By Musa Baba Adamu
As the shock and disbelief generated by the sudden death of Malam Wada Maida are yet to settle, family, associates and friends have started baring their minds on their perceptions of who the late Media mogul was to them.
Malam Wada Maida breathed his last on Monday night, the 17th of August, 2020, at his family home in Abuja after the close of work, and having returned from a weekend trip to Kano through Katsina where he reportedly went to commiserate with a grieving family.
Malam Wada, who was until his death, the Chairman of Peoples Media Limited (publishers of Peoples Daily) was also a founding member of the MediaTrust Limited (publishers of Daily Trust group).
He had the rare privilege of returning to head the very institution where he cut his teeth as a Journalist. By the time he passed on, the late Malam Wada was the Chairman, Governing Board of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), having been its Editor -in- Chief and the Managing Director respectively during his active years.
Known mostly as Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to President Muhammadu Buhari during his tenure as Military Head of State in the 80’s, the late Malam was different things to different people. To some, he was a true family man, and to others, he was a mentor, dependable associate and friend.
His family house in the Federal Capital City of Abuja has been witnessing heavy human and vehicular traffic from all walks of life coming to pay their last respect and to condole with his family. Everyone who knew the deceased has been struggling with a sense loss on account of the responsive role(s) the late Wada may have played in their lives at some point.
He was a loving father to us, and we loved him too – Children
Among many who have penned individual tributes on the late Malam Wada, are members of his beloved family whom he left behind. In the tribute written by Nabila Wada Maida, one of his children, the world is, for the first time, provided insight into some of the rare aspects of the late Malam hitherto unknown.
The family, in their tribute, reveal how hollow their lives have become, losing someone who was always around at every turn of their lives.
“For as far back as I can remember, our father has always played a significant part in our lives. He loved his family deeply and we loved him too. He was always there to celebrate our milestones and was very proud of our achievements. There was always a glow on his face when he spoke of us; his Pharmacist – Farida, Architect – Fadila, Information Systems Engineer with the PhD – Aminu, Chemical Engineer – Nabila and Financial Mathematician – Abdullahi.
“Alhamdulillaah, Baba and Mama raised us well to the best of their abilities and we will always cherish the memories we had as a family. He always took us on family trips around the world and ensured it wasn’t only shopping but an educational trip. We learnt a lot through travel with him, from the pyramids of Giza in Egypt to the Washington Monument in the USA.
“Baba had the best sense of humour and was very well informed in almost everything so we always had the best of conversations. Baba, our sunshine on cloudy days was also a very sensitive man and never failed to display his emotions and showed us the finest of love.
“When Baba passed away and I came home to his lifeless body, I wanted the world to end. Nothing in this world prepares one for the death of a loved one, absolutely nothing! As I was crying and wallowing in my heartbreak, I remembered a Hadith about one of the deeds of the deceased that would be beneficial to him in the Hereafter and that was the prayer of a righteous child. I googled it and saw this “A man’s status will be raised in Paradise and he will ask, ‘How did I get here?’, He will be told, ‘By your son’s du’as (prayers) for forgiveness for you.” At that moment, I know Allah, Al Wakeel, The Trustee, The Disposer of Affairs gave me strength. Indeed whatever happens in life Al Wakeel will provide the perfect resolution and He is enough for me. I started to make du’a for my father and each of my siblings also made du’a for him as we were navigating our different stages of grief.
“Baba has five amazing children who made him proud on earth and in shaa Allah, in Al Jannah we will make him even more proud because we would certainly raise his status through our du’as. In Al Jannah, in shaa Allah, our father would be one of the MVPs and be in the presence of the best of the best, our mother and us will ensure that through our du’as.
“Never in a million years did we think this day will come. We all know life is transient but as human beings we never want to accept it especially when it comes to losing someone you hold dear to your heart. He had the biggest heart, always available to help his wife, children, extended family, friends and even strangers no matter the inconvenience. But, praise be to Allaah, Baba lived an exemplary life and we can all attest to that. The tributes and remarkable support our family have received and continue to receive are all testaments to how Baba touched lives.
