Pastor Ed: Ahead of His Time
By Betty Abah
At the two-day funeral events at his father’s expansive compound in Tse-Damwa Mbapiegh, Zaki-Biam, Benue State (February 2 and 3), a towering tree lay slain and even offered shelter to several mourners in its lying -in-state status. The tree, curiously, had another tree sucked in-between. ‘A mighty tree has fallen’, were the thoughts floating in my mind. Too symbolic to be missed.
At his home in Makurdi, February 4, as I sat reminiscing with his amiable wife, Mimi Edwards, I noticed the wall clock had been set 12 minutes ahead. ‘Now, this was a man ahead of his time! ‘ Always in a hurry to deliver, to impact, spread joy, and now, he has left us at only age 47!
There is so much to talk about Pastor Edward Saater Dooga, devout Christian, missionary, lawyer, human rights advocate and my good friend of 22 years. Ed whom I loved like a brother and with whom I had several laughter sessions.
Ed, like Oronto Douglas (OND) , late Niger Delta environmental justice advocate and later government official, was one of those persons who were gifted to humanity once in an era and whose over-sized shoes are usually impossible to fill.
Ed was selflessness personified. Like OND, Ed was said to be sending money to needy persons even on his death bed. Ed would come from Lagos, drive with his family from Makurdi to Otukpo for our youth conference, the Great Otukpo Youth Summit each of the two times it held (2009, 2010) and was typically everywhere ensuring all went well . Ed was always there whenever you needed to unburden your mind. Ed whom I always greeted with a hug and a protracted laughter… Ed who knew everyone and was known by everyone… Ed, the connector who exuded such magnetizing charisma and mirth, the brightest and the best of nine siblings as testified by them.
Ed brought his legal assets to bear as one of the pioneers of MAFO, the Benue movement against herdsmen’s atrocities and part of MAFO’s inner circle that drafted the Open Grazing Prohibition Bill which was later adapted by the Benue State Government and also by Taraba State, a major instrument that is checking the current genocidal dance by herdsmen in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region. So influential was he that Governor Samuel Ortom visited him at home on his sickbed, right in his bedroom late last year, and also sent a state government representative to his funeral in Zaki-Biam (someone has already suggested that the new law be named the Ed Dooga law in his honour).
And oh, during the governor’s visit, when asked what he wanted from the government, Ed said he wanted the state government to help step down electricity into his community, Ugondo Mega Layout Phase 3, a fast -growing outskirt of the state capital Makurdi, which still lies in darkness and in which he had his home– an innovative farmhouse complete with fish ponds, rabbit pens, sugar cane farms, vegetable beds, cassava farm etc. In fact, the current building where he lived with his wife and children (an adolescent biological girl and two adopted daughters), he planned it as a retreat centre for ministers after which he would build his own family house, before death struck, unheeding to the concerted medical efforts and the pleas and cries from networks of prayers asking for his rescue from the grips of colon cancer. Selflessness personified…
Ed. Ed…. So much to say… A huge personal loss.
I lost an icon friend and alas, humanity is diminished, but lo, heaven has gained a saint.
Adieu, my dear Edward Dooga.
Abah is a Lagos-based writer and human rights advocate