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Inuwa Abdul-kadir: Exit of a doyen

Inna lillahi ma akhazha wa lahu ma’ a’da’ wa kullu shai’in indahu li’ajalin musamma   Monday, July 6, 2020 began like every other day. After…

Inna lillahi ma akhazha wa lahu ma’ a’da’ wa kullu shai’in indahu li’ajalin musamma


Monday, July 6, 2020 began like every other day. After attending to family issues and entertaining some visitors, I got set and headed to Sokoto with a friend, Malam Jamilu.

Halfway to our destination, my phone rang, and it was Nasiru Dogondaji, whom I have spoken to earlier in the day. He handed over the phone to Malam Mustapha, a close friend, and political leader. “Did you hear anything concerning Inuwa Abdul-Kadir Esq?” Malam Mustapha asked.  I said not at all. However, I was aware that he had been indisposed for some days. I then inquired why he wanted to know. He said he heard that Inuwa has passed on. I told him to hold on so I could confirm.

I quickly scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, knowing that it was one of the easiest ways of getting some exclusive information, good or bad, genuine or otherwise. I stumbled on an update by Zayyanu Shehu, Sokoto State University Information Officer, which corroborated Malam Mustapha’s claim.

Late Inuwa Abdul-Kadir had been a household name in Sokoto, as an astute lawyer and a political maverick, since the early 1990s. Politically, my close association with him started in 2014 when Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, then governor of Sokoto State, led the nPDP faction in Sokoto to APC. After the dissolution of the interim leadership of the APC under the legacy parties in the state, the leadership of APC was handed over to the nPDP in the APC. Late Inuwa Abdul-Kadir became the interim chairman of the party in Sokoto before the party’s congresses and convention that saw to his emergence as the Vice National Chairman (North-West) of the party.

Interestingly, during such political tussles, late Inuwa was always able to calm us down by explaining to us why certain decisions were made. He was receptive and thus raising our hope for possible future redress. No doubt, his life experiences growing up as a youth leader cum activist since his university days and after must have prepared him for such patience, broadmindedness, and accommodating dispositions.

While we mostly opt for a more radical approach to addressing issues, he would intelligently try to convince us that there are different ways to melting iron.

From afar, his charismatic persona would be intimidating, but as you get closer to him, you would find a simple, liberal and urbane personality rich in thought and a polymath.  He was as academic as every academic worth his salt. No doubt, his professional callings must have contributed greatly in making him what he was.

Precisely three years ago came my best moment with him when he was appointed as the Chairman, Sokoto State University Governing Council by His Excellency Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, (Mutawallen Sokoto). And I was elected by the University community as the member representing the Congregation in the Governing Council.

I met in the Governing Council, not a strange face rather a known personality, who as far as I know had a sense of justice and a listening ear. I could recall when he was first introduced to us as the Chairman of the Governing Council, I encouraged him to be faithful to the law establishing the university and other extant statutes in steering the affairs of the university. So long as that is achieved, we would give him our support and cooperation throughout his tenure.

We benefitted and learned from his wealth of experience as Chairman of the Governing Council.

Late Inuwa Abdul-Kadir had the opportunity of serving at the apex of the traditional institution and executive council in Nigeria. He served as the Chief Scribe of the Sokoto Sultanate Council and later as a member of the Federal Executive Council as Minister of Youth and Sports. He also served Sokoto State at different capacities, including Hon. Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice during the administration of Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko (Sarkin Yamman Sokoto). He also served as the former Deputy National Chairman (North-West) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Until his death, he doubled as the Chairman of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); and Pro-chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the Sokoto State University, Sokoto.

By his upbringing and experiences, he had learned and deeply mastered the traditional political principles, tricks, and values of the Sokoto Sultanate while still armed with modern administrative skills and political sagacity. He was thus a blend of traditional and modern political acumen.

