Friends, Families, Colleagues gathered Thursday 22nd of August at a commendation programme to remember late Mrs. Fatima Garbati, a woman described as the colossus Amazon.
The venue of the commendation programme was filled to capacity as notable individuals in the aviation and tourism sectors trouped in to join in applauding the immerse contributions of Mrs. Garbati to the growth, development and promotion of the sectors where she played a prominent role before her demise.
The programme put together by Mr. Ikechi Uko, publisher African Travel Quarterly, ATQ Magazine and organizer Akwaaba African Travel Market, kicked off with a Muslim prayer by AIG Bala Hassan,rtd and followed by a Christian prayer.
It was an emotional laden gathering, with outpour of emotions, various speakers took turns to speak on their encounter with late Mrs. Garbati, how she imparted their lives, their businesses, Associations and industries.
Director Consumer Protection, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Alhaji Adamu Abdullahi described Mrs. Garbati as a good person, a mother and a bridge builder.
“Mrs. Fatima Garbati was a mother to the staff of the consumer protection unit before I came in, it was a big shocker when I learnt of her death but then God’s will must be done, it is a necessary end, all of us sooner or later, it is good that today we are here to celebrate her because she was a good person”.
The General Manager, CPD, Mr. Kalu Anaso recalled how Mrs. Garbati grew the CPD into a full fledged directorate and how she worked with them, took care of them to rise the directorate to an enviable height.
Managing Director, defunct Nigeria Airways Limited, Mr. Yomi Jones said Mrs. Garbati was a stickler to standards, does not compromise or tolerate cutting of corners.
“I knew Fatima several years ago, I was a young man in Lufthansa and part of my job was to interact with nigerian Airways and the contact of Nigeria Airways for International relations was Fatima and any time I went in there, one thing or the other even if the answer was to be No she will make sure I get a yes out”.
Mr. Chris Aligbe who she worked with closely in the Nigerian Airways said Mrs. Garbati was well grounded in International relations, Aero politics.
“There are few people who have a grip on Aeropolitics most of them came under Fatima, if you where to range them at the top would be Garbati”.
Alhaja Bilikisu Abdul, President Tour Operators Association of Nigeria who spoke in an emotional voice said she was happy that she was one of those who was with Mrs, Garbati when she breathed her last breath.
“The only thing that made me happy today is that I was so happy and glad that I was with her when she leave her loved ones, I was one of the people who stayed back with her”.
Chairman Carnival Calabar Sir Gab Onah said,”you cannot write the story of modern day tourism in Nigeria without this wonderful lady, when I met her, I didn’t know her aviation part, my condolences to the aviation family, Cross River State will miss her”.
Onah said, Mrs. Garbati was a part of the tourism family in Cross River who motivated the whole gamut of tourism industry to build the carnival Calabar, he announced that Mrs. Garbati had been listed as the celebrity adjudicator for carnival Calabar a role which would now be taken over by her daughter, Hadiza.
Other various speakers extolled the steering qualities of Mrs. Garbati, reminiscence their meeting with her and said they would miss her a greatly.
In their different tributes, Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Rusewe said, ” her relentless pursuit and aspiration to a glorious future for Nigerian tourism will be the timeless statement of her mentoring spirit and impact on the sands of time”.
Mrs. Fatima Garbati who died 3 months ago worked with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, during her stay there, she repositioned the Consumer Protection unit into a department and eventually a full directorate, acted in the capacity of Director, CPD between 2011-2013, championed the family Assistance Programmes for victims of the unfortunate Dana Air crash.
Over the years she held various positions at local and international level, some of which were; Chairperson of IATA investigation Panel for 10 years for English speaking West Africa, Chairperson, Board of Airlines for Nigeria and Bank Settlement Plan for Nigeria.
She also represented Nigeria on the international scene at AFRAA and AFCAC and at national level as member of a National Committee of Experts on Commercial Aviation set up by the Presidency under President Olusegun Obasanjo.
For a decade, she was also the Chief Delegate for Nigeria on Commercial Aviation at IATA , Chairman of IATA Agency Panel for West Africa and the only African member of IATA/UFAA Consultative Board.
Mrs. Garbati was also an avid tourism practitioner and served as a founding member and National President for the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators as well as National Vice President for the Federation of Tourism Association if Nigeria.