By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah, Abuja, ISAIAH BENJAMIN and MSUE AZA, Kaduna –
A former military governor of old Kaduna State, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Mukhtar Muhammad (rtd) is dead. AVM Mukhtar Muhammad who was the Wazirin Dutse, died in a London hospital at the age of 73.
A family member, Alhaji Lawal Musa, who confirmed his demise said Muhammad died on Sunday night after a long illness. Musa said the corpse would be flown home for burial.
Muhammad was once minister of Housing and Urban Development and a member of the Supreme Military Council in 1975. He was military governor of Kaduna State from 1978 to 1979.
He was a member of the National Constitutional Conference in 2014, a chieftain of Arewa Consultative Forum and the chairman, Board of Directors of Freedom Radio, Kano.
He was said to have played an active role in the coup that brought General Murtala Mohammad to power and was appointed to the new Supreme Military Council on July 30, 1975.
He is survived by a wife and six children.
The death of the Wazirin Dutse has thrown the Dutse emirate and the entire people of his home state, Jigawa into deep mourning.
Since the announcement of his death, leaders and other citizens of the state have been commenting and reacting over the great loss of a leader, father, nationalist and statesman who dedicated his life to selfless services.
He Was A Remarkable Officer – PMB
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday described the late military administrator of Kaduna State and chairman of Freedom Radio Kano, retired AVM Mukhtar Muhammad, as one of the finest, most principled, patriotic and loyal military officers he had ever known and respected.
In a statement by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, the president also described the late Muhammad as a fountain of inspiration who loved the progress of Nigeria at all times.
He said, “AVM Muhammad was so passionately committed to his principles and beliefs that he had to leave his military career earlier than expected on account of those principles.
“Very few Nigerians are ready to lose their jobs or offices on account of their beliefs, but the late Mohammed was an exception to this ugly reality of Nigeria, a society where public office holders’ respect power more than principles”.
The president also recalled the significant role played by the late Air Force Officer in the realization of the dream of his people for the creation of the present Jigawa State.
He extended his condolences to the government, the family and people of Jigawa and Kano States over the loss of this illustrious public figure. He prayed to Allah to forgive his gentle soul.
His Demise Colossal Loss To North, Nigeria – Jigawa Gov
In his condolence message, Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar, described the death of AVM Mukhtar Muhammad as shocking and a great loss, not only to his family, Dutse emirate and the state, but to the North and Nigeria at large.
Governor Badaru who extoled the virtues of the deceased said he will be remembered for his immense contributions to the country as a military, civilian administrator, elder statesman and traditional leader.
Noting that the late Muhammad lived an exemplary life worthy of emulation by the young generation, the governor prayed Almighty Allah (SWT) to grant him Jannatul Firdausi and give his family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
He Was An Accomplished Patriot – el-Rufai
On his part, Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, described the late former military governor, AVM Mukhtar Muhammad (rtd), as an accomplished patriot.
In a condolence statement signed by his spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, the governor said, “I received with sadness, but with total submission to the will of Allah, news of AVM Mukhtar Muhammad’s death.
“He was our former military governor who worked diligently for the peace and harmony of our dear state. He was also an accomplished patriot who served patriotically in the military.
“On behalf of the government and people of Kaduna State, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his immediate family, friends and associates. And may Allah grant his soul Aljanna Firdausi”.
His Demise Shocking – Borno Gov
Also, Borno State governor and chairman of Northern States Governors’ Forum, Kashim Shettima, yesterday expressed shock over the demise of AVM Mukhtar Muhammad.
In a statement emailed to LEADERSHIP by his spokesman, Isa Gusau, Governor Shettima, while describing the passing on of Muhammad as shocking, said coming few months after the death of Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule, the demise of Muhammad was yet another big loss to the Northern voice.
He said, “AVM was a sound and eloquent statesman who cared about the competitiveness of the north in all affairs of the country. It was out of his genuine passion for northern Nigeria that he invested in the establishment of freedom radio even when radio broadcasting is not known to be a lucrative business, but rather a social service. He wanted to open a station in Maiduguri in spite of our challenges.
“He was in Borno on different occasions to either lead or be part of delegations on issues relating to the challenges posed by Boko Haram and other issues concerning northern Nigeria. He was always around whenever issues relating to the stability and progress of the north was in the front burner.
