A tribute to Yusuf Isa Ahuraka, by Abdulmumin S Balogun
Our last communication was on February 12th when I sent him a WhatsApp message regarding the response from the man who had offered to help him start an online newspaper. His response was saddening. ‘He’s not. Not even ready to render any help.
I was shocked because according to the late Mr Ahuraka, the man was the one that sold the idea of the online newspaper to him. And on the strength of that suggestion, he called me immediately and told me he wanted us to work together.
Such things as an appropriate name for the news site and who to design it, the colours and fonts to be used and the dynamism of the website all fell on me to see through. I sourced the designer and stayed on his neck, during and after the forced Corona shutdown period. We produced a working website and because there was a need to upload stories on that site without having to go through a third party, I had to force a meeting between the designer who was in Kaduna at that time and Mr Ahuraka – my late big brother, who was in Abuja.
They met, and he told me he could not understand the technical jargon the designer was speaking. We then opted for searching for a young person who would handle uploading news and photos. But we also decided to wait for funds from the man who had proposed to sponsor him first, since we wanted to go nationwide and needed to recruit strangers and reporters in all the states and the FCT, before going into getting an office and employing specific take-off staff.
I had earlier worked on the organogram and pay structure and sent them to him. He also told me he had discussed these with the sponsor, who said all he needed was a figure showing the amount needed to take off. We worked on that and he sent it to the sponsor. After our last communication, I discovered his enthusiasm for the online newspaper had waned because the person who told him he would fund it as a gift to help Mr Ahuraka become a publisher, did not seem interested anymore.
But why a tribute to the late Yusuf Isa Ahuraka in the first place?
He was a master of exclusive reports from the judiciary beat. He was an exceptionally hard-working man who knew his weaknesses and called out for help when it was needed. He never acted as if he knew it all and he never allowed his age – he was much older than most of us, his colleagues at work, put him on a pedestal. He was very humble, unassuming and appreciative. But of course, like all good reporters, he was dogged and rugged enough to chase the news and break the news.
His first job at LEADERSHIP was in the Special Projects department which was under my leadership. Before then he had been writing and publishing articles in the newspaper. I liked his style; so when I heard our boss, Mr Abraham Nda-Isaiah, casually discussing the need to employ him I quickly requested for him and defended it by pointing out that because of the nature of the job we did in the department, there was a need to recruit a mature person who would be respected and not pushed around by our clients.
His first assignment took him to Rivers State and it was a huge success.
I was later to become his direct boss again when I was appointed the editor of the flagship title.
He told me privately, later, that the employment was a great help to his family. He went on several other assignments before he was moved to the editorial arm of the newspaper as a reporter. And wow, what a reporter he proved to be!
He was subsequently spotted by the former Chief Justice of the Federation Mariam Alooma Muktar and engaged as her Special Assistant on media.
To do his job effectively for the Chief Justice he carried along all the judicial reporters and left no one in doubt as to what was happening.
After that engagement, he returned to LEADERSHIP until his subsequent engagement by the recent past CJN Tanko Muhammed, again as Special Assistant on Media.
Yusuf Isa Ahuraka was a man who never forgot a favour. He visited me at home at my most trying times – when some colleagues celebrated my travails and pretended they didn’t know what I was passing through even though they had behaved like mentees before then, while he was still with the judiciary. He visited with cash and other gifts, to help cushion my dire straits at that time. He continued to tell me that I guided him well and because he was able to stand well in my department other doors of opportunity opened for him after he joined the editorial team.
Considering what I had gone through at the hands of wicked mentees his gesture of kindness and respect towards me were so gargantuan that I had to accept that there are rare but good people for whom you should stick out your neck.
There are many things one can say about the late Yusuf Isa Ahuraka but just one more thing would suffice, for now. He took his responsibilities very seriously. This was reflected in the way he talked about work, life and his family. He told me how he wanted his children to study certain professions abroad and was already succeeding at that despite the huge financial pressure it put on him. Indirectly, he advised me to tow that path too.
Many people kick away the ladders that took them up when they become very comfortable. But not Ahuraka. He stayed close to all of us – Raliat Ahmed, my humble self and I believe Mr Abraham Nda-Isaiah and prayed for our success.
The angel of death is always hungry. It has taken one of our best in the holy month of Ramadan. May the highest place in heaven be his final place of rest from this wicked and torturous world.
May his family find solace in the fact that he left a good name on which they can build their own?
Adieu, Adayi Yusuf Isa Ahuraka!
Ohomorihi o si Ikuta rowen wu.
I will miss the confidence you have in my abilities and will always appreciate your efforts in presenting my name for federal appointments.
In my heart, you live on because you have always shown me a perfect image of where I could climb and what I could become.
Thank you for being my big brother, In and out of the office.
Balogun is an Abuja-based media consultant. He can be reached through +2348069727798