‘The trigonometry you’re teaching us is nonsense’ and 10 other memorable Maitama Sule quotes

 

Maitama Sule, former Minister of Petroleum, former Minister of Mines and Power, died in Cairo on Sunday, aged 88.

Although he spent extensive time in Nigerian politics, for instance being Mines Minister for seven years, he will arguably be most remembered for his post-political life.

Sule is popularly referred to as “elder statesman”, but he is also an accomplished orator.

Below are 11 of some of his most memorable quotes; in some there are lessons, in others just humour and wit.

Enjoy.

ON LAGOS

Lagos was my second home. In fact, I used to be more at home in Lagos than in Kano… I liked Lagos because people in Lagos liked me. I was the Onikoyi of Ikoyi (a chieftaincy title in Lagos Island) and the Bada of Lagos, as I was the Ada Ida Akei Igburutu of Calabar.

ON HUMILITY

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.

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ON DIVERSITY

Nigerians all over like me and I have no reason not to like Nigeria and Nigerians. I must like them. I am not a Kano man alone; I am Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Kanuri, Fulani, Ibibio, Tiv. I am all. I respect everybody.

ON MATHEMATICS, TO HIS TEACHER

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’. 

ON HIS INTEREST IN POLITICS

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.”

ON AWOLOWO

…you know Chief Awolowo was a proud man. He did what he wanted to do against my advice and he told me that there was a time the North rebuffed him. 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.

ON ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH

You can’t eat your cake and have it. 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.

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ON NIGERIA’S NEEDS

I keep saying what we need in Nigeria is leadership, not rulership.

ON YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE

You must seek the experience of the old, because the best organization is the combination of the old and young.




     

     

    ON LIFE

    …because we are masters of our fate, we should be captains of our souls.

    ON THE STATE OF THE COUNTRY

    Honesty, where it does not pay, has become meaningless. 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.

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