In the end, it is not the years in one’s life that count, but the life in one’s years—Abraham Lincoln
By Muhammad Musa-Gombe
The limited space available here is certainly not enough to describe the late Dr. Mahmud Muhammad Tukur, a Nigerian politician and former Minister for Commerce and Industry during the administration of General Muhamadu Buhari.
Tukur, who belonged to a small clique of policy advocates in Northern Nigeria, died on April 9, 2021 at the age of 82 years. He has since been buried in Yola, Adamawa State.
Dr Tukur was the 1st indigenous Director of the Institute of Administration, Congo, Zaria. He took the mantle from Prof. S.S. Richardson in 1967 until 1975 when he became the first Vice Chancellor of the Bayero University Kano.
It was the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, in 1957 at the Lugard Hall Kaduna declared the commitment of training the manpower in the North. According to him “On them we will rely on the attainment of improving the health, prosperity and happiness of our people without discrimination on grounds of tribe or creed”. Dr Tukur and a few distinguished others were the foundation recruits.
Some have said the journey of President Muhammadu Buhari into politics is incomplete without Tukur. Yes, no doubt the description of Tukur as being among the intellectual powerhouse of the president is true since his contemporaries included Mamman Daura, Liman Ciroma, Adamu Ciroma, and Hamza Rafindadi Zayyad.
Mahmud Tukur was a firm, tenacious and resolute man who led an impactful life, a man of deep conviction and inner strength, who served the North incorruptibly, and enhanced the betterment of the country’s democracy.
Under his tutelage as Director, Institute of Administration, Zaria, he supervised and superintended the building of a crop of intelligentsia in the North and was deeply committed with a strong sense of duty to the building of a Nigeria that is equitable.
We can safely deduce then, that an entire genre of the current civil servants, private sector executives and political elites in the North passed through the hands of the late scholar, who affected every facet of education and saw to the manpower upliftment of the region.
President Muhammadu, in a tribute to Tukur, said “Dr Mahmud Tukur’s service to the nation will be remembered by generations. He had a passion for a prosperous, economically strong and united Nigeria. He was a proud nationalist.”
Buhari recalled that as Minister of Trade in his first coming as Military Head of State, Dr Tukur introduced a lot of schemes that revived the local industry, boosted exports and gave real meaning and effect to import substitution in regenerating the indigenous manufacturing sector of the economy.
He prayed to Almighty Allah to accept him in Aljannah Firdaus and give the family, friends, the Adamawa Emirate Council and the people of the state the strength to bear the grievous loss.
Indeed Tukur’s enviable position and competence increased his public profile in Nigeria. It indeed takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, therefore the contributions of Tukur in the development of the education sector and his tireless efforts in the peace building process and socio-economic development of Northern Nigeria can never be forgotten.
Late Tukur, born in 1939 in Yola, Adamawa State, obtained his First Degree in International Affairs and Political Science at the University of Wales (where he was the recipient of the Elizabeth Morris Memorial Prize for graduating first in his class). He also obtained a Masters Degree in Public International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD. in Public Management at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna.
He also studied at Northwestern and Oxford Universities. The deceased was a Fulbright-Hays Fellow, senior I.U.C. Fellow and associate member of St. Anthony’s college, Oxford (1974). He goes into history as the first Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano.
In his career as a public servant, the prominent scholar of worldwide fame served on the Adebo and Udoji National Wage Reviews and the Constitution Drafting Committee of 1976, he was also a member of the sub-committee on Citizenship Rights, Fundamental Rights, Political Parties and Electoral System under the chairmanship of Alhaji Aminu Kano. He was a member of the National Constitutional Conference (1994\1995) and the Vision 2010 Committee (1997).
In 1984, during the military regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari,he was appointed Minister of Commerce and Industries by the Federal Government. A business executive, the late Tukur chaired the activities of Fukarabe Industries Limited, Kaduna, and fulfilled the obligations of many corporate directorships.
He was a Coordinator of Policy Analysis Limited and authored and co-authored many books, of which the most prominent is: Leadership and Governance in Nigeria: The Relevance of Values, published in 1999.
I commiserate with Nigerians on the demise of this courageous academic, who, contrary to being also a match-maker, had a distinguished career in the service to the nation.
Nigeria would surely miss the statesmanship of the Adamawa born Dr. Mahmud Tukur, an enigma during his lifetime, who displayed genuine magnanimity and moral courage, and who always put national interest above ethnic or group interests.
Reputed for his uncompromising adherence to due process, he was indeed a bridge, ever ready to deploy his wisdom and knowledge garnered over the years for the good of his country.
Dr. Mahmud Tukur was a man of peace and unquestionable diligence and professionalism whose death is a great loss to Nigeria. He lived an impactful life and contributed immensely to Nigeria and he etched his name on a platter of gold in the country’s history. We all have a collective duty to keep alive his history of dedicated service and patriotic duty for a peaceful and secured country.
The federal government should immortalise him by naming any of educational institutions, or renaming the Institute of Administration ABU Zaria after him.
Nigeria has indeed lost a rare gem, an academic extraordinaire and great author, who served this nation meritoriously, a man of strong character and conviction, who led a life of impact. A life anyone would have wished to live, going by his well-defined roles in the growth of humanity and his untiring commitment to nation-building. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten.
He is survived by three wives, nine children and many distinguished brothers, including the prominent global industrialist and world renowned business mogul, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, former Governor of the defunct Gongola state, one time Minister of Industries and ex chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); and Late Engr Hamman Tukur a former Director General Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources; and Pioneer Chairman, Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission (FMARC).
▪︎ Musa-Gombe, a media practitioner, sent this via WhatsApp from Abuja