Alhaji Haliru Dantoro, Late Emir of Borgu, 1938-2015

November 5, 2015
2 mins read

I FELT deep sadness over the weekend when news broke, that the Emir of Borgu, Alhaji Haliru Dantoro died in Germany, at the age of 77.

His passing shocked so many people in our country especially those who had very close relationships with him.

Alhaji Haliru Dantoro, Late Emir of Borgu, 1938-2015

Bola Tinubu’s tribute was very moving, underscoring the Emir’s contributions to Nigeria’s political history, but especially since about 2011. Even the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, was moved to say, that it’s the writing of recent political history that will bring home, Alhaji Haliru Dantoro’s contributions to our country’s progress.

For me, I feel a personal sense of loss, because we had agreed that I would visit him during the International Gaani Festival that he had elaborately planned for, but was not destined to see.

When I last saw him in Abuja, he had actually summoned me to comment on a piece I had written about Kwara state’s history, for my column here. He insisted that I had to write a sequel, after scolding me, for not going to see him in New Bussa, for so long!

Alhaji Haliru Dantoro was one of the titans of Second Republic politics, 1979-1983, in the old Kwara State. Unlike what operates today, that Kwara state, had many political giants: Haliru Dantoro, Sunday Awoniyi, S.B. Daniyan, Abdul Rahman Okene, Adamu Attah, Ado Ibrahim, etc. Olushola Saraki was Senate Leader and pre-eminent politician, who tried to impose a personal hegemony, resisted by individuals like the late Dantoro.

Haliru Dantoro was a prince, just like Adamu Attah (Ebirra Prince), Speaker Shehu Usman (Fulani Prince from Lafiagi like Senator Sha’abaLafiagi) and his deputy, Israel Moronfoye (a Prince from Irra, the late RasheedYekini’s hometown), and was not willing to become a “political slave” that the Saraki hegemony that had neither royal background nor longstanding historical bona fides, always attempted to impose on Kwara! This hegemony successfully exploited a historical vacuum and need for a rallying point, to impose political control!

That was very much the central basis of disagreement that Alhaji Haliru Dantoro and other political heavyweights of that epoch had with the Saraki hegemony. It led to acrimonious division of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), in Kwara state.

The late Olushola Saraki abandoned the NPN, and entered into an alliance, which brought Cornelius Adebayo of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) to power in the 1983 elections (just like his son, Bukola Saraki did with the PDP, againstAPC, in 2015). After the elections, Alhaji Haliru Dantoro, was appointed Minister of the Federal Capital by President Shehu Shagari, in recognition of his political and leadership abilities.

That government was however overthrown by Generals Buhari andIdiagbon, in December 1983. General Babangida’s regime eventually “beheaded” the old Kwara State, by removing the Borgu emirate, and joining it to Niger State, a decision that we have remained unhappy about, given historical relationships between the peoples of the old Ilorin Province, including Borgu!

Alhaji Haliru Dantoro was elected a senator during the ill-fated Babangida political transition; and as Bola Tinubu (turbaned Jagaban Borgu) wrote in his tribute, the period brought him into close relationship with Alhaji Haliru Dantoro.

He would play a vital role in building the political relationship between Buhari and Tinubu, which midwifed the change that Nigeria experienced in the 2015 elections that swept away the PDP and brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power.

Nigeria has lost a truly remarkable patriot and bridge builder, with the passing of Alhaji Haliru Dantoro, the late Emir of Borgu. Allah yajikan sarki. Amin.


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