“May Allah forgive his transgressions, have mercy on his soul and grant him Al Jannah Firdaus. We love you so much and look forward to the day we will all be reunited in heaven,” writes the son.
Malam Wada who was known to have maintained and nourished friendships, with some spanning decades, left behind many friends who may never get over his death.
One of such is his childhood and lifetime friend, Senator Ibrahim M. Ida (CON), Sardaunan Katsina.
Every of his friends was special to him – Senator Ida
Ida expressed sadness over the death of Malam Wada, his childhood and longtime friend. Senator Ida in a tribute in honour of the late Malam Wada, detailed how they first met and got along until his death last Monday night.
His tribute also revealed some of hitherto unknown virtues of Malam Wada, including his first name, which was Mukhtar. He gave the reason behind the relegation of his first name by the widely known and preferred “Wada.”
The Sardaunan Katsina is easily the closest friend of Malam Wada among his other numerous friends.
He described his late friend as a caring husband to his beloved wife, Hajiya Amina and an excellent father to his children, namely: Pharm. Farida, Arch. Fadila, Dr. Aminu, Eng. Nabila and soon to be Dr. Abdullahi and the late Nusaiba who died in 2006.
Sen. Ida said the late Malam: “… had the simplicity and the ability to make you feel that you were the only friend he had in the world. Every friend was special to him, and he believed that when people came together, especially childhood friends, they would achieve a lot and provide one another companionship and protection.
“This explains how he and some of us, childhood friends resident in Abuja, came to form an association in the early 1990s which we have since formalised as Abokan Amana Foundation. We take turns to hold monthly dinners in our homes and each member goes with his spouse(s). We use the meetings to discuss issues of interest and contribute money to do charitable works. We have since got our spouses to do likewise.
“Wada was the Chairman and I, his “troublesome” Deputy, always urging him to vacate the chair so that I could step in. I never wanted it the way it has now turned out to be. Oh, Wada, I wish there was a way you could come back to continue to be the chairman forever. I do not mind being the deputy forever.
“It was not easy to start writing this, but having started, it has become difficult to, but as I force myself to stop writing, I want to end with a simple prayer to Allah SWT that in the same way Wada left this world peacefully in his house among his wife, children and grandchildren; having first gone home to Katsina to (even if unknowingly) bid farewell to his place of birth, relations and friends there; and with purity of ablution, may his entry into heaven be smoother and more peaceful. May Allah SWT make Aljannah Firdaus his final abode, along with our parents who had gone before him.
“To the members of the immediate and extended families he has left behind; to my friends and fellow members of the Abokan Amana Foundation; to his teeming friends, professional and business associates; and to the journalism profession in all its forms and ramifications, I join you all in mourning the irreparable loss of Malam Wada Maida.
“The vacuum his death has created will take a very long time to fill; if it will ever be. He was a beautiful soul, a true inspiration to everyone around him and a great loss to all the people who knew him. I know he will be terribly missed and his memory will be cherished forever.
The world has missed a beautiful soul – Justice Mahuta, Galadiman Katsina
Expressing the same sense of loss is Justice Saddik A. Mahuta (rtd), OFR, Galadiman Katsina, who first met the late Wada over 50 years ago, declared that the world had missed a beautiful soul whose selling point was his simplicity.
First acquainted after their secondary education, the Jurist, who holds the traditional title of Galadiman Katsina, said their friendship later metamorphosed into family after the first son of the late Wada, Aminu, got married to his daughter.
Revealing how close they were beginning from their formative years, the retired Justice shared a rare photo with their late friend who was also an Ambassador of Nigeria to the Netherlands, Malam Iro Ladan Baki, late Malam Wada and himself. According to him, the picture was taken at the wedding of the late Ambassador.
Commenting on the man, Malam Wada, he said: “For me, the most striking thing about late Wada was his simplicity. He was simple to a fault sometimes. He was so humble yet very sound, intellectually. Perhaps, the other quality of his that can match his simplicity was his generosity. He gave and never got tired.
