Nigerians were still in mourning mood over the death of Alhaji Gidado Idris when the political space was on Tuesday thrown into another shock by the exit of one of its leading lights, Alhaji Muhammadu Lawal Kaita. He passed on after a brief illness at the Turkish Hospital, Abuja. He was aged 85. His death came less than three weeks after Gidado’s demise.
Born in 1932, the late politician was elected as governor of the old Kaduna state on the platform of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and served from October to December, 1983 following the military coup on the eve of 1984. The state was thus denied the rare opportunity of the wealth of experience that he would have brought to bear on it.
He was also a member of the Constituent Assembly between 1977 and 1978 which ushered in the Second Republic that collapsed at the end of 1983. He had also served as special assistant to former civilian President Shehu Shagari after his botched governorship attempt in 1979, losing to the Peoples Redemption Party’s Balarabe Musa.
Regarded as one of the finest politicians to come from the North, the late Lawal Kaita’s philosophy of politics as a vehicle of service to the people rather than a do-or-die affair as it has been the case in recent years, stood him out as a refined political actor whose exit will create a gap that would be difficult to fill as evidenced by the avalanche of tributes coming from prominent Nigerians from all walks of life.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in his eulogy, described the deceased political icon as a complete gentleman who served his people and the nation with total commitment.
“Nigeria has lost a distinguished leader. We are all saddened by his demise. May his soul rest in peace,” Buhari said through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu.
Alhaji Bello Masari, Governor of Katsina state, while expressing shock over the development, said the country has lost a patriot who contributed immensely to the development of contemporary politics in Nigeria. He described the deceased as one of the most accommodating, generous and refined politicians the nation had produced.
He said, “Katsina state and, indeed, the nation at large will miss the wise counsel of Alhaji Lawal Kaita.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, expressed sadness over the demise of Kaita, whom he said “was a very courageous man who left a legacy of service and built bridges of friendship and unity across the North and the country in general.”
While noting the exploits and positive contributions of the late politician as a member of the Constituent Assembly that midwifed Nigeria’s Constitution and as governor of old Kaduna state, Dogara said he would be remembered for his selfless service, patriotism and abiding faith in the unity and progress of the country.
“He will continue to be honoured and remembered by present and future generations for his dedication to the service of his people during his tenure as a governor and even after. Painful as his death is, we are however consoled with the fact that Alhaji Kaita left an indelible footprint and legacy of service to the society as well as commitment to the ideals of democracy and nationhood”, he stated.
Minister of State for Aviation,….Sirika described the late Kaita as a patriot and a true Nigerian, who believed in the Nigerian project, lived by it, taught it and caused other people to follow it.
He lamented, “It is not only a loss for Katsina; it is indeed a loss for black Africa. Indeed, Muhammadu Lawal Kaita was eminent; he had such an imposing personality in his lifetime. “We will miss him; we will rever him; we will honour him. He was a man of honour and dignity”.
Former Deputy Governor to Ibrahim Shehu Shema, Barrister Abdullahi Faskari said the death of Lawal Kaita has created a vacuum that cannot be filled.
“He was an elder statesman and certainly his demise will create a vacuum not only in Katsina state but also throughout the federation. We have lost a father, an elder statesman, a mentor, an adviser and everything. I don’t think of having a replacement because you cannot have another Muhammadu Lawal Kaita,” he said.
Blueprint Weekend joins millions of Nigerians in condoling with the Government and people of Katsina state. May Allah grant him Aljannah Firdaus, and his family the gratitude to bear the irreparable loss, Amen.