Penultimate Monday night, death crept in on Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki, one of the few shinning stars remaining in the firmament of northern Nigeria. He was aged 92. Even though the late monarch had not enjoyed good in the past couple of years, when the news of his passage filtered out, many were quick to dismiss it as a mere rumour freely peddled these days.
Exiled to Kaduna following his dethronement by the Abacha Regime two decades ago, not many people expected that he would survive his agonising fall from the revered position as the Sultan of Sokoto for this long. But he did because he took the situation in his stride.
As such, many people did not see the demise of the onetime apotheosis of the Muslim faith coming at the time he passed on.
Born in Dogon Daji to Haliru Ibn Barau, the district head of Dogon Daji, the late Dasuki started his Quaranic education in 1928. He later proceeded to Dogon Daji Elementary School in 1931 and then to Sokoto Middle School in 1935. He finished his secondary education at Barewa College, Zaria, in 1943. Thereafter, he worked as a clerk in the treasury office of the Sokoto Native Authority. In 1945, he took up an appointment with Gaskiya Corporation, a publishing house that published the Hausa daily, Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo.
In 1953, he took up an appointment in the regional civil service as an executive officer. A year later, he was made the private secretary to the premier. Four years into the service, he became the regional executive council deputy secretary.
Between 1960 and 1961, he worked in the Nigerian Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan. After the brief tour, he returned home to serve as resident in Jos. He came to the apogee of his career when he became the permanent secretary in the regional Ministry of Local Government. He was later moved to the Ministry of Commerce in 1965.
Upon bowing out of the civil service and prior to his ascension to the throne, the late Dasuki concentrated largely on his business empire. In 1966, he was made the chairman of the influential Northern Nigeria Produce Marketing Board. Between 1967 and 1977, he was director and later chairman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation. From 1979 to 1989, he was co-founder and chairman of the Nigerian branch of BCCI.
In 1984, he was appointed chairman of the Committee for the Review of Local Government Administration in Nigeria with the objective of recommending ideas on how to curb the machinations of state governments in local government affairs and how local governments can encourage rural development. The reform has remained one of his enduring legacies. Dasuki was also an influential figure in the 1988 Constituent Assembly and was seen as a rallying point for the core north.
Following the passage of Abubakar Siddique, the 17th Sultan of Sokoto on November 1, 1988, Dasuki was among the leading contenders to the exalted throne. And because he was close to the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida, he was highly favoured. On December 6, 1988, he was announced as the new Sultan to the dismay of many Sokoto indigenes who rioted for five days running, leaving no fewer than 10 people dead. The late Dasuki was considered a modernist against the wishes of those in favour of the traditionalist candidate and son of his predecessor, Maccido.
Dasuki endeavoured to warm his way into the hearts of his subjects by establishing Quaranic schools and an adult literacy class in the 90s. He also tried to unite the Muslim Ummah through the reorganisation of Jama’atu Nasril Islam and the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). He was an influential figure in the appointment of Lateef Adegbite, who became the first Yoruba secretary-general of NSCIA.
In 1996, Dasuki was deposed by the military administrator of Sokoto state, Col. Yakubu Muazu. He was flown out of Sokoto to Yola and eventually exiled in Jalingo on accusation that he was fomenting enmity among the people and the royal family, ignoring government directives and travelling outside his domain without approval from the government. However, many believed he was deposed because of business issues between him and General Sani Abacha.
Tributes have been pouring in from prominent Nigerians, eulogising his sterling qualities. Even though it is customary not to speak ill of the dead, the late Sultan Dasuki was an astute politician, a consummate civil servant and a shrewd businessman whose legacies and contributions to the nation’s socio-economic development will be remembered in years to come.
May Allah grant his soul eternal rest and his family the fortitude to bear his passage.