“In later years, Wada devoted more of his time to seeing to the needs of the less privileged. He was involved in many charity causes. He built Mosques and gave the girl child education. His loss is a great one not only to us and his family but to the nation in general.
“He was a bridge builder. The calibre of people who thronged to witness his burial and to his home for condolences should give you a sense of how he had friends from all over the country. He was truly a nationalist. May his soul rest in peace. He will be sorely missed.”
He had visited me in Kano on Thursday only to die on Monday – Mal Abba Dabo
Malam Abba Dabo, is another of his long standing friends made by the Journalism profession. Their paths first crossed in Kaduna during their days as young reporters. While the late Malam worked for the NAN, Malam Abba was reporting for the Kaduna based national daily, New Nigerian Newspapers (NNN).
Like friendship consummated in heaven, incidentally, Malam Wada was to take over from Malam Abba, who was President Shagari’s Chief Press Secretary after the coup in 1983.
Malam Abba however added that not even the unfortunate happening negatively affected their cherished friendship. To him, he declared, it was as though he was still in office because he never really departed.
He said the last time they saw was in Kano, the Thursday before his demise, when late Malam Wada visited him and family to commiserate with him over the death of his father on last Sallah day, regretting that he never thought that was the last time they would ever see again.
“We were very close even after he was sent to London by the Agency and me remaining in Kaduna at NNN, we never got apart. Our families spent a lot of holidays together. His passing is a personal loss to me. He was very nice and a gentleman par excellence. He always had a way to make you feel relieved no matter your challenge. We had a fantastic moment together.
“What many didn’t know about him until his death was that he was into so many charity activities. He rendered help to his immediate community in his state, he built Mosques for communities and helped get jobs for many young people. And these entire he did them quietly, refusing to attract attention to them. He was such a decent man. We will all miss him.
“As a family man, one can only say he was an epitome of how a man should relate with his family. He loved his children and showed them this much,” he said.
He personifies modesty, openness, humility, integrity.- Mohammed Haruna
For Malam Mohammad Haruna, a veteran Journalist and a columnist of many years, the late Wada was a personification of modesty, who was very open, humble and a man of high integrity.
He said: “professionally, I don’t need to say anything because any one who encountered can attest to his professionalism. I mean, this was someone who rose through middle cadre to become Editor-in-Chief of NAN; one of the most credible news outlets in the country.
“For me, it is a personal loss. Malam Wada played a vital role during my wedding about 40 years ago and that to me is something I can never forget. Being a man of the people, one could see that in display through the crowd that gathered at his burial. At this point, the only thing we do is to pray for the repose of his life.”
Malam Wada is credited to have deliberately mentored a number of people, deliberately taking them under his wings and growing into reputable professionals and business personalities. One of such people is Alhaji Abdulmumini Bello.
I owed him all that I have become in life – Mal Abdulmumini Bello
Alhaji Abdulmumini may be described as the alter ego of the deceased. He was ever with him and he trusted him with everything including taking into confidence even in matters that have to do with his family. This is why many mistook Alhaji Abdulmumini as his direct younger brother instead of the in-law that he is. Alhaji Abdulmumini is a younger brother to Malam Wada’s wife, Hajiya Amina.
In the last 20 years, Malam Wada took Alhaji Abdulmumini through all that he knew in the business world and, according to him, was responsible for the 50-60% of the man he had become in life.
He described himself as “confidante,” of late Malam who enjoyed his “mentorship” and “brotherliness” to the point of sitting in as Chairman, Board of Directors of Media Trust Ltd for 10 years at some point.
Further painting how ubiquitous Malam Wada’s imprints were in his making into a man, he revealed that he got his first N100,000 in life from him, emphasising further that he owed the deceased all that he had become in life.
He reiterated that the deceased so much trusted him that he took him into confidence in every of his activities, including family and business.
