A former Chief of Defence Staff, General Theophilus Danjuma (retd.); President of Igbo Elders Consultative Forum, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao were among the dignitaries who bade farewell to one of the renowned leaders of the National Democratic Coalition, late Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, during a commendation service and service of songs held in his honour in Abuja.
The PUNCH reported that until his death on February 1 2023, Suleiman was also a nationalist and one of the leaders of the Middle-Belt Forum and Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Russia.
During the programme held on Wednesday night in Abuja, Danjuma said he was distressed that Suleiman died before him, despite being a younger friend and an associate.
He said, “Dan was younger than me. I am a traditional man and by my culture, he is supposed to be the one to bury me, not me burying him.
“I am not supposed to be here, but I had to make an exception because he was a good man. We had a close shave with death together.
“I always told him not to die before me, but it has happened. So, I decided to show my face here and quietly talk to the family before going back to Lagos where I am based.
“Quite a number of speakers before me have paid glowing tributes to Daniel and there is nothing else to add.”
Ezeife who represented the Ohaneze Ndigbo, described the late nationalist as a man to be trusted and believed.
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“He is a man who says yes and it is yes, he says no and it is no. Dan Suleman is in heaven right now, there is no doubt about it.
“On behalf of my people, the Ohaneze Ndigbo, I bring you condolences. He lived 80 years, this kind of person, we will like him to live up to 120 years. But he tried and all those years he lived were very useful,” Ezeife said.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Amao said the deceased was a man of valour, integrity and a great achiever who had lived a fulfilled life with an unprecedented drive for success.
He said that too many of them in the military both serving and retired, Suleiman was not only a senior colleague but also a mentor whose lifestyle and achievements were sources of inspiration.
“Our beloved senior colleague was one of the founding fathers of the Nigerian Air Force whose contribution to the development of the NAF remains a focal point of reference as far as our history as a service is concerned.
“Air Commodore Dan Suleiman will surely be missed for his commendable and professional contribution not just to the Air Force and the Middle Belt, but to the entire nation”, he stated.
Jim Suleiman, the senior son of the deceased, said his father was not perfect but was a man who put his faith in Jesus Christ, a man of faith, which was the driving force of his life.
He said, “My father’s principles in life were very simple, which is, ‘seek ye first the kingdom of God, seek his righteousness and every other thing will be added’. So, that is the way he lived his life, depending on God’s leadership and taking life one step at a time.
“He has been a father, a mentor, he has been everything to me, he has been consistent, he has been someone I can follow, he walked a path that is simple to follow. I will miss his wise counsel.
“If you read his first book and autobiography titled, ‘Pilot of Justice’, even in that title, he was so much concerned about justice, that is his major concern. Everything he did from NADECO to the Middle Belt was to ensure that there was justice and equality for everybody.
Other dignitaries at the event were a former governor of Plateau State, Jonah David Jang; former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Barnabas Germade; former Minister of Information and Orientation, Prof. Jerry Gana; former governor of Plateau State, Fidelis Tapgun; former Ambassador of the Scandinavian countries, Dr Godknows Igali (representing Chief Edwin Clark); Coordinating Secretary, South and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, Ken Robinson; Pastor John Dara; President of Nigerian Baptist Convention, Rev. Israel Akanji and Senator Grace Folasade Bent.