“As long as I am alive and on this seat, I will make sure you and your wife perform the next hajj (2020)”
These were the words of Ambassador Adnan bin Mahmoud Bostaji, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Nigeria when I visited him in his office and I pleaded with him to make way for my wife to join me in the annual work-pilgrimage which, for the past couple of years, I have been privileged to be part of. Senior journalists from no fewer than 20 countries, including Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan, etc are part of the team.
When therefore, on Tuesday, February 4, I casually came across a news about the death of Ambassador Adnan Bostaji in a facebook post, I was petrified and perturbed and shaken.
In a sense of confusion, I began to place calls to his aides in the embassy; first to his secretary, Remi and then Isa Mohammed and then to the embassy’s general lines and finally to Abubakar. It was only the line of Abubakar that went through. He confirmed that Ambassador Adnan died in the early hours of that day, February 4. That he returned from Saudi Arabia the previous day, February 3 hale and hearty. He did not wake up alive on February 4.
So, Ambassador Adnan Mahmoud Bostaji is truly truly dead?
Just like that?
This was the man who oozed with life, with fresh ideas on how to move his country forward within the confines of his operation, with friendly disposition and with doggedness to make the difference from the status quo.
The late diplomat was virtually at home in Nigeria with everyone, both those in high places and the lowly ones. He was so innovative, generous and friendly that many organizations had had cause to honour him with awards. In short, his love for Nigeria was very transparent, as was shown in his mien and psyche each time he encountered Nigerians. His secretary is a Nigerian and most of his staff members are Nigerians.
Ambassador Adnan enjoyed attending public functions to which he was invited. One of such was the public presentation of a book on Qur’anic translation into Ebira language, which was staged at the National Mosque sometime last year. He actually promised to assist in publishing the book in multiple copies through his home country. When the committee on the translation visited him in his office later to show appreciation, he reiterated his desire to link up with his home government to facilitate the multiple production of the book. And the book is still in process… but he died!!!
Only last week, the late Ambassador had a meeting with Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari and seized the opportunity to cement the cordial diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia in many areas.
Ambassador Adnan Bostaji actually introduced new ways of carrying out diplomatic duties, interacting freely with whoever would add value to what he had set to achieve. His attitude to work might have been influenced by the creative and modern way the Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman back home, has allowed the diplomatic relations to flow. But there was still something special about Adnan Bostaji.
As a matter of fact, those before him were never as open in dealing with none governmental personalities as late Ambassador Adnan Bostaji. The late Ambassador was able to cultivate friendships with people across various professional groups, especially with journalists.
He so much believed in openness in governance that he would turn in all kinds of activities of his embassy, and that of his government back home, for publication. Indeed, there was no week that he would not forward interesting development either within the embassy or from Saudi Arabia to me for publication. And he always felt elated and showed open appreciation whenever he saw a story from him published.
Before he was appointed as Ambassador and deployed to Nigeria in 2016, Adnan Bostaji had served his country in various capacities and country.
He was born in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian Federal Capital in 1966 and did his early education, upto secondary school in the same city. He graduated with Bachelor’s Degree in 1985 from King AbdulAziz University in Jeddah and a Diploma in Diplomatic Studies Institute in Riyadh in 1988.
He started his career by joining the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Later, he was appointed deputy to the ambassador at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran from 1991 until 1998.
Adnan Bostaji also worked at the administration of the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1998 until 2000.
In 2000, he was appointed as chargé d’affaires at the Saudi Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, until 2003.
He then worked as head of economic affairs and international organizations at the Saudi Embassy in London from 2003 until 2005. He also joined the office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Makkah as director from 2003 until 2016.
Before his appointment as a Saudi ambassador to Nigeria, Adnan Bostaji served as deputy to the ambassador at the Saudi Embassy in Berlin in 2016.
With such towering credentials, late Ambassador Adnan Bostaji set to work and actually proved his mettle in diplomatic duties and even human relations. As a matter of fact, he showed wherever he went and whatever he did, that he had nothing to hide; that he loved the company of good people, irrespective of colour and creed, and above all, that he loved his job and the country of his birth.
The late Ambassador actually demonstrated the true sense of service to his country, to humanity and to his family, and was never found wanting.
It was not for nothing that President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, in a tribute to him, described Adnan Bostaji as “passionate friend of Nigeria.” I too, and many others who encountered him would describe him simply as a friend, a brother and a committed family man. He was a man that was so much in love with humanity. He lived a life as prescribed by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) when he enjoined us to “live as if you will never die forever, and live as if you will die the next moment.”
This Ambassador Adnan Bostaji demonstrated when he told members of the committee on translation of the meaning of Holy Qur’an in Ebira language: “I advise you to hasten up the work because I may not be around by the time you would have finished it.” And his words to me: “as long as I am alive and on the seat…”
Now that he’s gone, where do we pick up the pieces?
His death once more reminds us of the reality of life, for, from Allah we all came, and to Him we are all surely returning.
Rest well, Ambassador Adnan bin Mahmoud Bostaji, in the bosom of the glorious Allah, till we meet again.