Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki (1923-2016)
Renowned public servant and former Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, who died the other day at the age of 93 was the 18th Sultan of Sokoto. He reigned from 1988 to 1996 when he was deposed by military fiat while General Sani Abacha was Nigeria’s Head of State.
Before ascending the throne in controversial circumstances, he had been in public service all his life, serving in one government capacity or the other either full-time or part-time. Often deemed a northern supremacist by adversaries, but a bridge builder by friends, he will be remembered for his life of service to Nigeria.
The former Sultan and father of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), currently facing corruption charges, was born in Dogon Daji, Sokoto. Dasuki, son of late Sarkin Yamma and district head of Dogon Daji, Haliru Ibn Barau, started Qur’anic education in 1928.
In 1931, he attended Dogon Daji Elementary School before proceeding to Sokoto Middle School in 1935. He completed his secondary education at Barewa College, Zaria, on a sponsorship from Sokoto Native Authority. After his high school education in 1943, he worked as a clerk in the treasury office of the Sokoto Native Authority as it was the tradition in Northern Nigeria then for grant recipients to work for their sponsors, their respective Native Authorities.
In 1945, however, he took up appointment with Gaskiya Corporation, a publishing house that published the Hausa daily called Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo. In 1953, heeding the call by Premier Ahmadu Bello for Northern Nigerian citizens to take up appointment in the regional civil service, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki joined the service as an executive officer.
A year later he became private secretary to Ahmadu Bello. In 1957, he filled the position of regional executive council deputy secretary and a year later was sent to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as Nigeria’s pilgrimage officer. Between 1960 and 1961, he worked in the Nigerian Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan and was later brought back to Nigeria by Ahmadu Bello to work as a resident officer in Jos, from where he moved on to become the permanent secretary in the regional Ministry of Local Government.
Dasuki later switched to the Ministry of Commerce in 1965 as its permanent secretary. From 1965 until he was crowned Sultan, Dasuki concentrated largely on his business activities, which thrived, while serving often as informal adviser to governments. In 1966, he was chairman of the influential Northern Nigeria Produce Marketing Board, an organisation involved with marketing the export of groundnut and in the distribution of seeds and chemicals.
From 1967 to 1977, he was director and later chairman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC). From 1979 to 1989, he was co-founder and chairman of the Nigerian branch of BCCI and was also a partner of Nessim Gaon in APROFIM, a firm involved in infrastructure investments, commodity production, purchasing and export activities. After the death of Sultan Siddique Abubakar, the revered 17th Sultan of Sokoto on November 1, 1988, Dasuki amid protests by many who thought his cousin, Muhammadu Maccido should have the throne, became the 18th Sultan of Sokoto but was deposed in 1996 in equally controversial circumstances by the Sani Abacha government.
Scant reasons were offered. One of the vague reasons was “for causing enmity among the people and within the royal family”. He was immediately flown to Yola and then taken to Jalingo where he was placed on exile. He lived a very quiet life afterwards and was rarely seen in public. The nation will miss him.