“THE LEGACIES AND IMPERATIVES OF LEADERSHIP”
2001 Annual Dinner Address by Mall. Ahmed Joda (B.502)
Today, we mark yet another calendar year of our old Dear College. The
college that has made all of us what we are today. The college that has
made it possible for those of us fortunate enough to have had the
foundation of our education and of careers shaped by the dedicated teachers who contributed so immensely to the development of responsible manpower not only for Northern Nigeria but to the entire nation of our citizenship. I believe all of us here tonight and all those who are not able to be here with us are proud of Barewa and its legacies.
As an institution, Barewa was born as Katsina Higher College. Its purpose
then, as now was to produce men of noble character for the professions
especially that of educating the young peoples of Northern Nigeria. It has
amply fulfilled its purpose well beyond the expectations of its founders.
Of the great Teachers and Leaders to come out of Barewa to teach and to
lead, we have many names to be proud of. We count among them such great
men as Ahmadu Rabah (Bello), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Kashim Ibrahim, Ahmadu Waziri, Sa’adu Alanamu, Bello Amar, Aliyu Turakin Zazzau, Shehu Shagari,Abubakar Imam. And so many more.
These men and many more in the professions participated at every step in
the shaping and building of Nigeria. In the civil services the outstanding
contributions of such men such as Ali Akilu, Ahmed Talib, Ibrahim Dasuki, Abba Jiddum Gana, Ibrahim Argungu, Ignatius Durlong helped to lay solid foundations not only for the North but the rest of the country as well as the states that emerged from the old North. Without the contributions of these men, the running of the affairs of this part of the country and the survival of the Nigerian nation would have been considerably more difficult.
Our significance in the Military and the security services is equally significant. I wish to recall the names of martyrs such as Zakariya Maimalari, Kur Mohammed, Largema and lames Pam. All of them distinguished soldiers who laid down their lives, so that those of us who survived can live in dignity.
Names such as Yakubu Gowon, Mohammed Shuwa, Murtala Mohammed,
Hassan Katsina cannot be forgotten in the history of both the political and
military life of this country.
The name Barewa evokes proud memories of our past and the great
potential of the contribution that lie ahead for us to make. I think that we are well situated to make even greater contributions for our people in the years ahead. We have our history behind us and a solid track record upon which we can build a sound basis for human development.
While I urge you not to forget the great contributions of our leaders past, I
want to say to you that we should feel increasingly worried that we seem to be losing our touch with the realities of the changing times in which we live and our seeming unawareness that the world is leaving us behind. We seem to be losing our leadership skills and the discipline that must go with leadership. Leadership that has been bestowed upon us by the legacies of our education and the examples of our past leaders, by God who, through the aegis ofBarewa, has trained us to be responsible men. Lest we all forget, Barewa was the first higher institution of learning in Northern Nigeria. It remained so for decades until 1949 when the second Government Secondary School was established in Keffi.
The brave and courageous who became teachers, medical and agricultural
workers and later, political leaders who continued for many years to trickle out of Katsina, Kaduna and Zaria became the solid foundation building blocks of the Nigerian nation. Since 1949 many more Secondary Schools, Colleges of Education, Polytechnics, Universities and other training institutions have grown and multiplied. Where, in the early fifties, Northern Nigeria boasted of one graduate, Old Boys of Barewa have
since graduated from many Universities around the world and have proven equal to the best in their discipline and have held leadership positions with great credit.
When I was invited to give this talk, I chose to discuss the issue of
leadership. However, our Secretary pointed out that while there was no
objection to discussing this important issue a second time, I should know that a famous old boy, no less than a former Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, had addressed the issue not too long ago. Since I was unable to think of another topic immediately while our telephone discussion lasted, I said I would tackle the subject despite. But I had to think of ways of trying to do so without necessarily treading the same path as General Gowon may. have done, mindful of the fact that having been a leader of this
nation; he is much better qualified than anyone alive to do so, because he led us and saved this nation during its most difficult period of its existence.
The leadership of a people encompasses all the fields of human endeavour. It is the sum total of all the experience of the people who form the society. Barewa has produced men who have distinguished themselves in their chosen areas of disciplines. I propose to remind us of a few of these.
