Yusuf Mubarak: This Death Diminishes Us, By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu

“Every man’s death diminishes us for we are involved in mankind; so ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”-John Donne.

When the tragic news finally broke this morning, Saturday, September 16th, 2023, that Yusuf Mubarak’s body had been found in a mortuary in a private hospital in Ilorin, the shock was one that was clear at all levels.

He had been declared missing since Wednesday night, and there were fervent prayers and appeals for his safe return. The security forces had been alerted and stories emerged about the tracking of his phone number in various locations.

My wife, Sa’adatu, who had a very close relationship with the young man, broke down very badly, and has been inconsolable the whole day. Mubarak was a member of her media team, in the abortive run for the House of Representatives last year, and is a regular visitor to her office, and our residences in Abuja and Ilorin.

I won’t claim to be as close to him, but I took interest in him sufficiently, to try to read the different pieces he has written over the past two or so years, on various social media platforms. And I had a fairly long conversation with him, during one of his visits to our Abuja residence. I think it was that interaction, that made me begin to take extra interest in the young man.

On his birthday last year, I posted a tribute to him, which he appreciated, and he began to share his pieces more regularly with me. I also noticed that his writings were becoming better in quality, and his polemical interventions were increasingly richer, in tone as well as content.

This evening, I re-read the piece he contributed on the controversy about the attempt by certain people from the Southwest to come and celebrate a traditional religious event in Ilorin. It was very well written and the facts he marshaled reinforced the general arguments about the manner that Ilorin’s identity had been formed from the multiplicity of ethnicities that people the community, and the way that Islam became the binding force which gave Ilorin, it’s unique place in Nigerian history.

That was just one of the many pieces that he authored in recent times. And it was also obvious, that he was increasingly becoming more confident in his own abilities, and this I noticed in interventions he made to a variety of subjects that pop up each passing day, on various social media platforms, where he posted responses, rejoinder, or gave polemical short shrift, to other perspectives on issues.

As for his background, all I gathered was that he came from very humble circumstances, and had by the dint of incredible hard work, pulled himself up to the point where he became so well-known at all levels of society, especially in Kwara State. His nickname was well-known to all: Authority!

Mubarak was said to have tried his hands on several endeavours to keep himself going. He nevertheless kept the incredible willpower to go through secondary school education, and was also a student at the Nasarawa State University, where he also ran a gas business, to sponsor himself through school!

Mubarak was not going to feel sorry for himself about the difficulties of the circumstances of birth or station. No! He nursed incredible dreams to become a very engaging and engaged member of society, and I’ve read this evening, in several of the outpouring of tributes to him, that he nursed an ambition to grow his gas business, as well as to become a representative of Kwara Central Senatorial District in the Nigerian Youth Parliament!

Unfortunately, these lofty ideals that he was preparing himself for, including the manner that he increasingly became more and more competent with his writings, have been stilled forever, by the tragic manner of his killing, by what is believed to be a gang of cultists. It seemed that he was caught up, tragically, in a crossfire between these criminal gangs.

What has also been interred with this young man, is the deep love that he was said to have for his parents, and especially his mother, who was similarly described as a deeply religious woman, who prayed a lot for the promising young man, that was forever looking out for ways to lessen the burdens of the parents.

Yusuf Mubarak (Authority) is the latest victim of the cult killings that became the hallmark of socio-political existence in Nigeria in general, but which became so tragically woven into the hegemonic politics of Kwara State, especially between 2003 and 2019.

Sadly, the scourge has not been exorcised, because cults killings and gang violence have become a distinct branch of the general violence of Nigerian political life. The Nigerian predatory political culture; hegemonic control, and prebendalism provide the ambience for these criminal enterprises. Politics itself, is essentially, a criminal venture in the land.

The young man was cut down tragically, at a point when he was beginning to flower, and clearly becoming a major link in the chain of the young leaders we are beginning to see come to the fore in our society, especially in Kwara State: educated, talented, audacious, and forward looking.

It is heartening to note that Governor Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq has also joined the call for justice for Yusuf Mubarak, by urging the security forces to leave no stone unturned in the effort to find the perpetrators of the dastardly killing of such a promising young man. Indeed, Yusuf Mubarak’s death truly diminishes us all!

There’s an eerie twist to the passing of Yusuf Mubarak. Last Sunday night, at 2245 hours, I received this WhatsApp message from him: “The fact that death is inevitable suggests the existence of a higher power overseeing everything. There are phenomena beyond the scope of science, which cannot be fully explained or undone by it. May we live long. Goodnight ❤”!!! How does one interpret such a message?

May the Almighty Allah forgive his shortcomings and grant him Jannat Fir’daus. Amin. And may He give his family, friends, and associates, the fortitude to bear his passing. Allah ya jikan sa. Amin.

Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, PhD, FNGE .
Abuja, Saturday, September 16th, 2023.