One of the special breed of Nigeria’s military officer cadre, Air Vice Marshal Mukhtar Muhammad went the way of all mortals recently. The expired two-star General is recognised as one of the country’s finest and principled military officers who distinguished himself in the various commands and assignments he held and undertook in the Nigerian Air-force.
Given who he was in his remarkable life time, those who met and knew him in and out of uniform have been pouring deserved encomiums on this man many agree was a detribalised Nigerian who applied the fear of God in all his doings.
Muhammad was a multi-talented man who channelled his skills and endowments to the service of, first his immediate environment, the North which contributed to the realization of the dream of his people for the creation of the present day Jigawa State.
The late air force officer was also loved as a patriotic Nigerian who gave his best in the service of humanity at large. As a military officer, he was remarkable as one of the finest, most principled, patriotic and loyal military officers of his era, known and respected for his stand on issues that he believed in. His contemporaries extol the virtues of the deceased who will be remembered for his immense contributions to the country as a military officer, civilian administrator, elder statesman and traditional leader and especially for the exemplary life that he lived which will remain a shining light worthy of emulation by the younger generation of Nigerians.
Out of uniform, Muhammad became an elder statesman who was willing to fit into roles carved out by him, for him and by the society. As Wazirin Dutse, he was one of the topmost advisers of the traditional institution of his community and he executed that function with the same zeal and competence that was his hallmark as a military officer and gentleman. He continued his duties as a patriot in search of operational modalities for an effective and better Nigeria when he participated as a member of the National Constitutional Conference in 2014 from the pedestal of his position as a founding member and chieftain of Arewa Consultative Forum. His sound and eloquent statesmanlike qualities were on display on matters of state both as a Northern leader as well as in all affairs of the country that had to do with justice, fairness and equity.
Muhammad was outstanding for his passionate commitment to his principles and beliefs to the point that when circumstances demanded that he make a decision, he chose to sacrifice his military career rather than compromise the principles he held dear and cherished. His comrades-in-arm comment that very few Nigerians were ready then and even now to lose their jobs or offices on account of their beliefs.
The late Mohammed was an exception to this ugly reality of Nigeria, a society where public office holders respect power more than principles. He was, indeed, an accomplished patriot who worked diligently for the peace and harmony of the country. The deceased was always there and never got tired of supporting or doing any work he thought would promote peace and unity of the country, improving or uplifting the lives of the common man.
The many friends and associates the late Muhammad met on the way in his earthly journey testify to the fact that he was a good man, an honest person, a Nigerian who was not given to ethnic jingoism. As Governor of Kaduna State, he brought in many development projects to the State without minding the differences in religion and ethnic composition of the cosmopolitan state.
AVM Mukhtar Muhammad was born on November 11, 1944. He was the Military Governor of Kaduna State as a Wing Commander and later Captain from July 1978 to October 1979 during the regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo. He played an active role in the coup that brought General Murtala Mohammed to power, and was appointed to the Supreme Military Council (SMC) on 30 July 1975. He died on October 1, 2017 at the age of 73 and is survived by a wife and six children.