While 2021 is just a few days from being over, it was the year Nigeria lost some of its most prominent personalities.
From the entertainment industry, sports, and politics, several Nigerians succumbed to death in the passing year.
Although it is near-impossible to keep track of deaths, this post highlights the demise of some prominent Nigerians in 2021.
The founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) died on June 5, hours after he finished service in Lagos State.
TB Joshua, who died at 57, was credited to have predicted several events and attracted a followership that stretched beyond the Nigerian shores.
His burial was held in the Ikotun area of Lagos about a month after his demise and also attracted a global audience. It was attended by dignitaries like Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu among others.
Barely five months after taking over as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru and ten others died in an air crash in Kaduna State.
Lieutenant General Attahiru was en-route Kaduna from Abuja when the unfortunate incident happened, the Army said in a statement confirming the ex-COAS’ May 21st death.
His death triggered an outpour of tributes from within and outside the country.
President Buhari in a statement said he was sad and sorrowful about the incident, describing the military officers as “heroes who paid the ultimate price for peace and security in the land.”
Ahmed Gulak’s demise also raised concerns among political elites in the country. Gulak, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was killed by gunmen in Imo State in May.
A one-time aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, he was shot while returning to Abuja from the Imo State capital of Owerri.
The police said Gulak left his hotel without security details in the face of insecurity in the southeast state and added that he was ambushed by “bandits” on his way to the airport.
Known for his activism, the former spokesman of the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere died on April 3 after battling COVID-19 complications.
He died at the intensive care unit of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital where was on admission.
The human rights activist played a key role in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) that fought the regime of General Sani Abacha after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election.
At some point, he was one of the spokespersons for the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF), the body representing ethnic nationalities in the South-West, South-South, South-East, and the Middle Belt.
The late Odumakin married Dr Joe Odumakin who welcomed a set of twins – a boy and a girl – six months after his husband’s death.
Mailafia was a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and had before his death been invited by the Department of State Services (DSS) over his comments about insecurity in the country.
The 64-year-old died on September 19th in Abuja after a brief illness. Mailafia, a public affairs analyst, was the presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress in the 2019 presidential election.
He hailed from Kaduna State.
The former military administrator in Imo State died on January 13th after a brief ailment. He was 77.
Kanu was also a former military administrator of Lagos State and a prominent names in the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), an organisation dedicated to the revalidation of the June 12, 1993, election of MKO Abiola annulled by the military administration of General Babangida.
Until his death, he was a former Information minister and the husband to the late Dora Akunyili – an ex-Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Dr Akunyili was shot by gunmen on September 29th alongside his driver and a police escort around the Nkpor junction in Idemili North, Anambra State.
Sources confirmed to Channels Television that he was coming back from an event to receive an award for his late wife.
In the aftermath of his death, the Anambra State Government placed a N20m bounty on the killers.
Aside from the late Akunyili, Lagos State also lost its first civilian governor, Lateef Jakande.
Popularly known as Baba Kekere, the late Jakande died on February 11, aged 91.
His impacts as the governor of the South West state – October 1, 1979, to December 31, 1983 – were majorly in housing, education, health, and rural development.
The former journalist is also credited to have developed several low-cost housing estates across Lagos State.
With a little over a month to the end of the year, Nollywood lost one of its veterans and comic actor, Baba Suwe.
Babatunde Omidina died on November 22nd aged 63.
The actor hailed from Lagos State and featured in movies like Iru Esin, Ebi Olokada, Baba Londoner, Obelomo, Elebolo, Larinloodu, and Baba Jaiye Jaiye. He was buried three days after his death in a ceremony attended by several Nollywood stars.
Earlier in the year – February 1 – the chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Minister of Information and Culture minister- died.
He was a longtime ally and friend to President Muhammadu Buhari and had served as the chairman, Media and Publicity of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) Campaign Organisation in the 2003 and 2007 elections as well as Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Tony Momoh was from Auchi, Edo State, and one of the founding members of the APC.
The man, best remembered by his hit songs, ‘Mami Water’, ‘Joromi’ and ‘Guitar Boy,’ died on August 28.
Aged 80, the multi-talented icon was also a songwriter, sculptor, and professor before his passage in Benin City, Edo State.
Uwaifo was renowned for his mastery of the guitar and the flute. Between 2001 and 2003, he served as the Commissioner for Arts and Culture in Edo State.
In the political space, Nigeria also lost a former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu.
He died in Abuja on August 17th after falling ill. Mantu was elected under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999 and represented Plateau Central Senatorial District.
The National Chairman, defunct Peoples Democratic Alliance, and National Publicity Secretary defunct United Nigeria Congress Party was the Deputy Senate President in 1999, a position he held for eight years.
Until his death, Mantu was a member of the PDP Board of Trustees.
Aside from Uwaifo, there were other deaths in the entertainment sector including that of Sound Sultan.
The 44-year-old singer died from “a hard-fought battle with Angioimmunoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma” on July 12, according to a family statement.
Sound Sultan, whose real name is Olanrewaju Fasasi, was also buried on the same day in the US.
He had a wife and three children and came into the spotlight in the early 2000s when he released his first single ‘Jagbajantis’ which became an instant hit in the country.
While many remembered him for different things, for President Buhari, Ahmed Joda was a true patriot.
Born in Yola, in Adamawa State, Joda was reputed as an icon of public service and died on Friday 13, August 2021, aged 91.
In 2015, he was the permanent secretary and chairman of Buhari’s transition team.
On March 3, Nigerians were greeted with the news of Sadiq Daba’s demise. The veteran broadcaster and actor died following a long battle with leukemia and prostate cancer.
He featured in series and movies, with ‘Cock Crow at Dawn’ and ‘October 1st’ as notable mentions. In the 1980s, Daba made waves working with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
The Kano State-born actor had in 2017 narrated to Channels Television his battle with cancer.
“I have Leukemia,” he said, adding that was receiving treatment at the Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife.
“When this thing started, I was referred to Ile-Ife from LASUTH Lagos State. The challenges have been quite enormous; Leukemia has been complicated by prostate by the Grace of God, I will get through this,” he noted.
Rachel Oniga hails from Delta State but was born in Lagos State. She was 64 and died on July 30.
Before she made her major acting debut in Nollywood with “Onome,” Oniga worked briefly at Ascoline Nigeria Limited, a Dutch Consultancy firm.
The veteran actress had three children and several grandchildren. She was buried a month later in Lagos State.