You will have to forgive me, I am returning after a few weeks; having taken time off to take care of my health. It’s good to be healthy. If you have been on the other side, you will have an idea of how it feels.

There were several things to write, yet in the condition that I found myself during those horrible weeks, I saw the computer as an enemy. The biro was heavy, even as the thought of any writing material was far from my mind’s radar.

Indeed there have been a lot of things to write about. The space in Nigeria offers the opportunity for those who want to write and even get tired; as every day, there are lots of items to consider. Indeed, there were; and boy, I was confused which to pick.

What you are about to read, has broken my heart as it has many others, who knew the subject. To be fair, I do not know the young man in question that much to write about him. Yet, here I am today paying tribute to Beka Michael Dungtur, 31 who many have described his passage as that of a young man from Kopging, Ampang East of Kanke local government area of Plateau State who arrived ahead of his time.

I have tried as much as possible to be fair to him here, so that I am not accused of taking the license of writing falsehood about the dead. I am aware of the many positive things that have been said about him which I don’t want to disparage.

If I did I would have dishonoured the many voices I hold in high esteem. Truth is I have been taught to honour people no matter their station in life. I have in the last one week read tributes on him by Senator Hezekiah Ayuba Dimka, Hon Yusuf Babayo Gagdi, Hon Timothy S. Golu, Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda Goshwe, REC Benue State, Hon Tamwakat Weli, Nde Jonathan Ishaku, Engineer Gonen Gofwen NDA President, Nde Dauda Wuritka Gotring, a retired CBN Director and several comrades in the struggle for a better Nigeria. There are many out there, some of whom may have read the tributes.

I recall that before we met, he was a friend on facebook. Not much could be said of him except that he was an alumnus of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria my Alma Mata, almost three decades after I left the campus. That is not the point, what is being driven at is the fact that we should be able to appreciate others on account of the deposit of the good noticed in their lives and given to others.

Before long, I got to know he was the Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Tourism, Culture and Hospital, Mrs. Tamwakat Weli, and on several platforms where he belonged, I read of posts that had to do with her office and ministry. But much more of the other struggles he was involved in with other young men and women.

I am not sure I am able to remember what his comments were like in May 2019 when I wrote a tribute on Prof Umaru Dechi Gomwalk, but I can be sure they were comments which had to do with the fact that Nigerians must have to celebrate anyone who has impacted positively in the lives of others.

By all standards, he is right. The world would be a better place if we appreciated what others are able to achieve; no matter how long or short their life span may be. Herein lays the reason for writing about the young man. If I have had anything common to do with Beka Michael Dungtur it was our humanity, he is Ngas as I am and for the work on a committee which had been put in place by the Ngas Development Association to organize this year’s Ngas Annual Festival of Arts and Culture, PUSDUNG.

Something happened that should not have arisen concerning the arrangements of the festival, but it didn’t take away the shine of the committee’s work. He left the group’s platform a few days later unceremoniously. He prevailed on himself to return with an apology to elders on the committee and the Ngas Development Association.

Rightly so, ‘Beka was not an angel, he was a young man who was not without anger, but never gets angry and stays angry over a long time. Beka will be quick to apologise and where the other party is the wrong doer, he jokes about it’.

The President of the Ngas Development Association in one of the tributes when his death was announced had this to say about Beka’s death: He had passion for every Ngas activity. That made it possible for the Ngas Youth Movement to elect him as its Director of Socials. He had sent me several memos on how to improve on some programmes in Ngas land. Toh Ngasmwa dang munndho we dang ko mu tokngolkho Nen ne? (Who are we to judge what God has done?)

On November 8, 2019, he was reported to have died after a time at the Marysol Hospital, Kwang, Jos South local government area of Plateau State arising from a complication. It was a death that hit many; no wonder the outpouring of emotions and other related activities accorded the death of an achiever.

Initially, I thought I knew him at the Ministry of Finance; where his principal, Mrs. Tamwakat Weli had held sway for almost three years. My wife who had worked there couldn’t be certain if he was her boss’ staff when she was there too.

Kanke A.Gotip’s name came up immediately; after all, she’s Weli’s Personal Assistant. She had everything about him but was not emotionally balanced to answer my probing. It was well understood, anyone associated with him would feel disturbed given the circumstances of his ill-health and demise.

A post on the Facebook by one Anna Asuluk, a delectable Rukuba girl about his death jolted me. I had to call her to confirm. Her voice over the phone confirmed my suspicion.

Miss Asuluk had over a year informed me about a relationship she had established with a certain Ngas man. I insisted when she told me, I needed to meet the Ngas man whom she had spoken dispassionately about. That young man she spoke about to me is today no more.

When she spent three months on internship with my organization, I had a natural liking for her dedication to work; and therefore, I had loved to get someone sweet to marry her. By the way, the kind of commitment one would get from a student at that level is a scarce commodity these days. I took to liking her as any other who would come and display such traits.

Another young woman who had a word for Beka is chairperson, Plateau Youth Council, Kanke chapter, Anne Suwa. She is heartbroken. She is distraught. They have been involved in the struggle to drive young people to stay focused and be useful in a society that belittles those contributions in the development process.

Not satisfied I needed more information on; such was supplied by one of his friends, Comfort Jikisim-CeeJay of how he took off from the street one Abdul, a smart young boy hawking around Terminus Market in Jos; upon which he sourced for funds and sent him back to school. He didn’t love people because of their ‘ethnicity, religion or political affiliation. His life was adorned with a lot of compassion and understanding’. In fact, ‘at every turn, Beka will put his friends’ priority above his and most of the time; we get puzzled by his gestures’.

Much more, Jikisim’s description of him was instructive in many ways, ‘Beka has many faces; as a young Ngas man, he has consistently sought to have men and women of his kindred live as shining examples. He was of the opinion that a good breed must have some semblance of a majority, so his people must be exceptional. He had striven to replicate the notion in every association, school, community and home where he belongs’.

I know of many who have expressed their sense of loss in various forms and on different platforms. Such emotion-laden statements are instructive of his place in their hearts.

Whatever I have written here is all part of the need to understand the young man in question. But much more than that, our attempt here is to challenge the young to study the life of Beka Michael.

If what I have read on several social media platforms about Beka is anything to go by, there is a dividing line about what young people can do. In the recent past, elders see young person’s as not relevant; simply as a result of their failed (?) post or for the fact that a few persons in that category has been given a position of authority but was frittered away.

Over the years, many have described the youths as a nuisance, who should be kept aside. But tried as nations have, the youths cannot be left out of development. No nation can do without the youths in its quest for development.

They are needed as much as the old. When they are disparaged and not given the space to operate, we turn them into criminals. The fact that others have made life simple and enjoyable means that the space or lack of it can be turned to the good of our society.

The fact that Beka was able to use his sojourn on earth is lesson for this generation. The impact a man or woman makes does not depend on how long he lives.

Beka, your chapter will be read and remembered for long. Adieu Beka!


Categories: Column

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