dikko-umaru

By Umaru Dembo,mni

The first time I spoke to late Umaru Dikko was in the 70’s in Kaduna
when he was honourable Commissioner for Information, Kaduna State, at
that time Kaduna and Katsina Provinces were together and I was working
for the New Nigerian Newspaper as an Editorial Executive under Mallam
Mamman Daura as the Editor. It was a coverage of an event at the
Ministry of Information, Culture and Internal Affairs, at the end of
the occasion, he asked me a few questions having introduced myself
along others before the event , and said he was impressed with my
report on the need for state creation which appeared in the previous
days edition. Indeed he championed the creation of Kaduna State
despite his absence during its creation. I thanked him and left to go
and file my story of the day. After a few days we met again and he
asked me if I could work in the Information Ministry. Surprise, I
quickly replied in the affirmative and he asked me to fill the PSC
form and submit accordingly, which I did and unlike these days, the
appointment letter followed without ado! Much as I was enjoying my
work with the New Nigerian Newspapers under Mamman Daura, I had to
painfully leave it for a more stable job as New Nigerian is a Company
unlike the ministry. Since then I became as young as I was, one of
those that would go to Umaru Dikko’s house to learn the art of life!
Myself, Abdullahi Adamu ( former Nassarawa State Governor), Mu’azu
Maiyaki, Isa Ozi Salami to mention a few, were always around for
discussions on subjects of interest and as young people we were very
excited how Umaru was accommodating us in discussions despite the
difference in age, and his ever ready mind to help anybody at all with
anything or on anything useful. But he never tolerated stupidity,
laziness, back biting or any vices that young people would indulge in
including mode of dressing. It was a happy time with someone helping
us when were far from our parents.

While in the Ministry, I was assigned as Officer in charge of the
States’ Council for Arts and Culture as Administrative Secretary, and
we used to attend national meetings in preparation for FESTAC 77 in
various states of the federation. One day we went to Enugu, very early
in the morning, I heard a knock on my hotel room, I was reading from
the Holy Qur’an then, I stood and opened the door without knowing who
was knocking, to my surprise , it was the honourable Commissioner for
my State, Dr. Umaru Dikko! What did he say? Ina ce kana barcin banza
ne (I thought you are wasting away sleeping). Shocked as I was, but he
made my day, it was only my father that used to caution me on such
behaviours! Since that day, within me, I became not only his junior
brother, but a son, up to the 1st of July, 2014 when he died , and was
buried a week later in Zaria, I will continue to pray for him as I
pray for my father and forefathers.

It is difficult to find people like Umaaru Dikko, I remember after
leaving the Ministry to set up my business in Printing and Publishing,
he was ever willing to help with advice and support . On many
occasions I used to follow Umaru Dikko to his political meetings ,
especially rallies sometimes I would drive him in motorcades when
processions got tough. When he eventually became Minister of Transport
with Shehu Shagari as President, I went to his Kaduna residence and
congratulated him, and he joked that since he would move to Lagos,
some people would hardly visit his office.

I never had the chance to visit his office in Lagos since I was not an
active politician at that time, however my friend, late Nuhu Babajo
asked me to go to Lagos with him to see Dr Umaru Dikko. We did, after
going to his office, late
Aliyu Muhammed was also in the same ministry, we also went to greet
him! It turned out that, that visit to our seniors was manouvered into
something else by smart politicians of those days to make a living,
with all the three mentioned above now beyond, we can forget about the
rest of the story. What is more important is that I was able not only
to go and visit Umaru Dikko in his Lagos office, but his office became
a home to me and my late friend, Abdulaziz Mamman Gusau. It was there
that I met his kind and tenacious Secretary, his wife, Beatty . Umaru
Dikkos tenure as minister of transport was interrupted by a coup and
all those of us who were close were not only saddened by the event but
became uncomfortable with the sudden change. We eventually got over
it, especially when at the beginning of the coup, we did not know
where he was. When he eventually appeared in London, we were really
glad and thankful to Allah. But then there came that sad story that
Umaru Dikko was bundled in a box to be brought to Nigeria. Security
agents in London averted that mishap too. The man was a very
courageous man, he eventually came back to Nigeria, and I kept asking
late General Abacha when will our friend and elder come back to
Nigeria? Abacha’s reply had always been, why couldn’t he come back?
Eventually when Constitutional Conference was about to be convened,
Gen Abacha asked me for names that I thought would be added to his
list. Umaru Dikko was first on my list, and he was one of those
nominated by late Abacha, may Allah bless him with Aljannah. Umaru
came into Nigeria in a dignified manner and participated in the
conference and there after he continued his normal life as any other
Nigerian.

Umaru Dikko also took part in another national conference during the
Obasanjo regime and he played a big part as leader of Northern
Delegates. He was always for the north, more northern than Ahmadu
Bello!

My greatest sorrow with his demise at this point in time is that this
tough, courageous, magnanimous, uncompromisingly northern in thought
and deed, politician gentleman died when the North needs his type to
pull it out of the mud of senseless killings and destabilisation of
the north in the name of boko haram!
May the gentle soul of Umaru Dikko rest in ALJANNAH, amin.

Umaru Dembo, mni
Former Minister of State, Petroleum Resources,
wrote from Zaria, Kaduna State.

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