“The Northerners are endowed by God with leadership qualities.” ~ Alh. Yusuf Maitama Sule Dan Masanin Kano (1929 – 2017)

Yusuf Maitama Sule was a Nigerian politician and an acclaimed orator. A quintessential public servant, Maitama has served in various roles cutting across government and international bodies throughout his lifetime. He was once the chief whip of the Federal House of Representatives, lead the Nigerian delegation to the Conference of Independent African States, became the Federal Commissioner of public complaints, was the presidential candidate of the National Party of Nigeria and was also appointed Nigeria’s representative to the United Nations after the coming of civilian rule in September 1979.

What really strikes you about Maitama really is his passion for the development of northern Nigeria. His speeches and thoughts embodied the struggle for the betterment of the northern region and the development of Nigeria as a whole. Dan Masani always had the perfect combination of flowery words for Arewa. Hear him:

“I have a dream not only for the North, but for the entire country Nigeria.”

And how did the eyes of the late Dan Masani view this dream of Arewa? Through adherence to developmental stages:

You just need to develop your agriculture because it will be there forever. If you develop agriculture, you will be able to feed not only Nigeria but also the entire West African region. Any country that can feed itself has more than half its problem solved. You in the northern belt have great agricultural land.”

Dan Masani was not only an orator, but a revered seer as well. He understood issues beyond the present predicament, and this provided him with a gift to analyse and project for the future through channeling from the rich repertoire of history he has been blessed to flourish together with. A disciple of the late Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardaunan Sokoto, Dan Masani borrowed largely from the sage thinking and influence of Sardauna as detailed here:

“Sardauna before he died had a master plan for developing agriculture. He said he wanted to make Northern Nigeria green throughout the year. During the rainy season, there will be rain; during the dry season, there will be irrigation because he planned to have all the major rivers in the north dammed to provide water for irrigation. In that case we will be green throughout the year. That is what we have been appealing to the governors, get that plan, update it, and implement it. Forget your political differences, come together, in politics, in the development of the economy of the country don’t bring too much politics.”

This aptly brings to the fore the nationalistic characteristics of Dan Masani, and his profound diligence and commitment to the development of Arewa on the forefront of all issues and facets. In the eyes of Dan Masani moving Arewa higher and forward was a simple endeavour:

“First thing we should do is to look at agriculture, education, power, so that you can have industries. For instance in Kano, 80 per cent of our industries have been shut down because there is no power.”

It is saddening then that these issues are still bedeviling us. Here is a man who has dedicated his life of servitude towards making sure we never forget to address these issues, to make sure Arewa always appeared when burning national issues are being dissected and make sure, his dream of a universal and gallant Arewa is alive to drive the Nigerian agenda forward.

The truth is always needed to be displayed for the continuous development of the Arewa region and the nation Nigeria as a whole and Dan Masani held the truth dearly to his heart. He said:

“Different tribes, different cultures, different religions and even different climatic conditions. I believe that God has brought us together so that we may learn to live together, cooperate with one another. Because of the role that God wants us to play in Africa and the world. Allah wants us to play the role of leadership.”

And if you can look through the eyes of Dan Masani you could feel the pain and displeasures of a dream drifting away:

“Unless if we are united at home, unless we live in peace with one another, nobody will respect us or accept our leadership outside. And when people keep saying we have different religions, has India not got different religions and other differences, up to a 100 times as many as we have in Nigeria? But they have been able to make it. As far as I am concerned, tribalism or religion should not be a barrier in our unity or development.”

Certainly Dan Masani was a champion for Arewa’s progress, but he also believed Arewa is part of a bigger project, a driving project that is Nigeria which he also championed with his words of marble:

“Kano is certainly much more progressive than Sokoto or Katsina or anyone because there are different peoples leaving in that area. The cross fertilisation of different ideas from different peoples brings about development and progress. So I refuse to agree that tribalism should be a barrier to our development.”

The death of Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule means Arewa has lost its oratorical voice, its guiding eyes and its number one dreamer. My pen shall continue to mourn Dan Masani, and his oratorical voice that never shied away from telling the truth for the betterment of Arewa that he holds so dearly. I leave you with these immortal sage words of Dan Masani on the Arewa culture:

“Culture is the identity of the people. Culture is the customs and costumes, the characters and the characteristics, the manners and mannerisms, the philosophy and the ideology of a people. Culture is the totality of a people’s experience. Culture is the way of life of a people.”


So Long, Dan Masanin Kano. Rest on!

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Sada Malumfashi is a writer living in Kaduna. His works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in local and international magazines.