February 1, 2023

Elder Statesman, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman dies at 80

By Kingsley Omonobi

Family members on Wednesday disclosed that Elder Statesman Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd) has died at the age of 80.

A retired senior Airforce officer who spoke to Vanguard on Wednesday said the sad new was broken by a daughter of the late elder statesman.

“According to the daughter Aisha, the Senior Officer (Suleiman) died at approximately 1100 hrs at home in Wuse II Abuja”, the officer told Vanguard

“His remains have been deposited at the morgue of NAF Hospital Abuja pending family decision on next line of action”.

Late Air Cdre Dan Suleiman was a member of General Murtala Muhammed’s Supreme Military Council between July 1975 and March 1976.

He was military governor of Plateau State from March 1976 to July 1978 after it had been created from part of the old Benue Plateau State. 

After the return to democracy in 1999 in the Nigerian Fourth Republic, Suleiman became Chairman of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), a socio-political group representing the people of the Middle Belt of Nigeria.

Suleiman played a leading role during the Nigerian Civil War (1966–1970). 

He was appointed to the cabinet of General Gowon  in January 1975. 

As Federal Commissioner for Special Duties he was instrumental in founding the ECOWAS. 

He assisted in the military coup of 29 July 29 1975, when Gowon was deposed, replaced by General Murtala Muhammed. 

Following the coup, he was appointed a member of the Supreme Military Council. 

Murtala Mohammed appointed him Commissioner for Health. 

The Elder was appointed the first military governor of Plateau State from March 1976 to July 1978, after Benue-Plateau State was divided into Benue State and Plateau State.

As governor, he made the progressive proposal that anyone born in Plateau State or anyone who had lived in the state for 20 years should enjoy all the rights and privileges of a native regardless of their ethnic origin.

Suleiman was Chairman of Allied Bank of Nigeria Plc between 1984 and 1986.

He resisted the leadership after the elections of 12 June 1993 were annulled. 

As a result of being one of the founders of NADECO, he went into exile only to return on 7 October 1998.

He became a leader of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Adamawa State. 

The party went on to win the national elections in 1999. 

He later became chairman of the Middle Belt Forum in September 2001, as chairman of the MBF.

In the 2003 PDP primaries in Delta State, he was head of the electoral panel. 

He joined the board of directors of Trans Nationwide Express. 

By 2006, he was Nigerian Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

In June 2007, he was summoned to Russia’s Foreign Ministry to discuss the kidnapping of six Russian employees of RUSAL, the world’s largest aluminium producer. 

The workers were snatched from the company’s residential compound in the Niger Delta.

 In June 2009, President Yar’adua appointed him chairman of the Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria.

The Elder statesman celebrated his 80th Birthday on 30th June 2022.