By Isaac N. Obasi
The University of Abuja community was thrown into a bewildering state of an uncontrollable painful mourning last Saturday, 29 May 2021, following the news of the sudden death of Prof. & Mrs. Peter B. Maidoki in a heartbreaking fatal motor accident along the Abuja-Kaduna highway. The news was received among his colleagues with disbelieving ears, loud shouts and with other expressive reactions such as the devil is a liar, Oh my God, shame unto the devil, etc. Again, these spontaneous reactions were followed by squeezed, clutched and angry facial countenance among his colleagues in the Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management Sciences, and in the larger university community.
Last Saturday everyone would recall, was a special day for different groups of people in some respects but particularly for those in the sports and political spheres of life. In Nigeria’s political scene for example, it was a day marking the 6th anniversary of the Buhari administration which was inaugurated on May 29, 2015. Prior to the Buhari administration, that date was celebrated as a Nigeria’s Democracy Day to mark the return to democratic governance in 1999 – a celebration which has now been moved to June 12 of every year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Last Saturday again, we would all recall, was a special day for millions of sports loving people across the globe as Chelsea and Manchester City were under serious tension waiting for the kick-off time of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League Final at Porto, Portugal. So in both sports and political circles, Saturday 29 May 2021 was a day to remember for a long time. This was the background of the ambience of this supposedly exciting day for many, when the news of the death of Prof. Maidoki and his wife came as a bombshell. This sad news suddenly changed the prevailing mood of the day into a very gloomy one.
But how did this puzzling, disconcerting and horrifying accident happen? There are more questions than answers in the various accounts of the accident, but what can be confirmed, however, is that Prof. Peter Maidoki and his wife along with one of his brothers were returning from a burial that took place in their country home, in Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State that Saturday when the accident happened. The accident, we were told, occurred when his car and one of these ever-present and ‘terrorising long vehicles’ on our roads, had a fatal contact along the now notorious Abuja-Kaduna expressway. Again, as we were meant to understand, the scene of the fatal accident was unbelievably frightening to tell you how these ‘terrorising’ vehicles are daily cutting many lives short on our roads.
Prof. Maidoki was full of life during the week of his death. We personally met along the corridor earlier in the week in an encounter that was characterised by our usual jokes, followed by uncontrollably loud and contagions laughter on both sides. For both of us, we had common way of greeting that would instantaneously generate entertaining jokes and hilarious mood enough to banish any threat of work-related stress in either of us. As the current Head of Department of Public Administration, Associate Professor Tafida Ahmed recounted, he saw Prof. Maidoki last Friday evening 28 May 2021 while he (Prof. Maidoki) came to deliver his lecture to students in one of the professional postgraduate degree programmes. This meeting, Dr. Tafida Ahmed recounted, was also characterised by Prof. Maidoki’s usual ‘tension-releasing’ jokes and loud laughter.
Prof. Maidoki’s death was a great loss to the Department of Public Administration which he joined as one of its foundation staff. He later served the Department as its Head from 2007 to 2009. The Department which was established in 1992 has had Prof. Victor Ekhator, Dr. Babayo Musa, Dr. Kuna Mohammed and Prof. James Ojobo as Heads of Department before Prof. Maidoki became the Head in 2007.
At the Faculty level, Prof. Maidoki served as the Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences. He completed his term shortly before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic broke out last year 2020. And again at the university-wide level, Prof. Maidoki served as the Director of Entrepreneurship Development Studies under the Vice-Chancellorship of Prof. J. S. Adelabu.
Death has been very unkind to my Department lately as its cold hand took away Associate Professor Isa Mohamed last year 2020 during the period of COVID-19 nation-wide lockdown. Dr. Isa, who succeeded Maidoki as HOD (2009-2011), had meritoriously served the Gombe State Government as Commissioner for Higher Education and had joined back the Department before his death. At the time of his untimely death, Dr. Isa had been successfully assessed internally for his full professorship and was waiting for the completion of his external assessment. He too like Prof. Maidoki was one of the foundation staff of the Department.
The entire university community will badly miss the sudden departure of Prof. Peter B. Maidoki, who had served it for close to three decades. The entire residents of the Giri Staff Quarters will painfully miss one of the couples whose presence over the years had helped to keep the community in a hilarious mood. The staff of the Faculty of Management Sciences will greatly miss the ever-functional presence of one of its past Deans. But the worst hit, are no doubt the staff and students of the Department of Public Administration who will be painfully deprived of the steady, functional and vivacious services of Prof. Peter Maidoki.
At a personal level, the death of Prof. Maidoki is a great loss to me. As one of my close office neighbours, his office is not only next to mine but its nearness added great value in good inter-personal relations. Again, the death of Prof. Maidoki whose office is opposite to that Dr. Isa Mohammed (who died earlier) would naturally generate anxiety, particularly for those of us whose offices are close to theirs. We can however, take solace in the Scriptural passage that assures us of tomorrow simply because He (our Redeemer) lives. Yes because He lives, all the children of Prof. & Mrs. Maidoki can confidently face tomorrow. This is our fervent and humble prayers for all the children.
Lastly, according to the burial arrangements (just circulated by the UniAbuja Christian Community), there would be a wake-keep for Prof. Maidoki and his beloved wife at their residence in the University Staff Quarters, Giri on Thursday, June 3, 2021 at 4pm. The Burial of the couple will take place on Friday, June 4, 2021 in their home town Kwagiri, in Kachia LGA of Kaduna State.
On behalf of the Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences, Prof. Y. M. Salaudeen and the entire members of the Faculty, my sincere condolences go to the entire family of Prof. & Mrs. Peter B. Maidoki. May their gentle souls rest in perfect peace – Amen.
•Prof. Isaac N. Obasi of the Department of Public Administration, University of Abuja, is a Visiting (Adjunct) Research Professor at the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria, ICPC, Abuja, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org