OBITUARY: Bashir Tofa, Courageous Patriot Who Fought To Keep Sanusi On The Throne
On Monday — barely three days into the year 2022 – elder statesman and icon, Bashir Tofa, bid the world farewell. He died after a brief illness. Without mincing words, Tofa died a hero. He came, lived, conquered his generation and left towering legacies behind. Death, they say, is inevitable. Tofa has walked that path where all mortals are bound to. He has paid his dues and moved on, leaving those of us on this side of the divide with memories.
In his lifetime, the deceased was a journalist’s delight as he spoke his mind, damning the consequences. Tofa was not the type who shied away from questions; he gave his responses as frankly as possible.
When Clement Oloyede, Daily Trust’s Bureau Chief in Kano, sat with him last year, the deceased spoke on a wide range of issues. Asked to comment about zoning, Tofa had said, “Let us first make sure our country survives; not just intact, but with the relative peace we need to enable the elections to take place successfully in 2023. The country is too polarized now with a lot of stupid ideas and unnecessary bigotry.
“Secondly, I have never supported zoning of anything. Not only is it utterly undemocratic, but it will never allow us to be Nigerians and to elect “a Nigerian president”. For how long shall we continue to see ourselves as Northerners and Southerners? I do not know. It is even doubtful if Southerners, for example, will meet and agree to leave it to one of the three zones. They should try that to demonstrate that the South is one. Their candidate will then have a run with how many candidates the North presents in one or more political parties.
“I truly think zoning is detrimental to the unity of this country. It is a sign of backwardness to continue propagating a divisive presidency, rather than the one that will serve all Nigerians equally and justly. The PDP started this foolish idea. They have damaged the political climate of this country while thinking it was for the best.”
That was the man Tofa for you.
His name will remain evergreen in history, the knowledge bank of all ages, when it comes to politics in Nigeria. He kickstarted his foray into politics in 1976 when he emerged as councilor of Dawakin Tofa Local Government Council. As a man with leadership abilities and managerial acumen, it didn’t take long before Tofa started pulling the strings. By 1977, a year after he delved into politics, he was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly.
Tofa also contributed significantly to the success of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the country’s dominant political party in the second republic. It was there that his path first crossed with MKO Abiola, whom he ran against in 1993.He was the National Financial Secretary of NPN while Abiola was the Ogun State Chairman of the party.
When the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) regime introduced the Option A4 system, Tofa was elected the presidential candidate representing Kano. During the party primaries, he defeated Pere Ajunwa, Joe Nwodo and Dalhatu Tafida to clinch the NRC ticket.
He had picked Sylvester Ugoh, governor of the defunct Central Bank of Biafra, as his running mate.
Abiola was the self-acclaimed winner of the election, which was annulled by the IBB junta. According to reports, Abiola won Tofa even in Kano but the deceased saw that election as a closed chapter of his life.
‘JUNE 12 IS DEAD’
20 years after the election, journalists cornered him in Kano to get his view on it and the vintage Tofa said, “Events of June 12 are fiction. Those still celebrating the dead issue have nothing to do with their time. It is for those who don’t have anything to offer this country to move forward that can still be talking about June 12 presidential election.
“If you have learnt any lesson out of it good, if you have not, keep quiet, let this country make progress, but for one to still be talking about something that occurred 20 years ago is a colossal waste of time.”
IBB: JUNE 12 ELECTION ANNULED TO AVOID A COUP
Asked to comment on the cancellation of the election in an interview he granted last year, IBB said, “If it (the election) materialised, there would’ve been a coup d’etat — which could have been violent. That’s all I can confirm.
“It didn’t happen thanks to the engineering and the ‘maradonic’ way we handled you guys in the society. But that could’ve given room for more instability in the country.
He alleged massive pressure from within and outside the military to cause trouble on account of the outcome of the election.
In yet another interview on same topic, IBB said, “It’s a decision we took. I had to take that decision, I did that to the best of my knowledge, in the interest of the country. I did the right thing. I can sit back and say some of the things I said manifested after I had left. We had the coup and that coup lasted for five years.”
ABACHA VS SHONEKAN
An Interim National Government headed by Ernest Shonekan had been set up after the election was annulled but General Sani Abacha led a coup that toppled Shonekan who had spent only three months in office.
Although he joined the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Tofa still played his role as the conscience of the nation, holding leaders to account.
TOFA DIDN’T SPARE BUHARI AND JONATHAN
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Source:- Daily Trust