Still on Marafan Sokoto

Daily Trust - - SPORT - THE MARAFA I KNOW By Saidu Mo­hammed Dansadau

Last week I paid trib­ute to Al­haji Umaru Shinkafi, Marafan Sokoto and one of Nige­ria’s fore­most politi­cians and re­spected lead­ers, who died on July 6. To­day I am giv­ing up the page for an­other trib­ute by one of his clos­est con­fi­dants, Saidu Mo­hammed Dansadau, a two-term Se­na­tor from Zam­fara State who served with dis­tinc­tion, dig­nity and in­tegrity.

Dansadau’s trib­ute is fol­lowed by some of the re­ac­tions to my own trib­ute.

“Great men are the guide­posts and land­marks in the State”

Nearly ev­ery­body in my gen­er­a­tion who grew up in the North had heard of Umaru Shinkafi, the Marafan Sokoto. He was the su­per spook who knew some­thing about ev­ery­body.

Mil­i­tary Pres­i­dent, Gen­eral Ibrahim Ba­bangida, had just lifted the ban on party pol­i­tics in 1989 and po­lit­i­cal as­so­ci­a­tions were be­ing formed. That was when my path first crossed that of Marafa when we formed the Sokoto Or­gan­i­sa­tion (then Zam­fara was part of Sokoto State).

I was young and a fire­brand. Lit­tle did I know that I made a deep im­pres­sion on him dur­ing our first meet­ing. Af­ter the meet­ing he sent for me and asked me to see him in Shinkafi. That was the be­gin­ning of a close and in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship, a men­tor­ing and close benev­o­lent big brother re­la­tion­ship.

When the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment de­creed Na­tional Repub­li­can Con­ven­tion (NRC) and the So­cial Demo­cratic Party (SDP) into be­ing, we joined the NRC whose man­i­festo we iden­ti­fied with and which we hoped to deepen. Marafa was run­ning to be the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of the NRC.

Not be­ing a prod­uct of the known po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment of the time, his as­pi­ra­tion seemed rather au­da­cious. And, as ev­ery in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tor knows, he had made some pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies who would go to great lengths to stop him. But they did not reckon with his dis­ci­pline and solid or­ga­ni­za­tional abil­i­ties.

Soon, his cam­paign took off. He ap­pointed me his Cam­paign Co-co­or­di­na­tor for Sokoto State. I think he liked how I or­ga­nized the cam­paign, for, af­ter six months he pulled me out to Kaduna and pro­moted me to co-or­di­nate his Cam­paign for the whole North­ern States.

It was a most task­ing and ex­haus­tive cam­paign. We threw ev­ery­thing into it and came close enough to the more fan­cied Malam Adamu Ciroma as the win­ner to de­mand for a run-off.How­ever, while we waited, Ba­bangida an­nounced the can­cel­la­tion of the pri­maries and banned a crop of politi­cians, in­clud­ing Shinkafi and Malam Adamu.

Ba­bangida said he wanted new-breed politi­cians and de­spite the ex­pe­ri­ence, re­sources, net­work, re­la­tion­ships built, and the drain­ing men­tal and phys­i­cal ex­er­tions, Shinkafi took it with equa­nim­ity and moved on. At the NRC con­ven­tion in Port Har­court un­der Op­tion A4, Shinkafi sup­ported the pres­i­den­tial can­di­da­ture of Bashir Tofa and the Na­tional Chair­man­ship of late Dr. Hameed Kusamotu. Both won.

When the dust set­tled, I told him I was re­turn­ing to Sokoto to con­tinue my life. But he had other plans. He con­vinced me to stay in Kaduna and bought a house for me.

It’s been 27 years since then and I have found Marafa as con­stant as a North­ern Star: solid, steady, calm and un­flap­pable. He was an ex­tra-or­di­nar­ily self­less, ad­mirably hum­ble, gen­tle, soft-spo­ken, self-ef­fac­ing, dili­gent, cir­cum­spect, shrewd and gen­er­ous man.

But he was also a mis­un­der­stood man; he was not given to smil­ing eas­ily, and peo­ple thought that this mien re­flected his heart. How­ever, even though he car­ried a se­ri­ous mien, Marafa had a keen sense of hu­mour.

A lot of peo­ple thought Shinkafi was stu­pen­dously wealthy be­cause of his gen­eros­ity to peo­ple. His wealth, how­ever, was not in ma­te­rial pos­ses­sions but in the gen­eros­ity of his heart.

Marafa was the source of per­ma­nent shel­ter for so many of his house­hold mem­bers, house helps, staff, class­mates, neigh­bours, friends and the un­der-priv­i­leged. I can at­test to that. In 2002, even as a Se­na­tor, he of­fered me a house in Kaduna, val­ued at 30 Mil­lion Naira at the time, for the 1.6 mil­lion Naira he bought it many years ear­lier. There were many of such.

His philanthropy went beyond in­di­vid­u­als. He pro­vided ba­sic ameni­ties like schools, med­i­cal clin­ics and such like in­fras­truc­ture to sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties. He also built so many mosques to cater for the spir­i­tual means of mem­bers of com­mu­ni­ties.

When the Mus­lim Stu­dents So­ci­ety leader of Us­man Dan­fo­dio Univer­sity, Sokoto, came to pay con­do­lence to his fam­ily, he said the Univer­sity au­thor­i­ties had in­formed them that it was Shinkafi who built, fur­nished and equipped the Juma’at Mosque in the Univer­sity, some 30 years ago. This was to the surprise of fam­ily mem­bers be­cause Marafa had never men­tioned it to any­one.

That was Marafa. He gave for Al­lah and there were many such ex­am­ples.

