Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano, has narrated how he escaped a plane crash almost 25 years ago.
He shared his experience on Thursday when he received Safiya Nuhu, the newly appointed Nigerian ambassador to Romania, whose father also died in the plane crash.
On June 20, 1996, during the regime of Sani Abacha, former head of state, at least nine persons were confirmed dead in a plane crash that occurred in Jos, Plateau state.
Abdullahi Wase, military administrator of Kano at the time, was one of those who died in that accident; some of his aides were also said to have been on board the aircraft.
According to Ganduje, he was scheduled to be on the trip, and had even been in charge of coordinating the travel logistics, but had to change the plan following a last-minute message from the presidency.
“As the then commissioner for works, housing and transport, I was to visit the Wase Juma’at mosque which was under construction. I was the coordinator for the appeal fund to build that mosque. The governor was to travel to inspect the project and also pay a condolence visit over a relation that died. So, I coordinated the journey,” NAN quoted him to have said.
“I secured the aircraft that was used for that journey. The aircraft was owned by Alhaji Aminu Dantata. I was the one who wrote all the names of those that were to travel with the administrator.
“As I was going out from the government house, the late Wase was climbing the stairs through the family wing and your dad came to me asking why his name was not there. Then the late Wase, after climbing one step, stopped and asked your dad: ‘You are permanent secretary, government house; when there is communication from the villa, who will receive that communication?’
“Then late Wase asked what was happening. I then told him that the DG was insisting that he wanted to follow us. He then said he should be included, then I included him.”
Ganduje explained that he saw Safiya’s father the night before the trip, and even said good night to him and he responded.
“But on reaching my house, I called my permanent secretary and told him that we were scheduled to be in Wase through Jos, so I would not be in the office,” he continued.
“He said that there was an important message. The memo you were asked by the governor to write to the head of state, they sent the money requested for the rehabilitation of metropolitan roads. And probably the president will send some people to come and see what is going on. I said if that is the case, I am not travelling again.
“I then asked him to invite the technical people so that we will meet in my office by 8am, to prepare the necessary memo and when the governor comes back, I will take the memo to him for approval so that we can swing into action.”
He noted that in the morning, the “technical people” came, and as they were holding a meeting he was told that his attention was needed at the government house.
“The messenger said it was a massage. Then I left for the government house and went to the council chamber where we were holding our meetings. That was 1996, about 25 years ago,” he said.
“Immediately I entered, I saw the brigade commander, who had taken over immediately, and some commissioners were crying. Then I asked if it was not an air crash. ‘How can commissioners be crying in government house?’ I asked.”
Ganduje said the army officer confirmed the crash, and gave him one hour to get ready to go to Jos.
“That was the end of it. Your father was my friend, since secondary school, till the university, and we later started working at the Gumel Advance Teacher’s College,” Ganduje added.
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