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Late Bashir Mustapha: Remembering the “Sultan of the Senate” – By Musa Azare

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Today, 24th July, 2021 is exactly 19 years since the demise of Senator Bashir Mustapha (Shettiman Katagum). Although I have written articles in his remembrance in the past, this is the first time I write a long tribute to remember the iconic political leader.

Today ought to be a special day of remembrance in his honour, particularly in Katagum Senatorial District, his primary constitiency.

For those who may be hearing the name of this political icon for the first time, and perhaps those who might have forgotten the name and what it entails, Senator Bashir Mustapha was the Senator who represented Katagum Senatorial District between 1999 and 2002, when he died after a brief illness in a UK hospital. Senator Bashir Mustapha was a foundation member the PDP and, the pioneer Chairman of the party in Bauchi State. He was a patriot of note, and a bridge builder, whose contributions to nation building would remain markedly distinct in the annals of history.
Hakimi, as he was fondly called, was a political behemoth; a shrewd politician in all sense of the word, with vast experience and network across the Nigerian divide, and indeed abroad. He was a presidential aspirant under the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), where he contested against Alhaji Bashir Tofa in the 1992 presidential primary election which held in Port-Harcourt. Although he didn’t clinch the NRC presidential ticket, the 1992 outing, which was majorly his first, was a remarkable one that shaped his political career.

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He was also the National Treasurer of the defunct National Center Party (NCP), while Chief Don Etiebet was the National Chairman, during the late General Sani Abacha regime.

A UK trained Chartered Accountant and, former Chairman/CEO of Vodo Cannals Nigeria Limited, a company that specialises in water engeering and supplies, late Bashir Mustapha became the Senator representing Katagum Senatorial District in 1999, when Nigeria returned to civilian rule after rounds of military dictatorships. He was a tormentor of the then powers that be.

His representation was superlative.

The then President of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo nicknamed him the “Sultan of the Senate” for his Godly disposition. He wasn’t like the usual politicians that came after him. Shettima was a saintly politician, who was never tired of helping his constituents in many ways possible.

He was similarly nicknamed “Mr. Kill it” by former Senate President Chief Pius Anyim, due to his commitment to legislative deliberations and, his persistence on concluding any matter of national importance, without giving room for delays, which usually create loopholes for political manipulation. “Mr. President, let us kill this matter once and for all,” Shettima always told Anyim.

Apart from his contributions to ongoing debates, and indeed stirring new ones on the floor of the Senate, late Bashir Mustapha solely facilitated the N3.5 billion naira Azare water project, as Chairman Senate Committee on Water Resources. That amount was quite a value even then, for one Senatorial Zone to benefit. But because of his closeness to former President Obasanjo, and the enormous respect he commanded among his colleagues, Shettima had his way. He also facilitated the upgrading of NTA Azare Station, the construction of drainages, feeder roads and several empowerment programmes. Shettima was the Senator who invented the quarterly tour of his constituency, in order to brief his constituents on Senate businesses and other national burning issues.

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Late Senator Bashir Mustapha was the one who built the Apo Legislative Quarters Central Mosque.

Shatima died in a UK on Wednesday, 24th July, 2002, and was buried three days later in Azare. The mammoth crowd that attended his funeral was unprecedented, with dignitaries from home and abroad in attendance.

Bauchi State, and indeed Nigeria missed a passionate, loyal and committed and patriotic citizen. I strongly believe that if Shettima were alive today, His Excellency Senator Bala Mohammed would have find his elderly counsel very useful. His vision and mission for Bauchi State, are very much similar to the transformations we are witnessing today.

On this day, I wish to remember this extraordinary gentleman in a nostalgic manner, and pray for the repose of his soul.

Adieu Hakimi, “yayyafi hana shanya; PDP Shettima uban gayya. Hakimi a Katagum, Hakimi a jam’iyyata,” as one PDP singer hailed him.

Azare wrote in from Bauchi State

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