Dr Mustapha Gulak is the first son of Ahmed Gulak, the slain All Progressives Congress chieftain and former political adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan. He tells HINDI LIVINUS in this interview that the alleged N10bn reward due to his father from Governor Hope Uzodimma is a conspiracy theory.
Do you think your father’s life was cut short at its prime when it looked most promising?
I am Dr Mustapha Gulak, the first son of Ahmed Gulak. I am a graduate of Medicine and I’m 34 years of age. To be candid as a Muslim, whatever God has destined, no one can change it. We don’t question God. His loss is painful. As far as I am concerned, my dad passed away at a young age. No one in the family saw that coming, but then, it is the will of God. As a Muslim, I take it the way it is. I can tell you that my father was a true Nigerian. He didn’t differentiate if you are from the South or the North, or whether you are a Christian or a Muslim. That’s the kind of man he was. I picked that from him.
My father always believed in one Nigeria, even sometimes in the heat of our arguments and discussions, when we paint a picture of hopelessness that the country was not heading in the right direction and that there was no hope for Nigeria, he would rebuke us and tell us never to think that way that all hope was not lost. My father believed in Nigeria. My father helped people irrespective of what section of the country they came from. That’s one thing I admired and I am proud of him for. He was a close friend. We joked and laugh together; it was a very convivial relationship as we both advised one another. I didn’t just lose a father, but a dear friend.
Can you recount his last moment because it was learnt that you spoke with him shortly before he was killed?
My father rang me thrice. I had to call him back because I couldn’t take the call immediately, but he called back. We spoke. He asked about Abuja and how I was doing? I told him that things were grinding slowly and had to tease him that things were hard, but then we were pushing it. We laughed about it, but he asked me not to worry that things would get better. I asked him when he would be coming back to Abuja. He said he would be coming back any moment. Our conversations dovetailed into business issues and some plans we had together. He told me that when he returned, we would see how to go about it. Just for me to hear the news that my father had been shot in Owerri. So, it was devastating. It’s a day I will never forget in my life.
When was the last time you saw him before he was killed on May 30, 2021?
I saw my father on the Friday before he was killed. He told me that he was going to Owerri on a national assignment regarding the amendment of the constitution. I spoke to him about the security situation in Owerri, but he sounded very confident, saying he would be fine. He chose the positive side of things and not the way a lot of people view things with pessimism. It’s sad and unfortunate but then it is the will of God, as a Muslim I believe God has destined that he would not exceed that 30th of May. Whether he was in Owerri or not, God had destined that particular day as the day of his demise.
How well did you relate with him and what were your last discussions with him?
I was my father’s best friend, even his friends will attest to it that whatever my father did, you would always hear him mentioning me. So, I know a lot of my father’s friends. I can’t come on record to tell you my last discussions with him.
How was he to the family?
Like I said earlier, not only the family, the Madagali Local Government Area and Adamawa State will miss him. I can assure you that all across this nation, his impact will be felt, because he was someone who was willing to help others. For instance, if he had N31,000 and you approached him and said you needed him to assist you with N30,000, he would give you that N30,000. That’s the kind of person he was. My father never believed in accumulating wealth. No. My father believed in living a comfortable life. He didn’t believe in primitive accumulation of wealth. He was the kind of person, who also found joy in helping others; to put smiles on people’s faces, solve their problems in the little way he could, because that was what gave him joy.
How do you reconcile what you have just said with some of the narratives about him?
Such as what?
That he helped Governor Hope Uzodimma in the primaries and in return, the governor pledged N10bn as reward for his role in his becoming the governor of Imo State.
The issue of people saying he helped Hope to become governor and all that is nonsense. Primaries were conducted and Hope won the primaries. So, all this talk by people, who come on board to say he helped Uzodimma to become governor, is just talking. Primaries happened and Hope won. The story about the deal with Hope, I read it on the pages of newspapers that he promised him N10bn and he wasn’t going to fulfil it. I believe it is a conspiracy. I can swear by my faith that had it been that there was such a deal between my dad and Hope, I will know about it.
