The death of front-line nationalist, politician and diplomat, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule, has continued to elicit reactions from Nigerians across the country. The erudite and respected elder statesman died on Sunday, 2nd July 2017 at a hospital in Cairo, Egypt.
Maitama Sule belonged to the generation of Nigeria’s founding fathers who fought for our independence. He was fondly called the Golden Voice from the North because of his oratorical skills which he used to maximum effect to dazzle his listeners. Even in advanced age and failing health he remained his vintage, erudite self as his voice retained its charm and power as he spoke passionately of his dream for Nigeria.
But last Sunday that voice went silent, signifying that though death has its way on the mortal flesh, it can never steal the noble legacies people leave behind.
In a condolence letter, President Muhammadu Buhari said of the departed elder statesman: “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 into 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”.
Indeed, an eloquent testimony of how Nigerians value and appreciate his contribution to the country’s development process and achievements so far is the flood of tributes that have continued to flow from individuals from all walks of life.
While describing his death as a great loss to the country, many have called on the Federal Government to immortalise him.
Maitama Sule, the Dan Masanin Kano, was born in 1929 at Ungwar Yola in present day Kano Municipality. He started formal education by enrolling at Shahuci Elementary School in 1937, and on completion he proceeded to the Kano Middle School and Kaduna College (now Barewa College) in 1943. Among his many notable accomplishments were his emergence at the age of 20 as the first Vice-President of the Northern Peoples Congress when it was formed in 1949.
He was elected into the House of Representatives as the youngest Member of Parliament (MP). He became the Minister of Mines and Power in 1954 at the age of 29. He became Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations after he narrowly missed the opportunity of being nominated presidential candidate of the defunct National Party of Nigeria, NPN, that won federal power in 1979.
We join millions of Nigerians in bidding farewell to Maitama Sule, and urge his family to take heart.