It was Colonel Haruna Dasuki who ordered that I return to the hospital in military style “maza maza dawo asibiti” on what easily became one of the darkest days in my history. On November 14, 2016, we confronted one of our deepest fears – our father, Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki died. He died minutes after his eminence Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar left his bedside.
Unknown to us, this was a farewell visit from the symbol and custodian of the institution my father revered until his last moments, the caliphate. We, his children hoped that somehow he will pull through this hurdle like he had done throughout his eventful life. Although he would have been ninety-three years old today, December 31, 2016; it was not enough to neutralize our grief.
Baba taught us many lessons in life and in death; he continues to teach us more. Every part of him told a story; his eyes, his mannerisms, his speech – a story of faith, honor, industry, contentment, sacrifice, duty and dependability. One of his mantras was “abun da ka shuka, shi za ga girba: ku shuka alheri” meaning “you reap what you sow; therefore sow good things”.
He served this nation diligently in various capacities which all contributed to the formation of his solid character. He was private secretary to the great premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello. He moved on to head the Northern Grains Board, which at the time managed the famous groundnut pyramids. In the private sector, he chaired the board of African International bank (AIB) before his eventual coronation as the 18th Sultan of Sokoto.
He left indelible marks along the way, building lifelong bonds with his associates. Their condolence messages show the unique bonds they shared with him; each with a different narrative. From traditional rulers to captains of industry to political office holders to average Joes; his network was vast and diverse.
At the home front, he was our hero. Each and every one of us connected with him in a different way. He was unison, he brought sanity and he was the power horse behind the scenes that ensured we carried on in life with dignity. If there was a problem, we were confident that he would fix it regardless of the magnitude. He was not perfect and neither is our family. However, he navigated our imperfections in a perfect manner.
Some of us experienced hilarious shock upon discovering our biological mothers around the ages of eight or nine. This is the flavor of polygamy which my father practiced. He nurtured such trust amongst our mothers that each of them raised children birthed by others with unparalleled grace.
He was equitable yet strict, certainly not one to shift the goal post. Discipline was very important to him. There were times when he asked children of our domestic staff to punish us when we derailed.
I am not sure if it was the finesse of my brother Col. Sambo Dasuki or the quest for discipline that made him send my generation of Dasukis to military schools. While Ibrahim, Haruna and I went to Nigerian Military School and NDA in Kaduna, Muhammadu Buhari, and the girls attended Airforce Military schools in Jos respectively.
Reflecting on my moments with him brings mixed feelings; Sadness for obvious reasons and Joy, for Baba left a part of him in each and every one of us his children. For instance, our eldest sister, Ya Amina, wife of the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, knew Baba for longer than any of us. Perhaps this is why she radiates the best part of him, his superlative virtue of patience.
Despite belonging to a different generation, Baba’s advice was somehow always applicable and relevant to contemporary situations. In March 2010 when I was at a crossroads in my life; precisely when I was considering seeking elective office. I approached him and stated with conviction my motivation and desire to run for office. I described the landscape, the opportunities and threats. He listened attentively to my grandiose presentation. His advice was concise but deep.
He told me categorically to return to the grassroots and prove my worth to the people at that level. ”How can you aspire to lead a people with whom you have seasonal contact?” That was quintessentially Baba. Not one to evade or beat around the bush to please you. I walked away from that room still unsure of what the future held but with a clear understanding of the enormity of the responsibility that lay ahead. It was not my birthright; I had to earn it.
This is the way that our father eased our paths – not with silver and gold but with his values, principles, wisdom, humor, courage, strength and most importantly prayers.
No conversation about Sultan Dasuki will be complete without talking about his courage. He ingrained confidence and fearlessness in each and every one of his children. He never got tired of urging us to “fear no one but Allah” and “beg no one but Allah”. This will later put him on a collision course with late General Sani Abacha and lead to his deposition and subsequent unjust incarceration for years in Zing, Taraba State. The rest they say is history.
One of his proudest moments as a father was when he learnt while in detention that his children refused to beg General Abacha for his release. Upon his return, he met a household that was understandably apathetic towards the general. He reacted by lecturing us on the fruitlessness of hatred and requested that we pray for the repose of the general’s soul. Incidences like these defined my father.
I could never do justice to my father in a few paragraphs but I owe it to him to embody his values in the course of my own life. By divine decree, we are entrusted with a duty towards our people as envisioned by our ancestors.
As the constant in our lives, his presence made us complacent in a way. His absence on the other hand, unearths the fact that the oars rest squarely on our shoulders to perpetuate his ideals for the benefit of current and future generations. He leaves us the legacy of an exemplary life occasioned by trials which he wouldn’t let define him.
Clearly, the real test of Baba’s disciples begins now and I get the feeling we are well prepared. I conclude in these regulatory words of my father: “Honorable is far more than a name prefix; to be honorable is to be dutiful and to be dutiful is to be mindful of the various layers of expectation of your people”.
May Allah grant him al-jannah firdaus and make it easy for us to complete the good work that he started.
Abdussamad Dasuki is a prince of the Sokoto Sultanate and a member of the Nigerian House of Representatives representing Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency, Sokoto.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.