The death of Ibrahim Dasuki, the 18th Sultan of Sokoto, at the Turkish Hospital in Abuja on Monday, 14th November, 2016 no doubt marks the end of an unforgettable era. The late Sultan, an accomplished traditional ruler and public servant, lived a life worthy of emulation. He was a kind-hearted and benevolent ruler who exemplified, without blemish, the core Islamic principle of submission to the will of Allah.
Born in Dogon Daji, Sokoto, to Haliru Ibn Barau, Sarkin Yamma and district head of Dogon Daji, Dasuki started Koranic education in 1928. He later attended Dogondaji Elementary School, Sokoto Middle School and Barewa College, where, in 1943, he completed secondary school education on a sponsorship from the Sokoto Native Authority. He was to later serve as a clerk in the treasury office of the Sokoto Native Authority, before proceeding to Gaskiya Corporation, a publishing outfit, in 1945. He also served in the Northern Region civil service, worked as private secretary to Sir Ahmadu Bello, and as council deputy secretary, before becoming Nigeria’s pilgrimage officer at Jeddah. In addition, Dasuki served as permanent secretary in the regional Ministry of Local Government and later the Ministry of Commerce. In 1984, he was appointed chairman of the Committee for the Review of Local Government Administration in Nigeria, and was a prominent member of the 1988 Constituent Assembly.
Appointed the Sultan of Sokoto on December 6, 1988, Dasuki made frantic efforts to improve the educational sector in his domain, building 10 Koranic schools and establishing an adult literacy class. But it was in the days of adversity that his character shone through. Deposed in 1996 over some personal differences with the then Head of State, General Sani Abacha, regarding some properties allegedly held in trust for the Head of State but then being managed by the Sultan, Dasuki was banished to Jalingo. Not a few Nigerians believed that the charges preferred against him, such as ignoring government directives and travelling outside his domain without obtaining approval, were trumped up. Indeed, sensing that his spirit had remained unbowed despite the intense persecution to which he was subjected, the military government dragged him before the Failed Banks Tribunal established to tackle the corruption in the banking sector. But the case was eventually dismissed when no credible evidence surfaced to nail him.
As the hoopla over his continued incarceration worsened, the Abacha junta then told the nation that he was being held under the infamous Decree 2, and it was only after Abacha died in 2008 that Dasuki was allowed to travel abroad. Being the first Sultan of Sokoto from the Buhari line of the house of Dan Fodio, a close associate of Sir Ahmadu Bello and an influential founding father of Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Dasuki was certainly a very powerful monarch. Yet, and quite significantly, he did not fight his deposition. Rather, as a true believer in the doctrine that Allah knows best, he preferred to live a quiet life and shun the allure of office, thus becoming a powerful study in submission to Allah and equanimity. Not even the developments in Gwandu, whose Emir successfully upturned his deposition at the Supreme Court, could make Dasuki change his mind. He considered the interest of the Sokoto Caliphate superior to his personal interest, and launched no attacks on his successors.
A bridge builder, Dasuki made significant strides in his efforts to unite the Muslim ummah through the reorganisation of Jama’atu Nasril Islam and the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs(NSCIA) and contributed substantially to the appointment of Alhaji Lateef Adegbite as the first Yoruba Secretary General of the NSCIA.
Dasuki will be sorely missed. We commiserate with the Sokoto Caliphate and the Nigerian Muslim Ummah on the passing of the great icon. May Allah forgive him his sins.