TRIBUTE TO A COSMOPOLITAN MONARCH
To say I was visibly shocked, traumatized and downcast with the news of the death of Hama Bachama, Homun Honest Irmiya Stephen is an understatement.
On Sunday, 28th of June in a Church in Borrong, when I stood up and called on the congregation to pray for his family, the Bachama kingdom, the Numan Federation and entire state and the nation for loosing such a gallant soldier, a cosmopolitan monarch, I was shaking and couldn’t control my tears which unconsciously flowed freely from my eyes.
I have a singular honour of sharing two relationships with this amiable, eloquent king which were personal and official.
Personal because his immediate late younger brothe, Hon Fabrel Irmiya Stephen was the closest friend I ever had. We were so closed that we were sharing his room in their family compound in Numan, my room in Borrong and my room at Bekaji Housing Estate in Jimeta and later at karewa, GRA. The bond was so strong that the king had accused me of not taking his political sojourn so seriously because my bosom friend had died. The one that brought us exceptional closer was official. For the past 4 years that I have been overseeing the affairs of the Mbula kingdom in the absence of my elder brother, the relationship became more solidified and gave me more insight on this gifted man. There is no doubt there were some sterling qualities of this man that stood him out of the crowd and made him unique and extraordinary.
His level of intellectuality was something else which distinguished him in any intellectual discourse. Whenever there was an assignment that had to do with brainstorming, the Lamido of Adamawa would always single him and myself for such an assignment and we and others did justice to such an assignment. At one time we spent three sleepless nights in his guest house in Yola to produce a comprehensive report that were far reaching that if implemented would bring about lasting peace in most of our communities experiencing all kinds of violence associated with religious and ethnic bigotries and also had a lot to do with herders/ farmers clashes and criminality. It is to the eternal credit of this monarch that before I came temporarily on board, he had produced a blue print on all matters that touched the heart of the traditional institution in the state.
When it came to delivery or presentation, he was exceptionally eloquent and his oratory was something that even his adversaries will doff their hat for.
Homon Stephen was generous to a fault. I will not be surprised if nothing is left in his bank account because his generosity was legendary. He gave out what he had and this cut across the young, the old, the weak, the strong and most importantly to the poor and indigent. I’m fully aware that he placed a lot of elderly, weak and poor people on monthly allowances. He was full of compassion for the wretched of the earth.
Jesus said in Mathew 5: 5 that “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” He also said if you want to be uplifted, you must first humble yourself and went further to say if we don’t humble ourselves like this little children we shall never make heaven. Humility was therefore central to Jesus’ ministry on earth. Late Homon Stephen imbibed these Jesus principles in his sojourn here on earth because his doors were always open to all manner of people. Despite being a monarch, he derived pleasure in serving ordinary people in his inner living room.
Homon was man of glamour. My brother Patrice Dele Loko described him as the most glamorous monarch in the country. It may be a hyperbole, but it could be amended thus: one of the most glamorous monarch in the country. His mode of dressing was spectacular and he carried himself with him dignity and swagger.
One of his attributes that I adore and cherish so much was being highly principled and hardly compromise on issues that border on social justice, speaking the truth no matter whose ox is gored. When it came to issue of defending the interest of the Bwatiye nation, Numan Federation, he was prepared to sacrifice his comfort and even if it meant loosing his life in the process. He was tough, courageous and brave.
Beneath this tough posture lies a simple, understanding, accommodating man. One of the most uncharitable comment was accusing this man of religious or ethnic bigotry because he was not. When people try to point out the violence perpetrated in his kingdom as pointer to complicity in bigotry, they have not known how many times he had prevented blood bath, especially in Numan. It’s to his eternal credit that in his 7 years reign unlike in the past, Numan metropolis never experienced blood shed. I remember how his timely intervention prevented reprisals attacks in Numan when some of his young warriors went to Borrong to assist the Mbula people when they were attacked by herders. Sadly some of them lost their lives in the most gruesome manner. He immediately ordered their burial and went round and told his people not to retaliate and his voice prevented what could have become a blood bath. All the attacks happened outside the metropolitan centres where it was not possible for the monarch to reach out. In fact the most convincing case to show his detribalized nature was one of his closest aides more or less his PA was the Sarkin Fulani who was always with him in all his official duties.
These are the few of the salient attributes of this cosmopolitan monarch who combined modernity with tradition with some uniqueness that is worthy of emulation. Such people come once in our life time.
Adieu to a man of benevolence, a man of magnanimity, a man of generosity, a man of compassion, man of humility, a man of glamour, a man of eloquence, a man of courage, a man of principles, a man of valour, a man of… too numerous to mention.
Mr. Fenny Fwa is a Prince