Published On: Wed, Jul 12th, 2017

Yusuf Maitama Sule (1 October 1929 – 3 July 2017)

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He was recognized, all at once, as one of Nigeria’s foremost politicians, elder statesmen and an “orator diplomat”. Later in life, he would receive the traditional chieftaincy title Danmasanin Kano, which recognized him as a true son of the soil.
In his 60 plus years of public life, Maitama’s voice resonated across Nigeria and over its borders. It was conscience-pricking, keeping leaders uncomfortably on their toes and rallying the followership to hope for a better country that would be home to all. One of his last public speeches, for example, was a Martin Luther King-type “I have a dream” speech: he said “I have a dream that one day, Nigeria will rise up and live up to the true meaning of its creed”. He said that he saw in his dream southerners and northerners dining together at the same table “one day”.
However, like America’s late civil rights campaigner King, Maitama never lived to see that dream of a united Nigeria come true. Regrettably, Maitama died July 3, 2017 in Cairo, Egypt where he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment. His death came at a time of heightened political tension, what with resurgent Biafra protests and a threat to expel Igbos from the North.
It is a mark of Maitama’s popularity and acceptability across the land that eulogies for him came from Nigerians across all divides – political, racial, religious and ethnic. Former President Goodluck Jonathan, while on a condolence visit to Kano, admitted that the Danmasanin Kano was a big influence in his political life, particularly when he was the vice to the late President Umaru Yar’adua. “We’ve lost a caring leader and father”, Goodluck said. On the late Maitama’s ascetic life, the former Nigerian leader, added, “He never believed in putting money in his pocket; whatever he got was for his people; he always talked about the wellbeing of Nigeria and Nigerians”.
Ogun state’s former governor Gbenga Daniel said this of the late Maitama: “Maitama Sule lived a highly courageous and dedicated life in the service of the people and his death ends a glorious chapter in Nigeria’s democratic process”. Present Kogi governor Yahaya Bello said Maitama Sule was “a lesson in unity and integrity”. “Our Maitama Sule devoted his active life to the service of his fatherland, preaching and exemplifying the greatness inherent in an unbroken nation”, he added
We at Peoples Daily see as befitting the political and moral colossus that Maitama Sule was that the government of his state of Kano declared a day’s holiday to mourn his departing and name a state university after him. The public holiday was not well received in some political quarters, but let’s ask: which is right, to edify a dead saint or welcome home a pardoned self-confessed thief such as happened recently in one of the south south states? Maitama Sule merited, even in death, the recognition given to him on his home soil. We praise the Kano state government for taking that courageous decision. We also join the family of the departed icon and millions of his admirers in mourning him. May his soul rest in eternal peace, amin.

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