By Henry Umoru and Yinka Ajayi
SENATE President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, have expressed deep sadness over the sudden death of their colleague, Senator Ali Wakili.
Wakili, 58, until his death, yesterday, was the senator representing Bauchi South on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
He was said to have slumped at his Gwarimpa, Abuja residence. He gave up the ghost before he could be rushed to hospital.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki described the late senator as a vibrant lawmaker and public servant who was very passionate about his assignment and engagements in the Senate, especially his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Poverty Alleviation.
Saraki said, “ Mallam Ali Wakili is one lawmaker you can never be in doubt where he stands on a particular issue. He spoke his mind fearlessly. His contributions at plenary were always very incisive and rich. I find it difficult to acknowledge that he will not resume plenary with us next Tuesday.
“My heart goes out to his family, the 8th Senate and the government and people of Bauchi State over the loss of this conscientious and patriotic Nigerian. He shall be sorely missed.”
The Senate President, who has since visited the residence of the senator in Abuja where he commiserated with family members, prayed Allah to grant Wakili a place among the righteous in Aljannah Firdaus and his family and loved ones the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
On his part, Ekweremadu, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media, Uche Anichukwu, expressed rude shock and sadness over the death of Wakili.
“Senator Wakili’s stint at the National Assembly has no doubt been cut short, but it was long enough to prove himself a forthright, patriotic, diligent, and courageous politician, who respected his conviction and loved his fatherland. He stood for what he believed was right and worked for the unity of Nigeria”, the Deputy Senate President said.
“It is indeed a grave, personal loss to me, the Senate and the entire nation. He will live on in our hearts”.
In a tribute, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, described Wakili’s death as devastating.
“The death of Sen. Ali Wakili is a personal loss to me. I’m short of words to describe how devastated and heart-broken I am over the passing away of this true friend, brother and confidant, with whom I had excellent brotherly relationship and association”, Dogara said.
“We have indeed lost a distinguished parliamentarian, easy going and courageous person who had worked tirelessly both in the Senate chamber and outside to defend the interest of his constituents, Bauchi State and the downtrodden members of the society in the country at large”.
On his part, former Senate President David Mark described the death of Wakili as a painful exit.
In a statement by his Special Assistant, Media, Paul Mumeh, Mark said: “I am shocked and saddened by the sudden demise of our colleague and friend. It is devastating.
“Senator Wakili was a peace maker. He always craved for fairness, justice and national unity”.
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, commiserated with the leadership of the Senate and the APC caucus in the Senate over the death of Wakili.
Akpabio, whose message to the Senate leadership and members was contained in a release he personally signed, asked rhetorically, “What is life?.”
He described his late colleague as “a great nationalist and consummate politician”.
Also paying tribute to the deceased, a NEC member of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, said Wakili was his mate at Senior Executive Course 27 at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).
“Wakili’s eventful life shows again that eventually it would not be long or short for anybody as long as we are all mortal. What endures is the positive impact on fellow human beings and service to our creator”,he said.
“I bear witness that Wakili lived for all that would benefit fellow Nigerians and Africans. Nigerian workers have truly lost a friend. On resumption at the 8th Assembly, Senator Wakili was a regular caller asking for relevant information on the need for a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers. He maintained that Nigerian worker deserved good pay for good work done. Wakili was truly an institution man”.