Bauchi: The unhonoured heroes, by Yakubu Almustapha
The societal norms across the globe that metastasised in every ethnic group is the same old story when it comes to immortalizing the great men who have made a preeminent contributions to society. To some extent, even if they did nothing in that particular aspect, their native constituents in one way or another honoured them merely for pride of having a celebrated son.
Certainly, this practice is incessantly meant to preserve the good legacies left behind by the grand people, and it might as well be a cornerstone of inspiration for the posterity to live up to their values. Well, the common way of doing such glorification in our culture is mainly by putting their names after a physical structures be it during their lifetime or posthumously.
Alas, I have noted with deep sense of regret that there are luminaries who deserved to be immortalized, but it was not the case by the successive administrations. That is why I deemed it necessary to write as a subject for discussion with hope that governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed of Bauchi State will become a game changer and do something in respect to three unhonoured personalities.
The first man who in my view was more or less neglected, or to be more precise under honoured is the pre independent hero and born philosopher in person of Malam Sa’adu Zungur. For a big star like him to be left without getting his name placed in monumental structure is untoward, as recap of his lifetime revealed that he was bulwark to the common man during the era of colonial rule, because he stood against the British imperialism and the anti-people policies of the Native Authority.
Zungur was a maestro of Hausa poet, whose famous poem of “Arewa Jamhuriya ko Mulukiya” is until today composed all over the northern Nigeria. He was also a journalist who held the position of chief correspondent of the Northern Province of West African Pilot Newspaper. His passion to set the less privileged free from British diktat led him to organise what is believed, was the first protest in the North against governor John Macpherson in 1945.
The historical demonstration which was carried out under the auspices of Bauchi General Improvement Union (BGIU) one of the organizations he founded, compelled Mr Macpherson to retreat and exempted Bauchi from among the places he intended to visit. Thus, going by this antecedent, it is not surprising when the inhabitants of his ancestral home are regarded of being politically wise people who are known to have a nerve of opposing any form of bad governance.
Moreover, the hero had spearheaded the formation of several associations including the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) in 1950, which turned out to become the first political party in the defunct Northern region. With such political exploit and other unmentioned services he rendered to humanity, I hold the opinion that the legendary activist deserves a better accolades similar to his close associate Malam Aminu Kano, whom were immortalized by naming International Airport and a Teaching Hospital after him.
The second is Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi, fondly called: “lisanul faidha” or simply shorten as, “Shehi” who doesn’t need introduction within the shores of Islamic religious matter, it is therefore indeed understatement to say that he is worthy to be honoured in his natal home considering his position in Islamic world. The influential scholar has hundreds and thousands of followers that spanned across West African countries.
All the life of the nonagenarian cleric was dedicated toward the teaching of Islam and in the cause of his absolute devotion, he established Quran memorization schools in different parts of Muslims dominated areas which every year saw the graduation of umpteen number of juveniles who memorized the complete verses of Quran.
The grand scholar was the recipient of several awards and honours including Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) merit award, and honorary doctorate degree conferred to him by the Federal University, Lafiya Nasarawa State. Regrettably, he is uncelebrated in a place called his hometown being no important edifice was named in his honour.
The last but not the least in this circle, is none other than late Dr Ibrahim Tahir, Talban Bauchi. The likes of him in terms of scholarly affairs are rare, because he imbibed both the Islamic and Western knowledge to the highest echelon. Beside his eruditeness status, he was a philanthropist and breadwinner to dozens of who have-nots among the community.
As I pointed out in my Op-Ed to mark his 10th remembrance, I will say it again that Tahir was revered academic, astute politician, journalist, novelist, orator and a movie actor. He served Nigeria in different capacities including a minister of Internal Affairs in the second republic and he was however participated as a member in virtually all constitutional conference starting from 1979.
A tale that many don’t know about Tahir is that if he had wanted he would have become the first indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) because as of then, the Premier of Northern Nigeria Ahmadu Bello Sardauna had sent him on scholarship to the most sought-after University in the world to read law for the sole purpose that he would take over from the White Man who then was the head of judiciary. Notwithstanding, when Tahir understood the game plan, he refused to toe the line of common law and in lieu he studied Sociology which cruises him into intellectual world.
Surely the attainment of having a first degree and again PhD consecutively at Cambridge University is not ubiquitous academic achievement on account of the institution admits only 2% of the total applicants per intake of students. So in view of this assiduous criterion, a Cantabrigian is seen as special gem and the world best of the best intelligentsia.
Perhaps, this feat coalesced with his superiority at Barewa college where he used to get a double promotion and went ahead to beat everyone in the class he was promoted to, were the reasons why the minister of education Malam Adamu Adamu described him with most meritorious appellation of: “the Emir of elites.” In his exact words: “if Sardauna was Namiji Uban Yanboko, Tahir must have been without doubt, the Emir of Yanboko.”
In any case, the greatness of pride in attending Cambridge and joined the trend of notable alumni who were greatest men in human history of: Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, John Milton, Oliver Cromwell, John Dee, Lord Byron, James Clark Maxwell, Bertrand Russell, John Harvard, Frank Whittle, William Wilberforce, Dorothy Garrod, Stephen Hawkins, Charles Prince of Wales, etc. And in addition to 15 British prime ministers is enough accomplishment for everyone with such colourful record to blow his own trumpet.
Finally, I fervently hope that governor Mohammed and State Assembly on the one hand would name Bauchi State University after Dr Ibrahim Tahir, to equate the Kano State that has since renamed the Northwest University, as “Yusuf Maitama Sule.” In particular, I urge the Member representing Bauchi metropolis, Jamilu Umar Dahiru to raise a motion in that aspect. Similarly, the government should find a desirable structures and put the names of Sa’adu Zungur and Sheikh Dahiru respectively.
Almustapha writes from Bauchi and can be reached via 08037268717