On a very cold Sunday morning, April 3, 2016 to be precise, at Salt Lake City in Utah, United States of America, I was fighting idleness by scanning my Facebook when my eyes caught a post by Amina Angulu-Tswanya, one of the daughters of Ambassador Uriah Angulu. It was an ominous post that sent chilling sensations down my spine. Amina had posted on her wall a beautiful picture she took with her father, with both father and daughter beaming with smiles, and wrote: “Finally at rest with Jesus…My Hero.”
I swallowed hard as I took a second look at the picture.
Again, I shivered. Though it seemed unbelievable at that moment, I had to jerk myself to the realization that no daughter would ever crack a joke about the father passing away. That done, I struggled to admit that Papa Angulu, who I saw earlier this year at a revival hosted by the Cathedral Church of The Advent at Gwarinpa, Abuja, was no more! He has gone to have his deserved rest in the bosom of His Maker.
In retrospect, and with profound regrets, I remember the countless times I had promised to pay him a visit at home but had failed to make the trip at each point, no matter how hard I tried. I wish I had fulfilled those promises. My faltering notwithstanding, Pa Angulu never took offence. Rather, the next time we would meet in church, he would still embrace and greet me smilingly even as he would enthuse: “My brother come and visit me. As you can see, my health is failing, and I’m here looking for spiritual healing.” We would pray, and I would assure him that his healing had been made perfect by the resurrection power in the blood of Jesus. We both said “Amen”, and went our different ways. Sadly, I never knew that would be the last time I would see or speak with him.
Ambassador Angulu was an embodiment of integrity. He lived this attribute through and through, both in private and public life. I was privileged to relate closely with him at the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) where I was Resident Consultant (Media) and he was ICPC Acting Chairman. That was in 2011. He came into limelight during this period when he got enmeshed in a controversy that ensued while he was trying to protect the independence and autonomy of ICPC from undue interference by some powerful elements in government at the time.
He believed the war against corruption should be fought totally in accordance with the Act that set up the ICPC. I recall that the ICPC in 2011, got a petition against some principal officers of the National Judicial Institute (NJI) alleging a N6billion fraud. Some NJI officials were invited for interrogation. Just then, Ambassador Angulu got a letter purportedly from the office of the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Katsina Alu, asking Angulu to suspend further action on the probe and come to CJN office for discussion. Angulu was furious. He was not the type that would be taught how to do his job. He would not condone sensing undue interference in his job.
Consequently, he disobeyed the order. He refused to honour the invitation. Rather, he wrote back to the CJN telling him that for him to be sighted anywhere near the CJN office at a time the NJI was under probe, would be sub-judice, and it would impinge on his integrity and that of his office. Instead, he suggested that the meeting should be held in his office at the ICPC Headquarters.
The CJN office considered Angulu’s response an affront and directed the office of the Justice Minister to deal with the issue. In a split twist, a spurious letter emerged from Justice Minister Office, signed by one Abdullah Yola, asking Angulu to proceed on leave and hand over to another board member, Dr. Mrs. Roseline Abang-Wushishi. Angulu consulted widely whether to ignore the directive or take up a fight. Considering his integrity against the mounting pressure to quit, he wisely decided to leave with his integrity intact. Though the Justice Ministry came out with a volte- face press statement signed by its Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Ambrose Momoh, denying that Angulu’s removal was related to the ongoing probe of an alleged N6bn fraud in the NJI. What became of that probe after the exit of Angulu is now history.
I was happy to listen to a video where Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said that the war against corruption was going on satisfactorily even though corruption had been fighting back. That the government was satisfied with the agencies charged with the prosecution of the war against corruption, that the anti-corruption war “is still on course in Nigeria” signifies that Nigeria is at the threshold of greatness. It is also gratifying to note that the present government has restrained itself from interfering with the anti-graft agencies in their relentless war against corruption and corrupt tendencies. This was what Ambassador Angulu stood for, and sacrificed his position for as he refused to make undue compromises. Angulu’s integrity remained intact till he breathed his last. Nigerians would remember him as a man of impeccable character.
Ambassador Angulu, 79, came from a deeply religious home. His father was Reverend Canon John Angulu, popularly known as Papa Doko. Throughout his life, Angulu amply demonstrated his religious commitment to the Anglican Communion. He would be greatly missed by the leadership of the Church of Nigeria, Primate Nicholas Okoh, clergymen, and many Anglican faithful who saw him as a role model and adored him for how he kept faith and loyalty with his wife of many years. For Mama Angulu, the demise of the husband would be a shattering experience; a great loss. For as long as I knew them, both husband and wife always related like Siamese twins.
At the Church of Advent, the couple, on many occasions, had been showcased as role model for those aspiring to attain excellence in marriage. They had openly shared the secret behind the success of their marriage and how they both fought bravely to overcome the ups and downs of life. Pa Angulu survived many life-threatening accidents. Yet, by acts of divine intervention, he lived to give his mother a befitting burial.
Papa Angulu was an embodiment of patience just as he was an epitome of wisdom and integrity. Not once did I see him get angry in my many years of acquaintance with him. And he never bore grudges against people. If he was not happy with you, he would tell you straight to your face. He would never allow the sun to go down with any bitterness in his heart. He was always smiling, yet highly cerebral.
Pa Angulu, a former Nigeria Consul General to the United States, bagged the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in recognition of his meritorious services to his fatherland. What else can I say of this great Nigerian? I guess we can never eulogise the Dan Gatan Nupe enough. Papa, enter into your rest in the bosom of the Lord till we meet to part no more. Adieu sir.
– Mr. Folu Olamiti, Media Consultant, wrote from Abuja.