By Malam Danladi Danasabe
Last year, man’s worst enemy obtrusively created a parmanent void in our lives when it snatched away, one of the rare gifts of a generation Dr. Mahmud Tukur.
In the death of Tukur, humanity lost one of its finest breeds who dedicated all his energy towards creating solutions to the myriads of challenges that humankind is saddled with.
On that fateful day of April 9, 2021, the world lost a humanist, Nigeria lost a rare gift, humanity lost a sympathizer, the plebian lost a pillar, and the global academia lost one of its brightest stars.
That day is one of the saddest moments in my life because I lost a father, a mentor, a protege and a counsellor all molded into one.
Without the mentorship, support, guidance of this enigma, my life trajectory would have without doubt taken a different shape and destiny.
Tukur, a man of may firsts was a colossus that took the global academic arena by storm and stamped his name boldly in the sands of history.
Dr. Mahmud Tukur, a former Minister of Commerce and Industry; former Director of the Institute of Administration, A.B.U., Zaria; and later the first Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano (BUK) left behind solid imprints and unprecedented revolutions in all the places and institutions he worked.
Tukur, a brilliant and precocious young man has shown rare academic feats right from his days in Bauchi Secondary School coming out with a Grade 1 in the West African School Certificate in 1957.
Because of such excellent feat in August 1958, he was flown to the UK for further studies. He was one of the six exceptionally brilliant boys selected by Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of Northern Nigeria to further their studies in England. Others were; Mamman Daura, Tiamiyu Salami, Abubakar Alhaji, Augustine Yange (now Abdullahi Yange), and Shehu Ibrahim.
He was enrolled at Bournemouth Municipal College. He passed his O and A levels and was admitted to Aberystwyth campus, the University of Wales, where Prince Charles, the eldest son of the Queen of England also studied. He came out top of the class there and was awarded the Elizabeth Morris memorial prize. He graduated with an Honours Degree in International Relations and Political science.
Mahmud Tukur proceeded to the University of Pittsburgh, USA for a Masters Degree in International Relations, and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria for a PhD.
He was a Fulbright-Hays Fellow, senior I.U.C. Fellow, and associate member of St. Anthony’s College, Oxford (1974).
On returning home from America, he joined the Northern Nigeria Civil Service with stints in the Premier’s Office as District Officer (D.O.) in Niger Province and the Ministry of Water Resources.
Because of his academic leanings, Dr. Mahmud Tukur was seconded by the Northern Nigerian Government to ABU Zaria to head the Institute of Administration, Kongo, Zaria. There, he shaped the themes and curricula of the College to suit the developmental requirements of the North.
According to his friend Alhaji Mamman Daura, in a tribute, “It was at Kongo that Mahmud Tukur came into national prominence by organizing prestigious seminars on the state of the nation and future course of development and politics. He undertook the task of systematizing all the aggregates of viewpoints and proposals into workable policy options and forwarded the conference consensus to Federal and State Governments.”
Dr. Mahmud Tukur was appointed Principal of Bayero College, and later first Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano. His competence displayed as the Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University increased his public profile in Northern Nigeria.
According to Mamman Daura, “Mahmud Tukur brought to bear his intellect and energy to fashion a university, which will be in harmony with its environment. The idea of a University differs from society to society. Mahmud Tukur believed that a university in Northern Nigeria must adapt and conform to the overall theme and direction of the founders of the Sokoto Caliphate: Shehu Usman Danfodio, Abdullahi Gwandu, and Sultan Muhammadu Bello. He avidly read and taught books of these great masters.”
When his death was announced, I was overtaken by gloom, having lost a special part of me but that feeling gave way quickly on realization that Tukur lived a life of servitude, piety and excellence.
The death of Tukur which generated shock waves that reverberated across the globe was evident from the outpour of accolades and tributes that took this nation by storm and make us all realize that Tukur was one of Nigeria’s rarest sons that is loved by all and sundry.
Because of the manner he served God and humanity, Tukur became a hero in life and an enigma in death.
I will remain eternally grateful to Dr. Mahmud Tukur because of his immense contributions to my life culminating in who I’m today since our paths crossed in early eighties.
May the soul of Mahmud Tukur continue to rest in perfect peace and may Allah gives us the courage to emulate the life and times of this enigma.
Malam Danasabe writes from Jimeta, Yola.