Garba Dangida at 62: A Short Appreciation

Here is a special Happy Birthday greeting from me to a man I respect so much. Alhaji Garba Dangida, the publisher of Abuja Newsweek magazine, clocked 62 yesterday. May the almighty God continue to give him good health, wealth and, above, all rest of mind, amen.

We first met in 1991 when I was the Deputy Editor of a Kaduna-based weekly newspaper, Nasiha, the Hausa language sister of the daily newspaper The Reporter, both published by the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. Alhaji Garba was at the time the publisher of Katsina Newsweek, the first indigenous newspaper established in my state (it became Abuja Newsweek when he moved to Abuja). He had gone to the newspaper company where I worked in order to print his magazine when we met and, I guess, we clicked almost immediately.

From then on, as I waded through life, working here and there as a journalist, I served in various capacities (though without any appointment letter!) as Alhaji Dangida’s newspaper and magazine Editor, his P.A., S.A., Senior Special Adviser, errand boy, confidant, business partner, younger brother, co-conspirator, son, etc. Sometimes I combined two or more of those roles.

Through it all, I saw in him a special breed of human being: kind, selfless, loyal, humorous, jovial, fun-seeking, philanthropic, diplomatic and patriotic. He also has a way with business which I can simply describe as a Midas touch, i.e. whatever he touched turned to gold. I reckon he acquired that acumen during his long stay in Lagos where he worked with some expatriate businessmen. He is simply a goal-getter. Surely, he has his own downsides, like us mortals, but those have been outweighed by the positives that he exudes.

Even know he didn’t know it, I actually learnt many lessons from him about business, family life, relationship with friends and foes alike, and just what it takes to survive in the shark-infested waters of Nigerian life. One of those great lessons is that you must have the heart to forgive those who hurt you and accommodate those whose views or perspectives contradict yours. Another lesson is that you must go out of your way to be kind. Another lesson is that you must strive to be friends with your kids. Another lesson is that the daggers of backbiters may hurt, but they cannot fierce through the focused heart. Yet another lesson is that you must respect people, not only those of your own tribe or religion but also those of different backgrounds. And whilst you seek pleasure and joy, it must not bother you that you aren’t as rich as the other fellow.

As Alhaji Dangida piles on the years, I noticed that he has not lost his well-known penchant for gracefulness, looking good and speaking wisely. Sadly, however, I also noticed that he and I hardly meet even though we live in the same city; we speak on the phone occasionally, but generally we were closer when we lived in different cities! Why? Search me.

Alhaji Garba Dangida may not be as materially rich as some might think, but I see him as I always regarded him from the very first time of our acquaintance – a rich, fulfilled man. He lives well by the  standard I personally set for one to be living well. And he is an achiever in business, family life and human relations.

My prayer for him as he quietly celebrates the unique milestone of his birthday is to continue to savour his achievement in the three areas I described above – and eternally enjoy God’s grace in this life and the next. Amen.

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