I am writing this tribute to honor a great friend, Rahmatu Ahmed Hassan II, whom I respected and admired. She was an exceptional lawyer and dedicated civil servant who rose to the exalted position of Deputy Director at the Nigeria Judiciary Commission, and a Special Adviser to the Chief Justice of the Federation, Tanko Muhammad, before she died on March 29, 2022.
It was a sunny Tuesday morning when I received a call informing me of the passing away of my beloved friend. Ya Hajjo, the elder sister of Late Rahmatu, who called to inform me, said in a sober way: “Hadiza we have to take heart, its time for Rahmatu to leave us, she’s gone Hadiza”, at that point my heart stopped beating for a moment. Thereafter, I dropped my phone, I became numb, couldn’t feel my legs anymore. I then found myself sitting on the floor with my head on my hands.
Rahmatu was a 46-year-old vibrant and lively woman who lifted hearts from darkness. She gave hope to a lot of people in despair and saved souls from weakening. She was a versatile fellow whose honesty was second to none. She had this calm and comforting voice that would make hearts melt. She was fun to be with, and had great sense of humor. She was the only one that would get me immediately I crack jokes.
Our journey started as far back as October, 1985 at the Federal Government Girl’s College, Bauchi, when we became classmates in JSS 1E. Rahmatu was a brilliant student, very smart and easy going. I told myself she had to be my friend, because that was the advice my elder sister gave me when I was going to college. She advised me to make friends with brilliant students so that I could become one.
I can vividly recall how our conversation started one day after an English class. With a big smile on my face, I walked up to her and introduced myself. We just connected at once and, ever since, we became good friends.
Rahmatu and I became family friends. I often spend the long vacation in their house in Jos. Her pleasant parents who are all late welcomed me with love, I became part of the family at once. After our graduation, we got admitted into the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where she studied Law and I studied Journalism.
During Rahmatu’s wedding reception in Kano, she nominated me as her Maid of Honor without my knowledge and, to my utter surprise, I made a heartwarming speech at the event. Although the speech turned out to be whack because I wasn’t prepared for it. I started by saying Rahmatu is a sweet cute little thing, Abubakar is lucky to have you, thereafter the wedding when we were alone, she said “Haba Hadiza what kind of speech was that? It was a total disaster.” Ever since she made fun of my speech.
One day I said to her I would be Nigeria’s First Lady by God’s grace. She said “Nigerians are going to love you, especially when you read your speech to them”. We both laughed.
We shared so many secrets. In fact, Rahmatu was the only one that knows most of my secrets, and she had never for once judged me, that was why I felt comfortable telling her things about me the good, the bad and the ugly ones.
One thing that made our friendship splendid was that we shared a lot in common. We were both open-minded, loved traveling, and have this energy, for celebrating birthdays and the likes. We both have the same taste for perfumes and we can gist from morning till dawn without getting exhausted. Rahmatu loved reading novels, she was a puzzles freak. If you want to see Rahmatu’s face filled with joy, then give her a book.
One thing I know about my beloved friend is that she was a cheerful giver. Rahmatu can give anything to anyone. I’ve seen her push the extra mile to help others.
I can’t forget my days at Bayero University Kano (BUK) and how Rahmatu was there for me. She motivated me to go back to school and supported me financially and otherwise. She was always sending me money for my school and upkeep.
I owe Rahmatu a lot because she sacrificed so much for me. During my daughter’s wedding on the 24th of March 2022, I asked her to help me plan for a grand dinner. I only told her about my daughter’s wedding in early February but she delivered successfully.
Everyone was impressed with the outcome of the dinner. All thanks to Rahmatu. We had to always talk and chat on Whatsapp four to five times daily, just making plans for the dinner and it turned out to be successful. Rahmatu used her strength, sweat, money, and time on the dinner event.
I was also touched when she came to my house the next day, Friday 25th, for the wedding lunch and gave my daughter the sincerest marriage advice. When she was leaving, I saw her off to her car and before she left, I started teasing her that I could not wait to get married so that she could give me the same marriage advice.
She laughed and said: “Hadiza, leave me, I don’t have your time,” she then entered her car and drove off. She called me the following day, saying that I needed to take a break to go somewhere and rest. I was stressed and lost my voice, because of the wedding. I told her that I was traveling the following day.
The next day was Sunday, 27th of March, 2022. I woke up in the morning and saw her text message ‘Safe flight’. I smiled and replied thanks, dearie. I called her on Monday, 28th, March 2022 at 8 pm to tell her that I had arrived safely but no response, only to wake up the next day with the sad news.
It’s normal to be sad when you lose people you hold dearly, but it is important to give ourselves time to grieve. We should think back to the time we spent with our loved ones over the years. Immortalize the memories we share and incorporate them into memorializing them after they’re gone.
I am writing this with a heavy heart as the pain is still fresh. As a matter of fact, I am pained, confused and lost. Now that Rahmatu is no more, who will I call to report people that wrong me? Who is going to comfort me when I am feeling down?
She was always there for me in good or bad situations. My heart is bleeding. I am heartbroken. I have lost a pure, beautiful soul. I am going to miss you my sweet friend forever.
Hadiza Yuguda, a freelance journalist, wrote from Abuja.