By Umar Madu Bah (Abbaje)
Alhamdulillahi. I thank Allah, the Most Merciful, the Giver and Taker of life and the Knower of the unknown, for the life of my father.
In the early hours of Friday, 2nd August 2019 we woke up to a new reality, news was broken of the death of our father. He has left behind not only a family he raised in the way of Islam but a legacy to the entire community he served, and lessons and guidance to generations.
So, who is Madu Cashier, or as some fondly called him Madu Chief or Sarkin Malamai? He was born about eighty one years ago in Gaboni Garba in the ancient city of Fika to a family tagged Boni Dala ga Audu. It is difficult to find any specific group that surrounded themselves with as many members of the same root in Fika. Historically, the Gaboni Garba was named after the crown prince, Dala Gawudo, the eldest son of the Emir of Fika Moi Buraima, who settled in the city with his younger brother Maina Audu.
The family is among the five homes that made up Gaboni Garba. Alhaji Madu, son of Umar Bah Tukku, popularly known as Alhaji Ya Bah and great grandson of Masaya Dauda, started his early education in Fika Primary School together with his school mates like Late Haruna Dawaki, Bah Kahdi, Madu Abubakar and Dauda Fika amongst others.
Our father got admitted into Borno Middle School which was later renamed Senior Secondary School a year to completion of his primary education. But due to lack of placement for them by the Native Authority, he later enrolled where he became classmates with people like former Borno State governor Asheik Jarma, Late Mala Alamai, Hassan Elbadawi, Umara Amshi, etc. Immediately after completion of school, he got an appointment with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture where he was posted to Sokoto in the early 60s. He voluntarily resigned because he felt it was far from home and sought another employment with the Anti Tse-Tse Fly Department in Katagum, Azare. Unknown to him it was a subsidiary of the Ministry of Agriculture.
His name appeared on the payroll; hence the officials of the Ministry demanded that he report back to Sokoto. Thereafter he enlisted into the Nigeria Air Force second set and was trained in Kaduna. He later abandoned the training and returned home. He thus began his career in Fika Native Authority. The Treasurer, Alhaji Maina accepted him and always told the superior officers that he had really got an asset. He worked with Mal Alkali Abdullahi (Yayaya) and also Adamu Shehu Daya. He became a cashier after three months and thus got the nick name “Cashier”.
Due to his integrity and accountability, the Emir trusted him with his keys as against the usual practice of opening the treasury safe in the presence of his representative. The Dala Fika, the late Maina Goji, also gave him his own keys when he discovered that the Emir’s where with him.
He rose to the post of Chief Scribe and later, Council Secretary in the Native Authority, the highest position at the time. He was thus nicknamed “Chief” and others addressed him as “Sarkin Malamai” which further got him the trust and confidence of the Emir and his subjects.
Despite our father’s dedication to service for humanity, and to the development and preservation of our cultural heritage, he was politically victimized and forced to leave service prematurely by the Muhammadu Goni led Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) government in the then Borno State.
He was transferred to Konduga and posted as a school teacher with a plan to eliminate him. Allahu Akbar! The beauty of extended family thus worked and the planners were unaware that among them was his uncle who informed him that whenever they transfer him, he should never go. He reluctantly resigned his service from the L.E.A and engaged in farming.
His major sin and cause of victimization was the assumption that he belonged to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN)! For whatever reason, he was neither a politician nor in politics, but he had a guest house close to Akinloye Secretariat, which was full of national and local politicians. The Guest House was popular and always housed intellectual personalities, a testament to his accommodative attitude, simple behavior and entrepreneurial mindset.
Madu Chief was a charismatic man who refused to illegally enrich himself or acquire properties such as houses, plots of land or investments anywhere. Yet many people lamented that “your father was behind us, for employment, owning plot of land, among others”. He later joined Northern Resources Development, a Company owned by the late Madakin Fika, Malam Adamu Ciroma where he took charge of a cattle ranch at Chikuriwa village for a time. He was reinstated into the service of Fika Local Government in 1984 by the Buhari Administration. His cousin, the Ciroman Fika, General (rtd) Abubakar Waziri, who was Borno State Governor re-engaged all victims of circumstances to service, and they also paid back the gratuity earlier paid to them.
Unfortunately, his service was cut to two years contract for reasons unknown to him. He was maltreated and humiliated primarily to change his service from permanent to contract; indeed he accepted it as Godly and refused to complain as required by some of his friends.
