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The unfulfilled dream of Dauda Birma

At the time Dauda Birma breathed his last Tuesday in Yola, Adamawa State, one of the major dreams he had that was never fulfilled was to see a united Nigeria.

In the last interview he granted to our correspondent, published on BusinessDay SUNDAY edition of November 1, 2020, he regretted that Nigerians were becoming the more hostile to one another, which he noted was not healthy for the country.

Asked how he thought Nigeria could move forward as a nation, he had said: “It depends on what you mean by moving forward. In the first place, we are not a nation. We are just a people forced to live together and we are hostile to each other. Each person treats the other based on his perception of the other. That has been demonstrated during the #EndSARS campaign. The #EndSARS was actually not the problem, it was an excuse to what people intended to do or achieve. They just hid under the #EndSARS to perpetrate their evil agenda.”

He emphatically added: “I think a lasting peace that can be possible when we split Nigeria into territorial lines. I have become very pessimistic about the peace of this country. I am not very optimistic about any lasting peace in Nigeria in the form we are now. I have become very pessimistic about the possibility of us forging a common front, seeing how farther apart we have drifted in our ethno-religious and political biases. I think the best thing that we should have is when we split Nigeria along territorial lines. What I see now does not give hope for a continued unity.”

The late Birma, in an earlier interview published on Sunday, May 19, 1999, had also told our correspondent that although he was very close to President Muhammadu Buhari, he had only seen the President once at a close range since 2015.

“Mark you, from the time he became President on 29th of May 2015, I met him only once and I met him at the airport. We have not met anywhere; we have not socialised anywhere,” he said.

Asked if he was having any input in President Buhari’s administration as a long-standing friend and member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Birma said: “No, no, no. You know, once elected, it is now left for the President to choose who to work with or who not to work with; he has not invited me, I will not go and barge in to say I want to do this, I want to do that! This is because from my point of view now; any involvement in government will be helping the government and I do not believe that I will go and beg to be invited. If they invite me, I will go, but if they do not invite me; I will not go and offer myself. That’s my stand on this.”

Birma, a former Minister of Education, in the Sani Abacha era, marked his 80th birthday in July 2020.

Musa Dauda Birma, one of his sons, announcing the death of his father on his Facebook page, wrote: “Innalillahi wa inna ilaihin rajiun, I lost a part of me that can never be replaced. May Allah forgive your sins and grant you janna.”

Birma, a presidential aspirant under the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), lived in Abuja, from where he regularly visited Yola.

He recently told our correspondent that he loved visiting Yola because, as a family man, and a title holder he would not be seen staying away from his people.

He was the Sarkin Gabas Adamawa and Waziri of Garkida.

Born in 1940 in Garkida, Gombi Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Birma served in various capacities in the defunct Northern Region Government. One of those he respected so much, and was always talking about during interviews, was Bamanga Tukur, a prominent businessman and former governor of the defunct Gongola State.

In his reaction to Birma’s exit, President Buhari, in a statement by Garba Shehu, his spokesman, said: “I am deeply touched by the passing of Dauda Birma, one of the finest and most decent politicians of our time.

“Birma was a disciplined and respectable politician who gave politics a good image through personal examples.”

According to the President, “I must also state here that Dauda Birma was a committed party man that worked passionately and assiduously for the success of our party.”

“May Allah forgive his shortcomings, reward his good deeds with Paradise and grant his family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss,” he added.

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