We first met in September 2019. It was my best friend and brother, Aminu Gidado Yusha’u, who introduced me to Alhaji Bello Isa Bayero, Yallabai, as we fondly called him. He was without a doubt the most charitable, attentive and well-experienced man I have met.
Compassionate and humble, he cut the image of the man I wish to be. At over 80 years, Baaba was lively and full of infectious laughter, especially when cracking jokes and narrating one of his interesting stories.
Although a prominent politician, we came to know outside of politics. I was introduced to him as the Founder/Chairman of Panacea Foundation, a youth coalition aiming to promote quality education and community and environmental health awareness. I went there keen and willing to share with him our plan and ideas on building a better society for all.
Over time, executive members of Panacea would pay him a visit before embarking on any of our projects. He was what a patron should be. He was always there for us and we couldn’t have reached the milestone we attained if not for him. For me, meeting Baaba was a life-changing experience and I believe for many of us at Panacea.
Coming back from a foreign country after my medical degree with little or no knowledge on how our system works, Baaba affirmed to me the goodness in humanity. Apart from several phone calls to ministries and some time trips from Abuja to Kano to see the success of our recent 10,000 tree planting project here in Kano, Baaba’s house was always full of people coming to eat and pray.
Lunch and dinner was always there and I recall eating from same plates with him anytime we visit as he cracks jokes over the meal. You can never dodge eating in his house provided it’s mealtime. In his tone, he will say “Doctor ko baka san in sami ladan?”
As I regularly call him, I am glad for hearing his voice a day to his demise. Although it was low and breaking and without his usual response: “Doctor” before I would proceed to greet him. Hearing his weak response, I wanted to ask if all was well until he suddenly said he was sick and went to see a doctor at Prime… hospital.
I could hear a female relative over the phone helping him with the full name “prime alliance”. After like a minute call, the shortest ever I had with him, I promised to go and see him the next day not knowing it was the final time we would talk.
As a daily routine, every time after prayer, you meet people there requesting for help ranging from medical bills, food, those marrying up children and many more. Sometimes out of a joke, he said to my friend, “Mal Aminu ai gidan gwamnati zasu je ko zaka raka su?” But no one has ever left empty-handed.
I was lucky to help him share food items in the midst of COVID-19. Yallabai always said to us “kune manyan gobe saii kun dage”.
Seeing our achievements in Panacea, he recommended us to Future Assured for a possible partnership saying Kano could benefit.
He loved and encouraged the youth to step up and take their role in nation-building.
May Allah SWT forgive Alhaji Bello Isa Bayero and grant him the highest level in Jannah. May we be reunited with our parents and all our beloved ones in Jannatul Firdaus.
Dr Dahir M Hashim writes from Kano and can be reached through Dahiru.firstname.lastname@example.org