Bashir Othman Tofa, a Nigerian politician and literal giant in Hausa language who was of the Kanuri Muslim stock is dead He hailed from Kano State. He died in the early hours of Monday, January 3, 2022, after a protected illness
Tofa who was best known as the National Republican Convention (NRC) candidate in Nigeria’s annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election. The presidential contest was supritended by the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida.
He is remembered as an author who popularised the use of local languages to address societal ills.
He was born in Kano to a Kanuri family on June 20, 1947 and died on January 3. Tofa had his primary education at Shahuci Junior Primary, Kano and then continued studies at City Senior Primary School in Kano. Between 1962 to 1966, he attended Provincial College, Kano.
After completing his studies at the Provincial School, he worked for Royal Exchange Insurance Company from 1967 to 1968. Thereafter, between 1970 and 1973, he attended City of London College.
His sojourn into politics started in 1976 when he was elected a Councilor of Dawakin Tofa Local Government Council, in 1977, he was elected into the Constituent Assembly. During the Second Republic, Tofa was at various times the Secretary of the Kano branch of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and later became the party’s National Financial Secretary and was a national member of the Green Revolution National Committee.
In the aborted Third Republic, Tofa was part of the Liberal Movement which metamorphosed to Liberal Convention but when it was not registered as a political party, he joined National Republican Convention (NRC) proclaimed by the military government of the era in 1990.
In 1993, when the military administration of Ibrahim Babangida introduced the Option A4 system, Tofa was elected the presidential candidate representing Kano and during the subsequent party primaries, the Kano born politician defeated Pere Ajunwa from the then Rivers state, Joe Nwodo from Enugu state and Dalhatu Tafida from Kaduna state to clinch the NRC ticket.
He was a good friend of Col. Halilu Akilu, the security chief at the time. His running mate in the election was Sylvester Ugoh, an Igbo and a Science and Technology Minister I the Second Republic. Both were members of the defunct National Party of Nigeria.
At the June 12 presidential election, Tofa was defeated in the presidential election by his rivalChief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, a personal friend of Babangida and a Yoruba from South-west Nigeria. However, the official results were never released by Babangida’s government. Babangida was forced to step down in August 1993 after protests calling for the results of the election.
In the June 12 election, the results announced by the Prof Humphrey Nwosu-led National Electoral Commission (NEC), before the process was stopped by the military, indicated that Tofa had received 2.3 million votes while Abiola got 4.3 million. He won 11 states while Abiola won 19 states in the election. Tofa was defeated in his home state , Kano, by Abiola.
Before June 12, he had a personal relationship with Abiola when the latter was Ogun State Chairman of NPN while he was the party’s National Financial Secretary in the Second Republic. It was politics that set them apart.
In 2019, when President Buhari declared June 12, a national holiday to mark Democracy Day, Tofa objected to it. He called for the reconsideration of the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day, saying such an action shouldn’t be informed by “some political cold calculations.”
When President Muhammadu Buhari honored Abiola with Nigeria’s highest honour, GCFR, Tofa again objected and declared that he would not have accepted it if he was given the award.
Apart from politics, he was was also a businessman, involved in oil as well as an industrialist. He was chairman of International Petro-Energy Company (IPEC) and Abba Othman and Sons Limited.
He was also involved as a board member in Impex Ventures, Century Merchant Bank and General Metal Products Limited.
In 2011, he wrote his most popular book in Hausa language. titled “Tunanin Ka Kamannin Ka”‘ translated in English, ” The Way you Think Reflects in Your Character,” consisting of 219 pages.
After the Kenyan writer, Ngugi Wa Thing’O declared that he would only write in his mother tongue, Tofa also followed the pattern and wrote all his books in Hausa language.
His eight books: Tunaninka Kamanninka (The Way you Think Reflects in Your Character), Kimiyyar Sararin Samaniya (Space Science), Kimiyya da Al’ajaban Al-Kur’ani (The Science and Wonders of the Qur’an), Gajerun Labarai (Short Stories), Amazadan a Birnin Aljanu (Amazadan in the Land of the Spirits), Amazadan da Zoben Farsiyas (Amazadan and Farsiyas Ring), Rayuwa Bayan Mutuwa (Life After Death), and Mu Sha Dariya (Let us Laugh) were written in Hausa language. He is to be remembered as one of those that developed the literal culture of Hausa language.
His writing in his local language was obvious that Hausa literature has garnered for itself a very wide acceptance among the high and low of the society. In his role as an elder statesman, he was known to have variously spoken against social ills and maladministration.
Before his death, he was neither a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) nor the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He died as a social critic.
In 2019, when President Buhari declared June 12, a national holiday to mark Democracy Day, Tofa objected to it. He called for the reconsideration of the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day, saying such an action shouldn’t be informed by “some political cold calculations.” When President Muhammadu Buhari honored Abiola with Nigeria’s highest honour, GCFR, Tofa again objected and declared that he would not have accepted it if he was given the award