Tobi Soniyi in Abuja, Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri,
Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Tributes poured in at the weekend for the former Minister of Petroleum and elder statesman, Shettima Ali Monguno, who died Friday night and was laid to rest yesterday. Monguno died at the age of 90 in Maiduguri, his hometown, in Borno State.
The prayer for the repose of his soul was held at the Shehu of Borno Palace and was led by the Chief Imam of Borno, Imam Laisu Ibrahim Ahmed.
In attendance at the burial were Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, Shehu of Borno and other traditional rulers from within and outside the state, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, and other prominent citizens. Also, a federal government delegation led by the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), graced the occasion. Members of the delegation included the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Musa Bello; and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
Leading a host of politicians and public office holders to pay tribute to the First Republic minister was President Muhammadu Buhari. The others, who gave their heartfelt eulogy, included the Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, former Vice President and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Atiku Abubakar and Governor Shettima.
Buhari described the late Monguno as “one of the finest statesmen and political actors Nigeria ever had and who would always remain fountains of inspiration in life and death.”
In a condolence statement issued on his behalf by the federal government delegation led by the NSA, Buhari said the late elder statesman from Borno State ranked among the most respected public figures in Nigeria while in office and while in private retirement life.
The president recalled that in the course of his public service as a parliamentarian and Federal Minister of Air Force and Internal Affairs during the First Republic, the late Monguno “had left behind a legacy of untainted and unblemished career”, which should be emulated by Nigerian leaders at all levels.
He said: “A man’s greatest pride is to leave behind a good name and that the late Monguno had achieved that desire.”
Buhari, who said it would take volumes to narrate Monguno’s sterling virtues, extended his condolences to the family, the government and the people of Borno State over the passing of the elder statesman.
The president prayed the Almighty God to grant the soul of the deceased eternal rest.
The federal government delegation was received at the funeral by the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima and the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Shehu Abubakar ibn Garbai al-Amin al-Kanemi, both of whom described the presidential gesture as a consolation and a source of inspiration. The bereaved family expressed their appreciation for the presidential delegation.
Also, Saraki, who said he was saddened by the death of Monguno, one of the last set of the nation’s founding fathers and elder statesman, described him as a detribalised Nigerian and worthy ambassador.
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, noted that the late former minister of Mines and Petroleum in the First Republic would be sorely missed in view of his giant political strides and contributions to the building of the Nigerian nation, starting from his birth place, Monguno, in Borno State to every nook and cranny of the country.
He described Monguno’s death as painful, especially coming at a time when the federal government had successfully turned the tide against insurgents in the North-east, recalling that the late politician was a victim of the insurgency when he was abducted by gunmen at a mosque before he was later rescued.
He commiserated with the Monguno family, Governor Shettima, the entire people of Borno State as well as all associates of the late statesman across the country over the unfortunate incident.
According to him, “Elder Monguno was a special breed who contributed immensely to the attainment of the nation’s Independence in 1960, became a parliamentarian in the First Republic and thereafter a federal minister. His disposition towards effective nation building remains unparalleled. He lived for the welfare and security of the common man. His passion about a better and safer society was exceptional. His steadfastness, commitment to the cause of one Nigeria and optimistic spirit towards national development will continue to inspire us both now and in the future.
“In his quest to mould the country in line with his lofty vision, late Monguno aspired to be President of Nigeria. Not minding that he did not realise his dream to become President, he continued to play exemplary leadership role as a philanthropist with special bias and support for the education of underprivileged children, especially the girl child.
“No doubt, late Monguno’s versatility and experience would have been of immense value to the present resettlement and rehabilitation efforts in his home state of Borno, the entire North-east, as well as tackling the socio-economic challenges confronting the country at this time.”
He urged the family of the deceased, the government and people of Borno State, “to be comforted by the fact that Monguno served Allah and mankind diligently” and worked hard to make his country great. He added that the deceased left a worthy legacy of selfless service and a good name.
Saraki prayed, “Almighty Allah should grant the late leader a place among the righteous ones in Aljannah Firdaus,” adding: “May Allah also grant members of his immediate family, the people and government of Borno State, the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”
Dogara described the death of the elder statesman as a national loss to the entire government and people of Nigeria while expressing deep sadness about his death
Dogara, in a statement, said Monguno’s death was even more painful considering that he was a man of great experience in many critical sectors of the country, having served as the head of many agencies of government.
“Monguno was a man of honour and an achiever. In all his national assignments, he was forthright, dedicated and showed great patriotism in the discharge of his duties. He was a unifying force for the nation and his contribution to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry,” the statement read.
Monguno died at a time the country and its leadership is in dire need of his wealth of experience and wisdom to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing the nation, the speaker added.
While expressing his sympathies to the family of the deceased and the government and people of Borno State, he prayed the Almighty God to grant him eternal rest and comfort all those he left behind.
In his own tribute, Abubakar described the first republic minister as an icon of uprightness.
A message of condolence made available by the media office of the former Vice President yesterday, stated that one of the most indelible public records of the late Ali Monguno “were his uprightness and remarkable honesty, qualities for which the former Minister of Mines, Power and Petroleum would be remembered.”
Atiku noted that “the late Monguno devoted his life to honest service rather than obsession with personal accumulation of wealth.”
According to him, Monguno’s greatest asset in life was his integrity, recalling that the late elder statesman from Borno State was one of the most credible and respectable parliamentarians of the first republic.
Atiku added that he and the late elder statesman from Borno State had always toyed with the utopian idea of a world government because of their beliefs in universal unity.
While acknowledging that the deceased was a perfect gentleman and a personification of humility, Atiku prayed for the repose of the soul of the late Shettima and for the family of the deceased as well as the people and government of Borno State to have the fortitude to bear the loss.
In this vein, Governor Shettima described the late Ali Monguno as an icon, who has contributed immensely in the development of not only the country but the entire African continent.
Also, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, while eulogising the late Ali Monguno, stated that he was a good man and a courageous citizen who risked his life to speak truth both to power and deviant non-state actors like Boko Haram
“At a time when many in the country were afraid to speak against the murderous Boko Haram terrorist gang, Dr. Monguno stood as a prominent voice in expressing displeasure at how both Boko Haram decimated civilian population in the once peaceful enclave of his beloved Borno. The same voice spoke naked truth to the former regime in how it conducted the war,” Tambuwal said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Malam Imam Imam, in Sokoto yesterday.
Describing the nation’s first petroleum minister as a patriotic citizen, Tambuwal said Monguno was also renowned for his philanthropy especially his contributions to the development of female education in Borno state in particular, and the North East region in general.
Ali-Monguno, in his life time, was vocal about national issues but had been silent since about three years ago.
Born in 1926 in Monguno town of Borno state, Ali Monguno attended Monguno Primary School, Teachers Training College (TTC), Bauchi and Katsina College of Arts, Science and Technology (KCACT), Zaria, Moray House college of Education and the University of Edinburgh.
He served as a parliamentarian in the First Republic and was appointed the Minister of Air Force and Internal Affairs between 1965 and 1966. He was a Federal Commissioner for Trade and Industries between 1966 and 1971 and Minister for Mines and Power, Petroleum and Energy from 1972 to 1975.
He was also elected first Black African President of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1972 and received numerous awards from different part of the world. He is survived by a wife, children and many grandchildren.