Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has expressed deep regret and sorrow over the tragedy that struck Muslim pilgrims during a stampede in Mecca that claimed hundreds of lives, among them a senior Nigerian female journalist and nine other victims from Nigeria.
A statement released by his media office in Abuja on Saturday, 26 September, described the incident as one of the saddest accidents to have befallen Muslims in recent memory.
The former Vice President notes that such colossal loss of human life was rare and remarkably regrettable, adding that the Muslim world should be united in grief and offer prayers to God to avert this kind of accident of calamitous proportions.
The Turaki Adamawa said that life is so precious that whoever dies, the world should be united in grief because “we are bound by our common humanity.” Atiku advised that “we learn lessons from these tragic incidents, and take precautionary measures to ward off future disasters.”
The former Vice President conveyed his condolences to the families of the Nigerian victims of the tragedy and described the late Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf, one of the Nigerian victims, “as the shining light of the journalism profession in Nigeria, and a pride to Northern Nigeria for being the first female Editor of the North’s two major newspapers – The Triumph and The New Nigerian.”
The former Vice President noted that the late Bilkisu Yusuf was not only an outstanding Editor, but also an internationally recognised activist on women and development issues.
He prayed to God to forgive the gentle souls of the dead and reward their sacrifices and devotion with eternal bliss in paradise.
The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) in its statement, said it was gravely saddened by the news of the death of one of its most active and pioneer members; Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf, who died during the tragic Hajj stampede which claimed not less than 700 others.
In the statement by Ifeyinwa Omowole, National President of NAWOJ said that” her sudden demise, at a time when the association and the nation needed such outspoken women journalists can never be more disheartening.
“She was an exemplary member of the association and a veteran journalist of international repute, a columnist, journalism ombudsman and civil society activist.
“Hajiya Bilkisu, a former Presidential Adviser on International Affairs and syndicated columnist for Daily Trust and Leadership newspapers, was the Executive Director of Advocacy Nigeria, a movement working for the reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality.
“She was a devout Muslim and founding member of Federation of Muslim Women’s Association (FOMWAN); she was relentless in her fight for the cause of those affected by insurgency in the North-East.
“Her death therefore is a heavy blow to the association, all journalists and the nation at large.
“NAWOJ therefore prays God to grant her immediate family, the association, and indeed all Nigerians the fortitude to bear this great loss.
“She was one of our own and she will never be forgotten in a hurry; not by the many journalists she had trained and mentored,” NAWOJ lamented.