The demise of Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa in the early hours of Monday, January 3, 2023, is another reminder to all that whatever we do on earth, a day is coming when all will answer the ultimate call and return to the great beyond.
Just as it is said that the world is a school, there is a lot to deduce from the elder statesman, writer, philanthropist, and politician who died after a brief illness.
Born on June 20, 1947, in Kano State, Tofa came to the limelight when he emerged as the presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in 1993 during the aborted Third Republic.
Tofa’s quest for the unity of Nigeria made him run in the presidential election with former governor of the Central Bank of Biafra, Sylvester Ugoh as running mate.
The late Tofa had his primary education at Shahuci Junior Primary, Kano, and continued his studies at City Senior Primary School, also in Kano.
From 1962 to 1966, he attended Provincial College, Kano. After completing his studies at the Provincial school, Tofa worked for Royal Exchange Insurance company from 1967 to 1968.
From 1970 to 1973, he attended City of London College. Tofa’s sojourn in politics started in 1976 when he was a councillor of Dawakin Tofa Local Government Council. In 1977, he was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly.
During the Second Republic, Tofa was at various times the secretary of the Kano branch of the then ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN). He later became the party’s national financial secretary and was a national council member of the Green Revolution National Committee.
During the Third Republic, Tofa was part of the Liberal Movement which metamorphosed into Liberal Convention but it was not registered as a political party. He later joined the NRC in 1990.
During the party primaries in the 1993 general election, Tofa defeated Pere Ajuwa, Joe Nwodo and Dalhatu Tafida to clinch the NRC ticket.
Despite being an ally of Halilu Akilu, the security chief at the time, Tofa did not reject the outcome of the presidential election won by his rival, Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.
Indeed, his character, humility, and love for one Nigeria stood him out. This is reflected in his utterances. He preached peace, love, justice and tranquility. He was a known inspiration to the youth and always advised everyone on the need to maintain peace, law and order.
During his days in the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), he also made attempts to vie for the presidential ticket.
Being a man that always strived for orderliness, he set up the Bureau for Islamic Propagation in the mid-80s that helped to unite Muslim scholars in Northern Nigeria, narrowing the differences that characterised their relationships.
As a writer, author and publisher, Tofa was always a journalists’ delight even at the point of death. The torrent of condolences that have greeted his demise show his acceptability, popularity and immense contribution to nation-building and national discourse.
Some of his associates both in the NRC and ANPP describe Tofa as a straightforward Nigerian who was ready at any point to preach unity and peace in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari described Tofa as a man with an untiring commitment to public enlightenment and who was unafraid to speak the truth all the time that he lived.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan described the late Tofa as a modest politician who contributed his quota to the development of Nigeria’s democracy with his political engagements in 1993 and afterwards.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), which the late Tofa was one of its founding fathers, described Tofa as a national politician and community leader.
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) also described Tofa as “an indefatigable defender of its dignity and values.”
Judging from the condolences, and Tofa’s life and times, we believe the younger generation has a lot to learn from the 74 years he lived on earth. Politicians should also learn from the brand of peaceful politics he played during his time. May his soul rest in peace.