By Ohimai Amaize
Tahir was too much a fine gentleman to have been wasted just like that. He was an amiable young man who put smiles on the faces of all those around him. He was lively. He always spoke to me and his friends about his dream of a new Nigeria. I first met Tahir in 2007 during my national youth service at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abuja. Memories. I remember those days very well now. It’s just like yesterday. We became friends in a few weeks of my arrival at the Commission and enjoyed such a warm relationship thereafter. Under the mentorship of Dapo Olorunyomi, the then Chief of Staff who was our boss, we became a family of young people; myself, Tahir, Abdul Elayo, Oby, Kalu, Sunday Ogidigbo – altogether young people with a dream and passion to build a new Nigeria.
The incident that caused Tahir’s passing has thrown up a lot of questions on my mind. How could this happen right at the center of the nation’s federal capital territory with all the security around? What was done about the warning issued by the perpetrators of this heinous crime? Now what was MEND trying to achieve by wasting the lives of innocent Nigerian citizens? Tahir and all others who died were not the problem. They are not the root of the problem. They didn’t deserve to die. They didn’t have to be sacrificed on the altar of Niger-Delta politics just like that. If it is frightening how life has become so cheap in Nigeria, it is even more dreadful that no one, not even those in authority are safe.
What a shame. At the tender age of 27, Tahir’s dream of a new Nigeria has been cut short by the failings of the same system he believed so much in. It was enough that some of us thought there was nothing really spectacular to celebrate about Nigeria at 50. Still, we believed and expressed hope in the possibility of a new country only to be thrown into mourning with this irredeemable loss on a day we mustered faith to celebrate 50 years of great expectations.
When the news hit me last night, I was too dazed, too shocked to cry. But this morning, I wept like a baby. I remembered my last phone conversation with Tahir, just about three weeks ago. He was teasing me; “Ohi, I hear you are with Dele Momodu. You won’t come and support Mallam? We dey miss you here o.” He said that in reference to the former EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and I replied, laughing, telling him not to worry because we were one big family though we were on opposite sides of the 2011 presidential campaign.
I use to help Tahir with his Facebook; he knew I was very active online and gave me his account details so I could do for him some of the things he couldn’t do by himself. This morning, logging into that Facebook account threw me into deeper grief. I just can’t believe he’s gone…
I pray for his parents, his widow (they wedded only last year) and their little baby girl. Only the Almighty God can grant them the strength to bear this loss.
The time has come for us to wake up from our apathy as a people. Today, it’s Tahir. We don’t know when the next bomb will explode, where it will explode and who will be the next victim. The future of Nigeria is in the hands of its people. If we can rise in 2011 to determine with our votes, a new set of credible leaders who can give us a future, Tahir and all those who have died as a result of the failure of the Nigerian system, would not have died in vain.