Even the strongest of men with the strangest of hearts will sober up on meeting Sadiq Usman, the 4-year-old angel, whose eyes were plucked by suspected ritualists in Zaria last month.
Well, that was my situation as I arrived the rusty village of Bula area of Jushi in the outskirts of Zaria, Kaduna State, where little Sadiq lives with his parents, a younger sister and an older brother, who I’m told, had refused leave the hospital insisting the doctors took one of his eyes to replace his brother’s. Touching.
Even before I met him face to face, my courage failed me and tears, anger, sadness, name it, overwhelmed me. He’s been home for two weeks since his discharge from ABU Teaching Hospital, Zaria. Now, I wish I was able to meet Mrs. Ibru, his nurse at the hospital, who kept giving me update on his progress during those frightful early days of his ordeal. Such a very gracious woman!
My brother and friend, Mallam Bello Moh’d Abdullahi Nasarawa (I call him Mallam Abdullahi), who first brought Sadiq’s plight to public attention, was obviously stronger than me, may be because he’s visited Sadiq while he was in hospital. A man of steel, though, with a warm and genial disposition.
Anyway, it took a while, but eventually Sadiq warmed up to me with the help of his father, Usman Isah Bebeji, who’s become a sort of security guard for the justifiably frightened kid, since his horrible experience.
Playful, cheerful, gentle, funny-even with his eyes still bandaged-Sadiq is a sweet boy. He loved my beard, and kept rubbing it. He didn’t like the crowd that gathered around us and so clung to me…and I clung to him, soaked in my own tears. Chai! I kept imagining what I would have done, if it was my only son, Tito, who was so brutally dealt with. God forbid, but I doubt that I would have survived it.
Well, what else can I say. I’m so glad I made it to Zaria to see my boy. I’m glad I met him the way I met him:happy, hopeful and adapting to his new condition. I, however, couldn’t stop cursing his attackers under my breathe that almighty God deal them a bad hand. They may have succeeded in stealing his eyes, but they can’t take away Sadiq Abubakar’s dreams and vision. And that was the essence of my visit.
Mallam Abdullahi and I have taken it upon ourselves to make Sadiq our own and Nigeria’s Malala-a future Children’s Rights Advocate! That he didn’t lose his life in the course of the evil attack testifies to God’s abiding love and certainly a grand plan to take the otherwise unknown Sadiq to global limelight and acclaim. He still needs expert medical attention and now must be sent to some of the best schools, where his condition will not be a limitation.
The government of Kaduna State, ably led by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has already pledged a scholarship to university level. The Emir of Zauzau has visited and made promises too. Other kind-hearted Nigerians have pledged support and some have even given some cash. Now, we want to bring these all together. The Sadiq Usman Foundation will be an everlasting platform for the education, medical treatment, local and international exposure and humanitarian activities.
Between Mallam Abdullahi and me, and with the support of his father and the special grace of God, effort is in high gear to finalize the establishment of the Sadiq Usman Foundation (SUF). So, for those who have ideas, finance and other forms of support, please get prepared for the launch of the foundation. You will be apprised of the details and how to make your contributions. God bless you as you make up your mind about how and what to give.
By the way, I took time to retrace the footsteps of Sadiq and those who tried to mess up his life that fateful day (they have failed woefully, though), and I found that it happened within a 500 meter radius, close to his home. Vigilance is absolutely crucial nowadays, with the hardship being experienced by some of us. Desperate people are resorting to dubious, luciferous means of getting by. Cases of kidnapping, ritual killing and such like are rampant. In Zaria, I was told such are on the increase. Let’s keep an eye on our kids, especially, because they are vulnerable.
May almighty God arrest the perpetrators of this heinous crime against a poor, innocent child and turn his pains into mighty gains as he grows in knowledge, wisdom and good health. Sadiq will be a source of pride and happiness to his family and Nigeria. I look forward to the day he will make his first appearance at our National Assembly to talk about Child Rights as an advocate and from there we shall see him at the United Nations.