Posted by Garba Ahmed, Kaduna | 3 November 2015 | 3,152 times
Abdulkareem Albashir, a veteran journalist and renowned columnist, on Sunday finally breathed a sigh of relief as Kaduna Central Senatorial Senator Shehu Sani picked gave him money to secure an artificial limb.
Mr Albashir’s right leg was amputated on April 5, in 2014 in First Cardiology Hospital, Lagos, to prevent the spread of an ailment. Since then, the once agile and vibrant columnist who was born in 1947 has been confined to his residence in Kaduna due to his inability to obtain an artificial limb.
Mr Sani, while presenting $3,000 cash to Mr. Albashir in company of a team of surgeons from Orthopedic Hospital, Kano, described him (Mr Albashir) as an elder statesman who has spent most of his youthful and adult life serving the country.
The Senator said: “He is a man who has devoted his life to the service of humanity; he is a man whose literary works and journalistic contributions have made social, political and economic impact in the society.
“Some few months ago, I got a call from some of his colleagues who informed me about his state of health. Despite the fact that we have been speaking on phone, he has never intimated me for any assistance.
“As a friend, a father, as a Senator representing him in Kaduna Central, I feel morally bound to intervene and find a solution and succor to his state of health.”
Senator Sani noted that people like Albashir who have sacrificed the most part of their lives in the service of Nigeria ought to have been appreciated, recognised and supported in their times of need.
“I think our political elite, as much as they are concerned about our guide dogs, they should also be concerned about the watch dogs and we should not consider only when the rich and powerful die that we will say it is a national tragedy,” he said.
Mr Sani also described Albashir’s situation as a true reflection of the current state of Nigeria and the state of all Nigerians.
Said the Senator of Albashir: “Through him, many have built their careers. He has served in the generation of journalists and also served a generation of people. He deserves more in future, but for now this is for all of us in the civil society where I come from and the media – we are almost from the same realm. On this note, I will support the restoration of artificial limb to the tune of $3,000.
“He was a renowned journalist and an editor as well as a columnist who has made his mark. In him, journalists can see themselves as journalists.
“Also we can see whether our society is sensitive or insensitive. If such a man with his intellectual prowess could be in this state up to this very time without the state getting to fully intervene, it says a a lot about us as a people.”
Mr Sani added: “I and deeply concerned, not just for him, but for the whole of our people who are poor, who cannot afford anything.”
He said the state of health in Nigeria has paralysed over the years adding that, the rich and the powerful have opt to taking their own wards outside Nigeria.
“We can,” he said, “see how my people die in public hospitals that are understaffed without any drugs or remedy. Albashir is an example of this state that the nation that we have found ourselves over the years.
“It is very clear that Nigerian political elite are only interested in the media only when they use them to ascend to power or they need them to damage other persons. But, when it comes to welfare of the journalists in Nigeria, you will find our political elites wanting.
“I believe that if you can appreciate the role played by our army and our politicians in restoring peace and fostering unity in Nigeria, we also need to appreciate the role played by Nigerian journalists in this aspect.
“To this end, I will say that I am personally going to support the provision of his artificial limb and the technical work. I learnt there was contact with specialists in that field and they have given their bill for it. I am here today not for a courtesy call which I have already made, but to do what is very much needed. People like Albashir deserve more this, for what we have given to this country.”
Mr Albashir, while thanking the Senator and others for the goodwill towards him and his family, lamented the ill treatment and the denial of visa by the Indian Embassy in Lagos.
He said: “In Abuja, an unfortunate incident occurred, involving my team and the Indian Embassy. There, I laid on the base floor while my daughter, Dr Aisha, was talking to one of the Embassy staff. The next thing I saw was that he threw some documents he was holding at her. That angered me a lot but I was too weak to protest.
“In fact, this provoked some Nigerians around who were to secure their own documents. Since this episode, I have taken a vow never to visit India for the reason of any medical treatment.
“Reading the papers of September 5th, to the effect that Nigerians spend about N198 billion on medical trips to India, annually, I felt really bad. The rudeness of their Abuja Embassy swept through my memory.”
On the support, the veteran journalist said he had never for a moment thought that such an assistance was on the way coming. He added that three weeks ago, the Senator was in his house to find out what actually happened.
On how he became amputated, the veteran journalist said: “It is not as some people might think it was a result of some kind of a sickness that the leg was cut off, no. It was not diabetes. It was just like a miracle because I cannot even explain how this whole thing happened. All I know is that, I was trekking four-five kilometres virtually everyday, all of a sudden this thing occurred. It started developing pains and became very impossible for me.
“When I could not even walk to the nearby mosque, I knew that there was a very serious case with my leg. It was more or less like a very sudden kind of development and I engaged one of the best doctors in that field who was giving all assurances.
“I really trusted all he said, but it became impossible for me to rely on what he was telling me and I decided to go to Lagos. In fact, the first idea for me was to go to India. That idea did not materialise for one reason or the other. The doctors said that, it is either they get rid of the leg or the leg will get rid of me. I never thought it could be this serious: that was how we decided and the leg was cut off.
“So, you can understand my feeling today which is that, I never expected that such an assistance was on its way. For which reason, therefore, I am most great full to the Senator.”
•Photo by Garba Ahmad shows Senator Shehu Sani presenting a cash donation of $3,000 to veteran journalist Abdulkareem Albashir for artificial limb.
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