Sidi Ali, Journalist And Pan-Africanist, Goes Home


Alhaji Sidi Ali’s home in the heart of Obalende, Lagos was a Mecca of sorts for young reporters in search of stories especially on ‘dry’ days. Alhaji Sidi, as he was fondly called, was a journalist himself and courted the profession romantically even as he was a fearless and pragmatic writer. The elder statesman spent years serving the Nigerian International Press Centre, Ministry of Information, and National Broadcasting Commission, among other critical institutions. He traveled widely, and his vast experience influenced his affection for the media. He was as radical as they come, always ready, at all times, to call a spade by its real name. That tendency on his part to put Nigeria first made him one of the outspoken newsmakers who kept the military rulers of the 1970s, 80s and early 90s on the edge of their seats.

He was friendly with the main characters in those juntas that traversed the nation’s political landscape in that era. But personal relationship was not as important to him as the wellbeing of the nation he loved so dearly. He was a peoples’ person, loved those who came his way regardless of their social, political and economic strata. Alhaji Sidi was an exceptional humanitarian.

He had a passion for politics as a means of serving the greater majority well. That explained why he threw his hat in the ring when the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, in 1978, decided to give democracy another chance to thrive. With the lifting of the ban on politics, Sidi Ali joined the socialist-oriented People’s Redemption Party (PRP), led by the late Mallam Aminu Kano, and was elected into the House of Representatives, representing Dambatta Federal Constituency. His re-election in 1983 saw him representing Gezawa Federal Constituency. Sidi Ali’s prowess mirrored his principled stance in both journalism and politics.  

Since his passing, it has been a flurry of tributes to a man who gave patriotism its real meaning by what he said about the country, how he related with people from other ethnic and geo-political zones as well as his perception of what must be done to make the country work for the good of all.

The Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, in a condolence message described late Ali as a trusted public servant who made sacrifices to ensure that Nigeria remained a united and indivisible country. The Governor further acknowledged the positive contributions of the deceased as a lawmaker in the Second Republic which helped in shaping the Parliament and the overall development of democracy in the country.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari, in his views, said the late journalist, author, and politician “won my heart and that of many through his critical writings.” The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Barau Jibrin, said Ali served “our country meritoriously in different capacities and displayed his wealth of talent for the unity and growth of the nation.”

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, described late Sidi Ali as a respected veteran journalist, prolific writer, and a politician whose contributions to the field of journalism, literature, and politics left an indelible mark. He added that Alhaji Sidi Ali, throughout his career, exemplified high standards of professionalism and integrity and provided invaluable insights with historical references into the pressing issues of the time.

Born in Kano on 15 July, 1938, Alhaji Sidi Ali’s journey began amidst his father’s thriving cattle and agricultural produce businesses in Ghana. The educational odyssey of the then young boy took him from Shahuci Elementary School to Rumfa College both in Kano, where he met Ado Bayero who later became the Emir of Kano and former Military Head of state, General Murtala Mohammed.

While in Ghana, Sidi Ali came in contact with the eminent pan – Africanist, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who played a major role in shaping his worldview which also hallmarked his odyssey. The first Ghanaian Prime Minister sponsored his academic pursuits in parts of the United States of America. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and held a diploma in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations.

A versatile journalist and renowned pan- Africanist, Sidi Ali served as an assistant information officer at the first All African People’s Conference in Accra in 1958 and was actively involved in the pioneering work that saw to the birth of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) in 1963. Upon his return to Nigeria, Sidi Ali joined the civil service and played a crucial role in shaping the government’s narrative during the Nigerian Civil War.

Through his writings and speeches, Sidi Ali portrayed himself as one with an unwavering commitment to justice, accountability, and compassionate action. He held board appointments, serving as a commissioner at the Nigerian Broadcast Commission (NBC), a member of the board of NDLEA as well as the Presidential Panel on Fuel Scarcity. He also served as a member the 2014 National Conference (Confab). He died at the ripe age of 86. We join his family, other relations, friends and associates in wishing him a peaceful repose.

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