Late Gyang Dalyop Dantong
Tuesday, grief and tears flowed on the Plateau again. It was at the burial of Dr. Gyang Dalyop Dantong, 53, the senator representing Plateau North Senatorial District.
The day before, the remains of the Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Gyang Fulani, who also died under the same circumstances on July 8 as Dantong, were buried amidst wailings.
Dantong’s funeral service held at the Government House Chapel, Rayfield, Jos.
And in a rare display of courage and strength, wife of the late senator, Hannatu, was the one who went round comforting people. She explained that Christians are not supposed to mourn like those without hope; asking the people to forgive her husband’s killers, saying if he were to wake up now, he would forgive his killers.
After an emotion-laden song, Mrs. Dantong said she did not know the way through the wilderness, “all I have to do is to follow the Lord that knows the way.”
She said: “If anybody had envisaged death in our family, it was I. Since the beginning of this year, I have been so excited that I’ll be 50 by August 26. I had told my husband that I was going to celebrate it in a very special way. Also, by November 28 this year, we were going to be 25 years in marriage. He had suggested that we join the two celebrations, but I refused. But after a while I suddenly became afraid, and thoughts of death overwhelmed my heart. I thought after the birthday I will die.
“So on Saturday prior to my husband’s death, I took it upon myself to do 14 days prayer and fasting session, to pray towards the birthday and also over the crisis in Plateau. The following day (Sunday), he told me to go to church and that he was going for the burial of the victims of the Barkin Ladi attack.
“This was very unusual; we had always gone to places together, even for previous burials. When we returned from the church, I got a call to come to Barkin Ladi; and that my husband was in trouble.
“When I got there with my son, I found out that he was dead. And I told God I didn’t know who killed my husband, I didn’t know what happened, because I was not there, but you were there. You allowed it to happen, and I turn back unto you.”
She continued her narrative: “Shakespeare says ‘you murdered sleep, and you sleep no more,’ but I say, whoever has murdered this sleep, there is sleep for you, if you would repent; the Bible says whosoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out. If you are taking glory for the death of this man, you will sleep only if you come to repentance, and tell God I am sorry for what I have done.
“I know if my husband were to wake up now and saw the person that killed him, he will tell him to repent, and he will forgive him. If this is what God wants for peace to reign on the Plateau, who am I; a mere mortal to question Him?”
The remains of Dantong, survived by his wife, three children and aged parents, were laid to rest in his home town of Bachit District of Riyom Local Government Area of the state.
The Senate President David Mark, who led a delegation of the National Assembly, said he was amazed at the faith Dantong’s widow demonstrated, saying “her faith has healed the pains all of us here have felt for you; and that singular faith and trust in God is what we the Christians live for.”
In urging the people to forgive the mistakes of others, he said: “Yes, things have gone wrong; yes, people have done certain things and have failed to do certain things. But then, what is the essence of Christianity that we as human beings cannot do everything right all the time? But as Christian political leaders, where we have failed we should have the courage to say we are sorry.
“But let me tell you one thing that will be very painful for you to hear, which we must do as Christians: forgive. Our strength as Christians lies in the power to forgive. And until we forgive totally, we cannot ask God to grant us our prayers. It is a very difficult task. I listened to Mrs. Dantong very well; truly, if Dantong gets up here and now, he will say I have forgiven all those who are responsible for sending me away from the face of the earth. So, for all of us on the Plateau, we must forgive.”
President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, blamed the unabated violence in the North on the elite who have continued to sponsor attacks on innocent citizens.
According to him, “an ordinary Nigerian wants peace, to live together in peace; it is some of us the elite that are usually the problem. We should talk to ourselves and not to pass the burden on to any other person.
“I am working tirelessly along with other leaders in the country to overcome these challenges, we can only play our role as human beings but we require God’s intervention to bring lasting peace which is obtained through justice and equity.
“We must be willing to forgive; we must be willing to dialogue because all crises will end with dialogue. The military action that is ordered, I have every confidence that it will contribute towards arresting those undesirable elements and criminals who have caused these panic and terror in our land.”
Earlier, the state Governor, Chief Jonah Jang, advised that in amending the constitution, efforts should be made to ensure that the exercise serves the interest of the people, stressing that the idea of state police should not be rejected because of fear that governors could abuse it.
Also, Chairman of the state traditional council and the Gbong Gwom Jos, Jacob Gyang Buba, called for the establishment of state police to check the senseless killings that have continued unabated in the country.
He faulted the security administration in the country, saying that the constitution must be amended to give the governors full powers to control security agencies in their domains.