Kashim Shettima, Senator Na’allah’s Plane And A Kaduna Trip

May 24, 2023
2 mins read

He received the tragic message this morning. Kashim Shettima’s friend, Engineer Umar Zubair, died suddenly today in Kaduna, and the Janaiza prayer is scheduled for 2pm this afternoon. We had been in the VP-elect’s residence for about an hour. He came out and informed me and a few other people that we would accompany him to Kaduna. We drove in a convoy of vehicles to the airport.

We made for the tarmac and the plane. What I hadn’t the foggiest idea about was the pilot. And there he was, in his most ample frame. Senator Bala Na’Allah! He’s the one that would take us to Kaduna. If I had a moment of trepidation, it seemed out of place because everyone else seemed at ease. Kashim Shettima asserted with confidence that the Senator has been flying the bird for the past thirteen years!

I remember vaguely, from our Daily Trust days that I’ve read/heard somewhere, that Bala Na’Allah flew his own plane. But that was a long time ago! It was quite an epiphany to watch him in the cockpit, in the company of a much younger man. The takeoff was very smooth, the flight was uneventful, and the landing was incredibly hassle-free; very professional!

We landed at the old Kaduna Airport, which is a military airport now. A team of officials welcomed our party, ushered us into the lounge for a few minutes, before the vehicle arrived to take us into town.

The late engineer was obviously a man of the community, given the crowd that was out there for sympathy in the Unguwar Sanusi area of Kaduna. He had been Kashim Shettima’s friend for many years. He was an Hafizul Qur’an, and since he left his job at NITEL about fifteen years ago, had devoted himself to the cause of Islam.

The community was surprised to see the VP-elect in person, and many people stretched out hands to shake him, as we slowly passed through the crowd, that had formed by the entrance of the late Engineer’s residence.

As we entered the living room, there lay on the floor the remains of the very humble man. A member of the family told the story of the friendship between the engineer and Shettima. But more poignantly, he underlined the humanity of Kashim, recalling how the serious crises associated with his tenure as Governor of Borno State, with the Boko Haram insurgency, used to touch Kashim’s heart in a most personal and intimate manner.

It was a reflection of the VP-elect’s humanity, that he found time out of a very busy schedule, to come and commiserate with the family, pray for the departed Engineer Umar and also take part in the Janaiza prayers. We moved along with the corpse to the Masallacin Sheikh Rabiu Daura, joined in the prayers, and there then followed another round of greetings with children and relatives of the late engineer, before we walked with the throng of people to where our vehicle was parked. We headed out for the Kaduna Airport.

Just as we had done on the way to the residence, Senator Bala Na’Allah sat by my side in the vehicle. I was curious about how he got into flying. The story is long, but the Senator and three of his children, including a female one, are all pilots. He asked if I was willing to be given the training to fly; it’s not something that I’m enamoured of. He pressed further, that it was much safer to fly than to drive a car!

Na’Allah showed me the statistics about the weather on our flight back. There would be two spots of rainfall, but they would be over by the time we take off, and subsequently land. It was also a very smooth flight and a very professional landing at 12mins past 4pm.

The vehicles were waiting and we snaked through the busy streets of Abuja back to Kashim Shettima’s residence. Abuja feels increasingly more congested. It’s obvious that the city is beginning to receive more visitors, as the inauguration of the new President, Bola Tinubu and the vice, Kashim Shettima, draws ever so nearer.

Engr. Umar Zubair (Ameer) FNSE, was a former AGM NITEL and Pioneer MD Borno State Electricity Company and Project Team Member Borno State Industrial Park 2014 – 2019. Allah ya jikan sa. Amin

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