8 December 2009

Nigeria: Ibrahim Tahir Dies at 70

Dr Ibrahim Tahir, (Talban Bauchi) is dead. The sociologist-turned politician died yesterday at the Arab Contractors Hospital in Cairo, Egypt.

He was 70 years old.

His elder brother, Alhaji Dede Tahir, told LEADERSHIP in Bauchi yesterday that Tahir was diabetic and was flown to Egypt two weeks ago when his condition deteriorated.

He added that, of recent, an unidentified ailment had caused both his legs to swell, which necessitated his being flown to Cairo, where he succumbed in the presence of his wife, father-in-law, and a close family friend.

Tahir left behind a wife, Hajiya A'isha Yalwa Tahir, five children (three males and two females), and some siblings.Alhaji Dede regretted that the vacuum created by the demise of Tahir in the family is irreparable. He added that Tahir was a very brilliant person. "If you want to teach him a book, teach him a quarter, for he would surely teach himself the rest."

The eldest son of the deceased, Alhaji Tahir Ibrahim Tahir, remembered the late scholar as "a compassionate and very kind father, who did his best to ensure that we did not suffer."

As at the time of filing this report, no official statement had come from the Bauchi State government as the governor was said to be abroad, while his deputy was in a weekly state executive council meeting.

In his remarks, however, the Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Hon. Abubakar Ahmed Fago, described the death of Tahir as shocking, adding that people of Tahir's calibre were rare in every society. He stressed that Tahir's replacement would be hard to get.

"You know, some people can easily be replaced after their death, but in the case of Ibrahim Tahir it is difficult." When LEADERSHIP visited the famous Alkali House (family house of the deceased) in Wunti quarters of Bauchi yesterday, sympathisers had already gathered.

Sources said the remains of the deceased are expected to be brought back to the country either on Thursday or Friday this week as some members of the family are already in Egypt for that purpose. Dr. Ibrahim Tahir was born on August 22, 1939 in Tafawa Balewa town in Bauchi State. At that time his father was an area court judge.

He was educated at Kobi Primary School, Bauchi; Barewa College, Zaria, and Cambridge University, England, where he obtained his first degree and PhD in Sociology.

Upon his return to Nigeria, he started working as a lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and rose to become the Head of Department of Political Science.

Tahir's foray into politics began when he served as a member of the Constituent Assembly (1977-78), representing Bauchi Local Government. Subsequently, he joined the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), which won the 1979 general elections, ushering in the Shagari administration.

In fact, Tahir was the chairman of the Presidential Campaign Committee of the NPN in the Eastern Zone between 1978-83. The Shagari government appointed him chairman of NNDC and later chairman, Nigerian External Communication.

He was eventually appointed Minister of Internal Affairs and served in that capacity until the end of the Shagari administration in December 1983.

Tahir had served as board chairman of many government parastatals from the state level to the national level. He contested for the seat of National Secretary of the ANPP, which some sources said he won but was replaced due to unknown reasons.

An erudite public speaker, he also had to his credit a novel, The Last Imam, which was published in England by Routlege and Kean Paul in 1984.

His known public appearance was on November 13, 2009, when he served as chairman of a Henna Ball fashion and beauty event organised by Tozali magazine at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. He was said to have gone to Cairo to treat his swollen legs two days later.

The Emir's palace in Bauchi, where he was the traditional title holder of "Talba", was making burial arrangement as at the time of compiling this report

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