“He took me as his younger brother, a confidante and would involve me in almost all decision making, whether on family or business. He assisted so many people in terms of jobs and postings. When he was in Lagos, his house was the guest house for every northerner in town for any business.
“He donated a lot towards girl child education and building of Mosques. He was the pillar of the larger Maida family. One could say the entire family structure rested on him. He was there for everybody from the Maida’s family.
“He made friends from all over the country both in professional capacity or otherwise. Big Media players such as Nduka Obaigbena, the Publisher of Punch and Vanguard Newspapers and so on were his close friends,” he said.
On how he learnt of his Mentor’s death, he said he was on phone call with the late Wada’s son, from London when he got a call from the deceased driver, Abbas, informing him that Malam had slumped..
“On reaching the Hospital the Doctor confirmed that he had passed on 40 minutes earlier. He died peacefully in a sitting position and it is our belief that he would enjoy the same peace in the presence of his Maker. His was a life well lived.
“Despite the fact that virtually all his age mates from his home state hold one traditional title or the other, he resisted every overture to take one. He preferred to remain simply Malam. He enjoyed living anonymously.”
Another notable Nigerian who looms large in the field of Journalism, but confessed his indebtedness to Malam Wada’s mentorship, is the Senior Special Assistant on Media, Malam Garba Shehu.
He was instrumental to my becoming President of Guild of Editors – Garba Shehu
Malam Garba, who said he owed his rise in the Journalism procession’s leadership cadre to Malam Wada, revealed how he was instrumental to his becoming the Head of the August Guild of Editors. He also disclosed how Malam Wada occasioned his first meeting with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
In his widely syndicated tribute on the late Malam captioned: “ Wada Maida: Mentorship as a Mantra,” Malam Garba, described the late Malam as a Mentor who walked the talk with regards the to the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, charge on mentorship.
Recalling how their paths first crossed and how beneficial it proved while it lasted, Malam Garba writes: “From then until his death, Malam Wada did to me what the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello charged leaders “on top of the ladder” to do: extend your hand to those at the bottom and pull them up.’
Malam Garba said he found late Malam Wada a selfless and non-greedy personality, who “was equally supportive of me on matters outside the realm of the media profession. Because he was never selfish or greedy, he invited me and others that I know to participate in the lucrative consultancies he ran for his never-ending list of clients.”
On the personality that was Malam Wada, Garba writes: “Finally, it is to say that the Almighty gave Malam Wada two things many would envy.
“He had the largest reservoir of patience on account of which I never saw him get angry. No matter to what extent he was provoked, Malam Wada would shake his head or both legs when seated, smile and then move on. Second, he had a faithful and dutiful wife who cared for him and the family. May Allah increase her health, keep her for a longer lifetime for the family and the nation.
“In Malam Wada’s life, many great things can be said and none can be greater or lesser than the other. The media and the nation will always remember his efforts and outstanding contributions to the lives of individuals and communities. May Allah forgive his sins and grant him Aljannah.”
Chief Jide Adebayo’s comment
For Chief Jide Adebayo, who retired as Executive Director, Marketing, Lagos Operations, his major gain from his relationship with the deceased was a philosophical saying he once made in India and lived by.
Disclosing how they worked closely with late Wada at NAN since 1980 when they first met in Kaduna, Chief Adebayo described him as a leader who led from the front.
He said: “ He was a wonderful boss and leader. I served under him throughout his years as Editor -in- Chief and Managing Director. He provided very sound and credible leadership as a professional Journalist. He managed the Agency in an unprecedentedly prudent manner and one of the results of which is the headquarters building of NAN in Abuja. He built that edifice from the scratch to completion.
“ I will miss his sense of fairness. I took one philosophical saying from him in year 2000 when I went with him to about six countries in Europe and East Asia to broaden the product portfolio of the Agency. My biggest take away from him is his philosophical saying that “a man can rule without faith but cannot rule without fairness.” Malam Wada acted that philosophy.
