BY SIMON REEF MUSA, ABUJA – The life and time of Mrs Marie Patricia Dan Suleiman, late wife to the former Military Governor of old Plateau State, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (retd), attracted commendations from a cross-section of distinguished Nigerians who assembled on Tuesday at the First Baptist Church Garki-Abuja for a commendation/thanksgiving service in honour of her memory.
Speaking on Mrs Suleimans whose 76th birthday was to be today, June 30, the former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, described the late model icon as a virtuous woman who stood for her family and lived an exemplary life.
“I was a lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, when Mrs Suleiman was in Plateau State serving as the First lady while her husband was the military governor. Many of us admired them as a couple as their lives proved inspirational to us. We shall surely miss Mrs. Suleiman who was supportive of her family and was engaged in activities aimed at improving quality of lives for the less privileged,” Gana recollected.
Mr. Jonathan Tsaku, a former special assistant to Air Commodore Suleiman when he served as Nigeria’s ambassador to Russia from 2003 to 2007, called to mind that Mrs. Suleiman whom he described as a mother was unswerving in instilling values in people who came her way and ensuring that discipline was adhered to.
Tsaku who has spent over 40 years with the Suleimans said, “Mummy was never tired of correcting people. She is the type that would beat you with the left hand and draw you with her right hand. She loved people and never discriminated against anyone. Her greatest strength was standing up for principles. Mummy’s life was really an inspiration to all of us.”
Recalling his years with his mum, one of her sons, Daniel Jnr, said his mother was committed to discipline and upbringing of the children as she was always concerned with issues relating to them as a family.
He said, “Not single day passed without our mummy speaking to us. If we eventually failed to call her for two days, she would quickly call to demand to know the reason why we did not call.
“We always thought that she was disturbing us with her constant calls. But now, we know she loved us and was always concerned about us. We shall surely miss her as a loving mother who put in her best so that we may become better people she wanted us to be,” said Daniel Jnr.
Speaking on late Mrs Suleiman, Pastor of the First Baptist Church Garki-Abuja, Rev Israel Akanji, reminisced on his first impression of Mrs Suleiman as the First Lady of Plateau state in the late 1970s.
In his words, “As a secondary school student then in Jos, I admired Mrs Suleiman who once shook my hands and consoled me when our school took a second position in a football competition.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Returning home,’ Rev Akanji described the death of Mrs Suleiman as akin to returning to her maker. He recalled her zeal in the service of God and called on Nigerians to emulate her virtuous life.
As a member of the First Baptist church, Akanji added, she proved an inspiration and lived a life for people to emulate. He prayed for the repose of her soul.
In his vote of thanks, Air Commodore Suleiman expressed appreciation to both the Church, Nigerian Air Force, Middle Belt Forum (MBF) led by Dr Pogu Bitrus who was in attendance.
“NAF provided the family with two aircraft to transport the corpse of my wife and family members to Yola for the burial that took place on Saturday June 6, 2020. I also thank the First Baptist Church for standing with my family during our period of bereavement.
“I thank Pastor John Dara who served as Chairman of the Central Planning Committee for the burial of my wife. I lack words to thank those who followed my family to Guyuk in Adamawa State to give my wife a befitting burial. I appreciate your kind gestures and may God bless you all,” the former military administrator said.
The commendation/thanksgiving service was done in line with COVID-19 on social distancing and prohibition of close interaction. People at the event wore face masks and washing of hands was made compulsory before gaining access to the church auditorium.