Humble, passionate and endowed with an unwavering faith in God, retired Customs Controller Filibus Machu Tete’s life symbolised the love of God and country. Unlike many who saw advantage in earthly powers for enrichment, he saw it as an opportunity to serve humanity and lighten the burden of living for many that came across his way.
As someone I came to know some few years back, he was of a humble disposition and displayed an irrevocable commitment of a personage who was never in love following the crowd. He was not the quintessential Nigerian ‘big man’ and never cared about public opinion on a matter as long as his conscience was clear on a matter.
He had his mind fixed on what he had always wanted: service to God in sincerity and never allowing the day’s work go unattended. As a member of the Bible Believer’s Assembly, he never stopped emphasizing on the need to be committed to service of God. We had stood outside the Church hall on December 31, 2017 after Sunday service and shared life experiences. He never let me go without reminding me never to let go of my zeal to serve God. His death on Wednesday January 3, 2018 was a shock and it took me several days to convince myself that ‘Daddy Phillip,’ as we often called him, has indeed gone the way of all flesh.
As Customs Controller, he was an ace trainer who brought laurels to not only the Nigeria Customs Service but the World Customs Organisation (WCO) that awarded him a Certificate of Merit in recognition of his sterling works to Nigeria and the global Customs community. As someone whose commitment to duty was unmatched and garnered dozens of awards from reputable national and international organisations, including being a regular attendant to scores of training programmes in Nigeria and other countries.
When he joined the NCS on January 16, 1985, it was a desire to serve the fatherland and contribute his own quota. After a stint as classroom teacher at the Barewa College Zaria, the Customs became his forte where he left indelible footprints in the field of training and reform programmes of the organisation. In acknowledgement of his remarkable performance in advancing the service delivery of the NCS, the former Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko Inde, presented him with a Certificate of Merit for the successful training of 500 Customs cadets at the Customs Training College at Ikeja-Lagos.
The 1982 graduate of Economics from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria was of the old stock that believed on the need for sincerity and was far insulated from corruption that is bedeviling the Nigerian system. When the current CGC, Col Hameed Ali (retd), came on board, he redeployed Machu as Customs Controller of the Ondo/Ekiti Command where he was always hitting above revenue targets for the command. In recognition of his outstanding performance during his tour of duty at the Ondo/Ekiti Command, he received several commendations/award from the NCS headquarters on the revenue generation feat. The first-rate training strategist of the Nigeria Customs Service was also bestowed an award of excellent performance by the CTDS/DEA 2016 in the manner he has managed the Ondo/Ekiti Command.
As someone I came to know, he was very concerned about the welfare of his family and would not cared to lay down his life for them. After spending over 32 years in the service and retiring as Customs Controller in October 2017, he left behind a modest home in Kuje. In his life I have come to realise that those who seek to serve in truth and honesty may as well plan to retire into the backwaters of our society.
The amazing thing with ‘Daddy Phillip’ was he had contentment. His choice of living was deliberate and he never regretted that. All he was concerned was serving God in sincerity. In his over three decades of service to the NCS, he must have come across opportunities to make it in life, but he turned his back against such, preferring to be counted among those standing for probity.
As family members, colleagues in service and out of service, friends, well- wishers, among others, thronged to Ungwan Baki in Kafanchan, Kaduna State, on Saturday January 13, 2018 for internment, the words of Pastor Joseph Inda John, who pastured Machu for over a decade, is instructive: “My friend, my brother, “Daddy”, you left like a lightening. You have left so much for me to desire to attain, as per relationship with God. Just over a decade of knowing and fellowshipping with you at the feet of the Lord, it’s like a century of acquaintance. Your life was a healing balm to me, my family and many in the vineyard. You impacted positively everyone you met in the journey of life. And those that hated you, I am sure, are thus minded, NOT because of what you did wrong, but because they CAN NOT live their lives the way you lived yours.
“Your consciousness of God, of the end, of eternal life and of eternity challenged me, and helped me to desire more of God. Your sincerity, even in the secular world, where falsehood and deception are the operational systems, is still without match. Your simplicity and humility, despite your achievements and laudable position is immutable.
“You were a model of a caring Father, Beloved Brother and trustworthy friend. Your transition to glory is desirable just as Balaam desires Jacob’s. Without doubt you ended your life journey well, in the Lord Jesus. The Bible says: “Better is the end (of a thing) than the beginning thereof …” (Eccl.7:8a). Painful as your going home is to me and to the entire Bride of Christ, I am glad you are Home safely. Rest on, Beloved, in the Lord, till we meet to part no more.”
For Machu’s son, Joash, “Words cannot really express how I feel, but I can say boldly that you are in a better place with the Lord. You have provided, protected, corrected, cared for the family and was an interesting father in your own way, though funny sometimes as a boss. The family and I will always have u in our hearts. Rest well with the Lord dad, until we meet u up there by the Lords side.”
My heart goes to his wife and soul mate, Mrs Asaberia Machu. Other grieving members of the family are also not forgotten. Of a special mention is Joash, who is the first son, and his wife, Martha. Machu’s first daughter, Dorcas, and her husband, Bro. Osas Ogiamien, are also not forgotten. Peace and Nyung are always on my mind. As for Bible Believer’s Assembly, may the prayers of Pastor Victor Ogboola be answered quickly: “May God Almighty cause something to happen to make the church never to remember the present sorrow.”
As I think over the righteous life of the retired Customs Controller, let me thank the Machu family for giving to Nigeria and the world a man who stood for God and humanity. May his memory teach us that here we have no continuing city, but we seek for one that is to come.
Good night, Daddy Philip. One day we all shall be united in the Eastern Gate after our days are gone!
Musa Simon Reef is a media professional and can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org