In the field of literature and scholarship, we have unsung heroes worthy of
Nobel Prizes in Literature. I doubt that anyone would disagree that Abubakar Imam Kagara is among the most accomplished authors anywhere. School children and students of my generation were avid readers of his works: “Labarin Hausawa Da Makwabtansu, Magana Jari ee, Tafiya Mabudin Ilmi”. These were literary works, which in subsequent years formed the basis of Northern Nigerian Literature. Abubakar Imam also used his literary genius when he became the Editor of Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo to enlighten young Northern Nigerians and to awaken them politically. He campaigned against illiteracy, ignorance, disease and in63
dolence under his famous slogans “Yaki Da Jahilci, Yaki. Da Lalachi, Yaki. Da Zalunchi.” Under various names and modified intentions, generations of Government Leaders have declared their intentions to fight the same evils, but with less commitment and even less impact. Had we joined and remained loyal to this campaign we would today be much better than we are. It is less well known, but trues that Abubakar Tafawa Balewa although better known as a statesman and political leader has a justified claim to literary fame and author as those who have read his Shehu Umar will have realized. This book has been filmed and no one who has read it and who has seen the film would fail to appreciate its quality and depth of vision. Among others, we should not forget men like Sa’adu Zungur, Abdulkadir Makama, a former Editor of Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo. These men, who distinguished themselves in different areas share the same qualities of foresight, dedication and love for their peoples. A great love for the North.
They devoted their lives and skills to the betterment of their society. And they were all, without exception, men of God. And of honour.
The history of Northern Nigeria, indeed Nigeria cannot be complete
without the mention of Ahmadu Bello and Aminu Kano. They went to Barewa at different times. They approached politics from different perspectives and opposite political viewpoints, but worked together for the common good of society, respecting each other, consulting one another when it was desirable to do so. Aminu Kano was fiery, direct and blunt. He called black, black and white, white. He championed the cause of the Talaka. He fought against injustice. He shunned wealth. He was a learned man, a man of God and he was a great teacher, perhaps the greatest inspirer. As a man without means, he was able to achieve national greatness and world recognition by the force of his character and his transparency. He achieved what others today try unsuccessfully to buy with money - A place in history.
Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, was a great leader of men. He stood out among giants. He was fearless, forceful and, at the same time humble and compassionate. He did not make permanent enemies. This
was not his nature.
He was recognized as a great leader by friends and foes alike. He did not care for money and riches. When money came his way, he neither took it home nor saved it in bank accounts. He didn’t put it in his pocket either. He shared it among those who happened to be around, some of them total strangers. He was very often broke, a situation which made him nervous and irritable. Those close to him knew times when he was “indigent”. Let me dwell a little bit more on this leader of honour, who is even better appreciated and loved in death than in life. And whose stature is enhanced with every passing day. His political foes during his lifetime are those who have paid him the warmest tribute long after his death. I once heard Chief Awolowo who, after a moment of reflection and completely out of context, declare - “one always knew where one stood with the Sardauna. He always meant what he said and was straight to the point” . Ahmadu Bello, became a member of Government in 1953 and moved to Kaduna as Minister of Works, becoming soon afterwards the Minister for Local Government, a most sensitive position to hold at that time in Northern Nigeria, where the Emirs were powerful and most reluctant to come under the authority of what I might call the “son of the soil”. A descendant of the great Sheik Usman Dan Fodio, it fell upon him to reform and modernize the Native
Authority System. Younger Bareyis, should note that Native Authority, is what we today call Local Government. Many, some may be in this room, did not believe that he would preside over the dissolution of the Fulani Empire which his forebears bequeathed to him. Yet he carried out the most fundamental and radical reform anyone could realistically and responsibly have expected of him. His cousin and later Sultan Dasuki helped to carry out his reforms even further.
The Caliphate is based on the tenets of Islam and the Islamic Law. Ahmadu Bello, as leader of great vision, realized that this is a fundamental issue which had to be addressed as self-government for Northern Nigeria and independence for Nigeria approached. He faced the issue directly. He did not shy away from it. He did not leave it to demagogues to capture the high ground. He empanelled a body of learned and responsible men with international reputation to develop a legal code under which the diverse communities of Northern Nigeria could live in peace and harmony, one with another. It was to his great credit that his legal reforms were adopted, without bitterness and without rancour. This was leadership with commitment, dedication and vision.
In what condition did Ahmadu Bello find the North when he assumed the
mantle of leadership in 1954? He found only two Secondary Schools. He found thirteen Hospitals without professional training institutions, without Doctors, Nurses or Pharmacists. For the most part all the roads were laterite, and subject to closure for 24 hours after every heavy rain. He set out to address all the issues directly. The resources at his disposal were minimal. He lacked the easy oil money and the massive inflow of federally derived revenues.
