What The World Will Miss In Monguno, Shinkafi – Bukar Usman | Independent Newspapers Limited
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What The World Will Miss In Monguno, Shinkafi – Bukar Usman

Bukar Usman
Posted: Aug 10, 2016 at 6:40 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Yemi Adebisi

On July 6, 2016, a prominent Nigerian politician, security intelligence expert and former presidential aspirant during the Third Republic, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi died at the age of  79 years.
Two days later, precisely on July 8, 2016, another elder statesman, educationist, international public servant, Dr. Shettima Monguno passed away at 90.
The demise of these great Nigerian legends has left a great vacuum both in public sector, politics as well as arts community because of their various contributions in their life time.
For example, asides his immense contributions towards the growth of literature and arts especially in Northern Nigeria, Alhaji Shinkafi, author of four books including the latest, ‘Sardauna’s Home Front’ was described as an avid reader to a fault till death.
Also, because of his rare passion for emancipation of the less privileged, it was reported that the late Shettima Monguno sold his only house in Abuja to build a female hostel at the University of Maiduguri.  The literary community would also remember Monguno for donating his rich private library including books, autobiographies, cartridges and collections of proceedings from the First Republic parliament to the Borno State Library Board.
In a recent chat with Independent, the former Permanent Secretary in the Presidency and veteran Nigerian writer, Dr. Bukar Usman, who was close to the two elder statesmen gave an exclusive detail on their life and times.
“The passing away of Alhaji Umaru Aliyu Shinkafi on July 6, 2016, was a blow to the Nigerian security intelligence community that not long ago was thrown into mourning by the death of Alhaji Muhammadu Dikko Yusufu, the former Inspector General of Police. Alhaji Shinkafi, like his predecessor, Alhaji Yusufu (popularly known as MD Yusuf), left an indelible mark on the security intelligence community. Both of them served creditably in the Nigeria Police Force and the intelligence agency of the country.
“I first came across Alhaji Shinkafi when I was posted to the Cabinet Office, Lagos way back in 1972. Before then I only heard of his brilliance in intelligence operations in the war front during the Nigerian civil war. I went on to have a long association with him which lasted for over 40 years, yet, I never came across a write-up of up to two or more pages on his life or public service. This is notwithstanding his stint in politics after a brilliant and distinguished career in the security system of Nigeria. Also, in spite of our intimacy it was after his death that I learnt that though he hailed from Shinkafi village in present day Zamfara State, North-Western Nigeria, his lineage is rooted somewhere in present day Yobe State, North-Eastern Nigeria,” he said.   
Relating the strength of the departed writer and security intelligent expert, Usman said his brilliance in vast issues of life was almost incomparable.
“It was my schedule at the Cabinet Office that made me to relate with Alhaji Shinkafi intimately.  My interaction with him since then confirmed the positives I heard about him. ‘Yaya dai Bukar’, that is, ‘Bukar how is it?’ was his usual line to start a conversation with me. He kept to that style to herald our communication ever since. With Alhaji Yusuf as Commissioner at the head of the former Special Branch and Mr. Ekpo as his deputy, Alhaji Shinkafi, Mr. AOA Adesuyi and Alhaji Mohmmadu Gambo, the former Inspector of Police, were the next third tier level of senior intelligence officers of the ranks of Assistant Commissioners of Police. Given his brilliance in security intelligence matters, Alhaji Shinkafi rose steadily to head the nation’s intelligence agency and also held at separate times the portfolio of Minister responsible for internal affairs.”
Described as a self-made man and distinguished legal luminary, Usman saw in Alhaji Shinkafi, a personality endowed with exceptionally high and deep sense of self-discipline.
But the essentials in Shinkafi’s life as a politician are worthy of emulation.
His words: “Alhaji Shinkafi’s political venture was one of those instances that support my long held view that there are several people like him, who though quite sound and qualified, are usually side-lined in partisan politics because they abide by the truth and are not given to compromise and self-interests. Having met the brick wall in politics, Alhaji Shinkafi was relentless in his desire to share the benefits of his professional security intelligence experience with the public. Hence, he threw his weight behind the advocates of state police as one of the viable solutions to the security problems of Nigeria. He took to the print media to plead that cause. So far, his campaign for state police borne out of his formidable practical experience as a crack security intelligence officer is yet to be heeded. Alas! It was a cry in the wilderness. Needless to say he had done his bit. Only time will bear him out.”