This was not enough, he was painted black before his Sole Administrator and he took him at loggerheads until when our father reported a fire incidence in Kaga Central Store and rightly exonerated his boss from any sanction. The boss lamented his reasons for and issued written evidence to convince our father. Also, another milestone of our father was that he returned to track and Kaga Local Government won the state government’s award of excellence in Sanitation and Quality Administration.
His desire, wisdom and working knowledge pushed him to work tirelessly. He observed the increasing population and the need to educate them and therefore suggested to the Emir the need to open a school as part of the development of Fika Native Authority and Emirate as a whole. His advice was instrumental to a council meeting and the Emir and his senior Councilors showed their strong desire. It was agreed to establish a community secondary school named Community Gakara (now Fika GSS).
In a different effort, he encouraged the Senior Councillors to promote other community services. Late Kaigama Bah Zarma, Late Zarma Kura Bomoi Joda at southern part and Late Mammai Sulyman in Potiskum, all supported the effort to build and uphold markets and businesses to boost taxation and internally generated revenue amidst harmony, unity and peaceful coexistence. They worked a lot together to Integrate Potiskum into a larger society. Thus many moved in from Nangere, Chikuriwa, Garin Baba, Dawasa and Kukuri, Maluri, Mazawum, Galda, Janga, Mai Duwa, Mamudo, Bula and many more.
Alhaji Madu went to the prestigious university, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he studied Administration. Among his class mates were the Late Emir of Lafia, Alhaji Isa Agwai and Late Baba Alaraba. He groomed many and helped many in his life. At the university, he became a pillar to many in terms of advice and assistance, thus he made many friends with whom exchanged visits often.
In both his public and private life, he was detribalized. He enjoyed the company and trust of people who were not his kith and kin. Among the most respected and most reliable who repaid good with good was his brother, the Emir of Gudi, Alhaji Isa Bunowo ibn Kaji. They maintained a sincere relationship. They helped each other in the early years, and any time he visited Mai Gudi he was given a befitting reception. When the Emir got the news of our father’s death while he was at Hajj pilgrimage, he directed his Council to give him final respect.
Some of his unforgettable roles in the history of Fika included his services as secretary for election of Moi Abali to the seat of Emir, together with the then Divisional Police Officer Tijjani Ajid. The following were members: Late Alkali Baaba, Galadima Moisoro, Alkali Kalli an Tamana Habu Muhammad, all of blessed memory. Our father was the last to join them in the next world.
He suspended many activities in relation to social gatherings or ceremonies except that of naming and burial ceremonies. But when the Emir of Fika and Chairman Yobe State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji (Dr) Muhammad Abali ibn Muhammad Idrissa, CFR, became Emir, I personally escorted our father to pay homage and congratulate him. Among his advices, he urged him to avoid taking abrupt decisions in situations. This advice I took from him in high esteem after listening.
He also taught us alms giving in the family, especially after every Ramadan. He maintained this thought among us his children. I recall his saying “you should respect everybody, those you thought are able are not, but those you underrated are the best people”. I will not rest this pen without mentioning one of his close trustees – the Late Barde Bakure – he had time for him and had no dispute for what he had told him. He held Alhaji Audu Sabonlayi, his childhood friend/brother, Aljinoma Baba Makkau, Ajiya Baba Gimba, Makidubu Baba Hardo and few others in high confidence.
He left behind 27 children and over a hundred grand children. Before his death, years back, he came out of his room and told his wives “I forgive all those that cheated me”. He bought and gave his final dress to a tailor to sow his “likkafani”, and recently kept it closer. He died on Friday on the First of Dhul Hajji, and his befitting final respect was paid to him before thousands of people in Potiskum Central Mosque. May his gentle soul remain in perfect peace. Ameen.
On behalf of all of us, I want to thank HRH Emir of Fika, Alhaji (Dr) Muhammadu Abali ibn Muhammadu Idrissa for his fatherly role. The Governor of Yobe State Alhaji Mai Mala Buni for sending a strong delegation made up of the Secretary to the State Government, two Permanent Secretaries and other important personalities, Mai Gudi who also sent a delegation, Chairmen of Fika and Potiskum Local Governments, and all those who one way or the other did a lot of things which cannot be mentioned. Jazakumullah.