Maitama Sule

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Yusuf Maitama Sule is a Nigerian politician, intellectual, acclaimed orator and diplomat. In 1976, he became the Federal Commissioner of public complaints, a position that made him the nation's pioneer ombudsman. In early 1979, he was a presidential candidate of the National Party of Nigeria but lost to Shehu Shagari. He was appointed Nigeria's representative to the United Nations after the coming of civilian rule in September 1979. While at the U.N., he was chairman of the United Nations Committee against Apartheid. [1]

After, the re-election of President Shagari in 1983, Maitama Sule was made the Minister for National Guidance, a portfolio designed to assist the president in tackling corruption. [2]

Early life

Maitama Sule was born in Kano, his father was Sule, Turakin Madaki. He received his primary education at Shahuci Elementary School, Kano and then went to the Kano Middle School. In 1946, he graduated from Kaduna College. He then taught at the Kano Middle School from 1947-1953 and from 1953-1955, he was a teacher at the Provincial School, Kano. In between time he served as a teacher, he attended a special higher elementary teacher training course in 1947 and in 1954, he spent eight weeks touring the United Kingdom.

Public career

Independence period

In 1954, he left full time teaching to contest a parliamentary seat which he won. From 1954-1966, he was a parliamentarian and later minister of Mines and Power during the first republic. From 1955-1959, he was chief whip of the Northern Peoples Congress at the House of Representatives.

Following the military coup of 1966 and the creation of Kano State, he served Kano as commissioner.

Public Complaints Commission

The rise of economic nationalism during the 1970s led to the enactment of a decree stipulating minimum requirements for local content in many companies doing business in Nigeria. To capitalize on the benefits of indigenous control of the economy, many permanent secretaries, federal commissioners, state governors and their cronies established firms to conduct business with the government. [3] It was with the intent of patching the revolving door and to stem small time corruption that the public complaints commission was created in 1975. It was meant to hear and tackle complaints fielded by the common man in a simple and efficient manner. Maitama Sule, as head of the commission was known to have taken his job seriously, partly because he was a potent political commodity and had a lot to gain from the good will of the people when a transition to civilian rule was in place.[4] As a result of the commission's effort, corruption during the period was temporarily curtailed.

National guidance

In 1983, he returned to a familiar role, this time under a democratic government as the head of a ministry to tackle corruption. The new but short-lived ministry was created solely to invest time in an ethical re-orientation of Nigerians. Maitama, who had acquired a solid reputation as a tough U.N representative, when he was chairman of a U.N. special committee on apartheid was asked to lead the ministry. However, his appointment was not satisfactory to critics. Shagari's administration was removed by a coup, with the coupists citing corruption as a major reason for the incursion.

Polemical statement

Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule was quoted to have said, “ Everyone has a gift from God. The Northerners are endowed by God with leadership qualities. The Yoruba man knows how to earn a living and has diplomatic qualities. The igbo man is gifted in trade, commerce, and technological innovation. God so created us equally with purpose and different gifts. ”

The statement has been used by some to stir up fears of northern political domination in the country.[5]

Electoral history

1959 Dawakin Tofa West parliamentary election

  • Maitama Sule NPC - 16,919
  • A. Ibrahim NEPU - 1,979
  • Dan Abba AG - 274

1978 NPN election


  • 1. ^ "UN launches anti-apartheid year," The Globe and Mail (Canada). January 12, 1982
  • 2. ^ Peter Blackburn, "Corruption in Nigeria: can it be ended in land of greased palms,"? Christian Science Monitor. December 5, 1983
  • 3. ^ Simone K. Panter-Brick, Soldiers and Oil: The Political Transformation of Nigeria. Frank Cass, 1978. p 123. ISBN 0714630985
  • 4. ^ Simone K. Panter-Brick, Soldiers and Oil: The Political Transformation of Nigeria. Frank Cass, 1978. p 124. ISBN 0714630985
  • 5. ^ David C. L. Lim, The Infinite Longing for Home: desire and the nation in selected writings of Ben Okri and K.S. Rodopi, 2005. p 24. ISBN 9042016779