Former presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa, is dead. He was 75 years old.
The eldest son, Abba Bashir Tofa, confirmed his death to LEADERSHIP in Kano, yesterday.
He said his death was shocking, but not unexpected.
Tofa passed in the early hours of yesterday at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano after a brief illness.
The family, however, did not confirm whether the late June 12 Actor died of COVID-19 as reported in some section of the media.
Tofa died 29 years after contesting and losing a presidential election against late Chief Mashood Abiola, an election that was botched by the military junta of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
He has since been buried in accordance with Islamic rites.
He was buried yesterday at Hajj Camp burial ground after the funeral prayers at his residence at Gandun Albasa in Kano.
The funeral prayer was attended by the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero; Kano Central Senator, MalaShekarau; former minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono; Alhaji Sule Yahya Hamma.
Others include Alhaji Aminu Dabo; Alhaji Sani Kwangila Yakasai and Barr. A.B Mahmud, among others.
He Was Never Afraid To Speak The Truth – PMB
President Muhammadu Buhari leads the nation in mourning Bashir Tofa, a politician of note, who once ran as Presidential Candidate in a two-horse race, who was also a promoter of Islamic culture and civilization.
The late Tofa was noted for his untiring commitment to public enlightenment and was unafraid to speak the truth all the time that he lived.
He set up the Bureau for Islamic Propagation (BIP) in the mid-80s that helped to unite Muslim Scholars in the Northern States, narrowing the differences that characterised their relationships. The BIP also published books and newspapers.
In a tribute to the deceased, President Buhari in a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu described the late Tofa as a true nationalist that would be difficult to replace.
“He was, till the end, a patriot to the core. He envisaged a better Nigeria for all. We pray that this dream and collective aspiration and necessary commitment will not go with him. We owe it to his memory and to the nation,” said the President.
President Buhari prayed to Allah to repose his soul and grant fortitude to the bereaved family and friends, the Kano Emirate Council as well as the government and people of Kano State to bear the loss.
Meanwhile, the President has dispatched a delegation to Kano with a condolence letter to the State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. The team is made up of the Ministers of Defence, Major-General Bashir Magashi (rtd) and Water Resources, Engineer Sulaiman Adamu accompanied by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), Garba Shehu and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
Tofa Was A Balanced, Incisive Democrat – Atiku
Former Vice President of Nigeria and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar has expressed his condolences over the death of Alhaji Bashir Tofa, a former presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention in the 1993 elections.
Atiku, in a press release signed by his media office in Abuja on Monday said that the late Tofa was a thoroughbred democrat whose contributions to the growth of democratic governance in Nigeria is invaluable.
The former Vice President notes that throughout his political career, the late Tofa was a politician who believed in the power of ideas and ideologies and was never associated with political violence or any other anti-democratic behaviour.
The Waziri Adamawa, who was in touch with Tofa until his last days, stressed that the statesman and politician, who had been preoccupied with the state of affairs in Nigeria in recent times, and especially as it impacted the North, was a “balanced and incisive” personality.
According to Atiku, “His (Tofa’s) style of politics and the panache with which he engaged political opponents will remain classical in Nigeria’s political history and are worthy of emulation by contemporary political actors and the future generations.”
Atiku therefore expresses his deepest condolence to the bereaved families and associates of the late patriarch and political icon and the people and government of Kano State. He prays to the Almighty Allah to grant him Aljannah Firdaus.
Tofa Was A Man Of Many Parts, Says ACF
Similarly, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) expressed sadness with news of the death of Tofa, one of the founding members of the Forum.
“Having laid the foundation of the Forum, he preferred to stay at the back and play an advisory role in the affairs of the ACF.
“We are happy to say that up to his death, he identified with the ideals with which the ACF was founded.
“Bashir Tofa was a man of many parts. Sometimes a national politician, community leader or an international businessman. His participation in the 1993 presidential election as the candidate of the NRC overshadowed all other things he did. Maybe because Moshood Abiola was involved or because it was finally annulled.
“He was as much a victim of military meddlesomeness in politics as Abiola.
It is a measure of his good public conduct that he remained calm throughout and never did anything to stir up trouble when the country was almost on fire because of the annulled election.
“At the ACF we see Tofa as a patriot who wanted to serve his country but was denied the opportunity by the military. We do not believe it is a crime to want to serve”.
ACF condoled with his immediate family, the Kano business community, Kano ACF Chapter, Kano State government for the loss of their eminent son and prayed to God to repose his soul.
Governors Gaduje, Buni, Yahaya Bello Pay Tributes
Kano state Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has mourned the death of Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa, former Presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in the June 12, 1993 election, whose contributions to Nigeria’s democracy, he said, remained indelible.
In a statement signed by the Kano State Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, the governor noted the sacrifices of Tofa, who started taking up leadership responsibilities at an early age, when he was elected Councilor in Tofa in his late 20s, and he remain vibrant and dynamic up till the time of his death.
He said as a businessman, trader and philanthropist, Tofa touched the lives of many people, especially the down-trodden, and expressed the belief that the legacies of the deceased will be approximated for posterity.