The least I can say about him, for certain, was that late Inuwa Abdul-Kadir was caring and compassionate to the weak. He derived pleasure in whatever benefit or successes people under him could achieve. He gave whatever is technically lawful to all. I could remember in one of our council meetings there was contemplation over the approval of a belated promotion of a colleague, to the professorial cadre, as a result of the delay in external assessment and a vacuum created by the expiration of the tenure of the first governing council. The headache was in the financial implication of the accumulated arrears of the years involved, but the late chairman insisted that as far as it is provided for by the Law, nothing should stop council from approving it with all the consequential entitlements. There were many such instances of him coming down to assist and make sure that everyone was treated fairly. Such inalienable qualities and other related dispositions were the reasons why late Inuwa Abdul-Kadir consciously or unconsciously emerged as the leader of the Sokoto legal luminaries.

He provided help and mentorship to the young. He was a leader to all, including those who were relatively older than him by age and in the profession. There was hardly any established legal expert that you could not see in his house because he was a rare gem.

We had disagreements on several occasions during Council meetings. Yet, we excused each other. His knowledge of me and the interest I represent, both of my union and university community (congregation – particularly the voiceless among them), on the council was obviously why we would disagree without any rancour.

I could recall, during the 2018 indefinite strike action by ASUU, we had a cause to bitterly disagree to the extent that I threatened that if a particular decision was taken against the interest of our members, I would take the matter to court. It wasn’t an empty threat. Because I sincerely meant it at that material time.

Anas Tukur Balarabe and I would miss in him (late Inuwa), a mentor and source of inspiration. He used to regularly invite us for discussions at his residence when he was around and had some luxury of time. Our discussions cut across different domains, including religious and a lot more on the state of the nation.

We did not have to always agree, but the discussions were always free and robust. Both Anas and I grew up in the midst and under the tutelage of older men. But our association with him exposed us to different realities and issues which underpinned some contemporary realities. He was full of ideas of possible solutions to contemporary Nigeria’s problems. Indeed, Nigeria lost a patriot in late Inuwa Abdul-Kadir.

Indeed, there exists in the public life of late Inuwa Abdul-Kadir, a good example of what every progressive, committed, and ambitious young politician should emulate. It will astonish you to know that as a result of his resourcefulness and commitment to public service, he rose to the exalted position of the Chief Scribe of the Sokoto Sultanate at the age of 30. Certainly, apart from his activism and participation in community affairs, there must be certain attributes and edge which had qualified him for such position at such a younger age. It was as well surprising that he was found qualified to be selected to be part of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), a forum of the tink-tank of the Northern political elites, still under 40. He was the Honourable Attorney General of the state in his early 40s. He was a minister and member of the Federal Executive Council also in his 40s. At the age of 50, late Inuwa was already an accomplished elder statesman and a political leader.

He was a youth leader, a legal icon, a schemer, a mentor, an effective political strategist, an administrator, and a leader par excellence who represented a blend of modern and traditional political acumen. He was charismatic, humble and benevolent to the core, like in the Sokoto Royal-Tradition.

I choose to disagree with many who saw him as a mole when he chose to stay in the APC after the defection of his friend and confidant, Rt. Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, to PDP. To me, and many other people whom he shared some of his feelings with, his belief in fate, self-esteem and self-confidence, must have influenced his decision. To him, he had risen to a status that he was a man in his own right, not a puppet whose life and fate depended on someone.

Despite his love and closeness to Tambuwal, he accepted what fate dictated for him in defence of his status and integrity. Luckily for him, there was no much conflict between his job and the ambition of his friend, for he had the whole of North-West as his theatre of operation and Nigeria as his constituency. More so, the conflict he had with his party leadership at the state level rather eased for him a practical conflict of interest. I could recall, during the peak period of electioneering campaign, he chose as much as possible to stay away from Sokoto.

Late Inuwa has left vacuums that would take a generation to be filled. Now that he is not with us, we are testing the bitterness of his early accomplishments as an elder statesman.

I share in the pain with the members of his family over his exit. My condolences to them, to his close associates, to His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR mni, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, CFR, (Mutawallen Sokoto), the good people of Sokoto, the big family in APC under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, and the rest compatriots in our dear country.

May Allah in his infinite mercy forgive his shortcomings and grant him a special place in Jannatul Firdaus. May HE be the sustainer for his bereaved family and other defendants. Ameen summa ameen!


Attahiru Ahmad Sifawa PhD., sent in this tribute from the Department of History, Sokoto State University, Sokoto

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