By Abbas Bamalli/Kano
Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, on Thursday narrated how he escaped death in a plane crash that killed the former Military administrator of the state, Col. Abdullahi Wase and some other state government officials.
The crash occurred in Jos on 20 June, 1996. All the nine occupants died.
The private aircraft was on approach to the Jos Airport when it developed engine problems, lost altitude, hit an antenna and crashed.
Ganduje reminisced over his narrow escape when he received on a courtesy visit, the new Nigerian Ambassador to Romania, Barr. Safiya Nuhu, a Kano indigene.
Safiya’s father also died in the plane crash.
“As the then Commissioner of works, housing and transport, I was to visit the Wase Juma’at Mosque, in Plateau state, which was under construction.
“And I was the coordinator for the appeal fund to build the mosque.
“The governor was to travel to inspect the project and also pay a condolence visit over a relation that died. So, I coordinated the journey.
“I secured the aircraft that was used for that journey. The aircraft was owned by Alhaji Aminu Dantata. I was the one who wrote all the names of those that were to travel with the administrator.
“And your father was not among. As I was going out from the Government house, the late Wase was climbing the stairs through the family wing and your dad came to me asking why his name was not there.
“Then the late Wase after climbing one step, stopped and asked your dad: “you are Permanent Secretary Government House, when there is communication from the Villa, who will receive that communication?” His position was like that of a chief of staff.
“Then late Wase asked what was happening. I then told him that the DG was insisting that he wants to follow us. He then said his name should be included. Then I included him.” Ganduje told Nuhu.
He added that two of them, in their separate vehicles, drove home because they were staying along the same route in Sharada. Nuhu waved and said good night to Ganduje. Ganduje responded.
“But on reaching my house, I called my permanent Secretary and told him that we were scheduled to be in Wase through Jos, so I will not be in the office.
“He said that there was an important message. The memo you were asked by the Governor to write to the Head of state, they sent the money requested for the rehabilitation of metropolitan roads.
“And probably the president will send some people to come and see what is going on. I said if that is the case, I am not travelling again.
“I then asked him to invite the technical people so that we will meet in my office by 8am, to prepare the necessary memo and when the governor comes back, I will take the memo to him for approval so that we can swing into action.”
Ganduje explained that after that interaction with his permanent Secretary, he decided not to travel with the governor to Wase.
He said that in the morning, the technical people came, and as they were holding a meeting then I was told that I was being requested to be at the Government House. I asked who would ask me to be at the Government House when the administrator was not around.
“The messenger said that it was a message. Then I left for the Government House and went to the Council chamber, where we were holding our meetings. That was 1996, about 25 years ago.
“Immediately I entered, I saw the brigade commander, who had taken over immediately and some commissioners were crying. Then I asked if it was not an air crash. How can commissioners be crying in Government House? I asked.
“The Brigade commander replied: “well, my colleagues, the administrator left here in the morning. There was a crash in Jos, and no survivors. I am giving you one hour, to go and get ready so that we go to Jos and sort out the dead bodies”.
“That was the end of it. Your father was my friend, since secondary school, to the university, and we later started working at the Gumel Advance Teacher’s College,” Ganduje reminisced.