“The legacy of his political beliefs and triumphs will be important footnotes in the literature of Nigeria’s government and politics for generations yet to come.
He was a great man, a quintessential democrat and outstanding statesman who has left very lasting prints both on the politics and political history of Nigeria,” the statement added.
The governor prayed to Almighty Allah to grant his soul Aljannah Firdausi and the fortitude for his family, friends and associates to bear the irreparable loss.
Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello, has commiserated with the government and people of Kano state and the entire Emirates Council over the loss of their two illustrious sons, renowned urologist, Dr. Ibrahim Datti Ahmed, President- General, Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria and Alh. Othman Bashir Tofa, a former Presidential candidate.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Onogwu Muhammed, Governor Bello described the loss of the two elder statesmen as a great loss not only to Kano state but Nigeria in general.
“Dr Datti Ahmed, was a refined gentleman with unquantifiable contributions to the development of education and the Shariah knowledge as a guidance to the Muslim faithful”.
“He will be missed for his wise counselling and his vast knowledge on moral lessons needed for our future generations” he said.
Similarly, Governor Bello expressed shock over the death of a former presidential candidate of the National Republican Convention in the 1993 election, Alhaji Bashir Tofa saying his death has no doubt created a vacuum in Nigeria’s political space.
“He was a gentleman politician who believed in service delivery and developmental democracy” Governor Bello said.
He prayed to Allah (SWT) to grant their souls eternal rest in Aljannatur firdausi.
The governor also prayed to Allah to grant their families, the government and people of Kano state and the entire Emirates Council the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
The chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, has consoled the family of Alhaji Othman Bashir Tofa, as well as the government and people of Kano State, saying the death of the late presidential candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC) was an exit of political icon from Nigeria’s political landscape.
In a statement issued by his director-general, Press and Media Affairs, Mamman Mohammed, Governor Buni said it is with deep sorrow and sadness that he received the news of the death of the late Tofa.
“He was an iconic politician who shared the values of politics as a call to service, to promote good governance and to improve the lives of the electorates. Late Tofa was a fine gentleman, a true democrat and a nationalist with a definition of politics as a tool for service delivery,” he noted.
The chairman of APC caretaker committee further regretted that Nigeria lost the late politician at a time when the country’s democracy needs his wise counsel.
He prayed to Allah (SWT) “to grant him eternal rest in Aljannatur Firdausi and to grant his family, associates and the people of Kano State the fortitude to bear the loss”.
Bashir Stood For Justice, Emir Bayero Declares
In his condolence message Emir of Kano Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero described the demise of the political icon as a great loss to the state and the nation at large.
“Alhaji Bashir stood for justice and has been very dogged in fighting for the prosperity of the state through the Kano Concern Citizen Association.
On his part Senator Ibrahim Shekarau described the late sage as a very easy going personality who has dissipated his energy towards bettering the lots of the people.
While the immediate past Minister of Agriculture Alhaji Sabo Nanono said Tofa was a true son of the state who wanted to see Kano prosper all the time. Through his leadership of KCC he reawakened most of the sons and daughters of the state to face squarely the competitiveness in their business undertakings and advised them to invest wisely.
Many speakers afterwards described the loss of the elder statesman as a big loss to humanity given his track records as a good writer and author of many books.
Mutawali of Ilorin ,Dr Alimi AbdulRazaq has extolled the virtues of former presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), Alh Bashir Tofa.
AbdulRazaq who was a gubernatorial aspirant of the defunct Social Democratic Party(SDP) in the aborted Third Republic, said Tofa lived for upliftment of interests of Arewa.
In a statement he personally issued to commiserate with the people of Kano State over the demise of the Tofa, AbdulRazaq said the deceased will be remembered for his inspirational speeches and generosity to the less privileged.
He recalled his relationship with the deceased despite being in different political parties , an attribute which he said stood Tofa out as a true nationalist.
“A courageous, forthright, generous, resourceful, passionate and cerebral statesman passed through these shores.
Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa was an inspiration to very many of us through debates, speeches, books but most of all by his sterling personal qualities and warm friendship. He lived for the upliftment of the interests of Arewa, particularly the less privileged.
“We met in the political trenches of teasing political power from the military at the Liberal Convention meetings in the early 1990s along with Abba Dabo , Ibrahim Mantu et al . He went on to lead the NRC whilst some of us joined the SDP. Nevertheless, he continued to support us morally ; his vision for good governance nationally and the development of Arewa in particular was irreducible,” AbdulRazaq added.
CNG Postpones Security Summit In Tofa’s Honour
The coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has postponed its security summit in honour of Tofa.
The national coordinator of CN, Balarabe Rufai, who announced the decision in Abuja, said the inadvertent postponement of its planned Pan Northern Security Summit scheduled for 5th and 6th of January 2022 is a mark of honour for the late Tofa.
Rafai, who described the late Tofa as a passionate believer of the organic links between generations who was always available for young people, said the date for the summit will be announced soon.
