â€¢ Buhari, Atiku, Saraki, others mourn
Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Ibrahim ShuaibuÂ
A prominent Katsina State politician and close associate of late President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua, Senator Muhammad Kanti Bello, died in the early hours of yesterday in Abuja.
Bello, aged 72, died in Abuja after protracted illness.
Until his death, he was a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He was the two-time senator who represented Katsina North senatorial district between 2003 to 2007 and 2007 to 2011 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was also a former Senate Chief Whip.
Bello was also the pioneer Managing Director of Katsina Steel Rolling Mill who was also known as â€œRodi,â€ meaning steel.
One of his sons, Mr. Mustapha Mohmmed, is the present Commissioner of Resource Development in Katsina State.
Confirming his death, the personal assistant to late senator, Mr. Aminu Ashiru, told THISDAY in Katsina that the burial of his principal took place in Abuja by 1p.m. yesterday.
Following his death, the sleepy city of Katsina was quiet with mourners discussing his passing in every corner of the state.
It was learnt that late Bello had been battling an unknown ailment before his death.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; his predecessor, Senator David Mark, and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, have described the death of Bello as a great loss to Nigeriaâ€™s democratic struggle.
Buhari said the late senator contributed to the unity of Nigeria and represented his people effectively at the national level.
In a statement by Mr. Femi Adesina, the presidentâ€™s spokesman, Buhari said the late senatorâ€™s commitment to the unity of Nigeria would be long remembered and honoured; and would continue to serve as inspiration to many others.
He recalled that Bello was a very outspoken and courageous patriot.
The president extended heartfelt condolences to the Kanti-Bello family as well as the government and people of Katsina State on his death.
Atiku, in a condolence message issued by his media office in Abuja, said he received Belloâ€™s demise with shock.
According to him, the role of Bello in bringing democracy into being cannot be forgotten in hurry.
He explained that one of Belloâ€™s outstanding virtues was his outspokenness and courage to express his convictions.
Saraki on his part, expressed grief over the death of Bello.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki described late Bello as an outspoken and courageous legislator, who was always guided by national interest and that of his community in discharging his legislative responsibilities.
While sympathising with the immediate family of the late senator, his friends, constituents and the government and people of Katsina State, Saraki prayed that the Almighty Allah will grant him aljannah firdaus.
Also, Mark while, reacting to the demise of Bello in Abuja today, Mark noted that late lawmakerâ€™sÂ exitÂ has created a vacuum in the contemporary politics of Nigeria.
He stated that death is an inevitable end that will come when it shall but Belloâ€™s deathÂ is particularly painful as it came at a time when his wealth of experienceÂ and knowledge would have been needed to navigate through the murky political waters.
Similarly, Ekweremadu expressed sadness over the death of Bello, describing it as a heavy loss to the entire nation.
Ekweremadu, who served with the late senator in the fifth and sixth Senate, said the Katsina-born Senator was a â€œcosmopolitan and highly detribalised Nigerian, who worked tirelessly to resolve Nigeriaâ€™s leadership challenges.â€
The Deputy Senate President who condoled with the people and government of Katsina State over the sad development, also prayed God to grant his family, associates, and the people of Katsina State the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
On his part, Katsina State Governor, Mr. Aminu Bello Masari, described the death of Bello as a big loss to the entire state and not only his family.
Masari in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Abdu Labaran Malumfashi, stated: â€œIt is with total Â submission to the Will of Allah (SWT) and deep sense of loss that I received the sad news of the death of Bello.
â€œThe death of Engr. Kanti, as he was fondly called, is a big loss not only to his family or Katsina State but to Nigeria as a whole in view of his tremendous conributions, both as a renown engineer and a sound politician, to the development of Nugerian.