By Prudence Arobani
New York – It was a sombre atmosphere at the Nigerian House on Wednesday evening in New York as officers gathered to mourn the passing of the immediate-past Consul-General, Amb. Tanko Suleiman.
The Nigerian Consulate-General and the Permanent Mission to the UN organised a special session as part of the three days’ “Fiddau” prayer (Islamic funeral prayer) for the late envoy, who passed away on Sunday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the late envoy died few days after returning from a completed tour of duty in New York, where he had retired on April 27.
Officers at the Nigerian mission easily betrayed emotions throughout the session as they recalled memorable encounters they had with the late consul-general, whom they described as “a good man” and “a father”.
The Nigerian Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, recalled his relationship with late Suleiman, right from his days at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
He said: “Late Suleiman was my student at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, even though we were at par in age.
“When we met here again in New York, we became very close colleagues. He worked hard, very well and did his best’’.
The new Consul-General, Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen, who succeeded late Suleiman, also recalled that they worked together severally and that he was a beneficiary of Suleiman’s wealth of experience and advice.
“Death is a necessary end; it will happen when it will happen.
“I met him (Suleiman) in China and I also met him when I came back from New York.
“He was among those who called me privately and gave me advice and I noted it in my file,’’ Okoyen said.
Former acting Consul-General, Mr Nicholas Ella, who said the late Suleiman was his boss in China and also in New York, described him as a principled man, who “has a unique way of receiving visitors’’.
“He had a post-retirement plan and he was so generous and kind to everyone, irrespective of who you are,’’ he said.
Ella, who is Consul, Immigration and Community Relations, consoled the deceased children and urged them to actualise his post-retirement plan of a commercial farm.
Mrs Francisca Marinho, Consul Trade and Investment, described Suleiman as “a very good man, a colleague and a friend who did not discriminate’’.
Marinho said: “There is time for everything – a time to be born and a time to die.
“The position you think you have will go when you die and it is what people about you when you die that matter.
“Don’t be wicked; do good because we don’t need all these struggles of wanting to acquire everything.’’
Others, who spoke about Suleiman, included officers from the Immigration section, home-based staff and members of the Nigerian community.
Suleiman was buried in his hometown, Keffi, Nasarawa State on Monday.
He was survived by two wives and seven children.