Home FEATURED Opinion (13/1/2020): Pick Of The Year – By Sam Omatseye

Opinion (13/1/2020): Pick Of The Year – By Sam Omatseye

Sam Omatseye

HE was no general. He was no Charles de Gaulle, the charismatic French upstart, who rebelled against the army that providence later appointed him to command. Nor was he Patton, the brash impresario, who was himself a theatre as soldier who brushed through the bloody fields of Europe during the Second World War.

Hamza S. Buba was a humble warrior, a Nigerian soldier, who died and fought in northeastern Nigeria in obedience to the martial impulse of his calling and his fierce disdain for the sectarian terror that the Boko Haram cult emblematised. Above all, he kitted himself for battle to heed his nation’s jolt to duty.

We heard in the course of last year of soldiers who fell, of those who complained of neglect and lack of nourishment. But he was not glorified but one who gloried in his duty.

His story had a sense of foreboding. Every soldier knows death beckons in battle. Survival depends for most part on God and the law of averages. Buba knew he might not come back. He did not lament about it.

Here is his message that shook Twitter and Facebook: “If I die in a war zone, box me up and send me home.” That must be a message for his bosses and his country. He was not going to rage against the dying of his light, a la poet Dylan Thomas. He was not going to think of what life might be, of the wife he would marry, the luxury he would exhale, the children that would nest his home. He was a soldier happy with the thrill of combat for his country, a professional giving his task the full throttle of his devotion.

He only asks one thing of his country while he passed on: “Put my medal on my chest.” He coveted honour. And as a good son, he had these words for his parents. “Tell my mom I did my best.” To his father he transmits a cryptic message, though. “Tell my dad not to bow, he won’t get tension from me now.” What tension? Was father too hopeful of son’s soldiery or loathed his escapade of no escape? We may never know. But Buba never wavered in the dustbowl of war.

He had words for his siblings, too. “Tell my bro to study perfectly; key of my car will be his permanently.” From his writings, he studied as example. He was no crank-head fighter. To his sister, he simply urges calm. “Her bro will take a long sleep after sunset.”

Buba has a word for us his fellow compatriots. “Tell my nation not to cry, because I am a soldier born to die, but never to be forgotten.” He was a soldier-poet, a lyricist of his own triumph in tragedy, who had a soul for martyrdom and heart for country.

The paradox is painful. He died in a war where the army, as Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum reported, is a place for profiteers and extortion. Their generals get billions as allocation and the war still festers, so great soldiers like Buba die. Buba talked of sacrifice when our political elite plundered our resources with impunity.

2019 was a year where people loved families and not society, professions for profits, tribes instead of country. He cherished all and paid with his life. Buba’s rank was not published. The chief of army staff probably does not know him. He was a warrior that represented a few who walk the narrow path of honour and integrity in Nigeria.

For giving his only treasure for country when others fattened and took flight, soldier Buba is In Touch Person of the Year.

He Ruined

ANTHONY Joshua never had a chance the first time. His second chance seemed impossible. But he triumphed. He punched his way from the dead to regain his title as the numero uno of boxing. An oak of a man, Joshua is my sports person of the year. Ushered into the ring on the riffs and lyrics of fela’s Water no get enemy, he asserted his Nigerian provenance as he ruined Ruiz in a pugilist warfare to be remembered for a long time.

My book

FEW remember Benjamin O. Tietie, the evangelist and former vice president of the God’s Kingdom Society, who later left the GKS to found the God’s Kingdom Mission before he passed on. He published his memoirs, 50 years in Christ’s Ministry, before his death. I picked up a copy last year and read it with zest. The book captured my mind, not because it tells the history of how churches were founded, which was absorbing. Or some of the contentions of colonial Nigeria, which was also riveting. But it clarified for me the crisis that led to his parting with the GKS, which was a dynamic organization at that time, especially from its founding up to the 1980’s.

Tietie’s account tells one how a family can collapse over a collision of egos and insular pursuits. In the process, the larger vision looms and crumbles before everyone’s eyes. It is a cautionary tale for all who start organisations, secular or pious, and Tietie’s story illuminated darker regions of my mind now because, in the throes of the crisis, I only heard one side of the story. The leaders pivoted only one narrative that demonized the rebels. Like in most tumultuous episodes, the truth is more nuanced than that.

Tietie remains the best preacher I ever saw, heard or encountered in my life. He was a supreme exponent of scripture with great elocution, a fluty voice and profound subtlety. Today, I will give that credit to T.D jakes, who is the best dissector of the word of prophecy – The Bible – living and preaching today.



– Omatseye is a respected columnist with The Nation

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