But soon there were more Secondary Schools created in every Province. Ten new 120-bed cottage hospitals were built, equipped and staffed. Higher Teacher Colleges and Technical Training Centers came into being. A Medical School to train auxiliary Doctors was established. Ahmadu Bello University crowned his efforts in the field of Education. He had established the Institute of Administration earlier. He developed Libraries and gave opportunities for young Northern men and women to study abroad and so laid the foundation for a great leap forward for the people whom he led without discrimination, without fear or favour or ill will. He did this in the twelve years of his stewardship.
Kashim Ibrahim was the first Governor of Northern Nigeria. He was also
the first Nigerian Minister of Education. He was a great teacher and made his name, ever before politics came to Nigeria. He shared with his colleagues of the time a great love for the North and worked tirelessly for the people until his death. There is none who knew him and who was not impressed by his gentleness and great sincerity.
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa: There is a book which goes by the title: “The
Right Honourable Gentleman.” It is a book on Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of Bauchi, the first Prime Minister of Nigeria. A man of humble beginnings who remained humble throughout all his life. He was by all accounts a most
conscientious man. A man who cared about people. He was a great teacher who prepared his lessons painstakingly and well. He deeply cared for his people. When he was not in the formal class room teaching, he was doing so to children of his neighbourhood in his Zaure. His pre-eminent position did not deceive him. He was a practical and rational leader. He sought to work with all manner of men and worked patiently. His critics and those who are impatient criticized this as his greatest weakness. Today, three and half decades after his assassination and all that we have gone through, many of these critics would have realized that it is these qualities of patience and the understanding of the realities of Nigeria that made him adopt this style of leadership.
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Mahmud Ribadu [though not a
Barewan, has a place here] and those other great Barewans shared these great qualities of leadership. Under them we made great strides. We made great educational advances, unequalled since their time, with the minimum of resources and without dependence on foreign assistance for funding either our development programmes or for paying our way. During their time, and this is before oil, we never heard of workers not being paid, of government not being able to meet its commitments, or failing to honour agreements validly entered.
In the great challenge the North faced from the background of educational backwardness, these leaders to their great credit were able to identify, train and suitably deploy the army of civil servants and other professionals necessary to assist in the governance not only of the North but the management of Nigeria herself. Most of them came from some of the most distinguished Bareyis. I recall Aliyu Makaman Bida, Bello Dan Dago, Bello DanAmar, Aliyu Turakin Zazzau, Isa Kaita, Bukar Dipcharima, Ibrahim Imam, Bashar Daura as Ministers. Ali Akilu, Ibrahim Dasuki, Ibrahim Argungu, Ignatius Durlong, SiIas Daniyan, Liman Ci67
roma, Adamu Ciroma, Bukar Shaib, Mohammed Gujubawa, Musa Bello among so many others.
Barewa has proud names in the legal profession. Two Chief Justices of the
Federation - Mohammed Bello and Mohammed Uwais, President of the Federal Court of Appeal Mamman N asir, Justice of the Supreme Court, Buba Ardo, Sa’adu Kawu.
Neither Ahmadu Bello nor Sir Kashim Ibrahim were members of the
Central Government after independence, but they were great players on the national playing fields and made their impact. At the helm of affairs in Lagos were great Bareyis, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Inuwa Wada, Bukar
Dipcharima, Maitama Su1e, Waziri Ibrahim as political leaders and Musa
Daggash, Bukar Sheik, Professor Umaru Shehu played great roles in the civil service and the Federation.
When tragedy struck on January 15, 1966, Bareyis immediately moved in
to fill the vacuum at every point where it mattered and we were able to maintain our own rights and privileges up to today. I think that while we can and shou1d be proud of our past, we shou1d now all begin to reflect whether we are maintaining our enviable historical position in the Nigerian scheme of things and whether we are providing the leadership quality for which we have been so famous.
My own feeling is that we have been gradually slipping. We have been
abdicating our responsibility and heritage and our sense of duty. How come?
All of our leaders some of whose famous names I have mentioned tonight and the many who I have not been able to mention were men of courage who knew what was expected of them as leaders of people. They identified with every aspiration of their people. They often took very unpopu1ar decisions for the long-term interest of the people. They were firm and decisive. They did this because they had clear visions. They
loved the people more than they loved themselves.
