The appointment of Muhammad Idris Apa as permanent secretary and Solicitor-General of Nasarawa State stirred emotions and wild jubilation, especially among people living with disabilities.
At the ceremony of oath-taking, Apa depicted a picture of a courageous man rising against all odds to get to where he is today. It was awesome watching a cripple take oath of office from the comfort of his wheelchair; it was the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Apa's life is an embodiment of destiny. His story confirms the universal truth that destiny can be delayed, but not denied. The challenges he encountered on the journey of life could not hold him. Against all odds, he rose through the rank and file to become not only a permanent secretary, but also a solicitor-general.
Born on the 22nd of March, 1955 in Gadabuke, Toto Local Government Area of the state he had his primary and secondary school education in his hometown and Lafia respectively. In 1974, after the successful completion of his secondary education, he moved to Zaria, to attend the famous School of Basics Studies (SBS), at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU).
Thereafter, he worked briefly as a teacher at what is today known as Government Science School Nasarawa. From there, he proceed to University of Jos to read law. He was a student of law from 1977 to 1981 after which he attended the Law School in Lagos, then the only facility in the country grooming new lawyers. After graduating from University of Jos in 1981, where he bagged LLB (Hons), he proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos and was called to Bar in 1982 upon graduation.
Mr. Apa was then posted to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for his one-year mandatory youth service that same year. But little did he know that his homecoming for the Christmas break of that year would be a turning point in his life.
On his return to his place of primary assignment with the Nigerian Customs in January of 1983, he was involved in a ghastly motor accident along Jos-Akwanga in Kaduna State. The accident occurred in the night and the victims were subsequently evacuated to Kafanchan General Hospital, but Apa had no idea where he was, as he was reportedly unconscious.
After three months of treatment in Kafanchan, he was transferred to Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) and was frequent at Dalla Orthopaedic hospital, Kano and equally flown abroad for medical attention at a time. He also took traditional medication; all in search of healing.
After taking up appointment with the Ministry of Justice, Plateau State, in 1986 with the help of the then solicitor-general of the state, Mr. Apa was thus set to start his journey in the civil service as a state counsel. In 1996, upon the creation of Nasarawa State, he was deployed to the state as an assistant director.
As to the challenges he faces in the discharge of his duties, he said "the physical challenge I have is not a hindrance to the discharge of my duties, because what I need to do in the office or as a professional, I don't think I need much of my legs which I have little or no control of.
First of all, I try to know what is expected of me and discharge it to the best of my ability. I don't see myself being different from others."
Apa said that his determination to succeed in life, in spite of his incapacitation, was the driving force which pull him through what some able-bodied men would have considered insurmountable. He remained focus, looking beyond his disability towards achieving his dreams. And today, he is standing tall from the wheelchair. Where there is will, there is way!