Shet­tima Ali Monguno [1926-2016]

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

The death in Maiduguri on Fri­day, July 8 2016 of Shet­tima Ali Monguno marked the pass­ing of one of Nige­ria’s most em­i­nent states­men. He died at the age of 90 af­ter a life of de­voted pub­lic ser­vice, com­mu­nity lead­er­ship, deep re­li­gious de­vo­tion and phi­lan­thropy. Gov­er­nor Kashim Shet­tima of Borno State said with Shet­tima Ali’s death, Borno State had lost “a fa­ther and a dis­tin­guished states­man.”

He was be­ing mod­est be­cause Nige­ria as a whole has pro­duced few states­men of Monguno’s cal­i­bre. Shet­tima Ali Monguno was born in Monguno town, north­ern Borno State in 1926 and he was among the first gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren to go to Western schools. He at­tended Monguno Pri­mary School, Teacher’s Col­leges in Bauchi and Katsina; Col­lege of Arts, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, Zaria; Mo­ray House Col­lege of Ed­u­ca­tion and the Uni­ver­sity of Ed­in­burgh. He was a mem­ber of the Nige­ria Par­lia­ment in 1959 as well as ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary and coun­cil­lor for ed­u­ca­tion, works and so­cial wel­fare for Borno Na­tive Au­thor­ity be­tween 1959 and 1965. Shet­tima Ali was also Fed­eral Min­is­ter for Air Force and In­ter­nal Af­fairs in 1965-66; Fed­eral Com­mis­sioner for Trade and In­dus­tries in 1967-71 as well as Fed­eral Com­mis­sioner for Mines and Power, Petroleum and En­ergy in 1972-75. He was Pres­i­dent of OPEC in 1972-73 and was a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date dur­ing the Op­tion A4 elec­tions in 1993.

Monguno was a mem­ber of Nige­ria’s del­e­ga­tion to the United Na­tions for over 10 years. He re­ceived the keys to the ci­ties of New York, Louisville, Ken­tucky; Quito, Ecuador and Lima, Peru and was an Honorary Ci­ti­zen of Ok­la­homa State, USA. He was also Pro-chan­cel­lor, Uni­ver­sity of Cal­abar in 1978-80; Pro-Chan­cel­lor, Uni­ver­sity of Nige­ria, Nsukka in 1980-84 and a re­cip­i­ent of the Na­tional Honours of Ethiopian Em­pire, Repub­lic of Egypt, Su­dan and Cameroon. He was also con­ferred with the Nige­rian Na­tional Honour of Com­man­der of the Or­der of the Fed­eral Repub­lic (CFR) in 1982.

In his trib­ute, Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari said Monguno “left be­hind an un­tainted and un­blem­ished ca­reer which should be em­u­lated by Nige­rian lead­ers at all lev­els.” Se­nate Pres­i­dent Bukola Saraki said “Monguno’s stead­fast­ness, com­mit­ment to the cause of one Nige­ria and op­ti­mistic spirit to­wards na­tional de­vel­op­ment will con­tinue to in­spire us now and in the fu­ture” while for­mer Pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo said, “There are those we call found­ing fa­thers of Nige­ria at in­de­pen­dence and Shet­tima Ali Monguno is one of them. So, from the truth­ful point of view, we have lost one of the ar­chi­tects of Nige­ria at in­de­pen­dence; we lost a great ci­ti­zen.”

Since he re­tired back home to Borno af­ter six decades in pub­lic life, Shet­tima Ali en­gaged in con­tin­u­ous com­mu­nity ser­vice and phi­lan­thropy. He en­rolled hun­dreds of chil­dren in schools and at one time, he sold his only house in Abuja and built a fe­male hos­tel at the Uni­ver­sity of Maiduguri. He do­nated his rich pri­vate li­brary in­clud­ing books, au­to­bi­ogra­phies, car­tridges and col­lec­tions of pro­ceed­ings from the First Repub­lic par­lia­ment to the Borno State Li­brary Board. Over 400 chil­dren have been named af­ter Shet­tima Ali Monguno in the last five decades and over the years, he or­ga­nized yearly meet­ings with all of them.

When the Boko Haram cri­sis en­veloped Borno State and the North East, Shet­tima Ali Monguno quickly emerged as chair­man of Borno Elders Fo­rum and the voice of con­science and rea­son. At the height of the in­sur­gency, he con­demned the in­sur­gents’ atroc­i­ties as well as the Jonathan regime’s poor han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion. He was among the few prom­i­nent peo­ple of Borno that re­fused to leave Maiduguri through all the crises. He paid a heavy price when the in­sur­gents ab­ducted him at a Fri­day mosque in Ma­foni on May 3, 2013. He was re­leased him af­ter some days. His death has left a lead­er­ship and moral­ity vac­uum too big to be filled. May Al­lah re­ward Shet­tima Ali Monguno with Jan­natil Fir­daus.

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