They always took the initiative and worked to gain the support of their
people. They did not incite people to blindly support self-destructive courses.
What have we had these past thirty-five years? I think that we must all be concerned about where we have been coming from and worry even more about where we are headed to. I think we shou1d not avoid facing up to the realities that confront us so that we can be able to tackle the uncertainties of the future. Let us look at our situation. On January 15, 1966, we lost our political and military leadership. Although we were able to overcome the set back and hold things together, we don’t seem to have recovered from the shock. As a result we have lost the cohesion, the oneness of purpose and the spirit of common destiny that in the past bound us together. We have been unable to permit or encourage the emergence of new leadership from among the new generations of younger, men and women who have the legitimate aspiration to succeed us, whether in business or government leadership. Thus, today we seem incapable of picking up the pieces and resuming our march forward.
One of the greatest legacies of our past, has been the ability of our leaders
to identify early young men and women with potential leadership qualities and prepare them for positions of leadership and responsibility so that the
succession process could be easy and painless. This, it seems to me we must now consciously begin to do in the interest of our future.
Today, there is deep suspicion if not deep hatred even among people of the
same stock and of the same cultural and religious backgrounds. Surely one of the most regrettable sides of our behaviours, is the seeming ease with which we seem to ignore the fact that if we wish to continue to remain ‘’Northerners’’ in the true meaning of the concept of the North we must learn to accept that we are one people with one destiny. We must grieve or rejoice with all ‘’Northerners’’ according to the demand of the occasion. We must not regard as marginalization when our expectations are not realized because certain sections that some of us do not regard as
the “True North” seem to have been favoured at the expense of the “True North”. It is no use whatever for us to deny that this is the impression we have been giving to the world. We must never forget that our Leaders, especially Ahmadu Bello who have given us inspiration never ever discriminated in public or private against any ‘’Northerner’’ no matter his origin.
This is why when he died, all Northerners mourned him and continue to
mourn and honour him up to today. Let me quickly add that I do not in any way mean that people, Northerners among them do not have grievances which they have aright to express. I would defend their rights to do so anywhere.
Equally and even more serious is the levity with which we conduct public
Progress and development of our land would seem to matter no more to us, so long as certain entrenched parochial interests remain protected. The interest of the North would seem preserved, as long as certain concepts so long ago outmoded remain preserved even though the whole of the rest of the world is moving irreversibly forward into the next century and the age of Information Technology. Today in most Northern states, the social services have broken down and are totally destroyed. There is hardly any medical service anywhere. The water supplies have deteriorated to the extent 1hat hardly any Northern town has a reliable and safe water supply system. This state of affairs cannot be blamed on the poor financial situation alone. These services were better when, in real terms we had far less government revenues.
It is, whether we like it or due to the fact that we have joined in stealing and misapplying the peoples’ money. Most disappointingly, we have not paid the due attention necessary for the education of our people. We have noted the great strides that were made in the North during the period of 1953 to the late sixties, and during the civil war as well as the unprecedented surge that was made possible by the introduction of
the Universal Primary Education of the early to seventies to the end of 1hat decade and the sudden halt followed by continued decline not only
in standards of our educational institutions, but the decline in school enrolment. I was most perturbed when I stumbled upon some information that the Northern States are lobbying for the introduction of an easier examination system so that our students could also pass. I do not understand the logic.
Surely we must all know that without sound education, our people stand no chance and deserve no place in the new world with its rapidly expanding technologies. Surely we must do something about this situation urgently if we are not condemning our people to perpetual bondage in this country and in this new world. We must stop paying lip service to such a serious problem. The Universal Basic Education Scheme, opens for us a new and great window of opportunity. We should embrace it whole heartedly. Fellow Barewas, I thank you for giving me the privilege to talk to you tonight and especially for having the patience to listen to me. I hope that you understand that I have made these observations, because of the concerns I have not only for people who have borne with patience and understanding at our leadership shortcomings and, especially in the hope that we should reflect, in the light of what I have said on the directions to which we should be headed. I, in no way claim that, I am the only one who has these concerns. I have no doubt that most of you do have these same feelings. What we need to do is devise ways to harmonise our perceptions with due consultations with all segments of the Northern society. We must draw the various communities together in order to provide them direction and inspiration to participate in the development of not only Northern Nigeria, but the Nigerian Nation and the African people wherever they may be. I thank you all.