Mantu: Tribute to a nationalist

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By Yabagi Yusuf Sani

I was shocked by the news of the death of Senator Nasiru Ibrahim Mantu, on August 17, 2021. The last time we met, we discussed as always, the present ravaging insecurity and the disturbing political and economic currents in the country. An incurable optimist and patriot that he was, he expressed the confidence that Nigeria will survive the inclement tides in no distant time. He was my elder in age and in politics but he related and differed to me as a friend and confidant. Thus, my sense of a devastating personal loss.

However, it is in the way of every mortal, that Mantu, 1947 to 2021, has by divine ordinance completed his earthly sojourn and has returned to the Creator. Physically gone forever, what remains of him are his footprints while he walked the earth. But to all who grieve the passage of this great personage, let us take solace in the knowledge that he lived an eventful and fulfilled life with outstanding landmarks that will survive his exit.

From a humble background in a rural setting, he was lucky to have been imbued with courage, resilience and hard work spurred by clear vision and determination to succeed in life. Mantu fortuitously realised very early, the benefits of education and so struggled to acquire the educational qualifications which would later guarantee him, huge dividends at every stage of his career. Before he ventured into politics in 1978, at the age of 31, he had within a short span of 16 years, risen to managerial positions in the various places of employment he had worked in the private sector.

He went into the political turf with his trademark attributes of zeal and single minded commitment. Suave and urbane, steady and surefooted, Mantu wadded through the usually turbulent waters all the way to the centre stage where he became a critical key player in the nation’s politics and leadership tableau.

Before ascending the position of the Deputy President of the Senate, 2003 to 2007, he had thrice contested and thrice won elections into the red chambers as well as positions of national leadership of a number of political parties. The phenomenal progress of Mantu on the political terrain was a result of the respect and confidence he earned from grassroots supporters, the electorate and fellow politicians.

The late deputy senate president accomplished the much that he did because, he was a natural leader of men who attracted and commanded affection, trust and loyalty. That was the outcome of his genial, friendly disposition; his selflessness and legendary generosity. Mantu’s liberal and cosmopolitan culture, transparency and incisive intelligence were his other endearing attributes.

Though an astute politician who was shrewd and adept in the intriguing game of politics, Mantu was not as such, the “typical politician”. On matters of national discourse bordering on the unity of the country, its peace, progress and welfare of the people, one knew where one stood with him. On burning issues of the day, he was not ambivalent and equivocal because, he would take a principled stance and courageously and steadfastly maintain his position. The result of sanguine perception, intelligent analyses and sound judgments of critical issues, he always emerged on the victorious side of the divides.

To those of us in the know and as attested by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu in his biography: ” My Life”, in his capacity as deputy senate president and chairman, National Assembly Joint Committee on Constitution Review, Mantu did more than anyone else in scuttling the 2007 “3rd Term Agenda “. According to Kalu, “He is the true hero of the third term war because he was the one who brought the strategy of how we will do it”. That was vintage Mantu.

In the same streak of principled stance, steadfastness and single minded pursuit of of his conviction, our now late Ibrahim Mantu was unlike so many “typical politicians” who, like the chameleon, opportunistically change their political garbs and camps without qualms, in response to the swings of the political pendulum. He remained faithful to the PDP, from 1998 to the very end of his days.

Though a pan-Nigerian first and foremost all the times that occasions and circumstances demanded, Senator was also active in the building of unity and cohesion of the component regions as important foundation stones for national unity. Thus, his teaming with a broad spectrum of eminent persons in the establishment of the BRIDGE, a platform which seeks unity and a common voice for the divergent ethnic, cultural and political clusters in the North Central geopolitical zone. We all in the BRIDGE will sorely miss Ibrahim Mantu’s invaluable leadership and wisdom, especially now that the nation is at the crossroads.

Perhaps, the greatest feat of Mantu was his emergence as a colossus in the political milieu in his home state of Plateau. While he was around, his views were sought and respected on raging issues of on peace, security and progress of the state, regardless of partisan differences with those at the helm of affairs. He was revered by traditional and religious leaders across the state. In the Plateau Central Senatorial District which he represented at the senate, he was of the Afiam people, an ethnic minority and tellingly, a Muslim, which is yet another minority group in the ethnic, religious configuration of the constituency.

Such was his popularity, acceptance and clout that, if he had gone for it, Mantu would have recorded a landslide victory in a governorship contest in Plateau state. His story of epic accomplishments is so very much like that of President Barack Obama, son of an African who waded through all the barriers to become president of the USA because, he was an unencumbered personality perceived, loved and trusted by majority of the people as an honest, altruistic personality, a genuine humanist who truly belonged to all. His biographers and authors of our political history will have greater and scintillating details to reveal about the phenomenal personage called Senator Nasiru Ibrahim Mantu.

May Almighty Allah SWT, forgive the shortcomings of Mantu and grant him an everlasting abode in Aljanah Firdausi, ameen.

Engineer Sani is
National Chairman,
Action Democratic Party, ADP

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily

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