"Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot hide it from themselves" - Sir James M. Barrie
Recently, Saturday, September 1st, 2012, to be precise, Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma, the immediate past governor of Nasarawa State and one of its founding fathers, attained the golden age of 70 years.
It is my intention to avail myself of this opportunity to reflect on the man and his ideals and to meditate on the reasons he is esteemed by many, not only in Nigeria but outside our shores, including many who have known him only through his exciting life both in the civil service and political terrain.
When on September 1, 1942, a seemingly unknown family from Doma, in the then Plateau State gave birth to a little tot later named Aliyu, little did they know that fate will one day catapult him to the apogee or zenith of life.
Come to think of it, I have not been favourably disposed to writing tributes to living personages no matter the profundity of their achievements, lest my efforts be misconstrued as a backhanded attempt to curry favour from such personality, but today, I intend to break away from my past resolve. The reasons are not far-fetched. Considering the awe-inspiring contributions of Aliyu Akwe Doma to the development of old Plateau and present Nasarawa states, he deserves to be celebrated on this occasion of his 70th birthday anniversary.
After his primary education at Doma Central Primary School, he went to Government Teachers College, Gombe and Katsina-Ala Middle School, after which he proceeded to the nation's premier University of Ibadan. He also attended Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Akwe Doma started his working career as a headmaster of Doma Central School (1964); Tourism Affairs Officer; Chief Tourism/Cultural Affairs Officer. He also served as Permanent Secretary, Depts of Parastatals, General Administration (Millitary Governor's Office), Ministry of Establishment, Internal Affairs & Information.
In 1983, he served as deputy governor of Plateau State; and subsequently served as Member, Presidential C'ttee Council on Tourism; Foundation Member of Directors, Benue-Plateau Broadcasting Corporation to mention just a few.
Doma is also a recipient of several awards to wit: OOM Officer of the Mono decorated by the late President of Togo, Gnassingbe Eyadema for outstanding performance in the civil service (1973); National honours award by Olusegun Obasanjo as Cultural Ambassador (2002); Africa International Award of Merit conferred in Ghana (2002); Founding Father Award from University of Jos (2002); Fellow of the Society of Nigeria Theatre Arts (1991); Fellow of the Institute of Financial Management of Nigeria(1993); Fellow of Institute of Management Consultants (1997) and NAC Honours Award by the National Council for Arts and Culture (2001).
The sages made a time honoured statement long ago about the pedigree of mortals who populate the earth. Some, they philosophized, are born great; some have greatness thrust upon them, while others achieve greatness. For Aliyu Akwe Doma, the truth is that he achieved greatness through dint of hardwork.
As governor of Nasarawa State from 2007 to 2011, Doma did his utmost to deliver democracy dividends to his people. He understood the dictum that "power belongs to the people". Accordingly, he maintained constant touch with the grassroots through the provision of basic infrastructural facilities such as roads, water, electricity and employment for the youths so much so that today, his name is usually mentioned in the state in reverential tones.
Doma is indeed a man of the people who has direct links with the masses. Though out of the cockpit of power, his residence in Abuja remains a Mecca of sorts for people who throng the place for succour; he has consistently left in his trail enviable footprints that can only be matched by a few at the top. He has left indelible service records everywhere he has served, with many contending that his most defining moment was his awe-inspiring upliftment of Nasarawa State from economic and political doldrums.
For those who have been following Doma's giant and bold steps in testing the tip of his life, his consistency and successes are a tribute to his uncommon courage, faith, vision, selflessness and true commitment. The zeal and commitment he invested in administering Nasarawa State was borne out of his desire to create a new Nasarawa State where the weak and the strong, the indigenes and non-indigenes are treated equally; where you can turn your tap with confidence and water will flow; where you can switch on your light and it will shine; where your children will receive education and be sure of gainful employment when they leave school. His vision was to transform the state into an economically prosperous, socially stable and politically peaceful state.
Truth be told, he scored excellent marks within the permissible limits of available resources.
That Aliyu Doma is a completely detribalized Nigerian with a large heart is not contestable. In a nation bedevilled by ethnic jingoism, his largeness of spirit, free of the smudge of ethnic prejudice, stands as example. In the magnificence of his example, we are confronted with a vision of national cohesion (in an age of Boko Haram) that can be attained if more citizens would renounce the false, deceptive tenet of ethnic exploitation.
Within the short time he has spent in politics, Akwe Doma has demonstrated that he is not only a visionary, but also a goal-getter who sees possibilities where others see difficulties. With all his actions, he has also demonstrated that it is still possible to be in position of leadership without being besmirched by the murk and dirt symptomatic of Nigerian politics.
Judging from the foregoing, it will amount to injustice of epic proportions and a profound lack of appreciation to allow the birthday anniversary of this political icon to pass unnoticed, uncelebrated. As we celebrate on the pages of newspapers (without the usual popping of champagne and clicking of glasses), the attributes of this illustrious Nigerian, let all his friends, well-wishers and admirers' give him three resounding 'gbosas' on this auspicious occasion of his 70th birthday anniversary----Gbosa! Gbosa!! Gbosa!!! .
I admire Aliyu Doma for many reasons. He is an authentic achiever secured to the point of 'arrogance'. He is a treasure trove of information and knowledge and he is like an oasis in the desert of crooks and charlatans. To such an icon, I say happy birthday to you!
- Ochela, former editor of Abuja Today and Peoples Power Newspapers, is a media consultant based in Abuja.