Marafa also had the ca­pac­ity to for­give, to a fault. Even when he knew some­body had cheated him in a busi­ness re­la­tion­ship, he would still put up with the per­son. In the more ob­vi­ous cases when­ever he was ad­vised to end the re­la­tion­ship, his stan­dard an­swer was al­ways: any per­son in a po­si­tion of promi­nence in any so­ci­ety should know this came with the ter­ri­tory.

Po­lit­i­cally, Umaru Shinkafi was, among other things, an apos­tle of broad po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions. He be­lieved that what united us was more than what di­vided us as a na­tion.

To a large ex­tent, the emer­gence of Gen­eral Muham­madu Buhari as the Pres­i­den­tial Can­di­date of the APP in 2003 was sub­stan­tially a prod­uct of sac­ri­fice by Umaru Shinkafi. That year APP Gov­er­nors and the lead­er­ship of the APP in states not con­trolled by the party re­solved to field him as the party’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

For­mer Sokoto State Gov­er­nor, At­tahiru Ba­farawa, and for­mer Kwara State Gov­er­nor, late Mo­hammed Lawal, were del­e­gated to in­ti­mate Shinkafi of this res­o­lu­tion. This was in my pres­ence. He thanked them and ap­pre­ci­ated their of­fer. He, how­ever, cour­te­ously de­clined and asked them to field Gen­eral Buhari. He as­sured them he would give what­ever sup­port he could muster to en­sure Gen­eral Buhari won.

There are, as one po­lit­i­cal sage once ob­served, some men who lift the age they in­habit till all men walk on higher ground in that life­time. Umaru Shinkafi was such a man. He be­strode the se­cu­rity, po­lit­i­cal and hu­man­i­tar­ian world and was ac­knowl­edged for his pa­tri­o­tism in­dus­try, depth of knowl­edge, dis­ci­pline, em­pa­thy and com­pe­tence.

May Al­lah grant him peace in Al­janna Fir­daus.

Re: Exit of a spy­mas­ter (July 13)

Thank you for a won­der­ful epi­taph in to­day’s Daily Trust back page on my bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther, Marafan Sokoto. It was con­cise and cap­tured his pol­i­tics and ca­reer.

I would have liked a men­tion of the to­tal num­ber of states won by the APP/AD al­liance as it was an ex­cel­lent chal­lenge to the mil­i­tary gang-up of money and might in the other party and that feat was never repli­cated till Buhari’s vic­tory last year which was also due to the part­ner­ship again with the Yorubas. The em­bryo of that re­la­tion­ship was the AD/APP al­liance. Fa­tima Shinkafi, +2348036009838.

Shinkafi’s death was greatly felt in my home town, Ikirun, Osun State, where he used to humbly sit out­side with the late mother of his late friend, late Hammed Kusamotu, in their res­i­dence long af­ter Kusamotu’s death. May AL­LAH (SWT) grant him Al­janna Fir­daus. Ameen. Alabi Ta­judeen, +2348055952747.

The open­ing re­mark in your ar­ti­cle was most un­war­ranted, un­nec­es­sary and a dis­ser­vice to the late Shinkafi in whose dis­tin­guished mem­ory the ar­ti­cle was pur­port­edly made. The al­lu­sion you drew be­tween the motto of Niger State and your so-called “ef­fec­tive pro­pa­ganda weapons of the South” ex­ists only in the realm of your fer­tile, al­beit mis­chievous, imag­i­na­tion. I chal­lenge you to point to one such “ev­i­dence”, ei­ther elec­tronic or in the print. Who even told you that Shinkafi would have beaten Olu Falae in a pri­mary elec­tion?

It is a pity that you would use the sad demise of the el­der states­man to fes­ter your no­to­ri­ous jaun­diced views. I blame the print plat­forms given you by The Na­tion and Daily

Trust that you have abused se­ri­ally. Please act as the states­man that age, ex­pe­ri­ence and exposure has be­queathed to you. S. E. Ira­bor, Esq. Makurdi. +2347035680060.

How could Shinkafi be a spy­mas­ter when all his life he had been in­volved in in­ter­nal se­cu­rity? The Po­lice, NSO & later DSS are in charge of in­ter­nal se­cu­rity. I be­lieve it is the NIA that deals with ex­ter­nal se­cu­rity, where spy­mas­ters dwell. Shinkafi of blessed mem­ory never served there. May Al­lah have mercy on his soul. Bar­ris­ter Buhari Bello, +2348037881004.

I used the word in the broad sense of “some­one who directs clan­des­tine in­tel­li­gence ac­tiv­i­ties” as it is de­fined in my on­line Ad­vanced English Dic­tio­nary. MKH. The late Gen. Has­san Us­man Katsina did not par­tic­i­pate in Ba­bangida’s tran­si­tion. It was Ma­jor-Gen­eral Shehu Musa Yar’adua, equally a for­mi­da­ble mem­ber of the es­tab­lish­ment, who did. Umaru Shuaibu, Suleja. +2348033110505.

Umaru Shuaibu was one of sev­eral read­ers who wrote to say my men­tion of Ma­jor-Gen­eral Has­san Us­man Katsina among lead­ing North­ern­ers who stood up for “June 12” was in er­ror. It wasn’t. Gen­eral Has­san Us­man was, of course, never a politi­cian and I did not say he par­tic­i­pated in Ba­bangida’s tran­si­tion pro­gramme. But as a lead­ing Katsina roy­alty, the first and only mil­i­tary gov­er­nor of North­ern re­gion and a for­mer army chief, his stand­ing up for “June 12”, just like Malam Adamu Ciroma’s, be­lied the pro­pa­ganda about a grand North­ern con­spir­acy against Chief Abi­ola.

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