THE unexpected death, Sunday, of second republic Governor of old Kano State and one-time Communications Minister, Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi, has lengthened the list of prominent Nigerians, who died suddenly.

His death, coming less than 72 hours after that of two serving senators from Gombe State, has no doubt, cast a pall on the nation’s political firmament.  If the successive deaths of the two senators were curious and unprecedented, that of Alhaji Rimi was, to say the least, a big shock.

Beyond his painful loss to the people of Kano and indeed the nation, the circumstances of his death is yet another sad commentary on the country’s state of insecurity and our health delivery system, especially when emergency arises. The former presidential aspirant, according to reports, ran into armed bandits on his way from Bauchi, where he had gone to attend a function. He was in the company of three other relations. Even if Rimi had embarked on a night journey against a royal father’s counsel, he would probably not have encountered armed robbers if the nation’s highways are well policed.

Across the country, the near absence of armed policemen have made major roads unsafe to travel, especially at night.  Major highways like Abuja – Lokoja, Sagamu – Benin, Lagos – Ibadan to mention a few have become axes of evil at night, courtesy of armed robbers. Belatedly, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, has ordered both Bauchi and Kano states police commissioners to fish out the robbers.  Not a few Nigerians, both highly and lowly placed have met their untimely deaths on account of poor policing of the  nation’s highways.

Another sorry dimension to Rimi’s avoidable demise is the virtual collapse of public health delivery sector. An hypertensive patient, the late politician did not sustain any physical injury during the raw encounter with robbers.  Rather, he suffered an emotional trauma that later led to his death. For a 69-year-old man, a nocturnal encounter with sophisticated gun-totting and fierce-looking men was more than his blood pressure could cope with.

Reports said the armed robbers spared Rimi on self-recognition but the ordeal hiked his blood pressure shortly after.  At the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, where he was rushed to from his private hospital, something went wrong.

While the hospital management claimed he was brought in dead, Rimi’s driver, however, alleged negligence.  He claimed that if he had received prompt attention from the hospital’s personnel, his life would have been saved.  This type of tragic experience has eroded prominent Nigerians’ confidence in the competence of local hospitals.  Whatever the explanation may be, Rimi was yet another victim of official neglect of the social infrastructure. Nigeria has again lost a political gem.

Rimi represented the colour  and glamour that characterised the second republic politics.  A handsome figure of the Hausa Fulani extraction, he deployed his charm to a maximum political advantage in his days. A protege of Mallam Aminu Kano ‘talakawa’ (pro-down-trodden) political school, he stormed the limelight when he was elected Governor of the old Kano State in 1979.  In the build-up to the 1983 general election, he fell out with his political mentor along the line.  Conscious of his attraction to the women folk, he boasted openly that the women would vote for him if others refused to do so.  It turned out an exaggerated self-confidence.  He lost the election.  However, Rimi remained politically relevant in Kano.

In 1993, a decade after he failed to return as Kano governor, he proved his mettle again. He was instrumental to late Chief MKO Abiola’s victory in the state in the presidential election.

His shot at the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, presidential ticket in 2007 was an index of a shift in his political ideology from the radical conservative to the progressive. Rimi, undoubtedly died at an inauspicious time when his contributions are important especially as the nation’s political direction remains undefined.  A flamboyant and charismatic personality, he will be sorely missed. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.


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