The Senate on Wednesday held a valedictory service for one of its members, Senator Gyang Datong who lost his life on July 8 while attending a funeral of victims of a terror attack in Plateau State. While the funeral was on, gunmen suddenly showed up and opened fire on the mourners.The Senator and the Leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly were among those who lost their lives in the process.
The valedictory session for the departed Senator was witnessed by Governor Jonah Jang, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, the deceased’s father, his wife and other family members. A motion had earlier been moved to allow non Senators attend the sitting.
Senator Datong’s friends and colleagues in the Senate spoke of him in glowing terms. Senator Chris Ngige said “I worked with him in the Health Committee. He (Senator Dantong) was humble, he listened and he sought for the opinion of members of the committee. I remember on one instance, the Senate gave us a time limit to return a bill, the Bill on Sickle Cell and we were rushing. he was virtually on everybody’s neck. When we finished, I said we are not going to return this bill. He asked why… and I said the author of this bill is your deputy and due to some circumstances beyond his control, he had to be away. He was convinced that his deputy had to raed through before we can say we have a final draft. We had to wait for Senator Okowa to come back before we returned the bill. That is humility. Some other chairmen would have said it doesn’t matter”"
Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan from Yobe North said “”I have always known him to be a honest, humble and above all peaceful man. We worked together for four years. We were so close and in fact we called ourselves some names that portray our closeness to each other.
Death is a teacher, death reminds. Today, we have lost one of our Senators and very good citizens. We have so many things to learn. I remember he always said there must b…e unity in Plateau. I remember his commitment towards uniting not only his senatorial district but all the ethnic groups in Plateau.
Let us try to unite all our ethnic groups regardless of religious persuasion. If we do that, our colleague would not have died in vain”.
The Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu did not differ, as he stated that “Senator Dantong was not just an industrious Senator, he was also a peacemaker. I remember that earlier this year, he called a meeting of the youths in his constituency; Fulani youths, Berom youths, Yoruba youths, all towards ensuring peace.
How can a man as peaceful as Dantong die at this time? And those who are supply arms to the youth, those who are counseling them to go on rampage would be somewhere watching us now”. While describing Datong’s death as painful, Gbenga Kaka from Ogun State said “It is painful that Senator Dantong was sacrificed on the altar of criminal negligence by all of us. We are all guilty. May his soul rest in peace”.
Senator Ifeanyi Okowa who served as Datong’s Deputy in the Health Committee was not left out. “In the Committee on Health, he was my Chairman. He was a lover of peace and a truly distinguished gentleman. To Gyang, the pains of his people were his pains. I remember calling him on some occasions to ask why he was not in sittings and he would say oh, I lost five people in the disturbance that occurred. He moved from place to place consoling the bereaved, he kept moving from one funeral to the other.
He was a man of peace and he has paid the supreme price in the pursuit of peace in the Plateau”, Okowa said.
Honourable Emeka Ihedioha who represented the Speaker of the House of Representatives said “Senator Datong died in active service. The challenge is what shall we remember Senator Dantong for? This calls for soul searching.
Senator David Mark wrapped it all up with an emotional speech on the deceased. The Senate President described Senator Datong as a hardworking and peaceful man. He stated further that “Distinguished Senator (Dr.) Dantong never shied away from any assignment, no matter how difficult or unsavory. Nobody has borne the tragedies of Jos in the past three years more than Distinguished Senator Dantong. He became a fixed feature at burials. He never stayed in the comfort of his home in Abuja and he carried so much pains in his last few years as he buried people almost …every week. Just before he was murdered, he went back home to bury his Chairman. Most of those being buried were not strangers to him. While he served as the Medical Director of a hospital in his constituency, he met and traeted some and in his time as a member of the House of Representatives, he served them so for every victim, Dantong himself was a victim.
At a time, he was almost killed in a mosque while trying to broker peace. Now he has paid the ultimate price. The only way Dantong’s death will not be in vain is to allow peace to reign in Plateau. I call on all warring parties to embrace peace”.
The Senate President also made it known that a delegation from the Senate would visit Plateau State.