As the inks flow in tributes to Abba Kyari by those who loved and despised him, let us not forget that Abba was much misunderstood and often maligned.
Wherever you stood then and stand now, let us not forget that Abba was a patriot.
He executed President Buhari’s vision with his own single-mindedness. One of his favourite quotes was credited to Jeff Immelt to the effect that: “The job looks easy when you are not the one doing it.” He seemed to take a lot of comfort from these words when his actions were misunderstood.
I bear testimony to his dedicated execution of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund Initiative (PIDF) which guaranteed funding to cash strapped projects like the Second Niger Bridge, the Abuja-Kano Highway, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Mambilla Hydro Project and the East –West Road at monthly meetings we held to review progress with Contractors.
Like all of us, Abba was flawed but he was not conceited. He was driven by conviction and never shied from an intellectual argument because his intellect was vast.
We disagreed but I never found Abba disagreeable.
Now that he has paid the supreme price in the service of the fatherland one good way we can honour Abba’s service and memory is to continue where he stopped.
Our most compelling assignment is to make the defeat of Covid-19 an urgent National Assignment to be completed in shortest possible time.
I think Abba would love that very much.
We must now undertake this assignment with a single mindedness similar to Abba’s execution of his own assignment.
This requires all of us , high and low , to observe existing guidelines like hand washing, sanitizing , wearing of face mask, social distancing and staying at home, in order to stop the community spread of the virus.
We must remember that the virus , on its own can only travel about 6 (six) feet and no more.
If it travels beyond that to our villages, cities, towns, wards, local governments and our homes, we carried it and enabled it to do so by heedlessly transporting it.
My deepest condolences go to Abba’s wife, children and family who gave us their Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle and Son , and to Mr President and all his immediate Staff and colleagues in the Villa .
Rest in Peace Chief, you served well.
(Babatunde Raji Fashola is Minister of Works and Housing)