By SALIHI ABUBAKAR BELLO and ABDULGAFAR OLADIMEJI, Kano
It was a mixed grill of tears and shower of praises as well as testimonies of goodwill in Kano yesterday as the late former Nigeria’s permanent representative to the United Nations and first minister of Petroleum Resources, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule (Danmasanin Kano), was finally laid to rest at ‘Kara’ cemetery, abattoir, in accordance with Islamic rites.
His corpse, which was brought to the state by a military aircraft with registration number NAF 913, was received at an airstrip located at Nigeria Air force 403 flying school at 4:08pm by Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, five governors, a presidential delegation led by Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, as well as that of the Senate led by Senate President Bukola Saraki and some serving ministers.
The death of the octogenarian was announced on Monday morning by his son, Abdulkadir Maitama Sule (Turakin Madaki), who was with his late father in a Cairo hospital in Egypt.
His body was conveyed in an ambulance through major Kano roads to his residence at Dawaki road, Nassarawa GRA where he was given the required religious and traditional rites meant for a Muslim.
While the motorcade drove through Airport road to his abode in Dawaki road, residents formed a long row on both sides of the road to bid him farewell.
According to Islamic rites, the late Sule’s corpse was handed to his immediate family members for cleansing bath before being transported to the palace of the Emir of Kano for prayers.
At about 5:25pm, the late Danmasanin’s corpse left Dawaki road to the palace of the Emir of Kano, Mohammed Sanusi II.
A journey of about 20 minutes from his residence to the Emir’s palace took over an hour due to heavy traffic caused by the mammoth crowd of people who thronged the streets of Kano as well as vehicles joining the convoy to the funeral prayer ground.
It was a hectic day for the paramilitary and Hisbah guards who controlled the crowd to ensure that the ambulance conveying the corpse of the late sage get to the ‘Kofar Kudu’ field where the funeral prayer was observed.
At 6:05 pm, the Chief Imam of Kano, Professor Sani Zahradeen, superintended over the Islamic burial prayer rites, with Emir Sanusi and members of the Kano emirate council in attendance.
The corpse of the late Maitama Sule was interred at Wali Mai Geza at Kofar Mazugal at 7:22pm, with hundreds of thousands of Muslim faithful partaking in the final rites.
The cemetery was filled beyond capacity, leaving many people with no choice than to partake in the burial from across the grave yard fence, with thousands observing from across the adjacent street.
Among those at the prayer and burial were the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III; Senate President Saraki, Governor Ganduje and representatives of the Northern Elders Forum. Governor Muhammad Abubakar of Bauchi State, Professor Ango Abdullahi and other close allies of the late Sule were also at the event.
Speaking at the burial, Ganduje noted that the late Maitama Sule was an intellectual whose replacement will be difficult, adding that the elder statesman devoted his entire time to serving Nigeria and Africa in general. The governor however said time is the healer of all wounds.
Prof. Ango Abdullahi and Dr Junaid Muhammad who also spoke noted that words cannot describe the man the country has lost.
Other dignitaries at the burial include Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima; Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Jigawa governor, Badaru Abubakar; former NSA, Alhaji Aliyu Gusau; son of former President Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Bala Shagari.
Others are ministers of Internal Affairs, Abdulrahman Danbazau; Defense, Mansir Dan Ali, their counterparts in Solid minerals, Kayode Fayemi and minister, Aviation, Hadi Serika.
Top government functionaries and members of the diplomatic corps from neighboring countries were at the event to pay their last respect to the well respected diplomat, prominent among whom were the governors of Maradi and Zinder from neighboring Niger republic.
Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote alongside his uncle and business mogul, Alhassan Dantata were also present to pay their last respect to the late elder statesman.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had yesterday named Chief of Staff to the president, Malam Abba Kyari, as the head of the federal government delegation to the funeral of the late Maitama Sule.
Mr Laolu Akande, the senior special assistant to the acting president on media, had made this known on his twitter handle.
The presidential aide revealed that the Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris and some government functionaries were part of the delegation.
The delegation was to submit President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter of condolence to Kano State governor Abdullahi Ganduje.
The President’s letter reads thus: “I have heard this morning, the death of the venerable Alhaji Maitama Sule, Dan Masanin Kano, and one of Nigeria’s famous sons. Although, I knew he was in poor health for some time, his death nonetheless, came as a profound shock.
“As a Minister in the First Republic, he was one of those who assisted our Founding Fathers, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello and Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, to fashion Nigeria politically and lay the grounds of national co-existence.
“Maitama Sule was blessed by God with a wonderful voice and outstanding eloquence. He served with distinction in the First Republic, the Second Military regime, as well as the Second Republic, without him being tainted with the remotest hint of scandal.
“As a person, I found him personable with unceasing good humour. Nothing personified his faith more than the fact that on losing his sight, he did not retreat in himself sulking on account of his ill-fortune.
“Quite to the contrary, he honoured virtually all invitations extended to him and spoke as usual with singular eloquence and unparalleled wit.
“In my discussions with him, I greatly valued his counsel, and I never ceased to be amazed by his concern for the well-being of his country rather than his personal interests.
“Let me extend my sincere condolences to Your Excellency, family and friends, the Government and people of Kano, and Nigerians as a whole, for this most heavy loss. We shall not soon see the like of him. May God forgive his sins and admit him to Paradise, Amin.
By SALIHI ABUBAKAR BELLO and ABDULGAFAR OLADIMEJI, Kano