The Painful Exit of an Epitome of Compassion : Tribute to Late Dr. Zuwaira Hassan Ibrahim
By Barrister Mohammed Lawal Ishaq
Simplicity. Humility. Patience. Compassion. Community Service. Philanthropy. These are all attributes associated with the late Dr. Zuwaira Hassan who died yesterday, Monday 23rd November in a ghastly car crash on her way to Bauchi.
My first contact with Dr. Zuwaira was at Shifa Hospital, the first Islamic faith-based health facility set up in Jos by the Nigerian Aid Group of JNI. I was the secretary of the project from inception in 1985/86. By the year 2000, the project grew into a full pledge hospital among others. Dr. Zuwaira, upon completion of her training and a medical doctor, spared some hours and volunteered to work in our hospital. Her humility and simplicity were captivating right from that time.
Her stint with Shifa Hospital did not last long, but she left a lasting impression on both the management, staff and the patients she interacted with.
In 2013, when I moved to my present house at Dogon Dutse Jos, she happened to be my immediate neighbor. We share the same gate and compound. We not only reignited our much earlier familiarity, she also became a bosom friend to my wife and my family – a friendship that will later turn out to be highly beneficial to us.
Dr. Zuwaira was not only accessible to neighbors and friends with medical needs, she keeps some essential drugs at home for those that daily troop to her house whenever she is home. She sees indigent sick people that find it difficult to visit hospitals due to many factors ranging from lack of consultation fees to lack of even the necessary transportation. It was her practice to give such sick people money to buy the prescribed drugs as well as money to take them back home.
On a personal note, a day before my little daughter Daiyibat passed away on 17 March 2019, when I returned home on the evening of 16th March and saw her condition, I instantly called late Dr. Zuwaira having seen her car in the compound signifying she was in. She came up in a jiffy and observed her. She advised we take her to JUTH as soon as possible. Before we left, she rushed to her house, came out, and thrust something into my wife. It was the sum of ₦10,000 urging my wife to add to our provisions to the hospital. When Daiyibat died the following morning, immediately after the funeral was over, late Dr. Zuwaira Hassan came in with assorted food provisions including a bag of rice, cooking oil, etc, and dropped them in our kitchen.
That was not the beginning. While she was serving as the Bauchi state Commissioner for Health, she was aware of our efforts to raise over ₦5m for the second heart surgery of late little Daiyibat in India. One faithful early morning, we had a knock on our door. It was Dr. Zuwaira ready to leave for Bauchi having spent the weekend in Jos. She came in and we had our usual joint general chat. She said she just popped in to say hello to us having not been around for a long time. She thrust something in a leather bag to my wife and added, “It is just ₦1m. Pls bear with me. That is the much I can source for you”. She quickly left without waiting for us to shower her with thanks. Both my wife and I shed tears that morning.
Such are Dr. Zuwaira’s kindness, which is few among thousands.
Late Dr. Zuwaira was until her death an Associate Professor of Medicine. But her lifestyle was so simple that many wills mistook her for a mere housewife as she goes about her duties as one. She was blessed with three make children all very well trained, numerous brothers and sisters as well as many foster children who she was shouldering their educational development. I know of some that have already graduated and are gainfully employed now.
Call Dr. Zuwaira to any community activity, be sure she will strive to be there. Her dual constituencies of Toro, her place of origin and birth, and Jos, her place of education, and residence were never a challenge to her. Both Plateau and Bauchi benefitted immensely from her generosity. She served severally in the Plateau state Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board medical team. Her tenure as Commissioner for Health during Barrister M. A. Abubakar’s administration saw a revolution in health care delivery in Bauchi. She once told me that she accepted to serve as a Commissioner to the detriment of her career, as she was pursuing her Ph.D. at that time. But she couldn’t have said no to an opportunity to serve the public. And she left an indelible impact.
When JNI Jos was handed over to the Ambassador Yahaya Kwande Community Hospital – a giant effort by Hon Suleman Yahaya Kwande, immediate past House of Reps member for Bassa/Jos North, her name came first among the Board of Trustees. She didn’t disappoint as she came in handy as usual and was made to head the new Hospital’s management team. It was a task she couldn’t say no to despite her tight schedules. Already she also left a positive mark in the teething moment of the hospital’s take-off. I am sure the best legacy other team members will leave in her memory is to ensure her dream of a vibrant community hospital is realized.
No space will be enough to pay tribute to Dr. Zuwaira – a gentle lady, humanitarian to the core, compassionate, generous, and hard-working. Our prayers for the repose of her soul will never dry from numerous people she positively touched their lives. For the first time in my life, I saw an unblemished individual as I never came across anyone that can say he had any problem with Dr. Zuwaira Hassan.
Sleep on Dr. Zuwaira, and continue to rest in peace. May Aljannat Firdausi be your final abode.