Many Nigerians currently mourning the first petroleum minister, Maitaima Sule, have summarized his life and times to show that he was upright and straight-forward hitting issues without sentiments.
Many of such mourners, including Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, noted that Alhaji Sule died when his experience and integrity was needed most especially as the unity of Nigeria continues to shake.
But before his demise, Sule had spoken about the agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), saying that south-east would never achieve Biafra.
1. On Biafra
Asked about the agitation for Biafra, Sule, who died in Cairo, Egypt on Monday, July 3 at 88 years, said the amalgamation of Nigeria was divinely inspired and that God wants the country to lead Africa.
“Although those agitating for Biafra are still making efforts, they will not succeed by the grace of God. There are people who did not know what happened during the civil war.
“The story of the civil war, the Biafra war, is presented in different ways by different people. But the truth is yet to be known. For example, no one in Lagos; no one of us in Lagos knows about the night of the coup and the day after; no one knows it more than I do.
“I have been asked several times to write about what I saw on that night, but I have told people that I will not. Were I to write and tell the nation what I know, what I saw, what I heard before, during and after the coup, I will open fresh wounds. I will not do that.”
2. Secession and readiness of the north
Concerning the readiness of the north to accommodate a break-up, Sule said in the event of secession, the north cannot stand on its own even though it got all it needs.
“In any event, those in the north are not afraid, but they don’t want it. I don’t want this country to disintegrate because we in the North cannot stand on our own. I know what we have in the country and I know what we have in the North.
“We have got diamonds, gold, uranium and even oil and minerals. We have got agricultural lands. We have got the land and we can be on our own, but I don’t want us to be alone. I want us to share these with our brothers,” he said.
3. On Mathematics and its difficulty
The International Centre for Investigative Reporting reports him as saying: “Excuse me, sir, this trigonometry is a little bit of nonsense. What is a little bit of x and a little bit of y? ‘X’ is ‘x’ and ‘y’ is ‘y’.”
4. On being humble
Sule was quoted as saying: “In life, if you are humble, if you are simple, if you are friendly, if you respect people, if you love people, they, too, will love you, respect you and like you.”
5. On Nigeria’s many problems
Sule declared: “I keep saying what we need in Nigeria is leadership, not rulership.”
6. On the state of the nation
The former minister said: “Symptoms of revolt loom large in the horizon. In short, there is meaninglessness in philosophy, insecurity in polity, chaos in politics, immorality in society, corruption in economy, frustration in art, and lack of creativity in literature.”
7. On being honest
He said: “Honesty, where it does not pay, has become meaningless.”
8. On becoming a chief in the south
Sule said: “I was the Onikoyi of Ikoyi (in Lagos Island) and the Bada of Lagos, as I was the Ada Ida Akei Igburutu of Calabar.”
9. Concerning Obafemi Awolowo
The late Sule said: “I told him to avoid certain things but he did not. He was a principled man, he would not lie. He would speak out his mind.”
10. On corruption
The former minister said: “The present-day leadership wants money. You can’t have money and honour at the same time. Our former leaders didn’t want money, they wanted to serve the country, and that is why they were respected.”
11. On his love for politics
He said: “The Sardauna called me and reminded me he told me to be his private secretary but I refused. He added that they selected me to go to London to study Law but I said I didn’t like it. He asked me: ‘What do you want to do, for God’s sake’. I replied: ‘What you are doing, sir’.”
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