“Everyone who passed through him in NAN will attest to his sense of fairness. And I say without any fear of contradiction that he ran the Agency in a manner that made life easy for every worker and never denied any worker his due. I was close to him up to family level. I want to humbly condole all his family members, especially his wife and his son, Aminu.”
He had uncanny gift for patience – Malam Ali M. Ali
Malam Ali M. Ali, was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Peoples Daily Newspapers for six years during which time he was closely related with late Wada. Malam Ali said there is nothing to say other than to re-echo Malam Wada’s legendary patience and humility.
He said for the six years he supervised the management of Peoples Daily Newspapers, there was never a time the Chairman lost his temper over anything, describing him as someone with an uncanny gift for patience.
Ali who said his relationship with the deceased was more of a younger brother to his elder brother, added that the late Chairman was a man of immeasurable clout in the Media both within and outside the country and especially, in the International Press Institute (IPI).
He said: “having worked with some very brash and harsh bosses before, Malam Wada was not only open to suggestions from even the lowest member of staff, he was a boss that never took credit for anything. He watched out for your success and never got associated with failure.”
He said the Media world would sorely miss the deceased, regretting that with his death, Peoples Daily had witnessed one death too many, having lost Hajiya Halita Aliyu, Isa Funtua and Abba Kyari earlier on.
He said the void left behind by the late media mogul would be difficult to fill. He prayed for the repose of his life and for the family to have the fortitude to bear the loss.
From him, I learnt diligence, patience, coordination – Personal secretary
For Mrs Blessing Uzju, who was his secretary in the last 17 years, the world had lost a man with eyes for details, patience, organisational skill and who hardly got overwhelmed even when he chaired many organizations.
She said: “My late boss was an embodiment of humility. He was a man who loved his family in a way that I cannot even explain. A Journalist per excellence. From him, I learnt diligence, patience, coordination and so many things that would be difficult for me to list out now.
“He planned ahead in whatever he set out to do and paid attention to every detail. He would not rest until success is recorded in all his tasks. Journalism was so much in his blood that it would be difficult for him to be anything else. We all have our failings as humans, but my late boss was a good man who helped and related with us as though we were friends. He would want to attend the wedding of his lowest staff if invited.
“His life was an open book. He called even his lowest staff for advice. He never left us out in anything he did. He never saw the differences in our educational background as a hindrance. He was a Chairman to so many organisations yet never got overwhelmed. He took his time to attend to everybody. I pray for the repose of his life. “
Malam Wada was known for bringing like minds together for the benefit of all. His pedigree in integrity made some of those who are today Directors at both Media Trust Ltd and Peoples Media Ltd agreed to be.
He lived a simple and contented life – Mal Bilya Bala
According to Malam Bilya Bala who traced his first acquaintance with Malam Wada to their secondary school days in 1967, narrated how both of them were members of the Editorial Board of the school’s Newsletter: “ Katsina Courier.”
Describing the late Chairman whom he knew for 53 years as someone who lived a simple and contented life, he revealed they teamed up to found Media Trust Ltd and Peoples Media Ltd.
“The relationship continued long after those formative years in secondary school and solidified with the birth of the Daily Trust Newspaper in which both Wada, Kabiru Yusuf and I sat in his NAN’s Offices at the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos and finalised its shareholding structure; with the three of us retaining the largest individual shareholding,” he revealed.
Commenting on the late Malam Wada’s famed virtue of patience, Malam Bilya said: “In my 53 years of association with him, I had never seen a more patient and self-effacing person like him. His counsel always was “It will one day be resolved or end anyway”!
“Mallam Wada lived a simple contented life. May Allah SWT have mercy on his soul and grant him Aljannah Firdaus, amin thumma amin.”
My major takeaway from him is his sincerity – Alhaji Ismaila Ibrahim
Another of his associates is Alhaji Ismaila Ibrahim. Alhaji Ismaila is one of the Directors of Peoples Media Limited. He said his major take away from late Wada was his sincerity in all his dealings and unassuming nature.
Alhaji Ismaila who said he had known the deceased since 1984 through Alhaji Abba Dabo, added that whoever had anything to do with late Wada must have learnt lessons in commitment to business, family and friends.
