By Musa Omale
On February 18, 2021, Alhaji Inde Dikko Abdullahi, the immediate past Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) went the way of all mortals, aged 61. For one who walked and worked closely with the late CGC for several years, my candid opinion is that Nigeria has just lost one of her greatest assets, one whose quiet but abiding legacies are indisputable in the eyes of those in the know, and I believe, in the eyes of History.
My relationship with Abdullahi Dikko Inde whom unfortunately l now refer to as “Late” started on February 7, 2007 when he took over the mantle of leadership at the then Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) as Area Controller. I was the Public Relations Officer of the command. The relationship was meant to be that of a staff-boss but it soon metamorphosed into a working relationship that was to blossom and help build bridges and foundations for greater impacts at the NCS. Alhaji Dikko was focused, amiable, accessible and left a lasting impression on all who came across him, unique attributes which led to unprecedented strides and accomplishments at the NCS during his time.
Abdulahi’s stint as C-GC was phenomenal, his dreams daunting and his strides so glaring, facts captured in figures and images by a previous publication of mine, Witness to a Revolution: The NCS Under the Leadership of Dikko Inde Abdullahi. His contributions at the NCS in terms of revenue drive, infrastructural development, staff welfare, digitalization program and other developments are timeless legacies that will no doubt continue to outlive him.
Without a doubt Abdullahi was a great ICON whose story should be viewed as that of the triumph of the human spirit. His is the odyssey of a man who overcame gigantic odds and who achieved all he set out to do albeit with a strong support system. It was in this light that a one-time member of the National Assembly, Hon. Sabo Mohammed Nakudu described the various accomplishments of Abdullahi as a mirror which will continue to hold future leaders accountable.
In life there are leaders and there are leaders but late Abdullahi was a leader in a million. He was exceptional, he was a rare archiver, a pleasant man yet a driven revolutionist, an astounding and passionate accomplisher but above, a God-fearing man.
Born in 1960 to the family of Inde Usman Abdullahi in Musawa Town in Musawa Local Government Area of Katsina State, the late Abdullahi was known to be an outstanding and diligent child, one clearly marked for greatness. From his primary school education in 1967 at Musawa Primary School to Government College Kaduna in 1974 and the University of Dimitrov Apostle Tshenov, Swishtov, Bulgaria, it was clearly the story of a man of focus, innate discipline hence the hallmark of his success in life. His future strides and excellent contributions to the country through the NCS principally therefore came as no surprise to those who knew him from his humble and younger days. As a mentee, I continue to draw inspiration from his insight and avid commitment to the NCS and to fatherland. For him, in life and in death, it remains all about legacies.
When death therefore came calling in the evening of Thursday February 18, 2021, it was a rude shock to all and sundry that this great icon, “Abdullahi” had to bow to the cold hands of the metaphor called “death.” I am however, consoled in the fact that death is a part of equity that all must travel, and Abdullahi being an uncommon Customs Legend, came, saw and conquered and with the good name associated with him, will defeat death and will live on in the lives of the uncountable whose lives he touched. The mammoth crowd at his funeral prayers (Janaza) on February 19, 2021 after Jumat prayers at the National Mosque, Abuja is a clear evidence of this assertion.
The passage of this great ICON therefore is a loss not just to his family, the NCS but to the entire nation. I read the submissions of other Nigerians on the sound foundation of reality and conviction of this great icon. One of them is the piece “Three Battles of Dikko Inde” by Mahmud Jega published in the 21st February 2021 edition of Century Chronicle. It is a succinct pointer to the points made above especially as regarding the battles he fought and won on the revenue generation front, in his high-wired bid to refocus the NCS as a major revenue regenerator and a major bulwark of the Nigerian economy.
Alhaji’s passing at only 61 is painful but then we are consoled by the footprints he left. Again, what is life without legacies? These legacies will continually speak for him.
May Aljanah firdaus (Paradise) be his portion. Rest in Peace, sir.
Mr. Omale is of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).