It was torrents of tributes for Senator Ignatius Longjan in the Senate during a special valedictory session held for him on Wednesday. Taiye Odewale writes.
Until his death, Mr Longjan, 75, represented Plateau South senatorial district in the Senate under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 9th Senate. He was the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourrism.
Prior to his election as senator, he was a former deputy governor of Plateau State between 2011 and 2015.
He replaced Jeremiah Useni of the Peoples Democratic Party who contested for the governorship seat in 2019.Senator Longjan died on the 10th of this month in Abuja after a protracted illness.
Requiem in plenary
The session followed a motion moved by Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi having moved for the suspension of Order 17 of the Senate to allow visitors into the chamber.
Senators dressed in white and back attires took turn to pay glowing tributes to the late senator.
First to pay tribute was Abdullahi who said that the passage of Longjan had sent the upper chamber into deep mourning.
“The passing of Senator Longjan came as a rude shock, like a thunderbolt to all of us. His sudden exit is a very big blow not only to his immediate family but to all of us.
“His death has robbed the whole nation, Quanpan Local Government Plateau South Senatorial District and all students, unions, associations and the National Assembly of the services of one its best and finest political and diplomatic icon.”
He lives in our memory
Abdullahi said that the late Longjan would forever live the memories of lawmakers as a patriotic, humble, and peaceful and a great man of integrity. “He rose to the pinnacle of his career as a diplomat and politician by hard work and dedication to duty.”
Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe said that yet again, the Senate had lost another good man.
“A few days ago we were here doing this same thing, a valedictory for one of our colleagues.
“The question we always ask, Mr President is, why are we losing the good ones?. All the wicked people are in this country they don’t die.
“It is the good ones that go. And so we commiserate with the wife, children and the people that he represents and of course the diplomatic community from where he came and Nigerians in general.
“Those of us from the south east, the Igbos, we say “death doesn’t know how to make choices on those that it wants to take otherwise it wouldn’t take a nice, humble, very unassuming person like Longjan.
“The Holy Book says there is time for everyone. I believe this is his time but I want to tell the family too, we Igbos also say death does not take away your name if you have done well, and so Longjan, nobody will take away, this death will not take away his name.”
Senate Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi said that “when good people leave, you begin to wonder but of course you take solace in the fact that good people leave good name. He was calm and calculated.”
Deputy Minority Leader Emmanuel Bwacha said that the deceased was a complete gentleman and a man of few words.
“Men of few words are not many in our society of today. He, who speaks few words, is somebody we hold in high esteem. He was an encyclopedia of wisdom,” Bwacha said.
Also, Sen. Istifanus Gyang (PDP-Plateau North) said that the deceased lived to see good, to do good and to advance the course of humanity.
He said that Longjan had existed “from our clime, a refined elder statesman, a man of peace who cultivated the culture of patience, reselience and honesty.
“He was who would forego his personal interest for the good of others. Vanities of life were neither an attraction nor his pursuit. He was not one given to the futility of superfluity, but was a man of decency and calmness.”
Senator representing Plateau Central, Hezekiah Dimka said the deceased was his mentor and was an epitome of humility, dedication and loyalty.
On his part, Ibikunle Amosun noted that 21 senators have died between 2007 and 2020. He also wondered why good men die.
“It tells us how ephemeral this life is. We pray that we do not keep experiencing things like this. I have a different view about good men dying early.
“I think God himself knows, when good men die, they don’t die. They will be remembered in the life of those that were left behind and the bad ones, he leaves them to live and eventually when they die, nobody remembers them and when they do, they will be remembered for the wrong reasons,” he said.
Other senators who condoled the family included Bala Na’Allah, Tanko Al-makura, Gabriel Suswam, Opeyemi Bamidele among others.
In his tribute, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said that with the dignitaries who graced the valedictory session, it showed that the people of Plateau were united irrespective of their differences.
He said that it was a lesson for the rest of the country that whatever their political or religious differences, citizens must find a common ground to live in peace.
“We pray the Almighty God to repose the soul of our late colleague in perfect peace.”
Lawan described the late Longjan as a very accommodating and tolerable person whose actions in humility did not place him in any disadvantaged position as far as the human characterisation was concerned.
Other dignitaries present at the session included the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Idris Wase, all the 24 members of the Plateau State House of Assembly, wife of former Senator Jonah Jang etc.
Earlier, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa – Onilu said the party is deeply saddened by the death of the senator who was elected on the platform of the party in 2019.
“The late senator was a grassroots politician and progressive federal lawmaker who advocated for a smooth working relationship between the executive and legislature as a way of ensuring good governance and proper initiation and implementation of policies that impact positively on the people.
“He was a loyal party man who championed party supremacy over personal interest in all party matters and decisions, as displayed in the emergence of the leadership of the current 9th National Assembly.
“We extend our condolences to Sen. Longjan’s immediate family, constituents, the National Assembly, the government and entire people of Plateau state. “May the Almighty God grant all comfort during this time of grief and may the soul of Sen. Longjan rest in peace,” said the party’s spokesperson.
He was who would forego his personal interest for the good of others. Vanities of life were neither an attraction nor his pursuit. He was not one given to the futility of superfluity, but was a man of decency and calmness.