By Nathaniel Ikyur
It was around 1995 when I first came in contact with late Barr Daniel Tongov Adem. We were both members of Family Worship Centre, FWC, Abuja. And as fate would have it, we became closer when I was appointed as one of the Care Group Leaders in the Men’s Fellowship. We needed venues that could host our meetings. (Care Groups are the small units of the church. Others call it Cell Groups etc.) Adem and his wife volunteered and gave us access to his apartment on the top floor in one of the high rising buildings in Area 11, Abuja. His family therefore became the first nucleus members of the Group. I was much younger to him in age, education and status, but Adem would accord me with all respect. Most times I will object but he won’t back down. Same with his wife.
Those who know him well attest that he lived a life of service right from his youth. Always helping others but unwilling to be announced or celebrated. He prefers that God alone be accorded all honour. Am sure a lot more have different testimonies of his caring lifestyle.
His wife, soft spoken Ikwubiela, daughter of the famous Col Christopher Ikwue Ode is as welcoming as her husband. His kids, (he had two then) Aondona (Baa) and Aondover were still toddlers at that time. Even at that age, the kids were taught the Christian ways of life. The family still exhibit these traits of love and care to all.
At the time I was leading the fellowship in his residence, Adem was a top management staff in the legal department of the National Assembly. He was junior to the current Clerk of the National Assembly, Sani Omolori who at that time was his director. As his Care Group Leader, we took time to pray for certain challenges he faced in the line of duty. On many occassions, we were joined by another lawyer in the same office from Benue state with similiar official challenges. In all these, God came through for all of them.
Adem went on to become the director legal services at the National Assembly when Omolori was promoted to be deputy clerk of the National Assembly. He was later to be upgraded to Secretary, Legal Services Directorate (equivalent of a federal permanent secretary) but never shedded off his humility and the father-figure to all. It was difficult to know which part of Nigeria Adem came from. He was that umbrella who did not just shield everyone, but he mentored many who worked with him and those who came across him, both in office and his service to God.
Barr Adem was a dedicated public servant. Never late to work and diligent in all his assignments. His imprints are all over a greater percentage of legislative formulations of the national assembly since the return democratic rule in 1999. He has primed his life with the consciousness of an astute businessman who makes gains in all that he does. No wonder he was loved by the low, high and mighty.
Adem was a prolific writer and an authority in legislative drafting in Nigeria. He has written ten books in this area. I guess more may have been in the works before his sudden death. As an authority in legal drafting, Adem has shone like a star in the fitmament. His profile began to rise in the legal profession, having authored critical books that has added value to the Nigerian jurispundence, particularly in legislative drafting.
These books are: ●Legislative Drafting in Plain English; ●Understanding Bills; ●Ultra Vires and New Grounds for Judicial Review; ●Legislative Drafting: Mathematics and Other Devices; 5. Legislative Drafting: Manual; ●Legislative Drafting: Topical Approach; ●Legislative Drafting: Beyond Words; ●Legislative Drafting: Making a Case for the Audience; ●’Legislative Drafting: Fobidden Devices’; ●’Legislative Drafting in Plain English’ was reviewed which makes it the tenth publication.
When he retired from active service in 2018, Adem began to leverage on the foundations he had laid. He continued with his academic pursuit to earn a doctorate degree in law but with specialty in legislative drafting. And this happened to be one of the last known public functions he attended to before his untimely death. On Thursday November 28, 2019, he defended his Doctorate Degree at the University of Jos. And his dissertation topic was: ‘Contemporary Legislative Drafting: Changing Patterns and Prescription for Nigeria.’ This topic will no doubt further enrich his area of speciality. Unfortunately, he didn’t live to impact more of his expertise on the Nigerian judiciary.
No wonder, this distinctive academic disposition he exhibited earned him a special place among legal practitioners both at the bar and bench. In the process, he gained immeasurable respect and honour among the high in the society.
The Benue community at the National Assembly, particularly found in him a father-figure with quiet but effective management of affairs.
At the Family Worship Centre where Adem fed spiritually, he grew from one level of commitment to another. His commitment to the work in his service to God grew tremendously. Testimonies abound as to how he has impacted positively to many who knew or came close to him. Until his death, he was a coordinator in the Care Group structure with a number of Care Group leaders reporting to him.
In a telephone chat with one of the leaders of Family Worship Centre, she confessed to me that at the Tuesday Leaders meeting on December 3, 2019, she looked at the position Adem usually would sit in church. According to her, “he never misses any meeting in church except if he’s not in town.”
Sadly, when the soft spoken legal icon set out to be the chairman of the ill fated wedding reception in Makurdi on November 30, 2019, little did we know that our father, boss, brother, uncle, classmate will be performing his last functions here on earth. Close friends who were present at the wedding reception said he collapsed. Efforts to revive him by a team of medical doctors failed and was confirmed dead at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital. If we were asked, we would definitely have returned a big NO verdict because it was indeed too early for us to bid our beloved brother goodbye.
We all miss you. Your wife and children miss you. The Nigerian Bar Association and indeed the entire legal profession misses you a great deal. Your fellow labourers in the Lord’s vineyard at Family Worship Centre, The People Who Care miss you.
Rest on in the bossom of our Lord and Saviour sir. Till we meet to part no more.
Ikyur is a journalist and writes from Makurdi, Benue State