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WADA NAS (1939 – 2005):





Paul Mamza




February 17, 2005



Wada Nas was a great man. In life he had exhibited the vigour of doggedness and the tenacity of purpose. He was an old man with the political magnanimity of an old-timer and aura of a youthful political daring - do. In death he will be remembered as a figure that tried earnestly to salvage the society from the clutches of despair and elite-manipulation. He was the nemesis of oppressors. We shared our greatest moments discussing the state of the nation, the plight of our people and the sheer visionlessness, if not deliberate might showing on the part of the leadership. I have interacted with many politicians but I am yet to see a politician that supports his political actions with his political writing like Wada Nas. He believed in what he says and said whatever that concerned his beliefs-he was never a pretender. He was a dynamic politician that mixed conservatism of the old-class and radical propensity of the young. He was a highly misunderstood figure sometimes is regarded as too controversial and a times very garrulous. But he was not. When he was in the House of Representatives in 1959-1960 he revealed to me some of his experience that strengthened the very foundations of his character building and the faith in the Nigerian Project.


During the Abacha’s years, Wada Nas was about the only Minister retained throughout the reign of Abacha. He had been labelled by the Southwest press as quintessential Abacha undertaker that deploys hunt for NADECO and its agents, the press called him ‘NADECO minister’. The thinking grew thicker even after Abacha’s death that hardly could Wada Nas make a statement that would not draw scepticism from some quarters. Whatever, he was virtually the only person who did not disown Abacha’s government thereafter, which he believed that he served in good faith. Even if it was pretence, it was a consistent pretence but which my personal interaction with him revealed that it was a genuine consistency anchored on principles.


Wada Nas drew his inspirations of criticism from the saying that "your greatest critic is your best friend" and hence his criticism against the Obasanjo’s was not out of malice. He commended the government on some issues and criticised it on variety of issues. He saw democracy unlike military regimes as the contest of ideas. He abhorred hatred and encouraged abiding by the rules of the game. He had instituted several legal battles against that action of government, which he felt were detrimental to democratic actions like the case against President on the appointment of Petroleum Resources Minister and recently against the local government elections in his home-state (Katsina). He was a dogged fighter for justice and fairness - before his death - he was in the forefront of advocating for an Igbo Presidency in 2007. My personal relationship with him started about six years ago and since then it had been like a father and son. We had spent much time and efforts as members of the Central Working Committee of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) with unrelenting zeal to rescue the North in particular and Nigeria, in general from pervasive disequilibria and democratic logjams. He was a politician with introspective foresight and vision that assess situations as they unfold and goes home with the spirit of vindications. A clear example was his early departure from the A.P.P. at the height of its undoing. With the General Muhammadu Buhari entry into politics under the platform of ANPP (formerly APP), Wada Nas though the National President of Peoples Salvation Party (P.S.P) - a new party, asked his supporters to vote for Buhari at the Presidential elections because of his ardent belief in Buhari’s personality and leadership qualities, which is rare, but as providence will have it Buhari did not make it as declared. That did not deter Wada Nas from the cause of Buhari, as he was one that had consistently identified with struggle for redress of electoral irregularities that marred the 2003 elections. The man, Wada Nas was a man of God and showed the radiance in his lifetime.


 I learnt of his death on my way to Kaduna on an official trip in the early hours of Monday 3rd January, 2005.  Here is a man full of strength and health when I met him a fortnight ago declared dead.  It was like a daydream.  Wada Nas, no doubt left an indelible landmark on the sands of time.  He was a fulfilled man leaving a big vacuum that is very different to fill.  If I say he was a man with the courageousness of a lion, I am not exaggerating matters neither, am I stretching issues too far by saying that Wada Nas was an embodiment of honesty and truth.  He left behind the attributes of honesty, dedication, determination, loyalty and trust.  He was a consummate politician with a magical charm, a writer with incisive torrents and an elder of insurmountable wisdom.  When Nas talks, there was always an eloquence of oratory – a man that could for hours talk without the boredom of the audience.  He was a journalist’s delight; a man of the people and the succor to the underprivileged. 


It was like a coincidence of fate when I was posted from my primary post at Ahmadu Bello University (A.B.U) to serve as the first Deputy Director of the newly established School of Basic and Remedial Studies (sbrs), which we collectively agreed as a committee to be located in Funtua, the then Vice-Chancellor of ABU; Professor Abdullahi Mahadi once jokingly confronted me that “I hope I did not send you to Funtua to meet your friend, Wada Nas”.   In sublime terms, its like sending me to the stronghold of my political like-mind.  But as fate would have it, my sojourn in Funtua enabled the enhanced relationship.  If there’s any lesson I have learnt from Wada Nas it is that of consistency in truth and perseverance in my personal approach towards issues becoming more or less Wada Nas personified.  There are times I challenged Wada Nas’s approaches when we rub minds, but at the end of it all, each of us become convinced in our personal convictions I cant remember a time we differ on fundamental issues of the North and misguided policies of the Federal Government.  We always disagreed to agree and agreed to disagree.  It was an opportunity I had never experienced in my lifetime.  Wada Nas is definitely a politician with a difference, swallowing emotions for reasoning and convictions, sometimes offering evidences for convince.  Many a time he would re-cast experiences, illustrations and projections to pursue his line of arguments in anticipation that I will succumb.  As an academic I found him investigative and challenging.  It was like a fieldwork of enforcing realities.


Wada Nas was a man of many parts but one fact summarizes it all: courage and fearlessness.  Wada Nas can be a long-ranger sometimes quarantined in his own self-beliefs and hence never cared whether somebody cared.  He would have been a perfect example-fit of a promising opposition leader if not for some disfiguring political tendencies of the dawdling political class.  Even out of the power-stream he had exhibited a damning opposition to the power at the center.  A friend of the Gowons’, Buharis’, Babangidas’, Gani Fawehinmis’, Balarabe Musas’, Abubakar Rimis’, the Kalus’, the Nzeribes’ etc. Wada Nas would be missed greatly in this period of our evolution.  He died fighting earnestly for justice, fairness and peace.  The Igbo race now clamoring for the presidency in 2007 will remember him as one that joined forces with them in order to actualize their dreams.  He was a good friend of the Igbos, the uncompressing star of the North and patriotic symbol of Nigeria.  The African continent had lost a great son and Nigerians will not forget him easily.


Born 66 years ago in Funtua, Katsina State.  Wada Nas was a First Republic member of the House of Representatives under the platform of Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), former Secretary of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) Kaduna State, during the Second Republic and Chairman National Republican Convention (NRC).  Katsina State, during the Babangidas’ Transition Programme.  The Government of General Sani Abacha appointed Wada Nas as Minister of State for Education, Special Adviser on Political Matters to the Head of State and later Special Duties Minister, an appointment he retained until the death of Abacha.  With the dawn of the new democratic model, Wada Nas became the President General of People’s Salvation Party (PSP) and had been in the forefront of The Buhari Organization (TBO) and Conference of Nigeria Political Party (CNPP).  He is married to two wives and bore 22 children.  Monday, 3rd January, 2005 marked the physical end of Wada Nas but his spirit still lives on – the spirit of pursuit of justice, reliance on truth and exhibition of courage.  The North and Nigeria will definitely miss this great man – a man that would have brought hope to the masses, a man that would have fought against injustice and a man that stood for fairness.  A consummate politician, a communicator with zealous focus and an elder with a large heart.  Good-bye Wada Nas.  May his soul rest in perfect peace.  Amin.


              Mamza writes from ABU Zaria


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