In a symbolic conclusion to an era, the Sokoto State Executive Council, led by former Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, made significant decisions after eight years in power to honour some of the state’s greatest heroes for their lasting contributions to society. On May 17, the council finalised its long-debated decision to immortalise these heroes by naming eight schools after them.
According to Hon Akibu Dalhatu, the state’s Commissioner for Information, this decision was driven by the administration’s deep respect for the memories and achievements of Sokoto State’s esteemed heroes. He emphasized that the state government firmly believes that these individuals deserve the utmost respect and everlasting remembrance for their diverse contributions to humanity.
A week later, the council concluded a long-standing matter concerning the late Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki, the 18th Sultan of Sokoto. They issued a white paper that officially exonerated the deceased monarch from the allegations that led to his deposition in 1996 by the military government of General Sani Abacha. The decision was based on a thorough investigation and detailed findings by an authorized committee led by the late Muhammadu Jega, former Secretary to the Military Government and Head of Service.
The committee conducted a comprehensive study and investigation into the circumstances surrounding the government’s action against the late Sultan. Their analysis concluded that there was no evidence to support any incriminating acts that would justify his deposition. They also highlighted the denial of the Sultan’s right to defend himself as required by the laws of the land.
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Former State Commissioner for Information, Hon. Akibu Dalhatu, and former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Barr. Suleiman Usman (SAN), spoke on behalf of the state government and explained why the white paper adopted the committee’s recommendation. They stated, “The white paper adopted the recommendation of the committee, which stated that the late Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki should be officially exonerated and cleared of any wrongdoing for posterity. Additionally, all entitlements for the years he served as Sultan of Sokoto should be paid to him in accordance with laws pertaining to such entitlements.”
Unfortunately, upon assuming office on May 29, Governor Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto hastily nullified these honours that took Governor Tambuwal eight years to accomplish. He nullified the renaming of the eight tertiary institutions and the decisions finalised by Tambuwal before handing over, issuing a decree-style instruction that appeared hastily written, reminiscent of a military coup.
Governor Aliyu’s refusal to recognise that government is a continuum, and that decisions are not made or finalised in a single moment, is regrettable. Moreover, his decision to undo a noble act like renaming schools after some of Sokoto’s greatest heroes, scholars, pace-setters, and statesmen not only disrespects their memories but also raises questions about his apparent opposition to the legacy of Shehu Usmanu Dan Fodio, whose descendants and bloodline were also recognized, and others who participated in building Sokoto State and beyond.
The public institutions that were renamed include Sokoto State University, named Sheikh Abdullahi Fodio University in honour of Sheikh Abdullahi Fodio; Sokoto State University of Education, renamed Shehu Shagari University of Education in honor of Shehu Shagari; the College of Education, now called Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki College of Education in honour of Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki; and the newly constructed Teaching Hospital, named Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar Teaching Hospital in honour of Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.
Other renamed institutions include the College of Agriculture and Animal Sciences, renamed Ambassador Shehu Malami College of Agriculture and Animal Sciences in honor of Ambassador Shehu Malami; the College of Nursing Sciences, renamed Balaraba Buda College of Nursing Sciences in honour of Balaraba Buda; the College of Midwifery, renamed Aisha Ahmad Gandi College of Midwifery in honour of Aisha Ahmad Gandi; and the College of Legal and Islamic Studies, now known as Haliru Binji College of Legal and Islamic Studies, in honour of Haliru Binji.
Governor Aliyu may have partisan differences with his predecessor, but he cannot convince the people of Sokoto State that heroes like Abdullahi Dan Fodio and Shehu Shagari are undeserving of having schools named after them. This is not a matter where party differences should come into play, and regardless of his reasons, such an action reflects poorly on him.
There should never be political maneuvering when it comes to the meticulous process that the previous administration undertook over several years to rename these eight tertiary institutions. Extensive consultations with eminent historians, esteemed community leaders, and representatives from various sectors were involved. This decision did not personally benefit Governor Tambuwal but rather served as a collectively-approved means of embodying the cherished values and ideals that set Sokoto State apart from everywhere. So, Governor Aliyu must provide an explanation to the people as to why he appears to be opposing their heroes.
Awaal Gata, a media practitioner and public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja