3 March 2008

Nigeria: Senator Kuta Buried in Minna

Abuja — Even as the late Senator Idris Ibrahim Kuta, who died on Saturday night, was buried in Minna yesterday, his son Dr. Idris Ibrahim said that his father died about 30 minutes after returning from a periodic medical check up at the National Hospital in Abuja.

Idris, who spoke briefly to reporters at the Minna Central Mosque, venue of the funeral prayers just before the burial, also said the late senator had been sick for some time and had been visiting the hospital periodically for medical check up. He refused to disclose the nature of the ailment, but said Kuta died in his residence in Abuja.

Alhaji Idris Kuta, who was a trained quantity surveyor, was born on October 1, 1942.

Dr Idris described his relationship with his father as excellent, and said the death of his father was tragic and a loss not only to Niger State but to the entire country.

Former Senate President Chief Ken Nnamani described the large turn out of Senators for Kuta's burial as a reflection of the tremendous respect that his colleagues had for their departed colleague.

He described Kuta as the only senator who put his life on the line to speak out his mind in defence of the national interest or on issues he believed in. He said Kuta's contribution to legislative proceedings was unquantifiable and described his death as tragic and a colossal loss to the nation.

Senator Joseph Kennedy Waku also described Kuta as one of the most vibrant and courageous senators that northern Nigeria has ever produced. He said with his demise, it will be very difficult for anybody else to fill the vacuum that his death has created.

Former military ruler General Ibrahim Babangida, in his own comment, described the senator's death as a colossal loss not only to Niger State but to the entire country.

Babangida said, "We were childhood friends and he was very close to me. His death is saddening and a colossal loss not only to Niger State but to the entire country."

The remains of Kuta, who until his death was the Mutawallen Minna, arrived at the palace of the Emir of Minna, Alhaji Umaru Faruk Bahago at about 11:15am, where the funeral prayer was conducted by the Deputy Chief Imam of Minna, Malam Abu Fari.

Other personalities that attended the prayer were the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu; former Senate Leader, Senator Dalhatu Sarki Tafida; the Minister of Sports, Alhaji Abdulrahman Gimba, former Niger State Governor Alhaji Abdulkadir Kure, former Secretary to the Federal Government Alhaji Gidado Idris, General Mohamed Buba Marwa and Kuta's successor at the Senate, Alhaji Dahiru Awaisu. The Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, Emir of Minna Alhaji Umar Faruk Bahago and Emir of Suleja Alhaji Muhammadu Auwal Ibrahim also attended the funeral.

In a related development, Senate President David Mark yesterday described the death of Senator Idris Ibrahim Kuta as a loss to Nigeria's nascent democracy.

In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary Paul Mume, Mark said: "Kuta was a great politician, highly intelligent, bold and honest. He told the truth at all times no matter the odds or circumstances. We shall miss him and I know a vacuum has been created with his exit."

The Senate President also described Kuta's as an "encyclopedia of the parliamentary rules and procedures," saying, "he was a reference point in the Senate and was always there for the younger ones to learn from."

He recalled the contributions of Kuta to the political development of Nigeria since the Second Republic when he served as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Kuta carried the gait of a principled, forthright and focused leader throughout his tenure in the Senate, Mark said.

Senator Idris Kuta was a two-time Commissioner in Niger State. In 1999 he was elected Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District. He was re-elected in 2003 for a second term, but lost the PDP nomination in 2007 after he resolutely campaigned against President Obasanjo's third term ambition.

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