He submitted that Shinkafi, who was honoured with the traditional title of Marafan Sokoto by the Sultanate of Sokoto would be remembered best by the security intelligence community and the country at large as a first class security intelligence officer who operated and led the security intelligence community with a high standard of professionalism.
Usman said Monguno was a simple gentleman who was clearly transparent, doubtlessly honest and possessing genuine attributes of excellent leadership.
“My impression of Shettima Ali Monguno I, formed from the rare privilege of my encounters with him since my school days at Maiduguri, Borno State North-Eastern Nigeria. I first encountered Malam Ali Zankali or simply Ali Monguno, as he was then known, when I was a school boy in the late 1950s. He was then a teacher, later a bursar before being elevated to an Education Officer at Maiduguri. He came to play football and hockey with us, the students, almost every evening at the Borno Provincial Secondary School old site, situated along Dandal Way Maiduguri. He was remarkably quite agile in spite of his huge well-built carriage and commanding stature. He usually addressed us in and outside the games field. We admired his soft measured speech and good command of English. Since then, I have held him in high esteem.
“He left the education profession for politics and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1959 and deservedly got a ministerial post in the First Republic under Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. As is well known, the First Republic was terminated by the military intervention of 1966. The subsequent government of Gen. Yakubu Gowon saw his return to service still in a political position at the onset of the Nigerian civil war in1967. He held the post of a Federal Commissioner responsible firstly for Trade and Industries and later for Mines and Power. It was at the Six-Storey Building Broad Street, Lagos housing the Ministry of Mines and Power that we again met in 1970s. I was then holding the post of an Assistant Secretary, a fairly junior post in the Federal Service. That encounter gave me another rare opportunity to further interact with him at close quarters.”
Usman unequivocally stated that what struck them most at the ministry was Monguno’s transparent, honest and humble leadership.
“His predecessor in office was Dr. Russell A. Barau Dikko the first medical doctor in Northern Nigeria. They both offered exemplary leadership which left lasting impressions on us the staff serving under them. Though they were both responsible for the all important petroleum resources portfolio they showed nothing but unqualified transparency and resourcefulness in managing the ministry and government business generally.  They shunned all temptations, greed and trappings of high public office. Shettima Ali Monguno like Dr Barau Dikko before him accounted to the last kobo money given to him to attend meetings of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) which he served as its President from 1972-1973. He paid back to the treasury any unspent amount of public money upon his return from official overseas trips. One cannot but be guided by his exemplary conduct,” he said.
What could have been the last meeting between Usman and Monguno turned out to be a burial announcement of the great ambassador.
“Our paths crossed again when Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria awarded both of us honorary doctorate degrees in 2014. I had looked forward to our meeting at the award ceremony. Unfortunately, he could not make it to the event due to old age. He sent a representative, however, and his long and rich citation read at the event was quite impressive. Briefly put he was honoured in recognition of his being a ‘…widely acclaimed educationist and philanthropist who established schools to assist the less privileged in addition to donating text and exercise books to various schools and indigent students. He is also known for his selfless service to humanity and his vicarious concern for the victims of the Boko Haram insurgents by offering to negotiate with the insurgents at the risk of his life.’ It was indeed an honour and privilege to be associated with such a great personality.”
Usman mournfully declared that the educationist, Monguno would be sorely missed for the able leadership he provided the Borno Elders Forum up to his last days.
“He graciously signed my letter of appointment as a member of that Forum in 2013. Ali Monguno, D. Litt, LLD, CFR who was also honoured with the traditional title of Shettima by the Shehu of Borno would be remembered as a principled politician and a highly respected elder statesman,” he said.
The writer, Usman is probably the only Nigerian famed and respected for compiling the largest compendium of Hausa tales, ‘Taskar Tatsuniyoyi,’ and sponsoring several independent research projects into the folktales of various communities in Nigeria.
A culture and folktale enthusiast, Usman has written over 30 books including his most recent, ‘A History of Biu.’ A man with special passion for growth of African culture and literature, in 2014, received an international award by the Nigerian and Nigerien Indigenous Writers Association for his contributions to the revival of Hausa folklore.