Former minister of Transportation during the Second Republic, Dr. Umaru Dikko, is dead.
His younger brother, Dr. Bello Dikko, and another family member in London, confirmed this in Zaria, yesterday.
Dikko died in the early hours of yesterday in a London hospital, after battling with stroke, at the age of 78. According to his younger brother, he had been sick for some time and had suffered three strokes in a row.
Umaru Dikkko was born on December 31, 1936. He was the third son of Alhaji Abdurrahman Dikko, the Turaki Babba of Zazzau.
He is the 6th direct descendant of the famous Islamic scholar and reformer, Shehu Usman Dan Fodio, the founder of the Usumaniya Dynasty popularly known as the Sokoto Caliphate .
He started his education at Kaduna Elementary School in 1946 where, due to double promotion, he spent only two years instead of the usual four years. He proceeded to Zaria Middle School (now Alhudahuda College Zaria) where he spent only 11 months and passed the entrance examination to the famous Barewa College, where he spent six years and passed the Cambridge School Certificate Grade One in 1954.
He proceeded to the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology (now ABU Zaria) with the intention of becoming an engineer. But in1958, Umaru Dikko changed his mind and left to join the BBC African Service (Hausa Section).
He spent five years working for the BBC before leaving for full time study at the university and graduated in mathematics with honours degree before returning home to Nigeria in 1965.
He took up employment with an investment company known as NNIL, which was jointly owned by the Northern Nigeria Government and Commonwealth Development Corporation. He first ventured into the nation’s politics in 1967, when he was appointed a commissioner in the then North Central State of Nigeria (now Kaduna State). He was also secretary of the committee set-up by General Hassan Katsina to unite Northerners after the 1966 coup.
Dikko was one of the most powerful ministers under the administration of President Shehu Shagari in the early 1980s. When the military ousted the regime in a coup d’état in 1983,Dikko escaped to the UK on exile. The military regime, led by then Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, accused Dikko of corruption and official graft and hatched a plot to kidnap him from the streets of London.
In 1984, Dikko was kidnapped, drugged and put in a diplomatic package to be smuggled back to Nigeria in an unconscious state. The UK police later arrested his abductors as they tried to ship him through an airport in London.
Dikko later returned to Nigeria and became active again in politics; he was a dormant member of the PDP until his death.
He had been ill for several months. Before his death, he was the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party disciplinary committee set up last year by the then party chairman, Bamanga Tukur, a job he accepted despite his health condition.
Meanwhile, the President Goodluck Jonathan, Northern States Governors Form, NSGF, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and former Vice president Atiku Abubakar yesterday mourned the demise of the second republic minister.
Jonathan, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, condoled with the family, friends and political associates of the former minister of Transport, who also played a leading role in the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, which controlled the Federal Government in that dispensation.
The president said he firmly believed that Dikko’s significant contributions, especially his lifelong advocacy for stronger political parties, greater discipline within political parties and the supremacy of political parties have assured him of a place in the annals of Nigeria’s political development.