From Muhammad Ibrahim, Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
A chieftain of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and Minister of Transportation and Aviation in the Second Republic under President Shehu Shagari, Dr. Umaru Dikko, died yesterday in his London home at the age of 78.
According to the family, his corpse would be flown to Nigeria today from London.
According to him, his death was confirmed to newsmen by his younger brother, Alhaji Lamido Dikko, at the resident of the late minister in Kaduna. He said the late Umaru Dikko died at his UK residence after a protracted illness at the early hours of yesterday. “As Muslims we have taken his death as act of Allah,” he said.
Our correspondents, who went to the house located close to the State House of Assembly, saw sympathizers and associates trooping into the compound to condole with the family over the politician’s death.
The late Dikko was tagged “Minister in the Coffin,” following a failed repatriation planned by the Military junta of General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime in 1983.
Alhaji Umaru Dikko was one of the only members of Second Republic that escaped the wrath of the military when they toppled President Shagari’s civilian government in 1983.
Born on 31st December 1936, Alhaji Umaru Dikko was the third son of Alhaji Abdurrahman Dikko, the Turaki Babba of Zazzau who was the great grandson of Sultan Aliyu Babba, the eldest son of Sultan Muhammadu Bello, consolidator of the caliphate who summoned the first conference of four Empires- Ghana, Songhai, Mali and Fulani.
Dikko therefore was the sixth direct descendant of the famous Islamic Scholar and reformer, Shehu Usman Dan Fodio, the founder of the Usmaniya Dynasty, popularly known as the Sokoto Caliphate or the Fulani Empire.
Dikko started his education in 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 eleven months and passed the entrance examination to the famous Barewa College. He passed the famous Cambridge School Certificate Grade 1 in 1954 after six years in the school. He then proceeded to the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology (now ABU Zaria) with the intention of becoming an Engineer.
In 1958, he changed his mind and left to join BBC African Service (Hausa section) within two months of arrival to start work with BBC. Alhaji Umaru Dikko revised his notes from Nigerian College of Art, Science and Technology and sat for the GCE (A) level in three subjects and got distinction in two.