Umaru Shinkafi dies at 79
One of Nigeria’s most prominent politicians, elder statesman and former presidential aspirant Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, Marafan Sokoto, died in a London hospital yesterday. He was 79. His daughter Hajiya Fatima Umaru Aliyu Shinkafi, who is the Zamfara State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, confirmed his death and said he had suffered from a heart ailment for some time.
Born in January 1937, Shinkafi went to Barewa College, Zaria in the 1950s and thereafter joined the Nigeria Police in 1959. He started as an Inspector based in Enugu and rose through the ranks to head the police’s Special Branch in Enugu during the Nigeria Civil War. He was the Commissioner of Police in Oyo State in the early 1970s. In 1975, General Murtala Mohammed appointed Shinkafi as the Federal Commissioner [i.e. minister] of Internal Affairs. In October 1979, President Shehu Shagari appointed him Director General of the National Security Organisation [NSO], the position that earned him a reputation as Nigeria’s super spook.
Shinkafi retired from the NSO in 1983. In 1985, he was conferred with the traditional title of Marafan Sokoto. That year he also married his third wife Hajiya Lubabatu, youngest daughter of the Sardaunan Sokoto Sir Ahmadu Bello. In 1986 the headed the presidential panel that recommended the splitting of NSO into three organisations, including the State Security Service, SSS. Shinkafi became involved with Third Republic politics during the Babangida regime and soon became one of the country’s most powerful politicians. He contested for the presidential ticket of the centre-right National Republican Convention [NRC] in 1992. His Choice 92 campaign organisation was one of the best organised in the Third Republic. The NRC primary race ended inconclusively, with Shinkafi and Malam Adamu Ciroma slated to go for a runoff election. Before that happened however, the Babangida regime annulled the party primaries and banned the two men, along with 21 other prominent aspirants, from politics.
Shinkafi was not active in politics during the Abacha years but in 1998 he emerged as one of the top leaders of the All Peoples Party [APP], which later changed its name to ANPP. In 1999, APP entered into an electoral alliance with the Alliance for Democracy, AD. This alliance fielded a joint ticket with AD’s Chief Olu Falae as presidential candidate with Shinkafi as his running mate. They subsequently lost the election to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and his running mate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Shinkafi continued to play and active role in APP/ANPP in later years but in the last decade, he quietly withdrew from politics, partly due to ill health. In his police days he was a prominent polo player and a leader of the Lagos Polo Club. His daughter Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi said yesterday, “He is expected to be flown back to Nigeria and may be buried in Sokoto either on Friday or Saturday, though no decision has taken been taken on that yet.”
However, Zamfara State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism Alhaji Umar Jibo Bukkuyum said Shinkafi would be buried in Sokoto on tomorrow.
The elder statesman was survived by three wives and five children. Among his children is Hajiya Zainab Atiku Bagudu, wife of the Kebbi State Governor, as well as Hajiya Hadiza Yari, wife of the Zamfara State Governor. Shinkafi was also elder brother to former Zamfara State governor Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi.
Buhari, Dogara, Tambuwal, Atiku, Bafarawa mourn
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday commiserated with the government and people of Sokoto State on the death of one of their illustrious sons, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi.
Buhari, in a statement by his spokesman Femi Adesina, described the departed politician, administrator and technocrat as an expert whose contributions to the development of the security architecture of Nigeria, he said, remained indelible.
Buhari said others carried on where Shinkafi left off, recalling that the former Federal Commissioner of Internal Affairs and head of the then National Security Organisation (NSO) played frontline roles in the activities leading to the eventual return and enthronement of democracy in the country.
He urged family members, friends and associates of the departed leader who held the Marafan Sokoto traditional title to take solace in the fact that he played the parts assigned to him diligently, conscientiously and patriotically and enjoined them to emulate him.
Buhari prayed that Almighty Allah grant his soul eternal rest.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has commiserated with the government and people of Zamfara State and all Nigerians over the death of Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, Marafan Sokoto.
Dogara, in a statement by his spokesman Turaki Hassan, in Lagos, described the death of the elderstatesman as a huge loss to the nation.
He said Shinkafi was a true democrat who contributed immensely towards the restoration of democracy in Nigeria in 1999.
The speaker described the late Shinkafi as a bridge-builder and cosmopolitan who lived a life worthy of emulation.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described Shinkafi as a remarkably decent and disciplined politician who would be greatly missed by Nigerians.
In a condolence message issued in Abuja yesterday by his media office, former vice president recalled that the late Marafan Sokoto was one of the most intelligent, visceral and deeply informed and principled politicians he had ever known.
According to Atiku, the late Umaru Shinkafi was so independent minded that he and his political associates were denied registration by the General Sani Abacha military government, and that the deceased was never timid to forcefully express his opinion on national issues.
He also condoled with the Shinkafi family, the people and governments of Sokoto and Zamfara over the death of the Marafan Sokoto and prayed to Allah to grant Shinkafi an eternal rest in peace.
In his own message of condolence, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal described Shinkafi as a distinguished legal luminary, security expert, politician with conscience and great community leader and mobiliser.
“Marafa’s death has closed a chapter in the life of one Nigeria’s most valuable public officers who made his mark in both public and private sectors. He was a truly passionate Nigerian whose invaluable contributions to issues of national interest will be greatly missed.
“His law office served as training ground for many aspiring lawyers in Sokoto State and beyond. While condoling his immediate family, the people and government of Zamfara State and the Sultanate Council of Sokoto, Tambuwal prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest.”
A former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, yesterday described the death of Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi as a monumental loss not only to the North but the entire nation. He described Shinkafi as one of the best disciplined, finest and intelligent security officers produced by the nation.
The late Umaru Shinkafi