Barr. Busugumi: A difficult tribute to write by Abdulhamid Al-Gazali

Let me attempt what appears to have been difficult even to Usman Ali Busuguma because he is of course, not a writer. Even if he were one, writing a tribute about Barr. Mustapha Busuguma, his beloved senior brother, is more complex than understanding chemical reactions, solid, liquid, gas and the rest of the gobbledygook, which as a chemist, is what he is best at. Usman had added a social media notoriety to his repertoire of personal resources, which in this country has become a sought-after quality that bags even presidential appointments and elsewhere causes men to lose girlfriends to cyber polished emptiness, but still Usman could only supplement that by generous splashing of his beautifully snapped pictures. When he runs out even of that, it is in Usman’s wont and social media operating manual to hop into Barr. Mustapha’s office, and ask for a ‘selfie to post’. In short, Usman’s head is overcharged by my brother’s multiple traits, far more than atoms, and so he could not give us a profile of Ya Massa’a’s extraordinary life beyond a terse, four-sentence post. I will delete it.

For those who may discern the underlying bashing of Usman in the previous paragraph, it is a continuation of the project of our ever waxing competition over the position of our brotherhood to Barr. Mustapha. This said, I will myself have to issue a caveat emptor before I can go on on this attempt, because here is one small-framed man who strikes everyone around him differently.

To begin with, let me start with one deadly, dangerous and misleading part of him that many don’t pay attention to. My brother looks entirely ‘unaware’ of even his immediate environment. But take that bait at your own peril! Barr. Mustapha is gifted with such an exceptional self-awareness that he is in no need to see or hear before he tells what happens or will happen around him. He is so ahead of people and even himself that he has a broad mental directory of what everyone can do in a given situation and condition without or before one ever doing it. For him, when by way of following your design, you act in a certain way, it is only a confirmation of what he had already exactly anticipated you would do. This is one of his otherworldly managerial abilities that positions him to be fully and always in charge of his environment, of man and machine, even from a distance.

In addition to that, Barr. Mustapha has an extraordinary ability to detect a potential for danger from a distance; which is why, when everyone is broken by the effects of an occurrence of a rare happening, he is not at all taken by surprise or shocked. This quality helps him to be in position to always provide, and effortlessly so, elaborate solutions to problems even when everyone is still yet to recover from its shock. Again, this is still a study in his managerial acumen and skills. Just as he has this ability, he can discern greatness, competence and glad tidings even from a distance. That may have been probably further refined by his generally positive attitude towards everything. No, he is not wired for your pedestrian negativity.

Furthermore, a quality of him everyone is likely to know is his emotional detachment to things and people, whatever and whoever they are. His spirit is so elevated from this world that he is almost absolutely detached from it. He is not your type of person who loses his sleep over wins or losses, even of himself. He has known from the get go that the world is not programmed to bow down to any mortal–let alone him, and that it will follow the course of its divine design without any mortal preventing, delaying or changing it. Things will happen their own way, and you will have no any control over them. The problem of entitlement–which he can if he wishes assume by virtue of his operation at the highest levels–and emotional attachment to the world, is the biggest endemic this generation is suffering from, but which he has cure himself of. Barr. Mustapha, for this reason, will never and is never herded into ethnic, tribal or sectional trivialities. Despite, for instance, my closeness to him, he never had a case with my opinions as a journalist, whatever they are about; he only laughs them off as a “common media mischief”. His friendship cuts across hostile and fraternal divides, and this quality is more important to one’s principals than oneself, because it affords the principals the ability, when one does their bidding, to get whatever they set out to do done. Most people, many times in avoiding to cross a principal’s line, are forced to leave in their own narrow cocoon, and therefore helpless in critical situations even to themselves. They don’t even have the bridges to burn.

His star quality is human relations. First, he is exceedingly humble, so it is never too difficult to get along with him. Second, he has a ‘dangerous’ communication skills that he can communicate across classes, age and gender, among others. It is dangerous because he is not reckless about his words, which he usually utters with a blend of carelessness and nonchalance. But he is so sure of what he wants to say, such that you get exactly the meaning he wants you to get. As such, you both cannot quote him out of context and persuade him to say what he is not ready to say. In fact, it is almost impossible to know what he knows and what his thoughts are about things. There are instances he would pretend, and he thinks we do not know yet, that his attention is elsewhere, and so he did not hear what you said. No, he did; he only has no answers for you. This particular quality, of self-restraint, reservation and confidentiality–which he either learnt in the course of his work or, if inherent, is the reason he has excelled in it–is the biggest capital in loyalty relations and in the kind of difficult but necessary job he has found himself in.

I want to finally end with his recruitment abilities, mentorship and knack for detecting talent. Barr. Mustapha does not merely recruit for himself, he invests in your talent once he sees a potential for it. He invests, most importantly, his trust, confidence and resources in you, and continues to encourage youbto believe in yourself. But when it comes to mentorship, he has one thing I have come to realize recently. He would make sure his mentees learn to struggle their way up, face all the adversities and fight all the adversaries; for in the end, that is what breeds greatness. He has through this way mentored and guided many who are otherwise hopeless lots, to put themselves into some effective use.

Those who don’t know him very well, or can only see the surface of things, will merely commend him for having worked so hard for his principals, three governors in a row, but he has done more. Beyond his loyalty to his principals, he is driven by a purpose bigger than all of them, including himself, which in his case he had long ‘annihilated’. This specs-wearing gentleman who has canceled himself in this self-centered jungle of the fittest, is fueled by his determination to serve people; the people of his beloved Borno and Nigeria, which he has accepted is his to build. But even if he had no such purpose, and is thus unaware of his own motives, nobody can take it away from him that he is one of the very few who have in the last 20 years worked for the good of Borno as much. Not this elevation, there is in fact no reward too big for him.


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