Mahdi El-Baff: His voyage in the civil service as an impeccable character, by Dr Aminu Salihu Yakudima
Each time I write a tribute, certain accomplishments of the personality involved become a guide, but not in the case of late Alhaji Mahdi El-Baff for three reasons; his positive disposition, generosity and our intimacy. Therefore, this tribute encompasses his impeccable character, excellent service to humanity and testimonies about his low-profile life.
I’m still in an excruciating situation of a huge loss of a bosom friend and a companion. He knows the value of friends and friendship, which was reflective in his mannerism beyond a reasonable doubt. I personally had more than four decades of an unbroken relationship with uncle Mahdi as he was respectfully called. Many people including my contemporaries and those who are elderly have benefited from his gesture of goodwill.
Dispensing favour had been a matter of routine in El Baff’s lifetime and was a consistent act of service to humanity. For example, payment of school fees to orphans, empowerment of teeming youths and women particularly widows. He also supported religious activities, sporting events and other related matters. The Forum of Fezzan elders and youths of Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria honoured him in recognition of these gestures. Again, the magnanimity, compassion and consistency with which these gestures were driven earned Mahdi El-Baff tremendous respect, sincere love and people’s trust.
He is a leader of excellence and a reliable associate whose demise created a big vacuum in the family and larger society. Many people, individually and collectively, will painstakingly continue with their lifestyles without an icon in the person of late uncle Mahdi adding value to them. First among these categories of people are his children and wife, Hajja Kaka, who slumped to her knees upon witnessing the sad event and was rushed to the Hospital in Abuja. Fortunately, she had been discharged and conveyed back home. She is recuperating and about to stabilise.
However, the widow is also excruciatingly uncomfortable for obvious reasons. She’s going to miss a faithful husband, intimate friend and honest adviser. The children: Salma, Hanan and Fatimah were absolutely devastated and put off balance because the loss of a father at their young adults was a great blow to them. The young ladies are undergraduates and Hanan is the only one married among them. They will miss both parental care and a unique company of a serious father like Mahdi El Baff.
The second category is his relations and the men around him, particularly his very close friends. The third category is his domestic staff and those who worked with him in the office including auxiliary personnel and who run errands for him. Even if one is not captured in any of the categories mentioned above and one has interacted with uncle Mahdi for one reason or another for a little time, with his demise, one will fall short of good company and feel not reinvigorated.
The intimidating profile of Alhaji Mahdi El Baff was built over the years. His voyage in the civil service started at Borno State Agricultural Project (BOSAP) as a young officer after graduating from the University of Maiduguri in 1986. Uncle Mahdi was in the service of the Borno State government for several years before he voluntarily transferred his service to the Federal Government and was based in Abuja.
He started with Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP). After scrapping the agency by the government, uncle Mahdi was deployed to National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) also under the presidency and redeployed to the mainstream as an Administrative Officer.
He also worked in the office of Head of Service, Office of Account General, Federal Civil Service Training School, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy etc.
Mahdi El Baff finally retired as a Director in the Ministry of Health in February 2022 five months before his death. He had a cordial working relationship with the staff of the Ministries and the Agencies of government aforementioned.
Alhaji Mahdi El Baff was born in Maiduguri, Borno State Capital 61 years ago. He had his primary and secondary education in Hausari Primary School and Yerwa Government Secondary School, Maiduguri in 1975 and 1980 respectively. He had built a solid nuclear family for more than three decades. He passed away on the 24th of July, 2022 and left behind a wife and three children.
May Allah SWA forgive his shortcomings and have mercy on him. May Aljanna Firdausi be his final abode. May Allah SWA continue to bless and protect his family.
Salihu Yakudima, a journalist and public commentator, writes from Abuja.