An elder statesman, Alhaji Maitama Sule had died at the early hours of Monday in an undisclosed Hospital in Cairo, capital of Egypt, where he was rushed to for medical attention.
Maitama Sule’s son, Alhaji Mukhtar Maitama Sule, who confirmed the death of his father, said he died in Egypt, 24 hours after arrival at the hospital.
According to him, his dad’s remains would be flown to Nigeria tomorrow for a befitting burial, according to Muslim injunctions.
A servant’s son liberated by education
Mr. Sule had risen from humble beginnings to attain national reckoning as one of the longest serving ministers in the truncated first republic and a favourite of the prime minister, Mr. Balewa.
The two shared a striking history. While Mr. Balewa’s father was a servant of Madaki of Bauchi, Mr. Sule’s father served the then powerful Kano kingmaker, Madaki Mahmudu.
It was after his master’s father that Mr. Sule’s father named his only son, born in 1929, Yusuf.
Mr. Sule often made references to his family background and described education as what placed him shoulder high with the emir, instead of serving him.
Under benevolent guidance of his father’s master, Madaki Mahmudu, young Sule was enrolled at Shahuci Elementary School in 1937. He subsequently attended Kano Middle School and Kaduna College (now Barewa College).
Mr. Sule taught at his alma mater, Kano Middle School and played significant roles in social mobilisation, touring villages with then Emir Muhammadu Sanusi throughout the emirate, on health, literacy and tax campaigns.
The emir would later turban him as Dan Masanin Kano, in acknowledgment of Mr. Sule’s knowledge, wisdom and roles in public campaigns. True to his title, Mr. Sule remained a repository of Kano and Nigeria’s history as well as acclaimed public speaker with sharp wit.
PIONEER OIL MINISTER
Mr. Sule, who became minister of mines and power in 1954 at the age of 29, signed deals and contracts with Shell for oil prospecting and exploration in Nigeria.
He saw to the establishment of the Nigeria oil company and nominated Nigerian businessmen on the Nigeria/Shell joint board. Among Mr. Sule’s nominees were Louis Ojukwu, a prominent businessman and father of late Biafran leader Emeka Ojukwu, as well as Aliko Dangote’s maternal grandfather, Sanusi Dantata.
For his fondness of the late politician, Mr. Balewa nominated young Sule to stand-in for him in a ball dance with visiting Queen Elizabeth. The young man had already started his rehearsals when the then powerful Finance Minister, Festus Okotie-Eboh, opposed the idea as disrespectful of the queen.
Mr. Sule relished telling this story and had his picture in bowtie bought for the purpose to show for it.
The octogenarian, also known by his traditional title, Danmasanin Kano, died in the early hours of Monday while on admission at a private hospital in Cairo, Egypt.
He was flown to the Egyptian hospital on Saturday after doctors at Kano’s Nasarawa Hospital diagnosed him of pneumonia and chest infection.
Mr. Sule’s corpse is expected to back in the country by 2 p.m. on Tuesday for burial at 4:30 p.m. at the Kano Emir’s Palace.