“He was even at the Borno lodge early last month when we had meetings with representatives of Northern elders and the coalition of Northern Groups over issues of National Unity and he contributed positively to that meeting. He even offered to be available anytime there was need to bring together retired military officers to contribute in whatever ways in efforts to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
“He cared for the north, invested selflessly for the north and represented the north so efficiently in many respects. May Allah admit him into Aljanna Firdaus. My heart goes out to his family, the management and staff of Freedom Radio and our elders in northern Nigeria on yet another big loss. Inna lillahi wa Inna ilaihi Raajiun”.
He Stood For Justice, Fairness And Equity – ACF
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday, said it received with shock and grief the death of AVM Muhammad, describing him as a man who stood for justice, fairness and equity.
A statement issued by its national publicity secretary and made available to journalists in Kaduna described the late AVM Muhammad as a foundation and committed member of ACF.
The forum said, “He was a highly respected and principled Air force officer, a gentleman, who stood for justice, fairness and equity to all. His eloquence and resilience on due diligence while in the Nigerian Airforce and even in retirement placed him above his equals.
“The late Wazirin Dutse would be remembered as former military governor of Kaduna State during the reign of General Murtala Muhammad and also the various commands he held in the Nigerian Air-force, for his commitment to the values of liberty, accountability and humility in service.
“His role and commitment to Buhari’s campaign for Presidency from 2002 to 2015 was legendary. The North and indeed Nigeria have lost an illustrious and patriotic son who worked and died for Nigeria and for unity of the North in particular.
“ACF extends its condolences to his immediate family, Dutse Emirate Council, the Governments and people of Kano and Jigawa States over the death of AVM Mukhtar Muhammad. May Allah SWT grant his gentle soul eternal rest in Aljannah Firdaus and his family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. Amin”.
The forum said as a mark of respect and honor to the late board member, it has postponed its scheduled National Executive Council (NEC) meeting earlier slated for Wednesday October 4, 2017 to Wednesday 11th October 2017.
Commenting on his death, staff of Freedom Radio, through their Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa stations’ general managers, described Muhammad as a very accommodative, visionary leader who always encourage people under him to be determined, hard-working.
According to the managers who are among the pioneer staff of the station said the deceased was a man of his words who never interfered in their editorial judgment or any of their professional work even if it appeared contrary to his opinion or interest.
The radio station has since commenced mourning of their pioneer chairman by suspending all their programmes, dedicating all their time to receiving condolence messages, discussing the life and times of the decease and his contribution to the establishment and development of the station, as well as all other contribution he made at various capacity.
The prominent Islamic cleric and chairman of Kano State Council of Ulamas, Sheikh Ibrahim Khalil, said the late Mukhtar Muhammad had lived an exemplary life, full of simplicity, honesty, love and compassion to everyone in conformity with teaching of Islam.
Sheikh Khalil who is also one of the editorial board members of freedom Radio noted that the deceased was a man who respected the opinion of every one working around him or relating to him at every level.
He recalled that some associates of the deceased had one time asked him to stop attending small occasions and to be selective in honouring invitations, but Muhammad replied them, saying “it is part of my responsibility as an elder to support and guide anyone who requested so from me irrespective of his age and social status. Whoever invite me to his occasion must have seen something good in me”.
Sheikh Khalil added that the deceased spent all his life mentoring people to be productive, patriotic and honest so as to make their society a better and happy home for all.
For one of his close associate, Alhaji Bello Isa Bayero, the late Mukhtar Muhmmad was a peace loving person, a straightforward person who always preached to people around him to be honest, just and relate to everyone with dignity and respect.
He said the deceased never got tired in supporting or doing any work he thought will promote peace and unity of the country, improving or uplifting the lives of the common man within his immediate society and the nation at large.
According to him, the death of the retired AVM has created a vacuum that will take time to fill.
Meanwhile, Gen Zamani Lekwot (rtd), who served as the military governor of Rivers Statefrom July 1975 until July 1978 during the military administration headed by the late Generals Murtala Muhammad and Olusegun Obasanjo could not hide his shock when he got news of the demise of his friend, AVM Muhammad.
He told LEADERSHIP that the former governor led the people of Kaduna State well when he served as its military governor, adding that “Mukhtar was a gentle Man who served my state with the fear of God”.
For former governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the late Mukhtar was a very humble person.
He said, “We became very close friends in 2002 when we were forming a political movement known as Credible Alternative Alliance to give Nigerians an alternative to the political parties at that time.
“He was a good Man, an honest person. He was a Nigerian, He was not a regionalist”.
According to Musa, Kaduna State was lucky to have him as its governor at that time.
“He brought in many developments to Kaduna State; there was no difference of religion and ethnicity when he was the governor. He was just an extra ordinary governor”, Musa added.