The death of the 13th Magajin Garin Sokoto, Alhaji Hassan Danbaba, has created a big vacuum not only because of his position as the supervisory councillor in the Sultanate Council and chairman of kingmakers, but because of his character likened to that of his grandfather and premier of the defunct northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto.
His mother, Hajiya A’ishatu, was the eldest daughter of Sir Ahmadu Bello.
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In his lifetime, Alhaji Danbaba was many things rolled into one. He was a teacher; role model, businessman, humanitarian, philanthropist, traditional figure, the list goes on.
Born to the family of Alhaji Marafa Danbaba and Hajiya A’ishatu Ahmadu Bello in 1971, he attended Sokoto Capital School and Federal Government College, Sokoto, for his primary and secondary school education, after which he proceeded to London, where he obtained Diploma in Management. After his return from London, he ventured into business. In October, 1997, he was installed as the 13th Magajin Gari and chairman, kingmakers of the Sultanate Council.
Row with the Sultan
Magajin Garin was known to be courageous, outspoken and the type of person who called a spade a spade. He had a misunderstanding with the Sultan of Sokoto years back and offered to relinquish his position as a supervisory counsellor in the Sultanate Council. But for the intervention of some highly-placed individuals, he would have made good his threat.
The genesis of the problem was not known but some people linked the problem to the purported intention of the Sultan to appoint late Barrister Inuwa Abdulkadir, who was then the zonal vice chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as the Marafan Sokoto.
The Magajin Gari picked offence because he felt it was designed to take away the title from the family of the late premier of the northern region.
He strongly opposed this in a letter he wrote to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. In the letter, the deceased reportedly used derogative words against the late Abdulkadir.
Businesses and positions
The influential kingmaker was appointed the chairman of the Board of Directors of The Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority by the Buhari administration two years ago. He was among the 80 members of the transition committee of this government. The committee was headed by the late Ahmad Joda.
He was the patron of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN). The deceased played a key role in the Rice Pyramid fair, which was held in Abuja, last month. He was also instrumental to some farmers benefiting from the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Danbaba, who was a non-executive director of THISDAY Newspapers Limited, owned several businesses, including hotels in Abuja and Kaduna. He was also a contractor.
One of his cousins and Sarkin Rafin Gumbi, Isma’il Abdulkadir Majeme, said Magajin Gari, like his grandfather, was also an embodiment of love and selfless service. Blessed with broad vision, abundant patience, good sense of humor, spiritual excellence and courage of conviction, he was well known for his simplicity, humility and generosity. In fact, he was born to live for others.
“He was often found surrounded by solution-seekers, needy and destitute. Very sympathetic, clean-hearted and soft-spoken,” he said.
Corroborating this, Dr Mansur Buhari said Danbaba was an institution because he positively touched the lives of many people in Sokoto and beyond.
“If you come with your problem, he will not let you go until something is done about it, even if it means meeting a highly-placed personality. And there were many orphans who benefited from his scholarship programme,” he said.
His last moments
Remembering the last moments of Magajin Gari, the Sarkin Rafin Gumbi said he was with him in Lagos last week and they came back to Kaduna together to condole General Aliyu Gusau over the death of his brother.
“I noticed some changes in his face in Kaduna which I thought was a sign of stress and advised him to go and rest. And on Friday, when we came back from mosque, he started complaining of dizziness and took two bottles of coke with the hope of getting relief.
“When he wanted to go inside, he asked for my support, I then held his hand and helped him in.
Around 12 noon on Saturday, I received a call that I should come to his house because his condition had deteriorated and before I got there, he had passed on.”
Sarkin Rafin recalled that Danbaba had in recent times been complaining about this life.
“He had always been complaining about this life that he was tired of this world. This could be the reason why he dedicated himself to seeking God’s forgiveness in the last days of his life,” he said.
His nephew, Sayyadi Umar Goronyo, said he was with the deceased up till 12 midnight last Friday.
“In fact, we even bought train tickets because we were due to return to Abuja together the following day (Saturday).
“But in the morning around 10am, I received a call that his condition had worsened. When I came, he personally asked me to call his doctors, because he was in Zaria at the time.
“Baba kept reciting the Kalma as the doctor was trying to resuscitate him. It was at that time that Governor Nasir El-rufa’i and the board chairman of TETFUND came and they stayed with him up till his last breath.”
In a video which trended on social media shortly after his death, his mother, late Hajiya A’ishatu, who died in Dubai, in April 2020, described him as an obedient son who always tried to make her happy.
“He called me four times in a day to know about my condition and if there was anything I needed. He always tried to make me and my relatives happy.
“He is generous to people by sharing whatever he has with them, especially orphans,” she had said.
The mother prayed Allah to continue to protect him and provide for him.
President Muhammad Buhari sent a high-powered delegation of four ministers to condole the government and people of Sokoto State over the death of Danbaba. In the delegation were the ministers of justice, aviation, water resources and police affairs; Abubakar Malami (SAN), Hadi Sirika, Suleiman Hussaini Adamu and Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi.
During the condolence visit, Malami said: “This delegation is that of the federal government which the president directed to come and condole you and the people of Sokoto over the demise of one of your councillors and an illustrious son of the state, the Mayor of Sokoto.
“President Buhari mourns the passing of the mayor and is with you in spirit as you pray for the repose of his soul,” Malami added as the other ministers in the entourage took turns to pray for the late Magajin Gari.
The Managing Director of Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority (SRRBDA) Alhaji Buhari Bature and Mal. Muhammad Mamman Daura, son of President Buhari’s nephew, also condoled with the family of Danbaba over his demise.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, and the Emir of Bichi, Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero, condoled with the people and government of Sokoto State.
In his remarks, Gov. Ganduje described the death of the late Sokoto kingmaker as a “great loss,” not only to the people of Sokoto but also those of Kano.”
“The death,” according to Ganduje, “shook the people and government of Kano State because of the close relationship the late Magajin Gari had with the people and government of the state.”
Danbaba being the third on the hierarchy of the Sultanate Council, after the Sultan and Wazirin Sokoto, was in charge of announcing the installation and dethronement of the Sultan as well as supervising the ancient city of Sokoto.
He is survived by three wives and six children.