He said: “In Malam Wada we have lost a person at a time when his types are rare and are needed the most. Malam Wada was such a person imbued with virtue humility and who does not show undue excitement. He kept his cool in distress and happy times. Except one has the opportunity of knowing him closely, one is mostly likely going to underestimate his capacity, competence and network. It is my prayer that Allah repose his life and give the family he left behind the fortitude to bear his passing.”
It came to light that the late Wada imprints were not also missing even in matters of faith. It was found out after he passed that like other areas of life he also loomed large in matters of faith and its advancement. Here too, he was the Chairman.
He ensured that all staff of our Islamic centre were taken care of – Sheikh Hussain Zakariya
Providing insight into this area of his life, Sheikh Hussain Zakariya, an Abuja based Islamic scholar and of the Preachers at Uthman Ibn Affan Mosque, Abuja, said of late Malam Wada: “I knew the deceased for a long time and I knew him to be a very religious person. He was always keen to do things in accordance with the dictates of his faith. He learnt the Qur’an and strove to live by it. He never got tired of lending his hands for the development of the religion and was always in the forefront in helping those in need.
“He was the Chairman of Uthman Ibn Affan Islamic Centre here in Abuja. Under his leadership the Centre carried out various ambitious projects and activities. The Center at all times was self-sufficient. The Center made sure that all the staff of the Mosque from the Imam through to other supporting Scholars such as the Muezzin, Preachers down through to the last staff were well taken care of and never lacked.
“Because of him, by the grace of Allah, none of us even had to worry in times of even personal health challenges. Some of us have even gone beyond the shores of this country to seek medical help all on his bill. He never got tired of looking out for the Mosque and its staff.
“He was known to always pay his contributions upfront to the coffers of the Centre annually. He kept his kinship strong. He never forsake his friends. Though he was a very rich person he was known for his legendary humility.
“His death is a great loss to Muslim Umma, his family and the nation. It is our prayers that we will all meet again in Al Jannatul Firdaus, insha Allah.”
As is true in life that there is a season for everything: a time to be born and a time to die and in between, a time to make one’s mark. For Malam Wada, one can safely say he was able to use the time ”in between” to leave a sweet lasting taste in the mouths of those he encountered during his sojourn on earth.
May Allah forgive Malam’s shortcomings and admit him to Al – Jannatul Firdaus, ameen.
He was an epitome of humility, integrity and hardwork – Hon Salisu Ibrahim
Hon Salisu Ibrahim Muhammad, a member of the Board of Directors, Peoples Media Ltd, said the death of late Malam Wada has made an orphan of young professional Journalists from the North.
Extolling the virtues of Malam Wada whom he said he first met17 years back, Hon Ibrahim noted that the deceased was an epitome of humility, integrity and hard work, saying he could not recall anytime during their relationship that Malam felt pushed to the wall and needed to fight back.
He said: “ I have never seen Malam Wada in an angry mood. Not once. Not ever. No matter the provocation he would use his charming smiles to cool you down and then find a way of explaining his position.
“My first contact with him was in 2003 when some of President Buhari’s admirers would come together, pull money together for publicity in the Media and I would help push it in both electronic and print Media.
“But my close relationship with him was in 2008 when he came on board as a member of the Peoples Media Ltd. I found him very rich in patience, humility and how to interact with people peacefully.
“He was a mentor to many professional journalists especially from the north. So, those of us who were still learning the rope from him have become orphans. Our only body prayer is that our senior ones into the profession would not allow his dreams to go with him; that they continue from where he left off so that we will continue to benefit from their wealth of experience and wisdom.
“For us in the north and especially, in Peoples Daily family, it is death is too many. Recall we lost Hajiya Halita earlier in the year, then Isa Funtua and now Malam Wada. It’s sad but there is nothing we can do to avert their departures. It was their time. It is my prayer that Allah would comfort his family and his dependents. May Allah forgive his shortcomings, ameen.”