It was early morning on Saturday, 2nd. February 2019. I was trying to fix myself a cup of coffee in the kitchen when my wife rushed in to tell me she had just picked up troubling information from social media that Honorable Paul Adah was dead. I was still trying to make sense of it when Paul’s wife called my wife in palpable panic to find out what was happening with her husband. Since we were in Calabar and Paul lived nearby I decided to go to his house to find out what was happening.
I drove into his compound and found it unusually empty but for two shocked security men. Before I could ask any questions I got a call from Goddy Akpama summoning me to the Navy Hospital immediately. I got to the Navy Hospital where a crowd had gathered with Rev. Father Bob Etta and Patrick Ogar wailing. The irrepressible, affable and ever warm Paul Adah was stone cold, lying motionless on a stretcher already labeled waiting to be wheeled into the mortuary.. I stood there staring at a lifeless Paul trying to make a meaning of our vain mortality. I took some tentative steps to join Father Bob and Patrick Ogar outside where the kindly Hospital staff had provided us seats. The last moments of Paul’s life were recollected by those who were with him that morning. He had woken up that morning and those with him heard his room door being unlocked. That was it. He was found lying awkwardly on his bed, dead. Yet another cold reminder of how fleeting and how vain our lives on earth are
As we sat there trying to soak in this tragedy, I came face to face with the humanity of our clerics . For that moment Rev. Father Bob was just Bob who had just lost a friend and brother and who must come to terms with the different dimensions of this monumental loss. I had to remind him that we were all looking up to him at that moment for strength and guidance through the maze of conflicting emotions of our individual and collective loss and pain.
Paul had for me become a fixture in my life since 2002 when we both sought the mandate of our people in the national legislature. We had to work along with our other colleagues under Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw , and later, my good self, to keep those of us at the National level in sync with the State’s administration and to develop a template for teamwork, accountability and backward reporting to constituents and constituency. He was a most willing ally always .
When he started having challenges with the political family he kept faith. When we were evicted from our erstwhile political platform, he with his Catholic equanimity moved on to find political space elsewhere to progress his political ideals. He became a dependable pillar in the All Progressives Congress where we berthed. He threw in his all, mental, physical, spiritual and financial resources to ensure healthy competition in political sphere believing that the essence of politics was the ability of the people to make their own choices. He remained bothered though whether with the stark poverty staring our people choice was possible. His death on the eve of elections was to us in the APC a tragedy of unimaginable proportions. His death was demoralizing to say the least.
Paul took laughter to even the gloomiest of situations and places. His capacity for friendship was only diminished by his capacity for Christian forgiveness. Once upon a time he was Paul for all and all for Paul. As his endeavors, ambitions and indeed his faith got challenged more and more he retreated to Paul for all and some for Paul and finally birthed at Paul for all. What mattered to him was taking responsibility for his conscience and letting others do same.
We were family. I remember his regular supply of fruits each time he returned to Abuja from Obudu and how my wife monitored his return. Paul would discuss any issue openly and frankly and was brutally honest in this age that is ruled by convenience and lucre. Though a politician he did not play politics with people. He was clear on where he stood on every issue.
His Roman Catholic faith was at once a faith and a way of life. For him faith without good works was incomplete.
He was the essential family man. You couldn’t miss the glint in his eyes when he spoke about his family . Every now and then he would check on twin boys in my wife’s school . They had earned his pride and he was indeed very proud of them.
At times like this , in our perplexity, we try to make meaning, or the lack of it, of human life, it’s emptiness and share vanity, we even question God as if we share territory with Him. But God shares his glory with no one and the day we as mortals unravel the mysteries of life and death that day we become Divinity. Happily for us believers in the salvation offered at the cross in Calvary by Jesus Christ and the resurrection that day will never come. God will remain God of all ages and man will remain man, dust and to dust he must return.
The measure of our lives is not in the length of our years but the life in those years. Paul had life in every year of his life. In an age where convenience and stomach infrastructure rule Paul had his beliefs and stood by them.
Every one has his faults. Paul was no exception. But he was a good man. He gave, he shared, he empathized, he sympathized, he laughed, he cried, all from the heart. He was true and has gone to Heaven to join the true, the pure of heart and the Angels. Even as I write I hear his hearty and guttural laughter.
Rest in perfect peace my brother .
Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba OFR CON SAN, wrote in from Abuja, Nigeria.
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