It is 15 years now since our late father, Sir John Gofwan Dyikuk, KSM went back to his creator. Losing a father while growing up can be the most traumatic experience in life. It is worst when he is the breadwinner and the children are young. The helplessness, confusion and shame it brings is unimaginable. As role models, fathers are heroes who protect the family while providing leadership in terms of vision and mission for their wife and kids. For the Dyikuks’ our Dad was a caring, peace-loving, intelligent, humble, shy and industrious father who decorated the family with grace and honour while treating his children as friends.
Writing about him comes with all the sweet memories of taking us out to buy the erstwhile bata-shoes, adventurous trips and sound moral teaching. My siblings have confessed that if there is another life here, they would wish he were their Dad a zillion times. Even when people criticized him for allowing his wife to teach his children Berom, he did not bother. At times, we would even speak to him in Berom and he would respond in English. He would later explain that it is better to learn Ngas and Berom than none at all. Well, the saying goes “Good things do not last.” That God allowed our parents to be part of His creative genius is something we would be forever grateful for.
Born on 24 June 1949 in Bwarak village of Kasgong District of Pankshin Local Government Area (LGA) of Plateau State, Sir. Dyikuk had his early education at the prestigious Holy Cross Primary School, Pankshin from 1958 and 1964. He then proceeded to Government Teachers’ College Toro (1965-69) where he obtained his Grade II Teachers’ Certificate. He obtained his Bachelor of Education Science from the University of Jos (1977-81) where he measured in Geography. By 1986, he bagged the Master of Education Degree in Administration and Planning in the same institution. He had enrolled with the National Open University as an MPhil/PhD student in Educational Administration and Planning before God said his time was up.
Nde Dyikuk started work as a teacher at the Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) Mushere in Bokkos LGA in 1970. From there he proceeded to Shen LGEA, Jos South LGA (1971-77) as Assistant Headmaster. That was where he met and taught the young attractive Miss Martina Bi Nyam. She would later become the mother of his lovely kids. By 1982, he was employed by the Plateau State Government and served as a Class Room Teacher at Government Secondary School, Riyom under Barkin Ladi LGA at the time.
The determined Dyikuk was appointed a Principal and served at Government Secondary School, Butura Kampani (1982-84) Bokkos LGA, Government Secondary School, Bakin Kogi (1984-87) Barkin Ladi, LGA and Government Secondary School Bashar, Wase LGA (1987-90). He was then transferred to Government College Dengi, Kandam LGA still as a Principal (1990-94) and later to Government Secondary School Anguwan Maina, Lafiya, Nassarawa State still as principal (1994-96).
As fate would have it, after successfully serving as a Principal in various secondary schools for 15 years (1982-96), he returned home in 1996 to join the services of the Federal College of Education, Pankshin as Lecturer I. While there, he rose to the rank of Principal Lecturer in October 2002 and served as Pre-NCE Coordinator, Head of Department, Foundations and Dean, School of Education in the same institution.
Sir, Dyikuk had reading, writing, adventure and farming as his hobbies. The accomplished teacher and researcher published over 20 articles in reputable journals and contributed about 10 articles in book chapters. He also contributed articles and attended over 25 conferences across the country. The teacher to the core served as UBE consultant, assistant editor of the renowned Pancen Journal of Education. He was a member of the Nigerian Association for Educational Administration and Planning as well as Nigerian Association of Educationists for National Development.
Two of his books which stand out are, “Essentials of Educational Planning and Implementation in Nigeria” (2004) and “The Basics of Educational Management” (2005). It is worth noting that he wrote all those papers amid family distractions without constant electricity and internet. What does this say to his children and former students? Well, this quintessential scholar inspires the likes of us with access to electricity and data to dream big by employing the resources our disposal (plagiarism checker et al) to make a big difference.
Dyikuk was a Knight of St. Mulumba. At various times, he served as Laity Council Chairman, St. Jude’s Catholic Church Dengi, Parish Chairman, St. Jerome’s Amper, Laity Council Chairman, St. Thomas Bwarak and Chairman, Holy Cross Parish, Pankshin, now Holy Cross Cathedral. He loved the devotion to Our Lady as he would not allow a day pass him without reciting the Holy Rosary. He would not miss Holy Mass for anything and prayed that his son becomes a priest. Like Moses, who only saw “the land with milk and honey” from afar, Dad did not live to see his son’s ordination to the Catholic priesthood. He died of natural causes on this day, 19 May 2007 after a protracted illness. I was in Theology III. I just had a year or two to become a priest.
I remember how he drove himself to the hospital. I recall how he told us that he Doctor said he was born with a hole in his heart. Although we were saddened, we felt God could work a miracle. Although we were flying on the wings of prayer, the pain in his eyes were real. With support from FCE, our elder sister, Justina and brother, Job took him to Ghana for surgery. The rest is history. Five years later, Justina died; five years after, his beloved wife and our dear Mother, Martina passed on.
With nostalgia, his children whom he stoically named Justina, Justine, Job, Juliana, Jude, Jonathan, Joy and Jane are determined to fill the big shoes he has left behind. As the first University graduate from Bwarak village, all his children and indeed their late mother went through tertiary education. Thanks to the philanthropy of the founder of Bwarak Development Association, the loving people of Kasgong Ward which comprises of Bwarak, Tambes and Duk communities elected Honorable Jude Dyikuk as their Councilor. It is hoped that he and his siblings would fill the gap left by this grassroots-mobilizer, bridge builder, peace-lover who was passionate about community development and served in various capacities as Chairman, Committee of Elders Kasgong Development Association as well as Elder, Pankshin LGA.
This writer feels a strong connection with this visionary who came, saw and conquered. First, they attended the same primary school. Second, it would seem that “John” was at Government Teachers’ College Toro (1965-69) to prepare a place for his son to become a priest of Bauchi Diocese in 2009 and subsequently, the parish priest of Jimpi, where Saint John’s Toro is an Outstation. Third, my job as a teacher, researcher and editor plus the aspiration to become an accomplished scholar demonstrates that I come from the loins of the man who sired me from his library.
I recall how Dad would use bush-lamp to write his papers late into the night. Mom would sit by his side to encourage him while knitting a pair of socks for her unborn child. Since I was only a year old when he obtained his B.Ed Science in 1981 from the University of Jos where I also obtained my first degree in Theology and now teach, does it suggest that I am a true son of my father? Well, may all who met and loved him emulate this intelligent, humble, shy and gentle soul. May his soul, that of our cousin, Esther Pam who is two years today with the Lord and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen!
Fr. Dyikuk is a Lecturer of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Editor – Caritas Newspaper and Convener, Media Team Network Initiative (MTNI), Nigeria. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.