The year 2022 has passed but Nigerians will not forget in a hurry how the country was hit by high profile deaths. Daily Trust Saturday compiles a list of 15 of such deaths recorded in the last one year.
In January, 2022, when the country was in the mood of the New Year, the Olubadan, one of the prominent traditional rulers in the South West, precisely in Oyo State, Oba Saliu Adetunji, died at the age of 93.
The monarch was the 41st Olubadan after he succeeded Oba Samuel Odulana who died in 2016.
Oba Adetunji died at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, and going by the chieftaincy practice of Ibadan, a successor was immediately ratified in person of Oba Lekan Balogun who was holding the position of Balogun, who is usually the next Olubadan, when an Olubadan joins his ancestors.
Brig Gen Ibrahim Sabo
On January 1, 2022, Nigeria lost one of its finest military officers in the person of a former head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), Brigadier General Ibrahim Sabo (Rtd.) Sabo who died in Israel served in the regime of the late Military Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
Also, on January 12, 2022, a former governor of Oyo State, Otunba Christopher Alao Akala, an indigene of Ogbomosho, died at the age of 71. Akala who ruled Oyo State from 2007 to 2011 was found dead in his bathroom while his aides and guests were waiting for him. Before then, he made an attempt to return to the government house and contested on the platform of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) but lost. He later joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) before his death.
Former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, was an elder statesman and nationalist whose name will remain green in the history book of Nigeria. Shonekan died at the age of 85 in Lagos on January 11, and his death was mourned across the country.
He was a lawyer and politician who served as Head of State of Nigeria from August 26, 1993, to November 17, 1993, during the dark days of June 12, when the nation was in turmoil over the annulment of the election of MKO Abiola described as the freest and fairest election ever conducted in Nigeria.
In November, 1993, three months into his administration, he was overthrown in what was known as a palace coup by Gen Sani Abacha. Shonekan was reputed to have founded the foremost private sector think-tank group, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, focusing on Nigeria’s economy.
Prof Abdullahi Mahdi
Prof Mahdi who was Vice Chancellor (VC) of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, died on December 16, 2022, at the age of 77. He was a historian who was born in Gwoza, Borno State. He was appointed as VC in 1999. He was later appointed the pioneer VC of the Gombe State University (GSU).
Regarded as a highly influential Sokoto prince, Alhaji Shehu Malami, a former Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, died on December 19, at the age of 85 at an Egyptian hospital.
Malami was a forebear of the great Islamic reformer and founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, Sheikh Usman bin Fodiyo, popularly referred to as Shehu Danfodiyo. He belonged to the Sultan Bello ruling house.
Prof George Obiozor
President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo cultural organisation, Prof George Obiozor, died a few days before the New Year. He was an academician and diplomat. He was a former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States (US). As a member of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), he was involved in the move to endorse the Labour Party (LP) for the 2023 presidential election.
Alhaji Muazu Muhammed Kwairinga
Emir of Funakeye, Alhaji Mu’azu Kwairanga III, was appointed by Gov Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State and reigned for 15 months and died at the age of 45 on Sunday, August 28.
Former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Tafa Balogun, who hailed from Ila Orangun in Osun State, died on August 4, in Lagos at the age of 74. As IGP he served under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, but his tenure ended over an alleged frosty relationship with Obasanjo who allegedly instigated his trial for corruption.
The 45th Monarch of the Oyo Empire, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, reigned for 51 before his death on April 22, 2022, at the age of 83 at the Afe Babalola University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State. A replacement is yet to be appointed following the raging controversy over the rightful person among the shortlisted princes.
The late monarch who was highly influential in Yorubaland was well known for his numerous wives and children. Following his death, one of the chiefs was reported to have said that his 18 wives were now available for suitors.
National Publicity Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), a Northern socio-political group, Emmanuel Yawe, who was elected spokesman of the forum in 2020, died in March, 2022. The Taraba-Born media practitioner started his journalism with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and once served as the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of the then Gongola State in 1983.
Alhaji Ahmadu Muhammadu Wabi
Emir of Jama’are in Bauchi State was another top monarch from the North which the country lost to the cold hands of death in 2022. Like the Alaafin of Oyo, Wabi also reigned for 51 years before he died on February 5, 2022, at the age of 92. He was appointed at a youthful age as the ninth Emir of Jama’are on November 19, 1970, and got staff of office on May 11, 1971. He left behind two wives, 35 children and many grandchildren.
He has been replaced with one of his sons, Alhaji Nuhu Ahmed Wabi, as the emir by Bauchi State Governor, Bala Muhammed.
Vice Admiral Ishaya Iko Ibrahim
Vice Admiral Ishaya Iko Ibrahim died on January 4, 2022. He was the 18th Chief of Naval Staff (CNS). He was a flag officer before his appointment as CNS in August, 2008. Ibrahim who died in Abuja at the age of 69 was an indigene of Kaduna State. He was until his death the Chairman of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
Alhaji Bashir Tofa
Just a few days ago, the first “Bashir Othman Tofa Lecture” instituted in honour of the late elder statesman was held virtually and attended by prominent Nigerians. The foremost Kano-born politician died at the age of 74 on January, 2022. Tofa was the National Republican Convention (NRC) candidate in the annulled June 12, 1993, presidential election where late MKO Abiola was adjudged winner.
Tofa was in politics since 1976 when he was a councillor in Dawakin Tofa LGA in 1977. In the Second Republic, he was at various times the secretary of the Kano branch of NPN. He later became the party’s national financial secretary.
He was also a businessman and industrialist. He was chairman of the International Petro-Energy Company (IPEC) and Abba Othman and Sons Ltd. He was also involved as a board member in Impex Ventures, Century Merchant Bank and General Metal Products Ltd. He was equally famous for his literary prowess, having authored several literatures in Hausa language.
Sheikh Adam Tahir
The Chief Imam of Jama’a Emirate in Jema’a LGA of Kaduna state, Sheikh Adam Tahir, died at the age of 130 in 2022. He was Nigeria’s oldest imam and left behind 26 children, 290 grandchildren and over 200 great-grandchildren. He was the Chief Imam of the Kafanchan Central Mosque and was also one of the kingmakers in the emirate.
In addition to the 15 highlighted above, the nation also lost some high profile citizens in the year under review. They include Colonel Anthony Obi (Rtd), a former Governor of Osun and Abia states who hailed from Enugu; Dr Ahmad Ibrahim-BUK, foremost Islamic Cleric in Kano; Prof Gidado Tahir, foremost academician and one time Chairman of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC); Oba Yishau Oyetunji Kodaolu I, Olukoyi of Ikoyi Land i Osun; Oba Abdulganiyu Salawudeen Adekunle Ologunebi, Aseyin of Iseyin in Oyo State; and Chief Kemi Nelson, Lagos APC Women Leader.