Is it because of your closeness to your dad?
Everyone knows I was close to my dad. A lot of deals my dad did with people I know. In fact, when my dad was going on that assignment, before his departure to Owerri, I took him to the airport. Prior to his going to the airport, when he was supposed to go and receive briefings from the APC secretariat, I drove him there. So, the issue of N10bn is a conspiracy. As a Muslim, again, I believe no man takes another man’s life; no one gives life, but God. That’s my belief, which I have said over time; it was destined to happen. One thing the general public and the family will like is to see the perpetrators of the act brought to justice. We will like to know who sent them, because clearly, it is an assassination. We will like to know so that we have closure and prevent such things from reoccurring to other families.
Are you satisfied with the government’s handling of your father’s murder, especially the statement credited to the police that he didn’t request VIP protection?
Here was a simple man; even when he was in office as special adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, he’s use of security was more or less like he was being compelled to do so. That was a person, who when he returned from work would tell the security guys to go home. Weekends, he didn’t use security. Mind you, the day he was killed was a weekend and he felt Owerri was a home to him. As a Nigerian, he should feel safe to go from point A to Point B. So, the issue of the police saying he was supposed to inform them, so they could give him VIP protection doesn’t arise.
To summarise the whole thing, here was a Nigerian, who expectedly felt that he had the liberty to move from one point to another without requiring police protection, just as every other ordinary citizen should enjoy those privileges. The police are not created to protect only a few privileged ones; they are meant to give protection to all citizens. I think the best they can do is to unearth his killers and get to the root of the probable cause of this unfortunate murder.
Is the family being updated about the progress being made by the police to unearth the killers?
Well, I brought my dad’s corpse from Owerri. The brief I got from the Commissioner of Police is that investigation is still ongoing and as you might have read in the papers that they captured some of his alleged killers and killed them. So, let us wait and see the outcome of the investigation since the police said investigation is still ongoing.
Did your father tell any member of the family that he was facing any threat?
No, not at all. He was in Owerri during the 2018 governorship primaries, were he faced some threat.
Did he nurse any fear whenever he was going to the South-East after that?
No. He never did. There was this connection he had with the southern part of the country; he took people from that part as brothers. I can tell you that he had a lot of friends from there; he visited there comfortably. For him, he didn’t have the insecurities, the way an average northerner feel when going to the South. My father travelled across Nigeria comfortably; he didn’t see the need to get a security escort attached to him when on such trips.
What are the implications of his killing for the unity of this country?
What I will encourage is for the police to be up and doing to ensure that they protect lives and properties of all Nigerians. Yes, there has been tension. The implication is that tension will be high on both sides, but let us as Nigerians try and respect the memory of my father and live in peace. My father believed in one Nigeria, so let’s live in peace. I have a lot of friends from the South-East; a lot of them called me to condole with me, some came all the way from the South-East to Abuja. There’s one who even came all the way to Yola to condole with the family. So, we can’t just conclude that everybody from the South-East doesn’t like northerners. Just as it is in every society, you will have good and bad elements, so the police should just do a proper job and get to the bottom of his death. It will bring closure and help the cause of peace. So, the country can move on, though we as a family will never forget it.
Do you think his friendship with the governor might have cost him his life?
Well, I don’t want to attribute my father’s murder to politics despite people saying it was political. His killing was purely an assassination. At the same time, to respect my father’s memory, I wouldn’t want to say his friendship with Governor Hope Uzodimma or his association with the southern part of the country cost him his life. God had destined that my father would not exceed the 30th of May, 2021.
The governor said your father’s death had political undertones. But what does the family think?
Well, it was an assassination. Though investigation is going on, but with the look of things, if you bring down somebody from the car and just target him alone for elimination that means the person was the target. The governor also said it was a political assassination, if I recall correctly from his press conference.
What is the message of the family to the government and security agencies?
Well, the message from the family is that the security agencies should be up and doing. We know, they are trying their best based on the circumstances under which they operate. But we expect an environment whereby citizens from both sides can move freely without fear or favour.