By Ponfa A. Wuyep
Late Chief Ezekiel Seizing Yusufu, Ubangari Langtang, who left this world on December 19, 2009, served Nigeria with all he had. Due to hard work and sterling leadership qualities, he held several Federal and State Appointments, which include: Minister (Secretary) of Internal Affairs during the Interim National Government in 1993. He was also the Pro-Chancellor Federal University of Technology Akure and Member National Library Board 1971 —1973. He was the Chairman, Benue, Plateau Publishing Company, Publishers of the Nigeria Standard from 1972 — 1975, as well as Member of Council, of the University of Jos, and Member University Teaching Hospital Board, Enugu from July 1976 — July 1979. Anambra Motor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Board from 1984 -1986.
The late elder statesman was born on 10th September, 1930 to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Yusufu Gosham (of blessed memory) at Mban village in the present day Kuffen District of Langtang North Local Government Council in Plateau State. As the son of an Evangelist he lived in many places together with his parents including first at Baltip (a small village) in Mikang Local Government Council of Plateau State where he, began his educational pursuit and later in Kwalla. In school, the late Ubangari was immediately identified as an exceptional pupil, and these rare attributes attracted him to his late teacher Ponzhi Edward Cirdap Zhattau, OON, the immediate deceased paramount ruler (Ponzhi Tarok) of the Tarok people the world over. The quality in-built in the late Chief E.S. Yusufu prompted his transfer from Baltip to the then Sudan United Mission School, Langtang in 1940.
Between 1944 — 1947, Chief E.S. Yusufu proceeded to the middle school Gindiri, a famous institution in Plateau State which was the preserved of only the children of the Christian converts. Between 1948 — 1949 he furthered his education at the Teachers Training College, Gindiri and graduated as the first set of students of the institution. He taught briefly upon completion of his grade III certificate, between 1952 — 1954. Ubangari went back to Gindiri Teachers college for his grade II Certificate.
Like the saying goes a “golden fish has no hiding place” the Sudan United Missions (SUM), having identified the leadership potentials of the late Ubangari they (Missionaries) appointed him in1955 as the first Headmaster in black skin for the Senior Primary School Langtang. He held that position until 1961, E.S. Yusufu later gained admission at the new Battle Abbey College United Kingdom between 1961 and 1962, he was at the Swansea University College from 1962 — 1965. He crowned his educational pursuit with a post graduate Diploma in Personnel Management between 1965 to 1966and also attended an International Executive Management Course Geneva for a Senior Executive programme in1984.
The late Ubangirin Langtang popularly addressed simply as E.S., was a very familiar name in the politics of the Northern region and later in Nigeria as a whole. Prior to the Nigerian Independence, he indicated interest to go to the House of Representatives in 1959 but this was not to be as Chief Solomon Daushep Lar, his very close political associate was later nominated and elected to represent the Tarok Constituency at the Federal House of Representatives. The Socio-Political Umbrella of the Tarok people (the Yergam Union) which was founded in 1950 had the late Chief E.S. Yusufu as its pioneer Assistant Secretary.
The Yergam Union was a very active political platform for the Tarok Unity, thus the Union went into an alliance with the UMBC, which was known as the “YERGAM UNION — UMBC alliance”. This alliance later produced the late elder statesman in 1961 as the Representative of the Tarok people at the Northern Nigeria House of Assembly. He re-contested the position again for a second term, unfortunately his opponent was declared the winner and this coincided with a very popular war in Tarok land known as “Ikum alamu”.
He was later elected Councilor in the low land Division in 1976, and was also the Executive Chairman Langtang Local Government Council between 1977 —1978, between 1978 — 1979, Ubangari was Chairman of Nigeria People’s Party (NPP) the Party that produced the likes of Chief Solomon D. Lar in the old Plateau State and Senator Jim Nwobodo from the former Anambra States. In the 90’s Chief E.S. was the State Chairman of the United Nigeria People’s Party (UNPP) and later became the Zonal Chairman of All Nigeria People’sParty (ANPP) for the North Central zone between 1999 — 2001.
The Ubangarin Langtang started his working career as a Primary School Teacher Grade II at SUM Primary School Pilgani from 1952 — 1953. He later became the Headmaster at Langtang SUM Primary School from 1955 – 1961,Personnel Manager, Nigeria Tobacco Company Ltd.; Zaria from 1967 – 1972 and Chief Industrial Relations Officer, Amalgamated Tin Mines of Nigeria Ltd. Headquarters, Bukuru, Plateau State from July 1972 -1986, Personnel Manager, Jos International Breweries Ltd.; October 1978 -1981.
He became Deputy Managing Director and Head of Personnel Management, of the Jos International Breweries (JIB) Ltd, Jos, from April 1981 – July 1986. The Ubangari ascended the position of the Managing Director of the JIB from July 1986 – 1990 when he voluntarily retired from the services of the company.
Chief E.S. Yusufu before his demise was a two — star Chieftaincy holder viz, he was the first to be conferred with the title of Ubangarin Langtang by the late Ponzhi Edward Cirdap Zhattau on 29th May, 1986. In the same year he was also conferred with the Chieftaincy of Babalaje of Ibara bestowed on him by the Olubara of Ibara of Abeokuta in Ogun State on August 30th 1986.
The late E.S. could best be described by different people from diverse areas of endeavours as a politician, administrator per excellence and indeed a traditional leader of his native Tarok community. Any of these descriptions can perfectly feed-in for him. He was a very knowledgeable elder statesman in the mastery of his mother tongue the Tarok language and a thorough speaker of the Hausa language too. He was indeed apolitical horse not only for the Tarok people but for the nation at large. He used the different opportunities offered him by God to advance the course of his people and humanity in general.
My personal encounter with him and of course the closet ever was on Monday 14thSeptember, 2009. I went to interview him in the company of Princess Lohna Sambo about his views on the late Ponzhi Edward Cirdap Zhattau OON, each question thrown to the elder statesman was satisfactorily responded to, and in fact each of the answers provided the opportunity to raise the next question. We spent over an hour and as it is usual with PHCN in Nigeria while the interview lasted, electricity went off, and the old man insisted we used a small rechargeable lamp to complete the interview.
Something told me the man was on his way out and we saw wisdom displayed at its best, knowledge was expressed to maximum satisfaction, eloquent spoken English at the highest heights. No wonder some people described him as the Teacher’s Teacher, Encyclopedia of custom and culture, a father to many and a colossus leader. This great star of the Tarok Nation has fallen; but surely his “ideals” will linger for a very long while in his community, Plateau State and the country at large.
Truly the late Chief E.S.was a blessing to Tarok nation. This was seen in the massive turn out at his funeral on 29th January 2010as a testimony to the good legacy that he left behind.
Adieu Baba E.S. Ponfa A. Wuyep, a commentator, works with Police Service Commission, Abuja, Nigeria