Former Minister of state for Works and Special Adviser on Special Duties to the Vice President, Senator Isaiah Balat is dead.
Balat who served in the Federal Executive Council in 1999 and was later elected as senator representing Kaduna Southern Senatorial district died at the National Hospital, Abuja of an undisclosed ailment.
Aged 62, Senator Balat was a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna state and contested the governorship election of the state but lost at the primaries to the current Vice President, Mohammed Namadi Sambo.
President Goodluck Jonathan said he received with great shock and sorrow news of the sudden death of Balat, whom he described as “very affable political leader”
Jonathan, in a statement by his spokesman, Reuben Abati, said the late Balat would be remembered for serving meritoriously as a Senator and a minister.
The statement read, “President Goodluck Jonathan received with great shock and sorrow this afternoon (Tuesday), news of the sudden death of Senator Isaiah Balat, the Special Adviser (Special Duties) to Vice President Namadi Sambo.
“On behalf of himself and the Federal Government, the President extends sincere condolences to the Vice President, his staff and all others who had the pleasure of working with Senator Balat at the Presidential Villa.
“The President also condoles Senator Balat’s wife, children and relatives as well as his kinsmen, people of Kaduna State and supporters whose interests he capably represented and defended throughout his political career.
“He joins them in mourning the very affable political leader who will be remembered for serving meritoriously as a Senator and Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The President prays that God Almighty will receive the soul of Senator Balat whom he had the pleasure of working with at close quarters in the Presidential Villa over the past three years and grant him eternal rest.”
Kaduna state governor, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero expressed shock and sadness over the death, pointing out that the death was a ‘big loss’ not only to his immediate family and Kaduna State but to the entire country.
The Director General to the governor on Media and Publicity, Ahmed Maiyaki quoted the governor as saying that “this unfortunate demise of the late Senator Balat is coming at a time that our state and indeed the entire country needed his experience and patriotic zeal the most. We have lost a rare gem, who dedicated his lifetime to the service of fatherland and humanity.”
“Balat has exhibited the true essence of sacrifice as one of the leading lights of our present democratic dispensation. History will judge him fairly as one of those who gave their all in building a modern, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.”
Senate President, David Mark, described Balat, as an astute politician, a distinguished parliamentarian, a respectable colleague and a gentleman.
According to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja “Mark literarily broke down in tears on Tuesday when the news of the untimely death of Balat filtered into town’’.
The senate president recalled his relationship with Balat in the Senate between 2003 and 2007, adding that “Balat was a friend and a brother’’.
Mark said that Balat was one of the shinning lights in the political scene and “indeed, demonstrated his love, patriotism and dedication to the ideals of nationhood’’.
According to Mark, Balat, in all his dealings, was a shining example who represents the best in the political evolution of Nigeria.
“He was outstanding and forthright and passionate about the indivisibility of our great country, Nigeria. We shall miss his candour, his frank and honest dispositions to national issues,’’ he said.
He prayed that God in His infinite mercies should grant Balat eternal rest, and also grant his family and the people of Kaduna State the fortitude to bear the loss.
Also, former Kaduna State governor, Balarabe Musa, said Balat’s death was a great loss to the nation, adding that the deceased was a consumate politician, who had contributed greatly to nation building.