.
You were a member of the Presidential Advisory Council set up in 2010 to provide a blueprint for improvement of governance in Nigeria.
You were conferred with National Honour of the ‘Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR), you received the National Productivity Merit Award and several others on account of distinguished and selfless service to the nation.
It is heartwarming to remember that you were once described as a National Asset by the House of Representatives Committee on Communications for upholding the interest of the nation during public hearings on (NITEL)/Pentascope issues.
Among your numerous laurels were: Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Management (FNIM), Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria (FIMC), and Member, Nigerian Institute of Personnel Management (MNIPN).
Your quest for education, knowledge and modern techniques were never-ending. Your passion for self-learning and constant effort to improve yourself stand you out as a rare gem of your time.
Your technical savviness, usage of digital applications, wide knowledge of evolving technologies and systems were far outside the realm of people of your age or generation.
Your passion for knowledge took you even outside your own areas of specialization or education.
You could hold your own very very admirably in discussing issues relating to medicine, law, Islamic jurisprudence and other fields.
One of your highest services to mankind is the mentoring and teaching you have done throughout your life that has led to the emergence of many effective and performing men and women who have taken responsible positions in life.
You also set up a bookshop, Tarbiyah Books, the biggest and best stocked in Abuja currently where you have promoted the understanding of the Islamic religion, ethics for bringing up children, societal and family values, as well as contemporary modern issues, development, management and general knowledge.
That is my corporate sister! An amazon of our time! The nation has indeed lost one of its best. What do I say about you as a sister and friend? I don’t think that I have enough words to describe you.
You were simply just amazing! A pillar of support, a strong shoulder to lean on, a compassionate and listening ear, unwaveringly loyal, selflessly generous, extremely kind and supportive.
Always sharing in pains and sorrows, and celebrating good moments. You always put others first before yourself. Your uncommon intelligence and high reasoning capacity will always help a friend to work through problems and find solutions.
Some of your most outstanding qualities were your courage, resilience and faithfulness. To this, I pay special tribute and pray Almighty Allah SWT to reward you with Aljannah.
You never wavered or lost faith even at the height of your greatest challenges. You believed absolutely in the will of God and took all the steps to help yourself.
You remained strong, faithful and productive throughout your illness. People were always amazed to hear you were very ill and still find you in your office working.
You researched very widely about the illness, knew what to expect and added value in the management of the illness at all stages.
Even while coping with a very debilitating illness, you carried on with your social responsibilities and humanitarian activities. I have never seen a person so resilient and so faithful.
You came, you saw, you conquered. You gave birth to four wonderful children and raised many more including my own.
You were so proud of your children and grandchildren. You took responsibility for your siblings and several more.
You mentored many women and men and lived by example. You were a clear leader in every community that you lived and never shied away from taking responsibility. You were frank, open and truthful, always.
May Almighty Allah (SWT) forgive you all your shortcomings, Yaya Halita.
May God grant your family and friends the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.
May Allah (SWT) grant you Aljannatul Firdausi.
May we meet in Aljannat Firdausi to part no more. Adieu, dearest sister and friend.
Your death has indeed created a void that only Allah in His infinite mercy can fill.
You will be sorely missed.