•President: Records of Bali’s bravery, patriotism will continue to inspire young officers
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
Former Minister of Defence, General Domkat Bali (Rtd) died yesterday at the age of 80.
Bali served as Minister of Defence and member of the Supreme Military Council between 1984 and 1985, and the Armed Forces Ruling Council of 1985 to 1990.
He was Joint Chief of Staff between 1984 and 1985 when President Muhammadu Buhari was Head of State.
The octogenarian retired as a decorated military officer in 1990. In December 2010, he emerged as Ponzhi Tarok, paramount ruler of Langtang in Plateau State.
President Buhari yesterday swiftly condoled with the people and government of Plateau State over the passing of the highly decorated retired military officer.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said the president who spoke with the wife of the deceased, Esther yesterday, also commiserated with other family members, friends and professional associates of the former member of the Supreme Military Council and Armed Forces Ruling Council.
He recalled that the late Bali rose through the ranks, with a distinguished military career, attaining the peak office of the Chief of Defence Staff.
Shehu said Buhari believed that the records of bravery and patriotism of Bali, the Ponzhi Tarok, would continue to inspire young military officers, while the foundation he laid in all the commands he headed would always be remembered.
The statement added that the president also constituted a delegation led by the Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd.) to visit the family of the late Bali, and condole with the government and people of the state over the loss.
The statement said Buhari prayed the almighty God would receive the soul of the departed and comfort his family.
Also in a condolence message yesterday, the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong described the late Bali as a patriotic and loyal son of Plateau and Nigeria.
Lalong, in a statement signed by his Director of Press, Dr. Simon Macham, said the passing of the retired military General was “a great loss to the country considering that he was one of the highly decorated officers who served the nation meritoriously in various capacities and proved his worth.”
He recalled that apart from serving the country as Minister of Defence, Bali was a key member of the Supreme Military Council and Armed Forces Ruling Council, where he held several positions, including the Chief of Defence Staff.
He said: “Gen. Bali was focused and committed to the peace and progress of Nigeria and Plateau State in particular, where he contributed immensely to addressing the security challenges in the State, always deploying his wealth of knowledge and advising various administrations. Indeed Plateau State has lost an icon.”
He also said that Gen. Bali, who answered the call of his people to serve as the Ponzhi Tarok many years after his retirement from the military, demonstrated interest in the welfare of the Taroh nation and did his best to project and protect their interests.
Condoling with his widow, Esther, his children, the Taroh nation and the entire state, Lalong said: “Even in death, Gen. Bali will continue to inspire young Nigerians who want to serve the nation within the military because of his patriotism, gallantry and principles.”
Domkat Yah Bali was born on February 27, 1940 in Langtang, Plateau State to the family of Hassan Bali Tabut and Yinkat Bali.
He was Minister of Defence and member of the Supreme Military Council of 1984–1985, and the Armed Forces Ruling Council of 1985–1990.
Bali joined the Nigerian Army in 1961 and is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
He had his primary education at Mban, Langtang and from 1955 to 1960, he attended the provincial secondary school at Kuru. He undertook further military courses at Camberley, London.
He entered Nigerian Military Training College in 1961 and in 1964, he was a lieutenant and troop commander.
Bali became captain a year later in 1965. In 1966, he was battery commander and during the Nigerian Civil War, he was a regimental commander. He was made major in 1968. Between 1970 and 1971, Bali was commander, Corps of Artillery and later became a colonel at the Second Infantry Division in Ibadan.
In 1973, he was posted to Akure as the commander of the 9th Infantry Brigade. He was adjutant general Nigerian army in 1975, commander Corps of Artillery in 1976 and in 1978 and GOC of the First Infantry Division, Kaduna. Prior to becoming Defence Minister in 1984, Bali was Commandant of the Nigerian Armed Forces Command and Staff College from 1981 to 1983 and later director of army training and operations.
Bali resigned from the army on January 10, 1990. He was the Chairman of HFP Engineering, builders of Victoria Garden City, Lagos Nigeria. Bali was married to Esther Bali an educationist and they have two children, Nanna and Ponfa.