“The CNG owes immeasurable gratitude to the late Bashir Tofa whose leadership, sacrifice, statesmanship, patriotism and unwavering commitment to the interests of the people of Northern Nigeria, and citizens of Nigeria as a whole has few parallels.
“We mourn the passing of this great man from whose life and works we have drawn inspiration and we must strive, in all we do, to live by the personal and social values and standards he lived and set for himself.
“The late Tafa was a passionate believer of the organic links between generations who was always available for young people. The CNG in particular, the North and Nigeria generally have certainly lost a great statesman,
“The CNG also acknowledges the immeasurable contribution of the late Tofa in stabilising the north and Nigeria as a whole. We pray to the Almighty Allah to overlook his shortcomings and forgive his gentle soul.”
His Life And Times
Born on June 20, 1947, into a Kanuri family in Kano, Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa, came to national spotlight when he ran as presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in the famous June 12, 1993 election.
He ran against the late businness mogul, Chief Moshood Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in one of the most widely adjudged free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria’s history.
But before his emergence on the national scene as presidential candidate of a national party, Tofa had earned his stripes as a consummate politician, having been elected councillor, in his late 20s.
In 1976 he was a councillor of Dawakin Tofa local government council. A year later, he was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly.
In the Second Republic, Tofa served as secretary of the Kano branch of NPN.
He later emerged as the party’s national financial secretary. He was also a national member of the Green Revolution National Committee.
By the Third Republic, he had expanded his political network, becoming part of the Liberal Movement which later became Liberal Convention. Although it was not registered as a political party, it was a major part of NRC’s emergence. Tofa, in 1990, joined the NRC, a party which had a conservative slant.
In 1993, he was elected presidential candidate of the party, defeating Pere Ajunwa, Joe Nwodo and Dalhatu Tafida to clinch the NRC ticket. He picked Sylvester Ugoh, an Igbo and a former governor of the now defunct central bank of Biafra as his running mate.
Incidentally, Abiola, Tofa and Ugoh, who was also minister under the Shagari regime, were members of the Constituent Assembly between 1977 and 1978. Abiola represented Abeokuta constituency, Tofa represented Dawakin Tofa, while Ugoh represented Abah-Mbaise/Ahiazu-Mbaise.
Tofa however lost the presidential election to Abiola. According to unofficial results, National Republican Convention (NRC)’s Tofa got a total of 5,952,087 (41.64 per cent) of votes nationwide, while Abiola, running on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), scored 8,341,309 (58.36 per cent).
The total votes cast was 14,293,396. Abiola won 19 of the 30 states and the FCT, leaving Tofa with 11 states.
Sadly, the election was annulled by the Babangida regime.
However, 20 years after that saga, Tofa while speaking to reporters in Kano in 2013, 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.”
In 2011, Tofa vied for presidential ticket of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), along with the then Kano Governor Ibrahim Shekarau.
Although he came to be known for his politics, Tofa was also a business mogul and author. He was an oil trader and industrialist. He was chairman of International Petro-Energy Company (IPEC) and Abba Othman and Sons ltd. He was also a board member in Impex Ventures, Century Merchant Bank and General Metal Products ltd.
He had his primary education at Shahuci Junior Primary, Kano and then continued studies at City Senior Primary School in Kano. From 1962 to 1966, he attended Provincial College, Kano.
After completing his studies at the Provincial school, he worked for Royal Exchange Insurance company from 1967 to 1968. From 1970 to 1973, he attended City of London College.
In the recent political dispensation, Tofa never shied away from weighing in on critical national issues.
The former chairman of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) Elders Committee, Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa has disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan has the right to contest the 2015 if he wishes to do so.
Tofa said, “The decision to contest or not to contest the 2015 presidential election lies on President Goodluck Jonathan and no other person has the right to demand his exclusion from that race”.
In 2017, Tofa had asked the Nigerian government to urgently convene a national peace conference to tackle issues of political agitations and crisis rocking the nation.
He said the conference would particularly address the agitations of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB which has led to an invasion of the South-east by the military and has led to violence.
”Let’s hope this is acceptable and the right and genuine people (not bigots or popularity seekers) will be called to think through it. Something on a permanent basis should be established,” he said.
”May the Almighty God help this country and bless her with a lasting peace. He gave us everything, but we have been, and remain, ungrateful to Him and utterly selfish,” he added.
Tofa said there must be a few people around the president, “who must summon the courage to tell him the truth, one of which is that the day will surely come when he will no longer be the President, in just a few years time, and the law will then catch up with him.”
He was also the Chairman of Kano Elders Forum before his death.
As an author, he wrote, Tunaninka Kamanninka (The way you think reflects in your character), Kimiyyar Sararin Samaniya (Space science), Kimiyya da Al’ajaban Al-Kur’ani (The science and wonders of the Qur’an), Gajerun Labarai (Short stories).
Others are Amazadan a Birnin Aljanu (Amazadan in the land of the spirits), Amazadan da Zoben Farsiyas (Amazadan and Farsiyas ring), Rayuwa Bayan Mutuwa (Life after death), and Mu Sha Dariya (Let us laugh).